Woman's Hour's Emma Barnett reveals her favourite 'pinch me' interview

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 08: Emma Barnett speaks on stage as she attends the #March4Women 2020 event at the Southbank Centre on March 08, 2020 in London, England. The event is to mark International Women's Day. (Photo by Lia Toby/Getty Images)
Emma Barnett on stage at the #March4Women 2020 in London. (Getty Images)

Emma Barnett has spoken about her most memorable 'breathtaking' interviews, and they are two which show the range of the topics the broadcaster covers.

As a former Newsnight and BBC Radio 5 Live presenter, the now 37-year-old took over hosting BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour in 2021.

She spoke to Kate Thornton on White White Question Time about the 'pinch me' moments of interviewing Kate Bush and Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe, the British-Iranian aid worker who was jailed for six years after visiting her parents in Tehran and was released earlier this year.

Barnett said ever since she took over the Woman's Hour role, she had set a 'huge intention' to foreground Zaghari-Ratcliffe's story, and had interviewed her husband Richard on her first show as host.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe Talks to Emma Barnett. (BBC)
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe Talks to Emma Barnett. (BBC)

She said: "The phrase 'pinch me' came to mind because I had interviewed Richard so many times over the last nearly six years and never met Nazanin.

"To meet her in the flesh, to see her was very emotional and very important."

WATCH: Emma Barnett on hosting Woman's Hour, her most memorable conversations and how she scooped a rare interview with Kate Bush

Describing it as a 'breathtaking moment' to interview Nazanin in person, Barnett nonetheless realised it was a bigger 'pinch me' moment for the former prisoner, having finally been released back to the UK in March this year.

She said that though she works in live broadcast every day, she knew when she was sharing the news of Zaghari-Ratcliffe's release, she was saying something that she would remember hearing.

"Sometimes a generation has those moments of when someone's been detained, or they followed their story, and then they're free," she explained.

Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe with her husband Richard Ratcliffe, daughter Gabriella leaving 10 Downing Street, central London, after a meeting with Prime Minister Boris Johnson. (Photo by Victoria Jones/PA Images via Getty Images)
Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe with her husband Richard Ratcliffe and daughter Gabriella leaving 10 Downing Street after a meeting with Prime Minister Boris Johnson. (PA Images via Getty Images)

"Hopefully, it's a good moment, it's a good news. They're still alive, they've made it. But I had a bit of an out of body, pinch me experience where I was also processing this right now, because I have really followed this story."

Listen to the full episode to hear Emma talk about interviewing Kate Bush, going into 'host mode' with her friends and family, and why she loves her landline phone so much

The Woman's Hour team also secured an exclusive interview with Kate Bush, who is very rarely in the limelight now, after her song Running Up That Hill stormed back up the charts thanks to an appearance on the Netflix show Stranger Things.

In a public statement, which Thornton described as 'rarer than hen's teeth', made after the interview, Bush praised Barnett and described herself as a 'great admirer' of the show and of the work she had done previously on Newsnight.

Barnett said the statement was 'really unexpected and very, very beautiful' and said it wasn't always the case that people would speak positively, or at all, after an interview with her.

AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - 29th APRIL: English singer, musician and dancer Kate Bush posed in Amsterdam, Netherlands on 29th April 1979. (Photo by Gijsbert Hanekroot/Redferns)
Kate Bush, who has recently found a whole new generation of fans, pictured in 1979. (Redferns)

"It was a really lovely thing that she wrote," Barnett said. "When you are somebody who doesn't talk very much, trust is really important. And she doesn't speak publicly a lot.

"So to hear her, when I heard her voice, I think you can hear it in my voice. I sort of go: 'Hello.' Because it's Kate Bush!"

Read more: Kate Bush says 'Running Up That Hill' resurgence is 'extraordinary' in rare interview

Barnett said she didn't want to speak for Bush, but said she was 'such a humble woman', who 'obviously wanted to say hello to the new fans'.

She added: "There'a a whole generation just discovering Kate Bush for the very first time and they only think she's got one song. They've got such a treat ahead of them."

WATCH: Emma Barnett on the shocking first host of Woman's Hour