Steve Hewlett

Remembering Steve Hewlett

Steve Hewlett (Credit: Paul Hampartsoumian)

Large and crumpled in appearance, looking askance at the world through badly treated glasses, Steve resembled a character from the pages of Michael Frayn. It was no surprise to learn than Steve was a rugby player.

His distinctive Midlands’ tones were invariably part of the background noise to any media event worth attending.

At Cambridge or Edinburgh, Steve’s presence was de rigour – whether talking, beer in hand, until past midnight in the bar or up on stage interviewing, say, Elisabeth Murdoch or David Abraham.

Watch: Steve Hewlett in conversation with Roger Bolton

Steve Hewlett is the presenter of Radio 4’s Media Show and was previously the editor of Panorama. In that role, he was responsible for some of the key scoops of the last 30 years, including the exclusive 1995 interview with Princess Diana watched by nearly 23 million people.

He reflected on his life and career at this Media Society event, held with support from the Royal Television Society at the BBC Radio Theatre.

With thanks to John Mair for producing the event and to the BBC for the clips.

Event report: An Evening with Steve Hewlett

So it is with Steve Hewlett, presenter of Radio 4’s Media Show and a person who is responsible for some of the most important TV scoops of the last 30 years.

The 1995 Panorama interview with Princess Diana, edited on his watch, was seen by almost 23 million viewers.

Hewlett has also worked on programmes covering The Troubles in Northern Ireland, including a film on Bloody Sunday, and tracked down Colonel Gaddafi.  

Back in March, Steve was told by doctors that he was suffering from a very aggressive form of cancer.

John Whittingdale: BBC licence fee not settled yet

John Whittingdale

The level of threat the BBC is under in the run-up to Charter Renewal is in danger of being exaggerated, former BBC Director-General Greg Dyke told Radio 4’s The Media Show.

Dyke was part of a panel discussing the future of the broadcaster, and added that it would be a “terrible mistake” for the BBC to stop making popular shows such as Strictly Come Dancing.

What makes a good political interview?

Getting information out of politicians on TV is proving difficult this election. Day after day of interviews on a range of programmes are testing parliamentary hopefuls on every policy they have, and straight answers are rare. 

Television becomes the perfect climate for politicians to avoid tough questioning and instead get their planned party message across. 

Paxman and Stewart on TV's election coverage

Jeremy Paxman and Alastair Stewart

Alastair Stewart may have hosted British television’s first political leaders’ debate in April 2010 but, more often than not, it was Jeremy Paxman who had the last word at a rumbustious RTS Legends lunch in May.

Steve Hewlett was the ringmaster at this highly entertaining event, which sought to bring an insider’s perspective to the recent general election.

For much of the time, the two TV anchor men agreed to disagree. Paxman was as cynical as Stewart was enthusiastic. Maybe he’d recently attended a positive-thinking course.

Paxman and Stewart agree to disagree over the 2015 election coverage

Jeremy Paxman and Alastair Stewart at RTS legends Lunch in May 2015

The two seasoned broadcasters offered different perspectives on the recent general election to their interviewer, Media Show presenter Steve Hewlett.

"Monumentally dull" was the verdict of the erstwhile Newsnight attack dog on the campaign in which pollsters, pundits and politicians were all convinced would lead to another hung Parliament.

Paxman opined that TV networks had devoted so much attention to opinion polls because it was a "monumentally dull" campaign.