Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Keating: They don't make them like Paul anymore

Keating: The Interviews
Tuesday, 8.30pm, ABC1
Four hours on a politician, any politician, is a big ask, but let's face it -- whatever your feelings for Paul Keating, he makes a fascinating profile. Kerry O'Brien spent 14 hours between March and July interviewing the former prime minister in his elegant Sydney office, stuffed with antiques, for this fascinating four-part series. Why did Keating decide to do it? O'Brien says the boy from Bankstown who left school aged 15 is comfortable with his place in history; perhaps it was to protect his legacy. Certainly no other Australian politician has agreed to the length and scope of these interviews which started last week with Keating talking poignantly about how his grandmother, mother and father influenced his early years, his hero and mentor Jack Lang, and his obsession, from the age of 18, with politics. (If you missed it catch up on www.abc.net.au/iview.) This week, Keating reflects on the heady years (1983-91) when he was prime minister Bob Hawke's treasurer. It was a powerful combo, one of the best, but put two such strong, single-minded bulls in the same paddock and they will occasionally lock horns. Keating and O'Brien obviously enjoy engaging (sometimes sparring) with each other here; urbane, witty Keating with his whimsical smile and O'Brien doing what he does best: thoroughly researched, intelligent journalism.