Speeches, Interviews & Other Statements

Complete list of 8,000+ Thatcher statements & texts of many of them

1988 Dec 14 We
Margaret Thatcher

TV Interview for BBC1 Noel Edmonds Christmas Show

Document type: Speeches, interviews, etc.
Venue: No.10 Downing Street
Source: Thatcher Archive: COI transcript
Journalist: Noel Edmonds, BBC
Editorial comments:

Between 1000 and 1200 MT recorded Christmas messages and interviews. No embargo is recorded on this item.

Importance ranking: Minor
Word count: 1306
Themes: Autobiographical comments, Foreign policy (general discussions), Foreign policy (USA), Autobiography (childhood), Environment, Autobiography (marriage & children)

Noel Edmonds, BBC

Prime Minister, Christmas time is traditionally a moment for a lot of people to look back over the last year and what has been going on. Has 1988, for you, been a good year?

Prime Minister

I think so and it has been a very busy year - a very busy year internationally, as you know, and lots of things have gone very much better. So yes, I think it has been a good year and for most people, because the standard of living has risen and they are spending it in the shops.

Noel Edmonds, BBC

I don't know whether it is true or whether you agree, but Christmas 1988 feels a little safer than last year. Do you think we now live in a safer world? [end p1]

Prime Minister

I think it feels a bit safer. I think, to make sure all is well, you have to make certain your defences are sure, but it is also more hopeful and you know, out of that terrible tragedy - the earthquake in the Soviet Union - and out of our own terrible tragedy, so much goodwill, kindliness, thoughtfulness to others came out that all the barriers went down and it just seemed as if we were all one mankind - and that, after all, is a Christmas message.

Noel Edmonds, BBC

Yes, there do seem to have been a lot of tragedies this year, but do you have a personal high spot of something that you will remember with fondness?

Prime Minister

A personal high spot? I think perhaps, in a way, the thing that I remember possibly because it was recent, when I went to the United States to say goodbye to President Reagan and Nancy Reagan, because they really have been marvellous. We owe such a lot to him.

We are all really very pro-American, you know. We are like a family: sometimes we criticise one another, but my goodness me, we stand up for one another when anyone criticises them! [end p2]

He has done wonders, with a real enduring friendship and because you say the world is a bit safer now, quite a lot of that is due to him and also to Mr. Gorbachev.

It was rather sad that when you have worked together with someone for eight years that he goes but that is their system and it was saying hello to the new George BushPresident and farewell to the old, but it was just very emotional, not only because I have known him for such a long time, but because of the closeness of our countries and I think that was a kind of highlight we shall not have again.

Noel Edmonds, BBC

What about Christmas Day itself? Can I just pry into your life a little bit? You don't spend Christmas in Downing Street, do you?

Prime Minister

No, we are lucky. You know, there is that marvellous house called Chequers which, after First World One [sic], the people who lived there - Lord and Lady Lee - gave it to Prime Ministers as a country house for ever, because they knew that with the coming of Lloyd George as Prime Minister we had a different sort of Prime Minister, Prime Ministers who like us, do not have country houses, [end p3] and they thought that it should be there both to entertain other Heads of Government and just to go and relax. You can get far more work there and it is in the countryside and it is just a different atmosphere and so we are lucky - we spend Christmas there and we have a big Christmas tree there too, just like this!

Noel Edmonds, BBC

You have an image of working very hard. I will not use the word “workaholic” - or maybe I have!. Do you actually take time off at Christmas?

Prime Minister

Yes, of course one takes time off at Christmas because in a way, that is what Christmas is for. If anything urgent comes in, one has to deal with it. I remember in 1979, Afghanistan happened. I think it was on Boxing Day and I got a telephone call from the then Jimmy CarterPresident of the United States and of course, we had to down tools and start to deal with that and call a meeting, but normally it is surprising, things are quiet on that day and so we have the traditional Christmas. The traditional Christmas varies from family to family. [end p4]

Noel Edmonds, BBC

Do you have a particular memory of a past Christmas that maybe you wish you could enjoy again?

Prime Minister

Not a particular one, but you always remember your childhood ones because they stay with you for ever and we always came down early in the morning, my Muriel Robertssister and I. Our Christmas gifts were put on the dining room table and we came down to see what they were and to open them. They were not elaborate. Things were so very different then, many many years ago, from what they are now. You know, a treat really was a treat, because you did not have so many of them and then, we went to church and had the traditional Christmas lunch.

I can remember one present that I had more than any other and it was not that it was particularly exciting - it was a most lovely book of all the wild animals of Africa, with the most beautiful pictures in and I turned these pictures over day after day, month after month, almost year after year. Lovely pictures of lions, I remember particularly, and it was recalled to me many many years later when I went for the first time to a game reserve and saw some real lions in their natural habitat and then again, when I heard a remarkable little incident of two young boys who were being offered [end p5] a treat. They had not very much money and so someone said: “I will give them a treat for Christmas. I will offer them a visit, coming down from the north, to London's Zoo - that is one of the nicest things that I think I can give them!” this person thought and do you know what those two young boys said - and it was remarkable. They say: “We like wild animals, we like seeing pictures of them, we like watching films of them, but we do not think it is right to cage them and so, if you do not mind, we would rather not accept that treat!” Don't you think that was marvellous? Two young boys. They did not think it right that it should be caged, as much as they wanted to come to London, they did not accept that treat.

Noel Edmonds, BBC

How long ago was that?

Prime Minister

That was a story I heard just over two years ago and I said immediately: “Well, I hope that an alternative treat was offered to them, because I think it is wonderful!” [end p6]

Noel Edmonds, BBC

Talking of treats. I mean, I was asking you to look over last year. Is there something that you are personally looking forward next year? I am not talking so much in your role as Prime Minister, but whether there is an unfulfilled ambition that you can see approaching?

Prime Minister

Look! Look! I have the great joy of expecting to be a grandma next year, so next year, you know personally, what could life offer more than that after, of course, the birth of one's own children so many years ago? The first grandchild, so I am very excited - in Spring!

Noel Edmonds, BBC

Lovely.

Well, I hope that goes very well.

Prime Minister

So do I!

Noel Edmonds, BBC

Thank you very much indeed for finding time to talk to us. [end p7]

Prime Minister

Thank you, and a very Happy Christmas to everyone.

Noel Edmonds, BBC

Thank you, Prime Minister!

Prime Minister

Thank you! (Repeat Recording):

Noel Edmonds, BBC

Prime Minister, thank you very much!

Prime Minister

Thank you and a very Happy Christmas to everyone and a Good New Year for us all!

Noel Edmonds, BBC

Thank you!