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Meeting a future Prime Minister 1965

In July 1965, Edward Heath was elected as leader of the Conservative Party. In a party election, he had defeated Enoch Powell and Reginald Maudling. Soon afterwards, Dick Clark, my boss at United Press International Newsfilm, arranged a meeting with him to discuss a filmed interview at some convenient time in the future.  Dick asked me to go along with him to meet Ted Heath.

I was asked to decide if the apartment was suitable for filming the interview.

He lived in the Albany, a group of very expensive flats and apartments.

Albany London

Image via Wikipedia

The Albany is in Piccadilly, next to the Royal Academy and opposite Fortnum and Mason’s. Originally built 1770-74 and designed by Sir William Chambers for the 1st Viscount Melbourne.

The house was converted into chambers for bachelors in 1802, by Henry Holland. Former residents include Lord Palmerston (Henry John Temple), Lord Byron, William E. Gladstone, Lord Macaulay, Aldous Huxley and even the fictional Raffles.

Ted Heath welcomed us into his home which was extremely well appointed.  It was larger than I had expected and it was decorated tastefully.  He gave us tea and biscuits.  We discussed the forthcoming interview.  Of course, he wanted to know what sort of questions might be asked so that he could prepare an answer. It was common practice of the day that the interviewer should provide the interviewee with details of the proposed questions.

Somewhat surprisingly, he had no objection to any of the questions.

After an hour or so, we finished talking about the interview and got on to other things.

English: Edward Heath at home in Salisbury

Image via Wikipedia

At one end of the living room near to the main window, there stood a grand piano.

Dick remarked on the excellence of the piano and Ted offered to entertain us with some Brahms.  He played a piece from his Opus 116 (slow movement).  There is no doubt that Ted Heath was a brilliant pianist (and organist). He was also a world-class yachtsman.  It was a most enjoyable afternoon tea.

A few weeks later, Dick went back to The Albany, with a sound crew and lights, to conduct the interview.  He got Ted Heath to speak at length on a variety of subjects and Dick was well pleased with the result.

Within five years, Ted Heath had become Prime Minister.

© Terence Gallacher and, 2011.  Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Terence Gallacher and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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