Trevor McDonald has recalled his “terrifying” experience of interviewing Saddam Hussein.
The former President of Iraq spoke to the broadcaster in 1990 ahead of the Gulf War.
The iconic newsreader spoke to John Cleese on Dinosaur Hour about the “fascinating” discussion.
“He had not done many [interviews], and it was the only one he did for British television, so I had the weight of expectation on me, that I was the only one who was going to be able to see him”, he said.
Trevor McDonald spoke to John Cleese
“I was terrified. He had a pretty awful reputation. Someone told me there was a meeting where a minister began to voice a disagreement with him.
“Hussein took him out of the meeting, shot him, and continued the meeting as if nothing had happened.
“I was terrified about doing this.”
McDonald became the only British journalist ever to interview the dictator after months of negotiations with Iraqi representatives.
Hussein was just one prominent world figure McDonald interviewed during his esteemed journalism career, with the likes of Bill Clinton and Nelson Mandela featuring on the impressive list.
ITN’s first ever black reporter told Cleese he had to “man up” for his encounter with Hussein.
John Cleese spoke to Trevor McDonald on GB News’s Dinosaur Hour
“I thought I would say something which he would not like and he would say, ‘I do not like this’ and it would get a little awkward”, he said.
“Nothing like that happened, but what I learned was that it was so rare for people to see him being talked to and being made to answer questions.
“There were but half a dozen of his ministers sat around my interview and I got a little annoyed.
“I said, ‘what are you guys doing? Don’t you have anything better to be doing in an evening?
“They took me to the side and said, ‘you don’t quite understand, we never see him being asked questions which he is made to answer’.”
McDonald told Cleese he was in for a shock upon his return to the hotel after finding officials from the Ministry of Information drinking his whisky.
The journalist was particularly amazed at the individuals revealing they had “never met” Hussein, despite working for him.
“He was a dictator who kept a long way from his people”, he added.
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