It’s always very rewarding to interview a figure who I share history with. Without wanting to sound like Parky welcoming Tarbuck, I have had the pleasure to have enjoyed many crossed paths with the writer, broadcaster and journalist Jonathan Maitland throughout my evolution as a writer. So it was good to finally turn the tables and get his insight into his career in public service broadcasting.
Press play, below, to listen to the full interview
Television journalism has always been a world that has fascinated me in the way that a significant international event can be reported live as it happens. Getting up for work in the morning without a clue what you could be reporting on before promptly being witness to a world changing event I imagine is the thrill of news journalism. With regular appearances on ITV’s Tonight current affairs programme, Jonathan Maitland has become a familiar face on our TV screens over the past two decades. Yet his specialism has been mostly nurtured behind the camera.
Jonathan Maitland remains unique in being able to straddle both sides of the political scene. Being too a celebrated playwright, Maitland is in a position to satirise those in government which he is forced to interact with in his role as a journalist The association between Maitland and the comedy activist Chris Morris is a union which very few could imagine. Yet when you consider both of the gentlemen’s fascinations with the power of politics, their careers’ aren’t that far apart. His controversial new stage play Dead Sheep is an irreverent take on the Tory cabinet of the 1980’s and explores the complex relationship between Margaret Thatcher and senior members of the Conservative party. Spitting Image’s Steve Nallon reprises his heightened interpretation of Thatcher for this satirical look at the goings on at Number 10 at such a pivotal time. In an age where popular satire is possibly considered old fashioned and formulaic, maybe this could be the future for this unique brand of comedy.
Despite comedic success, Jonathan’s first love will always be News and Current Affairs and his varied journalistic CV epitomises this. Although in light of the current state which British television finds itself in, Maitland finds it increasingly difficult to find reasons to continue pursuing his entertainment career. Instead, he is concentrating his efforts on writing stage plays which offers him the creative freedom to hone his work in whatever direction he chooses. Yet one has to see this as a depressing endite for an industry which has always occupied a special place in the hearts of the nation.
So it’s extremely difficult to know what’s next for the enigmatic Jonathan Maitland. Yet if there is ever cause for protest or satirical analysis, we can rest assured that Maitland will always be on the forefront.