Journalist and broadcaster Anne Diamond shares her holiday memories, thoughts on life in lockdown and the secret to a successful interview.

Anne Diamond onboard Viking Orion.

It’s no secret this year has been a particularly tough one for cruise lovers and those of us working in the cruise industry. However, while we may not have been able to get out on the high seas, cruise lines have been working hard to keep spirits lifted with a variety of virtual experiences. One particular offering, that’s been keeping us entertained is Viking.TV, thanks in large parts to the regular Guest Speaker Thursdays with Anne Diamond.

Each week, renowned journalist and broadcaster Anne sits down (virtually, of course) with a new guest, many of whom are household names or revered in their field. From classical cellist Yo-Yo Ma, to politician-turned-author Jeffrey Archer, Anne delves into each guests life’s work, as well as their passions and penchant for travel. So, we thought we’d turn the tables

First off, how have you been coping this year? How did you find Lockdown?  

I feel guilty, because I know it has been impossible and even tragic for some people, but I have actually rather enjoyed it. I’m one of those people who quite like my own company, and my perfect day would be to simply potter, knowing that I’m not going to be bothered. But sadly, I have not been very productive. At the start I thought I’d devote all my time to writing – (two books and a screenplay!) but have I finished them? No. Instead of writing, I keep going to the fridge to see what nibbles might be inside!

What was the hardest part of this ‘new normal’ for you? 

Learning how to Zoom conference call – but I think I have gotten it right now – just in time for it not to matter so much anymore!

What kept your morale up? 

Total and genuine relaxation. FaceTiming my friends and family has been a lifesaver, though – and my sons, their partners and I have certainly rediscovered a love of quizzes and games.

Have you been able to travel anywhere this year? If so, where? 

My sisters and I booked a wonderful holiday in Antigua – we found a wonderful private villa which we thought would make a safe bubble, an environment where we could just keep ourselves to ourselves without too much exposure to others. We are all sun lovers. But sadly COVID put a stop to our plans.

What’s your favourite holiday destination and why? 

[I] love Barbados, Antigua, and Sydney. I used to go to Australia every year and one of my sons was born there. I absolutely love Sydney, but as I have grown older, I’ve started to dread the length of the journey. Bring back Concorde, I say!

Can you share with us your favourite holiday memory? 

My VERY favourite [holiday memory] is echoed by my sons, too. It was way back in the early noughties, and I had just bought our family’s first computer. It arrived in big boxes, and it took me and my two older sons all evening to put it together and link it to the internet (on one of those painfully long-winded dial-up devices) I had to leave them to it whilst I put my two smaller sons to bed.

When I got back downstairs, my big boys had discovered the Virgin Holiday website – featuring Disneyland. Within minutes, we were booking ourselves a family holiday. I had no idea it could be THAT easy! I told the boys to go and pack. Next morning, my little ones woke up and I told them we were off to Disney THAT VERY DAY! They were ecstatic and couldn’t believe it. “Is that what computers do?” asked the smallest.

Anne Diamond onboard Viking Orion

Where will be the first place you’ll travel to when all restrictions are lifted? 

A luxury Viking cruise around the Caribbean. Just dreaming about it is what’s keeping me going through the cold months…

What is your favourite thing about cruise travel? 

No doubt about it, it’s the mixture of luxury and ease of travel. The ship does all the work. You just have to decide where you are going to go, what to see that day, or whether you’ll just stay and laze by the pool.

Where did you go on your most recent cruise? And what made it so special? 

Most recently I took a river cruise down the Porto in Portugal. [It was] absolutely stunning and so calming, just watching the countryside, and the cities, go past. It was so beautiful; I wish I’d taken canvases and paints (not that I’m a painter – but I love trying!) with me.

What are your top tips for anyone going on their first cruise, or thinking about booking a cruise?

  • Don’t pack too much, you probably won’t need half of what’s in your suitcase.
  • Take good walking shoes, because there’s always somewhere interesting to explore.
  • Don’t get stressed about how much you’re eating – you can always diet later, but food on most cruise ships is part of the experience. And if you’re a mum, never having to think about cooking is absolute bliss – just sit back and watch the kids decimate the buffet!

What’s the one piece of travel advice you wish you’d known sooner?

Book it slightly for longer than you think. You’re going to love it so much; you are not going to want to leave.

Who has been your favourite guest on your Guest Speaker Thursdays sessions with Viking.TV?

It’s really hard to choose one. I was totally awestruck by Anna Lee Fisher, NASA astronaut and the first mother in space. And Jesus – or rather the lovely Fredrick Mayet – who plays Jesus in the upcoming historic Passion Play in Oberammergau. Our viewers totally fell in love with him, I’ve never had so many asking questions from all over the world!

Anne Diamond interviews actor Frederik Mayet – November 19, 2020

Which guest would you have liked to have more time chatting with?

Yo-Yo Ma, the famous cellist, holder of the Presidential Medal of Freedom and friend of President Obama. He was so gregarious and charming and would just pick up his cello and play if I asked him! It was like having a private recital. But frankly all of my guests have been so amazing I would have loved to talk all evening!

What’s your secret to creating compelling interviews?

It’s a true and sincere interest in the person. I am honestly interested in them and their world, and what makes them tick. And then just sitting back and letting them shine. If any of them are a bit shy to start with, they’re usually not by the end!

Who would be your dream guests on Guest Speaker Thursdays? 

Michelle Obama, The Queen, Prof Brian Cox, Brian May, Bob Geldof. The last two I know quite well and have interviewed before, but it’d be good to see how age has mellowed them and what they’ve both learned over the years. Michelle Obama because, again, she must now have interesting reflections on a life as First Lady! Oh, and Brian Cox just because I’m a space nerd.

Cellist Yo-Yo Ma joins Anne for a Guest Speaker Thursdays interview.

Which figures, past or present, would you most like to sit down with?

Well, I always used to say my perfect dinner table would have The Queen Mother (who saw so much but never said a word about it – the war, the abdication etc), Jackie Kennedy Onassis (again, was there at one of the biggest news stories of all time but never gave an interview) Mother Theresa, Nelson Mandela, Pope Frances, Paul McCartney, and yes, probably Winston Churchill. The key is they would all be pretty excited to meet each other. I’d just pour the wine and listen in!

You’ve had an illustrious TV and broadcasting career. Who has been your favourite interviewee?

My favourite is usually the last one I do, although interviewing Margaret Thatcher (many times) was always memorable. Richard Attenborough told great stories and was kind and generous; Kirk Douglas, who was my first ever Hollywood star interview and sent me flowers afterwards; Pierce Brosnan, who was just plain gorgeous, and Bette Davis – who was Hollywood Gold and an absolute legend. Yes – she’s probably the best of all…I’m just very lucky I can name-drop like this and sincerely say that nearly every one of them exuded star quality and didn’t disappoint.

You can watch Anne’s latest interview, and all of her previous Guest Speaker Thursdays, over at www.viking.tv.