Justin Webb has warned Robert Peston that dressing down for radio can lead to sloppy work. The Radio 4 Today host says in the new issue of Radio Times that suiting-up can keep your focus — as well as your appearance — sharp.
“There is something about informal dress that relaxes everything, including the mind. You tend, in jeans, to let anything go.”
The BBC economics editor was recently criticised for not wearing a tie while interviewing George Osborne. He responded by saying, “I didn’t not wear a tie out of disrespect for the Chancellor, I just didn’t wear a tie because actually I don’t really like wearing a tie. The notion that what makes you a serious journalist is wearing a tie is bonkers.”
But Webb says that despite dressing down being the norm, there are “dangers”.
“I remember the immaculately suited Labour politician Chuku Umunna’s look of bemusement when he came in one Saturday to find Evan Davis and me giggling in T-shirts during the news bulletin. ‘Blimey,’ we said, ‘what are you wearing?’ But when it came to talking he was as sharp as his suit and we were lax as our jeans.”
Webb also recalls how he and his colleagues used to dress at the BBC before “standards slipped.”
“Even when I began at the BBC, chaps appearing on the wireless would wear a tie. Sometimes it was a bit stained. Often it was undone at the neck and a top button was either open or missing. But an effort of sorts were made.
“Nowadays we wear what we think people coming in to be interviewed might find acceptable. There are no ties, and no cravats, but formal shirts for the men and office attire for the women.”
Read the full interview in Radio Times magazine, in shops and on the newsstand from Tuesday 13th October