On the Politics Show, Sunday 17 February 2008, Jon Sopel interviewed Eddie Izzard.
EDDIE IZZARD: Well yes, erm Speakers Corner, well I've always thought as I've walked passed Speakers Corner and seen people talking and thought, this is the one in Hyde Park and thought I should jump up and start speaking about the things I'm erm, positive about, but it feels very raw but the idea that it's not anywhere else is is kinda crazy really.
JON SOPEL: So every town should have it's Speakers Corner?
EDDIE IZZARD: Yeah, every town and village and the village idiot, would maybe come and hold sway and cause you actually need a lot of balls as we say in the medical profession to erm, er, to do it to get up and do it, it's difficult enough to do stand-up, to do politics I think it's harder cause you have to get up and talk maybe it's easier, maybe it's harder, but you, you can bore people to death.
JON SOPEL: This isn't this nineteenth century, eighteenth we're in the internet age, Yes, we've got all sorts of other ways of communicating with each other.
EDDIE IZZARD: Yeah but we don't want to lose the ground level do you, I mean if we just had people saying hey we've got a massive following of people on the internet and then you ok let's go down to the Town Hall and make our views known and no-one turns up that's no good, you've gotta have people on the ground, ground level and I think it's, I think public opinion, I think public freedom of speech from the ground up to the internet if the internet is the space age.
JON SOPEL: is there still a value in this sort of face-to-face communication, arguing, debating?
EDDIE IZZARD: Yes, yes, I mean absolutely, there's this weird thing on television that, that erm, there's a lot of information arguing and debating I think a lot of people actually switch off in the middle of an argument or a debate because usually the people who are arguing and debating usually have pretty good points, and, and I think the mark of maturity is actually doubt, and if you do have doubt you go, you tend to go oh that guy is saying something interesting and that other person is saying something very interesting and you go, oh I don't know how to decide and it's a good and healthy thing to do but it is difficult to make decisions.
JON SOPEL: But if you kind of listen to phone-in or chat shows or whatever they happen to be you just get people speaking out they are permanently flicked to transmit and they are not on receive - yes - and that's a problem - yes - isn't it for having a dialogue.
EDDIE IZZARD: Yes it is and maybe on television maybe it's more so that way and maybe on our Speakers Corner it'll be less so and maybe people will say I hear your point because it's not soooooo, you know maybe it's not going out to millions, maybe people don't think it's going out to millions and maybe there's producers on television shows who are saying this guy seems to be on a one track screaming about something or other so let's bring him on and give him that completely full on view point.
JON SOPEL: And do you think one of the problems with political discourse is and I suspect the industry I work in is probably quite largely responsible for it, is the soundbite culture, ya know, yeah, can I condense a whole argument into fifteen seconds?
EDDIE IZZARD: yeah, I think, I think, that is a big problem as a transvestite I had to come up with soundbites, I had to come up with I had to come up with erm, executive transvestite, and action transvestite those two soundbites got me a long way .... you say action transvestites and people laugh and say oh alright and cause straight transvestites quite like that and I will fight people who give me grief.
JON SOPEL: And if you found yourself in one of these little villages or a town, anywhere in the United Kingdom and you had your soapbox, at your feet, what would your subject be?
EDDIE IZZARD: It would probably be Europe and, and if it was, I dunno know the English seem to be quite slow to grab hold of this idea or I think, I think the negative idea of Europe is a much easier idea. Who are they, stuff 'em we know us, yeah let us get on. Erm, but the fact when we say that we don't like the people up there or the people over there or the people in that town or the people in number twenty three , erm the negative viewpoint is a much easier one to sell the idea of saying I want to try, I don't know who all the French people and all the German people but I want, I think if civilisation is anything, if this life is to do with anything to do with anything then it's surely about trying to work with people.
JON SOPEL: Ok well you are a man of many words, sell us the idea, in a headline of why this matters.
EDDIE IZZARD: Why this matters, freedom of speech, is a wonderful thing and it matters because I think the strength of, of Britain is based upon it, ..... it is good if Nottingham are picking it up, and I think other towns should do it it is a great thing. People may not use it all the time, if it's cold and rainy, they'll probably won't use, but if you could mix it with the internet, even if you could have the internet stationed right next to it, or if people could have a webcam, that's was what they should do, that's not what they should do, this is what they should do maybe they should have a speakers corner with a web cam permanently on it, so you could go on it and see whose talking on the speakers corner on the internet so you can get both things at the same time.
JON SOPEL: Eddie Izzard thank you very much indeed.
EDDIE IZZARD: Not at all thank you.
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NB:These transcripts were typed from a recording and not copied from original scripts.
Because of the possibility of mis-hearing and the difficulty, in some cases, of identifying individual speakers, the BBC cannot vouch for their accuracy.
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The Politics Show Sunday 17 February 2008 at 12:00 GMT on BBC One.
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