An Interview With Laurie Taylor

1 January 2012

Of all the people you interviewed in your "In Confidence" series, who was most different to your perception of them?

John Lydon, Johnny Rotten. After some initial bluster which he seemed to feel was expected of him, he showed great intelligence and insight into his own career and the nature of ambition. I was also surprised to find how much Andre Previn made me laugh, and how much in love I was with Sheila Hancock.

Why do you enjoy being a speaker?

My greatest pleasure is to evoke intelligent laughter. I love to use humour as a way of getting across difficult and even profound truths about life and work and the paths to happiness.

Who are your role models -- in business and in life?

I hugely admire Jonathan Miller's capacity to combine humour, intelligence and artistic sensitivity. But I also revere Philip Roth, Johnny Rotten, and Lady Gaga. Can I also have Charlie Parker and Billie Holliday?

You have had such a varied career, which element has been the most fun?

I was a lousy professional actor, too pleased with myself to ever lose myself in another character. I wasn't that good an academic, too ready to abandon intellectual conversation for a few pints and an argument about football, so I'd have to say radio. After all, as some critic once observed, I have an excellent face for radio

What have you found to be the main differences between working in academia and in industry?

In academia you can generally excuse yourself from other pieces of work by saying that you need some thinking time. In industry, asking for thinking time, is tantamount to a request for early retirement.

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