Have you ever assaulted someone during an interview in the workplace?
If you have, you’re not alone.
Russell Harty was a popular presenter of British arts television and chat shows during the 1970s and 80s. He was given his own ITV series in 1973 called Russell Harty that went head-to-head against the BBC’s Parkinson show.
Harty conducted numerous iconic celebrity interviews over the years that provided notable moments such as Pete Townshend and Keith Moon from The Who ripping off each other’s shirt sleeves and in 1975 he interviewed the French singer Claude Francois and was one of the first to acknowledge the fact that the Paul Anka song “My Way” was based on a French song of Claude’s called “Comme D’Habitude”.
His piece de resistance however, was a 1980 interview with barmy songstress Grace Jones. After Harty had interviewed Jones and turned away from her to address another guest, Jones appeared to get offended and started repeatedly hitting him after claiming that she was being ignored.
In Ms. Jones’ autobiography, the oddball diva goes into considerable detail about the now infamous appearance and explains how she was “covered in pigeon shit”, that “her sinuses were infected,” and how she had been given some “really bad coke”, stating: “Bad coke was the last thing I wanted before I went on a live television show. The purest form, maybe, but anything else was not going into my body.”
Jones then goes on to say that they had rehearsed the show, but as soon as they were live on air, the seating arrangement had been altered.
“We rehearsed the show in some detail; the three of us politely sat all facing each other in a semicircle. There didn’t seem to be anything to worry about. On the live show, the real thing, it was all very different. There was a live audience, which immediately changed the atmosphere. Things moved very fast, and I wasn’t feeling any better. I was meant to sit next to Russell Harty and keep still and quiet. I was all dressed up like an Amazonian seductress, and treated like the hired help. I thought, ‘this is no way to treat a guest.’ This wasn’t at all like what we’d rehearsed, being stuck there while he ignored me made me feel very uncomfortable. I felt I was provoked. I was feeling exhausted, had no idea where I was, and was coated in pigeon shit; now it seemed I was hallucinating that I was on a live chat show and the host was ignoring me. Pissed off, I poked him in the back. I wasn’t attacking him because I was drunk or stoned. I was lashing out because I felt he was not being proper. You can see if you watch it. I am being sensitive rather than unruly. In fact, because I was tired and disorientated, everything was heightened. I never wanted to do these kinds of shows high. If anything, I get high afterward. When he did turn around and look at me, I started to see Mas P (her step-grandfather) in his face, and an irritable expression that seemed to say, women are the root of all evil……Harty was rude. I wasn’t going to put up with it. I lashed out on live television. It takes balls to do that, which could be seen as a little crazy. And then they tried to get me back on the show! The ratings soared. I had done him a favour. They wanted a rematch. It was all so tacky. When he died, my phone never stopped. It rang off the hook. What do you think about Russell Harty dying? Well, I am very sorry, but what do you want me to say? I didn’t know him at all. I didn’t kill him. I had nothing to do with it. I wasn’t there at all. I had an alibi.”
Have a look at the video clip below and ask yourself what would happen to your career if you started hitting people in an interview because you’d ingested some low quality cocaine. It’s fair to say that you might not be asked back for a second one anytime soon!