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Last Updated: Friday, 21 May, 2004, 17:07 GMT 18:07 UK
Faces of the week
Faces of the week

Our regular look at some of the faces which have made the news this week. Above are Martin Bashir (main picture), with Lord Coe, Sonia Gandhi, Tony Randall and Ron Davis.

MARTIN BASHIR

The journalist who will always be remembered for his "Queen of Hearts" interview with Princess Diana is to take up a lucrative post with ABC's 20/20 show. Will he continue to divide opinion as to his merits?

A plum job in the US is quite something for a lad from a south London council estate, of Pakistani parents, who was bright enough to gain a first at Southampton University.

Martin Bashir's climb up the journalistic ladder began as a freelance sports reporter, and progressed to local news TV correspondent, and then reporter for various BBC programmes including the current affairs flagship, Panorama.

Princess Diana interviewed by Martin Bashir
The interview that made his name
It was here, in 1995, that he pulled off the journalistic scoop of the decade with the interview in which the doe-eyed Diana gave her riveting confessional about the three people in her marriage.

One might have expected Bashir's profile, in this age of celebrity, to have risen rapidly. But this is not a man who courts publicity. He is a devout Christian, he refuses to be interviewed and doesn't often venture on to the celebrity social scene.

Despite his Diana coup, his attempts to become a daily news presenter were shunned by BBC bosses. And colleagues spoke of his aloofness, his unwillingness to share information and the suspect means he used to persuade high-profile interviewees to open up to him on camera.

Questionable tactics?

The complaints followed him to ITV where he secured more high-profile interviews for Tonight with Trevor McDonald.

The Duchess of York claimed Bashir had exploited Diana's vulnerability by lulling her into a "comfort zone" to gain her confidence.

It almost makes me weep when I see you with [your children] because your interaction with them is just so natural, so loving, so caring
Martin Bashir to Michael Jackson
And after his documentary Living with Michael Jackson aired, the pop star claimed to have been "betrayed".

This was because Bashir appeared to sympathise with Jackson in person, while slamming him in the commentary recorded later (in one clip filmed by Jackson, Bashir tells the singer that his loving relationship with his children "almost makes me weep").

Bashir's interview with the five men accused of the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence was described as "a travesty" by the lawyer acting for his parents.

And a complaint by the father of a runaway teenage genius that Bashir and his ITV team deceived him into granting an interview was upheld by the Broadcast Standards Commission.

Sticks and stones

PR guru Max Clifford once said, "Martin Bashir is only interested in one person - himself."

Louise Woodward and Martin Bashir
Nanny Louise Woodward: Another one they all wanted
But Mr Clifford has also said that what Bashir does, he does well. To have persuaded such luminaries as Diana and Michael Jackson to speak inevitably sparked jealousy from fellow journalists who would have given their right arms to do the same.

But regardless of whether he manipulated a princess adept at using the media herself - and a pop star the authorities are attempting to prosecute for child abuse - these stories make for riveting TV.

The executives at ABC, if they even considered the questions raised about his tactics, have given him the benefit of any doubt.

And Bashir will know that success is prized more highly by Americans than by his own countrymen.


Lord Coe

Lord Sebastian Coe has become the new head of London's bid to stage the 2012 Olympics. The decision was taken by the former head, American Barbara Cassani, who will stay on as Coe's deputy. Having achieved her goal of securing London's place on the Olympics shortlist, Ms Cassani felt that having a Briton as leader, and an Olympic gold medallist at that, would benefit the campaign.

Sonia Gandhi

Another woman who has stepped down from a leadership role on the grounds of her birthplace is Sonia Gandhi. She stunned India this week by declining the job of prime minister having just led her party to a surprising general election victory. The Italian-born Gandhi has said she believes an Indian should run the country, and the role has fallen to Manmohan Singh - the first Sikh to do so.

Tony Randall

The US actor Tony Randall died this week at the age of 84. He was best known for being the foil to Doris Day and Rock Hudson in light comedies such as Pillow Talk and Lover Come Back, and as Felix Unger, the neurotic, fastidious photographer in the TV version of The Odd Couple. He also established the National Actors' Theatre in 1992, devoted to the classics. Day described him as "the funniest man in movies".

Ron Davis

Ron Davis is one of two men to be charged after a purple flour bomb was thrown at Tony Blair during Prime Ministers' Questions. Campaign group Fathers 4 Justice claimed responsibility, a protest group demanding equal rights of fathers to see their children. Purple is, apparently, "the colour of equality". The attack sparked a Commons security inquiry.




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