Doug Aiton reflects on bizarre interview with Gough Whitlam

Continuing his series of columns, Melbourne radio legend Doug Aiton recalls his interview with Gough Whitlam


I was engaged in my 3LO Drive program when I saw through to the front door where Gough Whitlam, deposed Prime Minister, was earnest in conversation with the manager.

He must have been talking about a proposed interview at another stage.

At the next break in the program I alerted my producer, and she dived out and I saw her in earnest conversation with Mr Whitlam. Next thing she was returning to the studio with Gough following, looking at his watch.

I had never interviewed him, but I asked him for a brief few minutes of his time.

He said “look, I’ve got to go to the National Gallery for an art opening.” I said I’d be very brief, and Gough sat down looking at his watch again.

Then proceeded a bizarre interview which I opened by querying “how are you?” He again said, this time on air “I’ve got to go in a minute. I’m in Melbourne to speak at an art opening.”

That’s how the interview proceeded; with Gough constantly saying he had to go. In the end I echoed his protests of “I’ve got to go…”

In fact I took on his voice, deep and urgent, and ended up joining him in a deep and urgent plea, “I’ve got to go…”

By now, Whitlam was starting to be amused and accordingly started to say “I’ve got to go to an opening at the art gallery” with me simultaneously imitating him and we both started laughing.

“You don’t know anything about me, do you? You don’t even know how old I am.”

“Yes I do.”

“How old?” he said.

“76,” I said.

“How did you know that?” he said again laughing.

“You’re the same age as my mother,” I said.

We proceeded on, although I gave up the imitations now.

He started looking at his watch again and I realized that he really did have to go if he were to be on time.

“Well thank you for being here, and I hope the speech goes well,” I said.

He smiled and offered his hand before departing the studio.

Just before he went out the door, he turned around and said “give my regards to your mother.”

Main Photo: National Museum of Australia



About the Author


Doug Aiton was the Drive time Presenter at Melbourne’s 3LO from 1987 – 1997.

He has a combined past of newspapers and radio including a weekly column for the Sunday Age for about ten years. He is married to Judy and has three children.

Now in his 70s, Doug still presents a regular program on The Pulse Geelong.






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