Famous transcript

Famous person transcript

This is an exercise in turning a transcript (nothing but verbatim spoken quotes recorded on a recorder) into an article that consists of:

  • Direct quotes and indirect quotes
  • Your additional research
  • Historical facts
  • Your pen pictures
  • Description of the environment
  • Your opinions of what you saw, heard and observed

Imagine that this interview was recorded by YOU when YOU interviewed former Australian prime minister Bob Hawke.  Here Hawke runs you through his repertoire of charm and abuse, humour and anger plus generally baiting you the journalist, as he has done to interviewers many times when irritated.


Interpret, or imagine, what was happening in the room while the words below were being spoken.?

Give us a pen picture of the former PM (what he was wearing, his mannerisms, etc).?

Write your interview so it comes out sensibly.?

It’s your decision what to include or exclude.?

Do NOT add new dialogue.?

Do NOT re-construct Hawke’s answers (join words in a way they were never said).?

You may edit material out, but NOT add it in.?

Below is the only dialogue you may use, that is, don’t make-up your own.?

How you use dialogue, how you might edit it or not, and how you might punctuate it,

or censor it or not — is up to you.?

Would you obey Hawke’s request not include his joke about Keating?  (He is ON the record.) ?

Which spoken words you use as a direct quote or an indirect quote is up to you.?

Whether or not you use your own spoken words is a matter for you.?

Put a long explanative title, your byline and the word-count at the top of your article.?

Use double-spacing between lines and double-double spacing between paragraphs.?

Use only 14pt Times Roman Regular .?


DO NOT take the lazy way and simply EDIT-DOWN the transcript, so it’s purely  a question-and-answer type of article.  You must exercise professional feature writing skills, such as observation, description, narrative, researching outside facts and your own observations and comments.    ?


Zz: So Mr Hawke how’s retirement?

Robert James Lee Hawke: Yah call me Bob.  Zz isn’t it?  Zz please call me Bob.  Now whadya say?

I said, how’s retirement?  Jesus Christ Zz where do you frigging journalists get this idea that I’m retired? I’ve never stopped working.  Do you think I pluck money off a money tree?  F’f**k’s sake, can we start this again before I ask you to p*ss off?

Sorry.  How are you finding your new life, out of the public eye?  Jesus.  What outta what public eye?  How can Bob Hawke be outta the public eye?  It may have passed you by Zz, but I was ACTU president for 12 years and Prime Minister for nearly 10 years and only Blind Freddy and citizens of the North Pole can’t pick my face.  I can’t go anywhere in the world without people recognising me, and in Australia everyone knows me.  I sit on boards, I appear on television, I appear at charity things, I make public statements and sometimes I’m bloody silly enough to give interviews to journalists few of whom, few of whom, Zz, Zz, few of whom can ask sensible and frigging accurate questions.  Tell you what, you try once more but if it’s another stupid bloody wrong question I’m leaving.  Go.

Oh, um, oh, um, well, I, er . . . how did you think, ah, ah, John Howard did in his 11½ years?  No good.


Can you say anything positive about him?  Yes.  He didn’t steal cutlery from Kirribilli House.

Didn’t what?  Never mind.  You’re hanging by a slender thread here Zz.  Next question.  Come on, come on.

Are you and your wife planning a book together?  Well funny you should ask.  Blanche and I started doing some planning on paper this morning.  A book, a book.  Well a small book.  Eh Blanche?  Blanche!  Darl, it’ll be a small book eh?  Yeah well we’re thinking.  Blanche darl, could I please have another cuppa darl?  Ta.  Yeah we’re thinking, we’ve been talking about doing a book together on Australia in the year 2020.  I reckon I’ve got another 20 years left in this old body.  Blanche!  Darl, 20 years, yes?  So it’s a sort of Hawkie’s view of Australia from his deathbed.  Not maudlin.  It’s not maudlin.  It’ll be my what, Blanche, whaddya say?  Uh?  Nah.  That other word. Yeah, prognostication.  My prediction this year about what I’ll be, in the year 2020 what I’ll be thinking about this country in the year 2020.  Our housekeeper Nonny has done some art here.  Those no those ones there.  She did all three of those and she’s really good at emotional images.  So, it’s going to be my thoughts Blanche’ll do the words Nonny ah ah will do the ah, y’know, ah th’illustrations. Hey.

Do you have a name for it?  Nah.  Can you think of one?  Come on Zz, you’re starting to do better.  You could pay me for this interview by coming up with a title.  Hey Blanche, she could come up with a title eh?

“From My Deathbed” by Bob Hawke.  Noooo Zz.  It’s gotta be more upbeat.  Hey cat off me.  Off.  ‘Spose we shouldn’t really talk about it until it’s done and published.  Okay, what’s next?  Ah tea, thanks darl.  Yes go on, go.  Aaah.  Whew. Whooo.

Have you developed any new creative interests since ret . . . sorry, since leaving politics?  Active politics.  Someone like me can’t really leave politics.  It’s just not my career any more.  Now what?  Um creative stuff, cree-aa-tiiiive interests.  No I don’t sculpt or write poems or weave bloody baskets.  But that’s a snob question you know.  Really.  You journalists think creative applies only to the arts.  Zz you are all so bloody snobby about business you can’t see the tremendous creativity in the Australian business world.  To you a businessman, ooh, businessperson.  See?  Blanche, see?  Yeah.  To you lot a businessperson has a good idea or a bad idea, and that’s based on whether the business idea worked and made money, or not.  If a business idea didn’t make money then it was a bad idea fullstop.  If it made money it was a good idea fullstop.  But you buggers don’t look beyond that and see the creativity behind so many of today’s business ideas.  An idea, good or bad, can have a lot of creativity behind it.  Whaaat?  Sorry Zz, gotta take this.  [Click.]  Okay where were we?  Blanche darl would you ask Nonny to put this bloody cat out?  Ask George to have the car at the back at 12 and I’ll go to the airport via the Pitt Street thing.  Yeah.  No.  Yeah.  Okay.  So.  Creative.  Yes I do many many creative things and they’re mostly connected to business.  I do many many many creative things, creative actions Zz, many.  Every day.  I don’t sit counting up figures or typing out business plans.  I’m at the heart, looking at ideas, ideas, being truly creative.  I’m as creative in business as William Shakespeare was in playwriting or Picasso was in art.

You compare yourself to Shakespeare and Picasso?  Christ.  Blanche can go to the bathroom and get you some cotton buds and you can clean all the bloody wax out of your ears if you like Zz.  No I never compared myself, compared myself to Picasso or ah, William Shakespeare.  When you play your bloody recorder back Zz you’ll hear me saying these words, okay?  I said I’m as creative a businessman as Shakespeare was a playwright and poet, and as Pablo Picasso was an artist, painter.  Now that is NOT comparing myself to them.  I’m apples and they’re oranges.  But I’m as good an apple as they are good at being oranges.  Is that clear to you Zz Zz is it?  Where do you come from?  The Kerry O’Brien University of the Inquisition?  Did you major in irritation and obtuseness? Or did you just study how not to listen?  Go on.  I have to go to the airport soon.

Sorry.  What’s your current most creative business idea?  Good.  Well creatively speaking, my most important current project is working with a big horse breeding program in southern China.  It was just a big Chinese ranch that bred horses, like, like rabbits.  What was the figure?  Blanche.  How many a day, how many foals a day at the place in China?  Yeah, 600.  Six bloody hundred horses born every day.  And they were using them for everything.  For food, for gelatine, for hides, for workhorses, for sports horses.  I came up with a very creative idea to separate all the different horse breeding, all the different kinds of horses, and to concentrate on the racehorses.

You still love a punt?  I do I do yep but let me explain.  Any fool can look at a huge operation like our one in China and say hey, we should split this all up so it’s more manageable, so we optimise the profit potential, maximise the chance of growth.  Export, that’s what it’s really about, and as one old ex prime minister I sure understand export.  But it wasn’t some clinical cold concept resting on calculators and computers and slide rules.  This was a creative idea, a brainwave I had, a concept, and in words and enthusiasm I had to get it across to people who’d been doing the same thing for 40 generations and were pretty happy with what they had.

Why does gambling fascinate you so much?  It doesn’t.  I’ve played pokies about twice in my life and they’re about as stupid a pastime as god ever put on earth.  I find them idiotic.  To me just mindless gambling against a pre-set, pre-conditioned, pre-determined computer with spinning wheels.  That’s gambling.  But betting on horses or dogs or sport.  Now that’s an intellectual challenge, and even though luck plays a part, it’s the playing with possibilities and chance and the odds, and all the events that can influence the outcome.  That’s what I find stimulating.  And racing is always conducted in a socially stimulating setting.  I love it at the races.  I love the people.  Ingham, Cummings, young Jamie.  I talk to anyone and everyone.  Jockeys, stablehands, the ladies selling pies.  Never tire of talking to real people.  Is that George?  Blanche, is that George?  Tell him to get the briefcase on my desk and my Filofax, it’s on the bench.  Yeah.  No.  Tell him in 10 minutes.  Is that alright Zz?  Ten minutes, gotta get to th’airport.

Only a few more questions Mr, ah, Bob.  If you found yourself seated next to Paul Keating on a long flight, what would you two talk about?  I wouldn’t.  I’d have slipped a bomb into his briefcase and got off the plane.  Sh*t!  Don’t you quote that.  Really, I’m telling you, you leave that out.  Okay, start again.  If I was sitting next to Paul for two hours, actually, we’d have a lot to talk about.  I kid around as if I bear him animosity, because no-one believes me when I say I don’t, so I joke around, as if I did.  But the god-honest truth is that I bear him no ill will, and I wish him all the best that life can bring.  Neither of us would want to talk about the past.  We’d talk about the present and the future, and Australia, and the GST and what’s on at the movies and our kids, and most of all we’d talk about international trade and the international business scene because that’s our great common interest.  I saw Paul at a cocktail party a month ago and we hadn’t finished shaking hands before we were both rabbiting on about trade matters.  Nothing he’s doing, none of the companies he’s working with bear directly on any of my projects, but any international businessman who meets another international businessman has plenty to talk about.

Have you invited him to dinner here, your home?  Gawd, you people can’t leave it alone.  I just spelled out in minute detail the cordial relationship Paul Keating and I have with each other.  I know hundreds of people I admire, respect, like, whatever, and just because they may never have been here for dinner doesn’t mean I’m lying when I say I admire and respect a person.  Zz don’t you people ever tire of trying to be a Mike Munro or a Ray Martin?  Do you think I’m lying about Paul, and you, you the clever journalist, you’re going to get me to drop my guard and suddenly I’ll be bagging the bloke and you’ll have a headline.  As my American friends say, gimme a break.

Had any Aboriginals to dinner here?  Of course.  Lois Donoghue, Pat O’Shane, the late Charlie Perkins, some others, six or eight well-known leaders were here for dinner Friday night.  What’s that question all about?

What are your drinking habits?  Very sober.  A whiskey before dinner, wine with dinner, occasionally a few beers at lunch.  I love good Australian semillon chardonnays and we keep several dozen bottles here at all times.  Just in case a party breaks out.  Right Blanche?  Eh?  Tell George it’s probably next to my desk.

Do you regret being on the wagon for all the years of your prime ministership?  Well, it was longer.  I stopped drinking when I went into Parliament, what two years before I became PM.  No of course I bloody don’t regret it.  That was the right and proper thing to do, as PM.  And now as an allegedly private citizen, it’s appropriate for me to be a moderate drinker.  You should note, Zz, you should note that I love a very inexpensive semillon chardonnay called Sacred Hill.  Six bucks, seven bucks.  Blanche, six, seven?  Yeah, six to eight bucks a bottle, comes from Bilbul.  B, i, l, b, u, l.  No-one’s heard of it.  Sacred Hill semillon chardonnay has won a bucket of medals, and if my endorsement counts, stock up on it Australia.  When the world finds out what a superb wine it is, you’ll be paying 12 or 20, and you won’t be able to find any.  And before I have to endure one of your Ray Martin questions, no, I’ve never been given a bottle and I know no-one at Sacred Hill.  I just like to tip my fellow Australians into a good thing.  Next.

How’s your health?  Perfect.  Next.

We frequently saw John Howard out jogging.  Do you exercise?  Yes, my braincells, 24 hours a day.  Come on, next.

Will you ever retire completely?  I’ve no plans to.  Blanche and I are having fun.  We are building.  We’re playing with ideas, we’re enjoying our life.  Making money from worthwhile ventures is creative, exciting, fun, keeps you in touch with wonderful people.  No, no thoughts of vegetating.  Next.

Do you communicate with your first wife Hazel?  Zz, I have an absolute rule that I don’t discuss or comment on Hazel.  Next.

They say you had two fathers, Clem, and Peter Abeles.  At your age do you think much about the significant people in your life who aren’t here anymore?   Whew.  Yes I do.  I think that I think of my mother and my father, and Sir Peter, every day of my life.  I don’t know if I do think of them every day in reality, but it feels, it seems y’know, that when I am conscious that I’m thinking of say my dear old Dad, the Reverend Clem, that I feel I do think of him every day.

When you were 10. your brother Neal died at age 18.  Do you think of him?  Yes.  Next.

Every day, do you tell Blanche that you love her?  Yes.  Ah shaddup Blanche.  You know I love you every moment of the day and I mean to tell you 20 times a day that I love you, and if I tell you only 19 times, well I’m sorry.  See that?  Zz, see that?  Throws things.  This magnificent romance, now Zz, get this down, Hawke said this magnificent romance is a tempestuous love affair of Shakespearean proportions.  Get that?  Right darl?  Yep, tell George coming.  Zz we’ll have to wind up.

Will the world ever have completely free trade?  Absolutely.  Way we’ve all been headed for 30, 40 years and the pace of change is accelerating and maybe not in my lifetime, but well before the year 2030 there will be pure, 100% free trade, worldwide, for everything.

Will there be a World War III?  No.  I don’t see an end to all war, but I feel very sure, absolutely sure that there will never be a worldwide war on the scale of World War I and World War II.  Never.  Military strategies around the world, and the attitudes of Russia, China and America guarantee there will never be a World War III.  Come on Zz, I do have to go.

Would you accept an offer by Mr Rudd to become Australia’s first president?  It’s not going to be offered to me, but if it was I would consider it long and seriously, even if only because it’s an honour to be asked.  Like those movie stars who know that being nominated an Oscar, ah no, that’s not a good analogy I was going to say, but you know what I mean.  Yes I’d consider it.  No it’s not going to be offered.  Okay, last question.  Come on Zz.

Who will win the next federal election?  Well you know I’ll say Labor.  But under the brilliance of Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard, against the dusty dreary policies of the Libs, Kev’s a shoo-in. But I tell you what I’ll do, and you’re taping this, so you’ve got the evidence.  Tell you, tell you what.  You said you liked that Blackman when you came in.  Okay if Labor doesn’t win, that painting’s yours.  Ah shaddup darl.  It’s safe as houses.  Okay?  So it’s not a bet, you don’t put up anything Zz, but I put up that Blackman, and it’s probably worth, I dunno.  Blanche?  Nah.  Well I dunno, 30, 40 grand.  If Labor loses, the Blackman’s yours.  Now can we end on that pleasant note?

Mr Haw…Bob, thank you for your time.  Thank you Zz.  George I’m coming.  Bye darl.  Thanks Zz.



When next sending in a normal assignment, send your Hawke article with this completed questionnaire attached.




You may use only these words above for direct quotes and you may NOT make up new words for direct quotes.













You may NOT invent new dialogue that never happened during this interview.












You may include any of your own thoughts while this interview took place.













You may include any of your own observations while this interview took place.













Your treatment must be a realistic journalistic article.











Your final article must be in the logical context of interviewing Hawke in the present time.




Please nominate your theoretical “target publication”. Be sensible.


Which publication would REALLY like your article (if it was really yours)?




Target publication:“………………………………………………………………………….”

Why this publication?










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