Revealed: How Margaret Thatcher was briefed on the punk scene before an interview with Smash Hits

10 Oct

In advice ahead of the March 1987 interview, the Prime Minister was urged to show she was “confident and relaxed” fielding questions on contemporary music and her personal tastes, in a bid to appeal to the nation’s youth.

Officials felt it necessary to advise her on the songs at the top of the charts and the earlier popularity of punk, which aides described as a “very basic musical style featuring a strange bunch of anti-establishment acts”.

The Downing Street press office warned she “may not enjoy” the interview with Tom Hibbert, deputy editor of Smash Hits, which regularly sold more than 500,000 copies during the 1980s.

The interview would range from her own musical tastes and her feelings about contemporary singers, to the issues of AIDS, drugs, unemployment and nuclear power.

“Mr Hibbert may ask superficial questions which betray a lack of understanding.

“The challenge of the interview will be for you to demonstrate that just because you are not part of the pop scene, you are still in touch with youngsters and understand their needs.”

Referring to an earlier children’s television appearance on Saturday Superstore, it went on: “The important thing is to show you are confident and relaxed. The way you handled the Superstore appearance is still the subject of praise from youngsters.”

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