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Shock horror: iconic rock star allowed to smoke during BBC interview

Great to see Keith Richards interviewed by Andrew Marr this morning.

I was watching the programme when Dan Donovan, another musician and smoker, sent me a text:

Just watched Keith Richards interviewed on Andrew Marr. He's sitting indoors smoking with ashtray on table and on the BBC. How refreshing.

A second text read:

Iconic eloquent smoker and in his seventies.

I assume Richards insisted on smoking because I can't imagine the BBC volunteered the ashtray.

What I can imagine is a series of meetings among BBC top brass asking whether an interview with Richards was worth the criticism they would get on social media for 'allowing' him to light up.

Of course it was. The man is a legend and he's no fool. Although Marr was referring primarily to hard drugs when he questioned him about his lifestyle, it was refreshing to hear Richards neither condone nor apologise for his habits, most of which are in the past if you believe his autobiography.

"Don't do as I do" was as much as he would say (laughing as he said it) and most people would concur with that because if you read his book Richards does appear to have an unusually strong – possibly freak – constitution.

Others haven't been so lucky but the wonderful thing is he doesn't preach in the way many former addicts do.

And he hasn't given up all his vices, as today's interview proved.

The funniest thing was reading some of the comments on Twitter. Here's a selection:

@BBC very disappointed to see Keith Richards smoking on the Andrew Marr show. Why was that allowed to happen?

@BBC I can't believe @AndrewMarr9 is interviewing #keithrichards whose smoking during his interview! Is he too famous to follow rules?

Keith Richards smoking as he is being interviewed on the Marr Show. Everything about it looks wrong #signofthetimes

Really? What a strange world we live in.

Andrew Marr clearly didn't mind. He was "honoured" just to be in the same room as one of his heroes.

Whatever, it was a brief but welcome break from Corbyn mania even if Marr did slip in a question about the new Labour leader.

Richards handled that expertly too, wishing Corbyn all the best without divulging what he thought of his politics.

A smoker and a diplomat. Fancy that.

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Reader Comments (13)

All smokers should insist on the right to smoke. Censoring reality is the wrong not the sight of someone choosing to smoke.

Sunday, September 13, 2015 at 16:18 | Unregistered CommenterVinny Gracchus

“ … he doesn't preach in the way many former addicts do.”

Not quite true, Simon. In my experience, it’s only former smokers who preach at others like zealous converts to a new religion. Over the years I’ve known people who have been addicted to all sorts of things including alcohol, cannabis, cocaine, or, sometimes, a combination of some/all of these and other things. And, to a man, none of them have ever jumped onto the evangelizing bandwagon or tried to pressurise/force/insist upon others into following suit. If anything, their experiences of addiction and, later, of “getting clean” seem to have enhanced, rather than diminished, their understanding of the problems of addiction and the difficulties associated with overcoming it.

Becoming an ex-smoker, on the other hand, seems to make normally kindly, understanding people into spittle-flecked, finger-wagging bullies, inwardly boiling with rage at themselves for capitulating to the demands of others into giving up something which they enjoyed and which they haven’t been able to replace with anything as good. And they can’t seem to help themselves, no matter how much they may witter on about “not becoming one of those awful ex-smoking types” beforehand – that’s the really scary part. They probably don’t realise it, but in many ways, ex-smokers are themselves the very worst advertisement that there is for giving up smoking.

Sunday, September 13, 2015 at 22:20 | Unregistered CommenterMisty

Not entirely true Misty, many former smokers do not become anti-smokers or judgemental. Smokers who were ashamed of or disgusted by their own habit often do become obnoxiously anti. You know the type, they smoked because of someone else's fault, they can't stop, it's an addiction etc.
Those of us who stopped simply because we no longer got the same enjoyment very rarely become anti. I have been stopped for years but there are always ashtrays available in my home for any visitor who wants.

Monday, September 14, 2015 at 1:40 | Unregistered CommenterBemused

Watching the interview made my day. Something felt normal for once. Glad you commented on it.

Monday, September 14, 2015 at 6:43 | Unregistered Commentervapingpoint

I saw that interview. Hilarious. I guessed he refused to be interviewed unless he was filmed smoking. He consistently flouts smoking bans while performing.

Monday, September 14, 2015 at 10:57 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan Bagley

I (an ex-smoker/current vaper) happened to catch the Andrew Marr show yesterday and remarked to my husband (never smoker) how surprised I was to see Keith Richards smoking in a BBC interview. "Why ?" he asked, "He's obviously sitting in his own home". "Well, they'll be accused of renormalising smoking" I replied. "What !" Smoking is normal" he replied. "Well, they'd like to have you think it wasn't" I replied. "That's really worrying and quite frightening" he said, "Do they realise they're saying "hello Brave New World ......?"

Monday, September 14, 2015 at 11:05 | Unregistered CommenterMaytwin

As far as I know Andrew Marr is a smoker, whether he has given up or severely cut down since his stroke I don't know

Monday, September 14, 2015 at 12:33 | Unregistered Commentertimbone

So Keith Richards smokes in an interview. So what? Perfectly normal.

Monday, September 14, 2015 at 13:31 | Unregistered Commentergray

God bless Keith Richards!

Monday, September 14, 2015 at 15:31 | Unregistered Commenterjredheadgirl

Oops! I stand corrected, Bemused, and my apologies. My mistake - I should have said “it’s only some former smokers who …”

Monday, September 14, 2015 at 23:37 | Unregistered CommenterMisty

Watched the Beeb's "Points of View" this afternoon. First up was a selection of videos of viewers unanimously outraged at the Beeb allowing an interviewee to smoke. The level of outrage required the programme's director to defend 'the decision' which he did by pointing out that the interview was held in a hotel room (paid for by Richards) and, therefore, that smoking wasn't illegal.

Best point made by one of The Outraged was that children could have been watching ('cos we all know that the Children of Britain settle down at 9.00am of a Sunday morning to watch politicians being interviewed and that Keith Richards follows Taylor Swift on their playlists).

Sunday, September 20, 2015 at 17:16 | Unregistered CommenterJay101

Prepare for the outrage over both George Martin and Paul McCartney repeatedly shown smoking in last week's documentary on BBC4.

Monday, September 21, 2015 at 17:51 | Unregistered CommenterJonathan Bagley

The very fact that this is news shows the great health insanity !

Wednesday, September 23, 2015 at 15:40 | Unregistered CommenterAnna

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