Stephen Fry and co back In the Psychiatrist’s Chair on Radio 4 Extra

The classic series of in-depth celebrity interviews by Dr Anthony Clare will get its first airing for 15 years

Celebrities including Stephen Fry, Ann Widdecombe, Zoe Wanamaker and Nigel Kennedy will be In the Psychiatrist’s Chair once more as Radio 4’s sister station 4 Extra revisits its series of in-depth interviews for the first time in almost 15 years, can reveal.


The sessions with eminent psychiatrist and broadcaster Dr Anthony Clare began back in 1982, ending in 2000, and probed deeply into his subjects’ backgrounds to discover what made them who they are.

A run of 16 episodes begins later this month with a 1997 session focusing on Stephen Fry, in which the comedian, actor and presenter talks about his success, sexuality, parents and the battles with bipolar disorder that saw him contemplating suicide after walking out of a West End show in which he was performing.

That programme is followed on consecutive Saturdays by interviews with former Tory politician Ann Widdecombe, and avant garde violinist Nigel Kennedy. Also among those in Dr Clare’s chair are actress Zoe Wanamaker, dancer Wayne Sleep, actor and playwright Steven Berkoff and Lord Lawson, Conservative grandee and father of Nigella Lawson.

As well as a practising psychiatrist, Dr (later Professor) Clare, who died in 2007, was an author and broadcaster whose media career began with appearances on Radio 4’s Stop the Week.

In an interview in Radio Times on the eve of the first edition of In the Psychiatrist’s Chair (featuring actress Glenda Jackson) Dr Clare admitted he was conscious of the odd position occupied by his profession: “In America, [psychiatry] is a mark of affluence, rather than an indication of personality disorder. What I hope this series will achieve is to make the science more accessible.” 

Caroline Raphael, Commissioning Editor for Radio 4 Extra, said of the return of the series, “Listeners can expect to hear the very best in archive speech radio from 4 Extra and In the Psychiatrist’s Chair is an example of a well-loved classic that can be heard once again or enjoyed for the first time. It remains a ground-breaking series that gives an insight like no other into its subjects”

In the Psychiatrist’s Chair is being broadcast to coincide with a new Radio 4 series In Search of Ourselves: The Story of Psychology.

The full list of interviews is as follows:

Sat 26th April, 1.15pm – Stephen Fry
Sat 3rd May, 1.15pm – Ann Widdecombe
Sat 10th May, 1.15pm – Nigel Kennedy
Sat 17th May, 1.15pm – Marjorie Wallace
Sat 24th May, 1.15pm – Paul Theroux
Sat 31st May, 1.15pm – Prof Norman Stone
Sat 7th June, 1.15pm – Gillian Slovo
Sat 14th June, 1.15pm – Brian Masters
Sat 21st June, 1.15pm – Gitta Sereny
Sat 28th June, 1.15pm – Wayne Sleep
Sat 5th July, 1.15pm – Lord Lawson
Sat 12th July, 1.15pm – Nicola Horlick
Sat 19th July, 1.15pm – Hanif Kureishi
Sat 26th July, 1.15pm – Steven Berkoff
Sat 2nd August, 1.15pm – Ed McBain
Sat 9th August, 1.15pm – Zoe Wanamaker