Kirsty Young's castaway is the cartoonist Michael Heath. He's been working for newspapers and magazines for sixty years and sold his first drawing to the Melody Maker in the 1950s. For the past twenty five years he's been the cartoon editor of The Spectator magazine. Born in London in 1935, his early schooling was interrupted by the Second World War and by the age of twelve he was still unable to read and write. Both his parents drew professionally and after one unhappy year at art college, Michael left to pursue a freelance career as a cartoonist. During his prolific career, Michael has created many cartoon strips including 'Great Bores of Today' which ran for nearly thirty years in Private Eye and 'The Regulars' which was centred on his Soho drinking crowd who included the writer Jeffrey Barnard and the artists Francis Bacon and Lucien Freud. Producer: Sarah Taylor.
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
This is the bbc, on Kirsty young, thank you for downloading this programme The desert island discs from BBC radio for for rights, reach the music choices of shorter than in the radio broadcasts from information about the programme. Please visit BBC, dotcom, dont, uk, slash radio mike the way this week is the cartoonist, Michael heath for sixty years. His sharpened nib, an equally pointed wit, have set the bumptious, hypocritical and contradictory behaviour of. While all of us, I court judges, punk
lockers schoolchildren, politicians, young man, shopkeepers, city, gents, hipsters, all have at one time or another, been secured by the pithy concision of his pen. He's brought humour to the pages of chile, every british newspaper, the rays and he's currently carton, editor of the spectator, born in the mid nineties, thirties. His pulling throughout the warriors, was virtually non existent by the age of twelve. He still couldn't ridden rise, and student. He claims have hated every minute of our college, but the fact remains that it was drawing that ended up connecting him to the rest of the world. He says the idea of being a cartoonist came because I could draw silly thing, Secondly, the right, but I could communicate with cotton. So welcome like If you send it there in the middle of that introductions. If you wanted to contradict me now, yo
completely correct. The rest I did draw. I suppose it was because I really could read or write, and I couldn't or scribble little drawing star nice or a bunch do that. My father was a cartoonist of children, comics thumb, farm, radio, fun, they weren't humorous cowboys and indians, detective stories and things like that and he hated every moment of it. He was a teacher once on a time, but he gave it up and became an illustration of children's comics, which paid much better than being a teacher. So I think, before the war was hurrying up to thirty pounds week when the average wage about fourpence, but he had learnt hated me worked into the ground the utmost on bringing this up is because I was whereby people my mother could draw to illustrate little drawings for Portugal and the way they talk that work away, he hated it and ruined his life. He thought the law Sale I should become was what I became a cartoonist, we're living in a particularly
tumultuous and fascinating time politically. I wondered if that makes for very rich pickings for a cartoonist and this is the one at the moment, because it going through all this nonsense of change in government and all the rest of it, and then it goes on and on and on and on, and they take over everything and the air goes out of everything in this else no action and no other show in town other than politicians. La not mad about being political cartoonist. I do sort of everything I'm sorry I say: if you see, I'm not sure about the would even satire visas. I see around me and I never thought about his particular each other things too, but I thought it was a way that you over drawings, wouldn't date. So if you caught the hair rod, they closed right there telling people to whatever then You wouldn't date. If I may say so, you yourself don't appear to have dated. I knew from my notes that you were born in nineteen thirty five, zero. Eighty you walked in here today, if any The investment would have set tops sixty two years old. You look very current happens,
Yes, I'm none before I got wonderful scared, I'm actually talking about what you're wearing you're by wearing dressed man unless a desperate attempt to see me home and tragic and well it's working. I have never forgot the tragic that a yard. So what are we gonna here and why features in this and attract number one? I was working a donkey. Fifty free, trade is vienna later in jail for ranks of studio. I want to be out of my and I wanted to animate things like bambi. Us both I was at a meeting at the expense at twenty four drawings per second of movement. If I hated it, and the man in charge of the persians remark. American one negative, written guy man who train smoked and he came into the studio, one that, through this record out, man noses c e p. I think I took it home put her on my desk, recall player and my hair, which are still have
as your kind enough to say, is not a wig stood on. I really was fit as allows but rob boom wow I thought flown is one great about my life and I had heard lots of vision.
crisscross is by linnaeus monk on peer, with art, Blakey, milk, jackson and the cabin and saw him she have. You said, Michael. He put that made the hairs on the back of your next stand up on and when it does it still well, I played him while every day since then, having heard Lenny one loved. So much about thought, I draw like that. I thought that I could do that somehow keep the drawings fresh and the member the track then lasted three minutes, so you in
out with record later on became ill peace and they won't forever jennifer gay, boring and then became avant garde, as which sound like of foreign petrol, music, and I, like the wit of those one m at the speed of which they paid and will all. Hopelessly terrifically professional, an amazingly you could not copy him that- and I thought that was something isn't your aim when they look at a passive what are you cartoons? Is it urim to make them laugh out loud and move on swiftly, odd? You want them to smile and think I want to buy it. I have no idea The fact that I am a morbid fear boreal one witless? Hopefully they will get the junk pretty recently two fifteen, there was the appalling incident in the french. Typical maxine, jolly abdo, twelve people were killed targeted because of the car teams that were being drawn by the magazine depicting the prophet mohammed. How much do you think cartoonist should be concerned about
sending people sensibilities was limit. What you can do, I'm in now, if you control shirt, things and you can be killed by time and that certain frisian deal drawing. However, I'm not that sort of cardenas I'd try to keep you move like laughing, no telling jokes the era giotto either, for example, areas that you would not stray into using. I dont want to cover this, or that was my drawings of the things you ve been told out to cover because they might offend people there. Our continent necessary guys. You wanna be funny, but the ideas you should upset people our thing about say: political cotton is They should be so outrageous and they want me to ask questions in the house about the drawing it to you in the guardian and whatever that was not my thing. I'm talked out. I wanted to be what I am, but just funny. Now dangerous sunday is gonna, be careful what you do, because the whole groups of people who take offense all the time it looked like those who wish to take this and they take offence at whatever you do. So then, are you
careful not to do it now. Why do it? I really do it, but they don't get it so does matter. I set my music Michael heave tell me by Second, one would we gonna hear is: does the rules but paul another brilliant in technically terrific? rising on mad. Unfortunately, driven that way by heroines most of the world. That period I saw one Simon Peres, who saw him and up a set of the current ban, ended, move, moved or didn't play those based planet problem and they put on a light over him and turned it on an office. I replied that it had adopted if you're, depressed or very sad is a put him on a pilot has a long and they killed him doing I'm in the guise of did this sort of thing invariably blue themselves away, let alone ass. These people inspired me to carry on churning out drawing but I've a hack unless our way for it, I'm just a hat cardenas who happens to still be alive.
I am which cartooning is dire straits. I think
I was down the infidels played by bud powell accompany thereby percy heath and canny clock. So, Michael he's, you were born in london, unlikely as it may seem in nineteen thirty five. What are you at least tell their memories buys a blank Joe love, the warsaw? Really I can't remember much about that. We did if, in hampstead round museum street, I was alone born. The sound of both bells worries me and your dad, as you were mentioning your dad, was an illustrate. The eye by fathers upstairs chewing the furniture because he doesn't like drawing cowboys and indians, even though repellent at it, and my mother was a mother, a mother, thirty, nine, my mother's, a diesel, and so my father, but I
no relationship, my parents at all, and that was nobody. I gather in my father- did not hug me. We didn't I five amended dont get together, go down together, unlifelike drains forging whatever full of sorrow, thrown out of the house at eight in the morning and total come back,
six, that's where he was, and can you tell me more about you money? You say she was a typical mother of the time of the desolate play, the piano ragtime. When I thought of it. I did she talk to me. She did a few Joyce him. Pitcher got and stopped never drew again accept riad carter, somebody of these other than she didn't do it. But the house is full of pictures of the prince vanka off and things like that and my father was an intellectual intellectuals, as we really begin helps that time were all communist stalinists and nor hated churchill, which involved may branded in question, but living inhabited one chemicals, always intellectuals, and that mean tweets, an open, toad sandals and a beard pipe. My father's in georgia, the national fire service.
which meant that we had together, not people locals around his neighbors to put out the sender. Bombs were dropped and he used to happen without an idea. Yes, indeed, last century bombs were often drop to loan didn't blow up than with just lying around all over hampstead heath, and I was asked if I'd help out and a load them up in a pub at the bottom of down. Try hill and the report up. Like note bottles, and I used to go and collect all these things and cover the nightmare bottles. La member, no lady see me fainting running and I got above a road that pile about with no health and safety. In coming to an early warriors to me, I had some friends and all the rest. It was some unfortunately its as well, but it seemed fun. It's time. What music tell me about your site? What are we going to vienna? Well, poor things out there if hurts
As a public lying down or whatever it is underway, with hair emerges ever again, so I'm playing what you might like a little better at the teddy bears picnic. I said I didn't take to talk. My parents and I m not to me and beaten, celebrate birthdays christmas or anything like that or give presence. Other, but I had a friend all the time about grown up as we receive bbc radio was going on. the time and broad wreath saw to it very brilliant. May I thought is it? He have a comedy programme, many fall it with beethoven's faith or whatever, odin programmes betrays to hear. Occasionally I thought it was britain if you go down in the woods, do day, you're sure of a big surprise. If you go down in the woods to day you and I go in disguise back about mars- will gather also because today
in the event that was teddy, bears picnic val written with Henry hall and his orchestra you're laughing. Was it ruefully right back, but I just figured I'd. I spoke of the children it was aimed at were of aged between whatever it was three and eight wouldn't be the same jordan.
They are now. He said new christmas presents no best depress me. Father was earning a living with that part of this at a communist ethos that you know don't died. I don't think he gave the same present by love. Every year we didn't giroflee gave a little butter, varlet perfume, what she's there was discussed, and he never very that and what presence was given that time present teddy or something other than our own trade, never taken with men given to the people, s door or something you ve been bogged down or deed. I didn't know my birthday or what data was on. I once at a school of him for five minutes, invited or of kitchen scribble arrives in the classroom. With I said to my birthday was also such a name is turn up with prison for them and when they turned up- and it was
and there was sent away. None. I hid behind the seti. His army did tragicomic that streaming you're laughing. I want to start a shattered here about the tears of a cloud ass. You see there s a ghastly, but it wasn't mobilise it not a ghastly. It sounds as if you mentioned that your dad was an air p. Yeah wharton inhabited you. During the war? Also been sent for time to definitely your grandmother because it was meant to be safe for the earth that go. I was evacuated I mean not the colorful way of standing round the box, the gas walls. Can it stood waterloo station where everyone I went to state my grandmother. I was on the beach one hey it did on the beach difficult because they cover the scaffolding and late bombs or the right place, and this was in Devon. Yes, please go talk cross I climb through the scaffolding, abattoir, loveday and I sat down beach
a few people around me, not a copper soldiers, and he saw the aeroplanes coming towards me said- are the two hours we got that they separated machine gun, dissolved and cannot find it. I didn't know anything other than to run jargon up, Ratan clung to them, a wireless gambling and those noise wrong. Couldn't forgot every line of shrapnel bombed place and it was is it more dangerous to be in devon than it was to be in love? and so I came back to london. Tell me that you next piece of music, Michael he's, were on you force as a day how much smaller, marksman ebbed in nineteen, forty seven, my father, the reasons never quite understood, dragged us all out of london took us to live in brighton mistake now brightened at ninety. Forty seven was pretty well exactly as it is in graham green brought rock
It was absolutely the most fantastic thing and how Taos took a frontier town is just outrageous for criminals on the run from the police. Nowadays, you can always a pleasure go to rio. Some in those days they get trained. Victoria went to brighten for fifteen shillings for return, and I will take this love and I met all these criminals and strange men or women let's hear it. I never final run together. Three tunisia wanted everything up companies it out, I never met the we all night I once made in the chamber late when really well. That was next minute
I can play in nineteen. Forty two max at any rate- and I never slept a wink all nice, Michael he's here ensuring that you father, for, as you say, unknown reasons to the family to brighten and nineteen forty seven. So much of your work is filled with this brilliant luxurious detail, the small bits of life. If you were to pan little cartoon snapshot of of life and brightened at that time in their lives, the only fifties. What would be innis with a mixture of people, the criminals and things, and they did to each other? And I mean I got a job- is not a job branch of the in the club. There was a bit it all up stairs. They gave me a shilling gone there. Sandwiches has often they go into mammoth card game at church. Last twenty four hours unknown then they beat someone you you ended up at school in you am I you did lose every minute of it. Nobody did. Work on earlier sit around talk about gide or something, and I want to garden. I wondered freelance and I did it
Ambrose freelancing, then a somewhat first drawing to many jamaica, bugsy riches. My dressing jazz magazine very good one, and I sent them some drawings, and I saw them straight away of his right now. I've got to get his eyes, didn't do captions and I just did musing drawings of christmas cards or something other, or indeed there was a funny office in one for deca records when the o p first came up and use in a room and a guy with a hole in the wall and say to beer say anymore? None of you about a beer say: do cava ten bout Does anyone know about dress or duessa? Ok, temples there is a good living actually mean us not allowed a good eye. It was a good living, I'm in
very good, and then I venture we ended up making newspaper they once forgotten about the one sunday mirror, and I just called nellie no, never thrown thing out make do men and no account, for others are socks. Why die them and then having him up for christmas or eat them boiled I got ten pounds potentially for that lets. Button somewhere. Music, Michael he's, tell me what we're gonna. You know. This is your fists track of the morning jack buchanan, dont jazz. Honestly, I swear to god there that you probably leaving the room but is not jazz, jane Mckenna, my supposes Britain's answer to for the staff, and these are pre electric recordings and I'd be listened to, and this one is one to and they have to reject themselves that the seller song on earth. It is written, mislead, cheerful and it's about trust
they forgot say well, I mean tribunals renders, but this is about travelling and travelling in nineteen thirty, twenty nine obsolete in about three people go to paris with three quit or something like that. Or city in one area plan and being given cocktails and has that bomb toward the thing night cheerful jolly captain or whatever all someone who is due entertainer, not good, let's hear itself it away.
And I knew I am even now- not love the mill humankind back. If you take a step, became the fish species orchestra. two, thereby thomas tunbridge. You well embedded into fleet street Michael he's by the nineteen sixty working for punch, the spectator, private eye and so on. You were also part of a rather is Lucian. It worthwhile soho drinking cry of dino people like Jeff. If, in this important first step in yes, I was a little bit where I cant do drink, you drank or drink the drink, bringing whatever it is.
had been in bright metal. These strange people out bulls, as you would call them I'm, and so I came across was introduced to Jeffrey bernard is outrageous and wonderful writer. the spectator and I got on extremely well with him, though, use outrageously route. As they were all his friends, but the role which, in amusing and clever brilliant painters, francis bacon versions, Lucien freud and only the other. Strange people all of them had wanted to call. On the whole, I had something that you wanted to hear or from and no one is allowed boast and you must talk about money, you don't wherever it is, drawing you just settle and or stood and listen to what they had say mean just dumb boom. Others must raising the work process. Bakers, frightening man of africa, Gaza is terrific. Yes, you once said it was like drinking with panthers,
Y yeah nutritious either on everything is yes it did you bother to one where the sort of self destructiveness in that the general destructiveness of that group of people came from, because it sounds like a very visceral, invite well. First start the pub closed to. And then you went up to the colony room after drinking in the french or coach and horses, and so then went back to the pub whisky. Was there drink. Whisky was the thing nanny are we drank landlord carol was galea lots of. If you start, the gay, with Jeffrey bernard, perhaps in the culture was, is and what what's at a time when a lever and every would be coughing something dreadful smoking. Fifty senior service, a diet over as food and drink, and god knows what, if you are in the public eleven, when were you doing the car
meaning when reading the drawing. When I was a drink, shrinking both ass, when you could, you could be productive and like a drink, I draw that something of a problem. Isn't it if one is still able to do one's work? so items really good. Are we not for you draw fearlessly when you're, drunk or half drunk, and it is if you are a whiz design, the set for keys water has displayed by night is unwell, mean that was a terrific and huge hit. And, as you say, he was doing this weekly column, cold, lou life dictatorship which Jonathan needs, the cultural commentator one said was a suicide. Those in weekly instalment draghi, as does that but right by your estimated, I was accused of not having a jiffy would say: gots you got no gots gottesman drinking continually in announced stopping every day all day to be dropped on whatever serious drinking. I we said no, I made my excuse left. I was a coward. I never went off. I went off to work,
I never wanted to die of it. Let's have some more music. Michael he's tell me about what we're gonna? U next, it's your six of the day. This is one of the many brilliant recordings labour by poland. It's all the things you are judged messy hall, but pow makes roach charlie parker, and why do you like it? Because you can't repeated nobody else, can do it? Nobody could do it these members, so brilliant. They played anyone else off the stage you couldn't play like any other
things you. Why does he gillespie Charles mingle, johnny, parker, bud powell and max roach their Michael he's? He once it is a marvellous cos, you never manage a bar seem to a woman is chatting up. Do I know from somewhere, and she says we were married for five years after kyoto, with lots of them yet did jokes about marriage and all the rest of it, and I did this regarding the building, Yes, it was the early eighties. You have that cartoons too cold lovell COD say it was darkly humorous, doesn't really colleagues, I bet bittorrent racked with, guilt. I say it wouldn't be fair. To conclude the not a romantic magic man, you ever met your life is that to a completely soppy, absolutely completely absolutely survival immensely sock. If you show me the baby, I'm off the floor sobbing, I died. Oh, I dont know if you'd toying with me, Is this too? Are you absolutely the truth, and so you ve made twice yes, indeed twice long time,
well yeah, but I mean now is heroic, I'm in a long time, moraine twenty four years first one I take an eighteen years old when I wanted the middle, I didn't marry so long marriages. You said you romantic. You said your new rotted worked tend to always take precedence over Kevin. I phrases, roofing is the first. All women may become trying to do because you make them love days of his joy ride. You didn't write into get married to them. says. I want this joy by five. You gotta do by five in this and I thought we were going out as google search or cinema or whatever it is. Drawing on it in rows will wonder to ring at his robins. You haven't got time you're going out getting the most unreasonable idea. Well, no, but I've been a free people, our marriage or the carded, as guardian is not funny, necessarily it out and I'll giggling laughing. I mean that the south side of it the depression side of it, because I don't think there's any fun with it.
You been depressed, the central you know the difference between the two depression is the oversight of people Giggling all the time. Of course, everyone is familiar with the idea that we have you no professional obligations but the for everybody a choice to be made. You know you might say will actually today is the day that I do for the editor unseen by means of a young. I was driven darling if I was a composer of ours, shostakovich or whatever However, allow me to go out there and hammer away and conduct a huge orchestra, miss dates and gotten what else that enable naturally assume that that came first knew of the greatest composer, what I'm a conductor or a great artist For me, I mean I'm not an artist. I'm cartoonist brother angry about that, because if I played my cartwright, I wouldn't have to think of the damned ideas all the time, because every day is like a real competition. Now in a win, if I become a contemporary british artist under much do anything due to a blank cabin,
other than rude word. Neil unwritten backwards was stunning ass. I get the feeling that Michael heath, Contemporary art might go home, you silly not. I don't think we have time for an I'd buy them. You got start go love was near them. I wish I was one tell me about you, piece of music. We're on your servants, Michael heath, funny face first his sister is rather like replica were recorded much the same time and you had to shot into a tube ghettos of heard on an ocean like record and that edged me something about it. Like you got. No tom three takes or anything like that. You gotta do in three minutes out. First, as full beans and excitement. I defy you not reveal happier after funny face rob we knew your no gloria
am not right away. not really I was funny face george and irrigation sung, thereby fred modelled with Julia engines and his orchestra. Michael he's an has it to call a body of work and yet it is- and I'm only hesitant because you yourself have said- will I'm just a hat cartoonists who happens to be alive, which is too rather under? play the whole thing either way, I'm looking work for newspapers of the book at great speed and all also magazine, so you had me
the ball and what you do not take time to go back and look at it. He lived through old. Now I dont over the fact that I do like what I did, but I did like doing what I did it and I dont know what I do know what I'd do it. But if I look at it six months rule six years now, I think my gun I wish to draw that now. Cotton of course, has always relied on print as a medium. It is now a declining medium. Do you think there is a danger that, as print as a medium declines, we will see the decline of of cartoonist me little is true, because even if we want to save money and get rid of cartoons quite easily, because I never come out of the hole What my stay at home and join in out- and I want to say what are you doing you boring, but the fact is that term there are no carter's in newspapers, as they once were, the any heartily that exists healthily as political caught in his and other broadsheets have a political heartiness. You going the office five days a week. Is that right at the spectator, what I did work at home? I would recommend it. Why are you going to the office
What is it about? Let him is that a creative environment is in contact with other, all the other. People who live in chechnya and the respective I pick up on things very quickly also stipulates me and go Work stimulates me, maybe I agree beyond the underground. Maybe brew people, that's the name of the game, I say carpet and drawing, and how can I get my have but sounds to me like you might actually quite like being alone on an island, because of course, I'm gonna cost your way. You quite like the idea. I climbed like it. I guess, because you'd armies to big on my own and when you divorced you living in normal rooms and honest button, I have a friend a dog he's been with me all the time jolly. johnny burger. Can I take the dog on the desert? All of this we will come to in a set of rights. Tell me about your final piece of music. What are we gonna? You know. What's your eighth track, we got some more guys here as charlie Barker, that's mine ugh. I just love this record. There are thousands of tracks, it I'd love to have played and borders
rigid with- and I love this one and its love of charlie falcon
That was never my john parker composed by which it voters and lorens heart. It comes to the point, Michael he's. When I give you some books, you get the bible and the complete works of shakespeare. Gets to one other book along with them. Once you put gonna, be diver, nobody, it was civilised and punch turns the is about a family lived in clap. Almost unwell and sterical has an aged toll we'll give that you then and a luxury to what would you will actually be? I'd, have a painting kid so I learnt by properly and I'll, have a critic cry over and then review it studying drawing painting of color corner the neon sign written
but would say bum and then I'd be real. Artists have not done our dick. My grave under nicely at sea there to see. Look, if you that then in which one disk of the eighth would you say if you had to save one crisscross, the first one slowness month, we shall give you crisscross, Michael, he said you very much for letting us here. Your desert island discs, terrific, I'm now to go under gag about. God knows what focused idea, but it's about something: good luck with that take a bit
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Transcript generated on 2022-06-19.