Miriam Gonzalez Durantez – guest editor on BBC Radio 4 Today programme
BBC Radio 4 Today guest editor for a day, senior international lawyer and secret food blogger, Miriam González Durántez took charge of the programme’s direction and interviews. Intelligent and disarmingly charming González discussed politics, women, role models, immigration, extremism, high heels, and food with Jamie Oliver and Bake Off champion Nadiya Hussain, and interviewed Richard Branson, Theresa May, James Blunt among others, whilst sidestepping Justin Webb’s sexism. Barely minutes after the interview some people were criticising her interviews as “embarrassing“.
Only last week she wrote for the Financial Times on Spain’s recent election impasse, and political and judicial corruption there:
“The message is clear: voters do not want a focus on personalities or parties, they want a focus on cleaning up politics. Whoever becomes prime minister is almost irrelevant since he is likely to have to pack his (no chance of hers, alas) bags before long.” – Miriam González Durántez, Financial Times
González is an inspiring woman who also promotes the Inspiring Women Campaign since 2013 which talks with girls in state schools about future paths.
Love Miriam Gonzalez Durantez. Super bright, funny, hard working, strong defender of human rights & determined to help other women #R4Today
— Clare Balding (@clarebalding) December 30, 2015
As El Mundo reported, it is the first time a Spaniard has guest edited the programme since the idea was introduced back in 2003.
La abogada Miriam González es la primera persona española que ha sido invitada a codirigir un día el programa Today de la BBC Radio 4.
González turns out to have been the secret author of a cookery blog “Mum and Sons“. She has some excellent mayonnaise cheats and a delicious guacamole recipe.
“I’m Spanish we talk about food all the time… at breakfast we talk about what’s for lunch, at lunch what’s for dinner!” (2h48m)
Having lived in Spain for two years and being complete obsessed by food, I must have had a secret Spanish heart transplant.
She mentioned on the programme about her love of British freedom as she’s discussed before in the Guardian:
“The very first five minutes when I came to live here, I felt a freedom that I had never felt before in my life, a freedom to be myself.”
Women and Islamic State Extremism
González challenged Radio 4 to investigate and find out why over 60 British women and teens have travelled to Syria to possibly join Islamic State. Interviews include the Unity of Faiths Foundation which fights radicalisation through football, member of the Youth Parliament and an Ambassador for TUFF FC, Umra Butt, and director at anti-extremism Connect Justice, Laura Zahra McDonald.
“Facing racism and Islamophobic slurs…it’s the only place they feel accepted, it’s about belonging and fitting in…how can we empower people to belong…” (2h33m)
Smart and Beautiful
She used the opportunity as Today programme guest editor to challenge both gender roles, stereotypes and interview male and female role models. She also called on James Blunt to rewrite “You’re Beautiful” as “You are Smart” (1h45m). Blunt apologised for his “ridiculous accent” but not for being seen as sensitive or gay.
“…not very macho…effeminate and gay…not an insult…to call me gay is a compliment, and I’d like to be considered an honorary gay man, I’m totally at ease with myself.” – James Blunt
Ever the diplomat, she chose not to slam much of the inherent everyday sexism of BBC male interviewer Justin Webb who introduced her as Nick Clegg’s wife – a dubious honour not used to introduce anyone else’s marital status or partner. Twitter of course, took him to task:
As the presenter said, “You’re Nick Clegg’s wife. It’s why you’re here” #r4today A pity Miriam Gonzalez let it go by https://t.co/WuKaIzTh0q — Clapton Blues (@garyfoskett) December 30, 2015
Why refer to Miriam Gonzalez Durantez as “Nick Clegg’s wife”? No other guest editor described in terms of who their partner is. #r4today — Valery Ryan (@Valeryan13) December 22, 2015
Neanderthal sexism alive on #r4today feed. Miriam Gonzalez’s career https://t.co/8n7hlxRGms Ignorant to dismiss her as ‘Clegg’s wife’ — Tony Jackson (@JacksonT0ny) December 30, 2015
@BBCr4today did I hear you say “Miriam González Durántez..Nick Clegg’s wife”. Notice you didn’t say “Garry Linker husband of..” Shame on you — Fran Morris (@franmorris19) December 22, 2015
“Who’s in charge in your household?” (2h54m50s) “You’re the wife of Nick Clegg – it is a fact, you don’t rile from that?” (2h56m50s) “You want Theresa May to be in charge of the Tories, you are willing her” (2h59m15s)
Home Secretary Theresa May Interview
Sharing a love of shoes, González says to May:
“I think better in high heels” (2h20m)
On whether Theresa May would lead a BrExit “No Campaign”, May dodges the question, González challenges “That’s not really an answer to my question”, May replies, “I’m a politician, Miriam”, González reiterates “I’m a lawyer, I have to insist”, then deflects with laughter. (2h25m45s)
“I believe in women speaking up and saying openly how difficult it is” – Miriam Gonzalez Durantez pic.twitter.com/e20lQEzEPM — BBC Radio 4 Today (@BBCr4today) December 30, 2015
An Embarrassing or Endearing Interviewer?
Despite a debate this morning on whether her interview with May was “embarrassing” González appears genuine, is obviously intelligent yet uses endearing humour – which may appear self and female-patronising at times, but which seems to be a ploy to disarm and choose which “square centimetre” battles to fight. Wanting to see change, she says, means choosing your battles wisely. Not every successful woman needs to be a Theresa May-Margaret Thatcher battleaxe, woman can make it by being themselves, not by being men.