Hardtalk (styled as HARDtalk) is a BBC television and radio programme, consisting of in-depth 25-minute one-on-one interviews.
It is broadcast four days a week (Monday to Thursday) on BBC World News and the BBC News channel. Launched in 1997, much of its worldwide fame is due to its global reach via BBC World. Until early 2005, the host was Tim Sebastian, whose famous, and sometimes controversial, style of tough questioning brought a huge world audience to the show. It is normally broadcast late at night on the BBC News Channel. Until the mid-2000s, it was broadcast at around 11:30 pm, but in more recent times it has been broadcast an hour later at 12:30 am. In 2015 it was moved to an earlier slot 20:30 in the evening as part of a changes to the channel.
Since 2004, the show has been presented by Stephen Sackur, previously the BBC’s correspondent in Washington and Brussels and an experienced interviewer, who has grilled U.S. Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton. He is sporadically replaced by several other well-known BBC presenters such as Zeinab Badawi, Carrie Gracie and Sarah Montague. Other occasional presenters have included Jon Sopel, David Jessel, Lyse Doucet, Nisha Pillai, Noel Thompson, Mishal Husain and Katya Adler.
Guests have included the Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, South African President Thabo Mbeki, popular musician Boy George and the 14th Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso. Heads of state interviewed in 2012 included Burmese President Thein Sein, who long led Burma’s military junta (“the interview made headlines around the world”); and President Teodoro Obiang of Equatorial Guinea, who “rarely gives interviews” and whom Sackur subsequently described as having a “bunker mentality” and as “living in a parallel universe, a place where embarrassment does not exist”. In 2010 Sackur interviewed President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, who “rarely grant[ed] extended interviews to the western media”. Many key principle players, members, ministers, confidantes and aides in Tony Blair’s government have also appeared on the show including John Prescott, Peter Mandelson, Jonathan Powell and Sir Michael Barber and in December 2013 former Blair administration minister and current Shadow Foreign Secretary Douglas Alexander was interviewed on the show”.