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The Hardtalk programme titles
Created by BBC News
Presented by Current:
Stephen Sackur
Zeinab Badawi
Sarah Montague
Shaun Ley

Tim Sebastian
Theme music composer David Lowe
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
Production location(s) Studio TC7, Television Centre (1997-2012)

Studios A and C on rotation, Broadcasting House (2012-)
Editor(s) Carey Clark
Running time 25 minutes
Original network BBC News
BBC World News
BBC World Service
BBC Two (2013-)
Picture format 576i (16:9 SDTV)
1080i (HDTV)
Original release 31 March 1997 (1997-03-31) – present
Related shows HARDtalk Extra Time
External links

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 on 31 March 1997, much of its worldwide fame is due to its global reach via BBC World. Until early 2005, the host was Tim Sebastian, whose 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 2017, that has been reversed, and UK viewers may only view the programme online or overnight at 00:30, 02:30 and 04:30, with no repeat shown during the day or on weekends.

Presenters and notable interviewees

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 interviewed 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".[1] In 2010 Sackur interviewed President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, who "rarely grant[ed] extended interviews to the western media".[2] 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 Shadow Foreign Secretary Douglas Alexander was interviewed on the show".[3]


The Hardtalk set in Studio TC7 at Television Centre with presenter Stephen Sackur and interviewee Olusegun Obasanjo

Hardtalk Extra, a variant of Hardtalk, first aired in 2004 and was devoted to the world of arts and culture, with a particular focus on authors. The programme was usually presented by Gavin Esler or Mishal Husain. Guests included writers Paulo Coelho, Anita Desai, and V. S. Naipaul, actress Angelina Jolie, and the actor Christopher Reeve.

Extra Time is another programme from the Hardtalk team, presented by Rob Bonnet and broadcast on both BBC World News and the BBC News channel, featuring people from the world of sport; it was revived for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. It was again revived on 25 July 2016 for the 2016 Summer Olympics.

There are two South Asian versions of the above: Hardtalk India and Hardtalk Pakistan.

Hardtalk began airing from Broadcasting House in October 2012.

The program also airs on CBC Radio One in Canada, as part of the CBC Radio Overnight schedule.


  1. ^ "HARDtalk's tough questions of 2012", Stephen Sackur, BBC
  2. ^ "Hugo Chávez grants rare interview to western media", Stephen Sackur, The Guardian, 13 June 2010
  3. ^ BBC HARDtalk Episodes December 2013

External links

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