If events are a way of developing affinity between a channel and its viewers, BBC definitely had a winner in Tim Sebastian's visit to India. Hard talk presenter was put on the hot seat at BBC World's trade events in three cities - Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore.
And if the event held at Oberoi, Mumbai last evening is any indication, BBC's decision to bring Sebastian to India has paid off. Enthralled audience included well known names from the corporate, advertising and media world. Anil Ambani, Vice Chairman and MD of Reliance Industries, in this last leg of the event, interviewed 'hard taking' Sebastian with great aplomb.
Ambani's well researched and exhaustive questions were fielded by Sebastian expertly. Humour flowed, though the 'interview' touched on quite a few serious issues like racial profiling of people in UK and the US, West's interference in the Subcontinent's affairs and nuclear disarmament.
A glimpse at some of tongue in cheek responses by Sebastian: A comment by Ambani on Sebastian's receding hairline was met with a rejoinder. "Hair do not grow on busy places", and when Ambani asked him about his salary at BBC, pat came the reply, "I can't tell, I don't want people to take pity on me."
The interview was concluded with an open house -and there was no dearth of questions from the audience. While answering audience' question Sebastian made it clear that the aim of his interviews is to elicit insights and information and not to scare people.
The experience was enthralling, and at the end of it you wished you had been there at Delhi and Bangalore events as well. In Bangalore he was interviewed by N Ram, editor of Frontline and in Delhi by MJ Akbar editor-in-chief of The Asian Age.
However, being on the hot seat is not the only thing Sebastian has done on this trip to India. He spent time in Kashmir, and also interviewed Yashwant Sinha, Mehbooba Mufti, Umar Farooq, Brajesh Mishra and Harmala Gupta. Sebastian expressed his admiration for Harmala Gupta, founder of CanSupport, India's first cancer support group
Sebastian was awarded the British Academy of Film and Television Arts Richard Dimbleby Award for the most important contribution to factual television in 1982. For two consecutive years - 2000 and 2001 - he received the Royal Television Society's interviewer of the year award.