Friday, 13 July 2012
Avuncular and with a small black moustache - not completely different from Hitler's - Kirkpatrick was known to everybody as 'Kirk'. He was a diplomat's diplomat, and an expert on Germany: he had been Chamberlain's interpreter - much to Kirk' disgust - as he signed the Munich agreement in 1938. He was about to become the interrogator of Rudolf Hess, and, unlike his BBC predecessors, he was absolutely clear what he wanted. He embarked almost immediately on an enjoyable feud with Sir Stephen Tallents, who was then the BBC's rather distant Controller (Overseas), having made a name for himself as PR man first for the Empire Marketing Board and then for the Post Office. Kirk was a ruthless political operator, and by October Tallents was out.