Ref NoOHP/94
TitleDonald Trelford
Date4 July 2001
Extent1 minidisc, 1 cd, 5 AIFF files (792.6 MB) and 1 PDF file (747 KB)
Creator NameTrelford; Donald Gilchrist (1937-); journalist, broadcaster, and editor of The Observer
DescriptionInterview with Donald Trelford, editor of the Observer. Conducted by Robert McCrum on 4 July 2001. Includes PDF transcript.

Summary contents of interview (with rough timings):

Disc 1:
Tracks 1-4

Track 5
00.00 How he came to write for the paper. Time of intelligent sports writing
00.00 Covering a Coventry rugby match whilst at Cambridge
03.00 Attracted by paper's interest in Africa and decolonisation, decriminalisation of homosexuality, hanging and abortion
03.56 Covered 1st Oxford-Cambridge tiddliwinks competition
05.10 Went to the Nyasaland Times in the early 60s writing freelance articles from Malawi
06.20 Joined Observer almost by accident
07.50 Observer oversees edition - elegance of thin newsprint
07.50 Saw an advert for Deputy News Editor. Issue of whether his fare from Malawi would be paid
09.25 Interview with David Astor in 1966 - Observer had just moved to 8 St Andrew's Hilll, London

11.40 Observer newsroom
11.40 First Saturday was the World Cup. Final McIlvanney award-winning piece
13.15 Wrote the front page World Cup league
13.40 Colin Legum on Africa
14.00 Spectacular writers working for the Observer, especially in the arts
17.15 Becoming editor. Michael Davie going AWOL

20.15 Promised next opportunity by Astor - given deputy editorship
20.55 This threw some of the 'old guard' out - they felt he was too young
21.50 Becoming editor and the financial problems of the paper at the time
27.00 Taking over as editor
29.00 Position under the Astor Trust. Possibility of Rupert Murdoch buying the paper

32.00 Flew to the US to see Murdoch
36.00 Meeting with senior journalists - John Cole, Adam Raphael
38.10 Clive James, etc. spoke up against Murdoch - this leaked into press
38.10 Murdoch withdrew offer leaving the paper in chaos. Atlantic Richfield came in

41.00 Atlantic Richfield ,paper suddenly owned by a multi-national - difficulties
43.20 Handing over to Lonrho - detailed account of machinations
47.00 Conor Cruise O'Brien coming in as managing editor
48.00 Describes Anderson (head of Atlantic Richfield) and how he sold paper to Lonrho

52.00 Anderson said the paper was safe with him, when he had already sold it
54.00 Observer objected to Rowland as proprietor. Possibility of paper going to Glasgow
54.00 Wrote a document on why Rowland should not own the Observer
54.00 Government decided that Rowland could either own Harrods or the Observer
56.00 Feels he was lucky to survive this turbulant ime
57.00 Alternative bidders
59.00 Proposed independent directors
59.30 Recalls Rowland saying, 'you have not made it very easy for me Mr Trelford'

60.40 Matabeleland crisis - first big conflict
62.00 Al Fayed stories - did he regret them?
63.00 Need for capital investment at the time of Murdoch and Wapping, perceived as a 'faustian deal'
63.00 Feels Rowland had been 'cheated out' of Harrods by British establishment
67.30 Irritation at Anthony Howard's account of the Fayed business
68.50 Lunch with David Astor 'you may be right but you are getting things out of proportion'

70.00 Background to publishing details of leaked DTI report - Rowland had got hold of a copy
72.00 Debate on when to publish it
72.30 Idea of publishing special edition dictated by Lonrho AGM that week
72.30 Finishes mid-conversation on Observer and Lonrho parting ways
Access StatusOpen
Access ConditionsAccess to recording via GNM Digital Repository


FormatElectronic record
CD recording
Minidisc recording
CopyrightGuardian News & Media Ltd and Donald Trelford

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