‘Elizabeth Taylor took my face between her hands and gave me a tremendous kiss’: TV’s Michael Aspel, 90, reveals what REALLY went on behind the scenes of his famous interviews

Michael Aspel has revealed how Elizabeth Taylor left him with ‘magenta’ lipstick across his face after he cheekily asked the Hollywood star for a kiss.

The veteran TV interviewer, who has interviewed some of the world’s most famous stars during his long career, spilled the beans on the moment Cat on a Hot Tin Roof star Taylor took his face between her hands and kissed him following their ITV interview.

The British TV and radio presenter , who has grilled everyone from Richard Gere to Barbra Streisand , has lifted the lid on what they were really like behind the scenes of his famous shows.

The This Is Your Life and Aspel & Company star, now 90, is returning to the airwaves for a special one-off show on Boom Radio – the radio station aimed at baby boomers.

The veteran TV presenter is being reunited with Graham Dene as part of a day of celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary of commercial radio.

British TV and radio presenter Michael Aspel (pictured) is spilling the beans on what celebrities including Elizabeth Taylor , Richard Gere and Barbra Streisand were really like behind the scenes

He tells Boom Radio that Taylor, whom he interviewed in 1988 for his chat show, responded well when he asked her for a kiss after their interview. He told presenter Graham Dene that Taylor had asked him if she had lipstick on her teeth – to which he replied ‘No, but I wouldn’t mind some on mine’

The interviewer later went for drinks with Taylor, who he had been a lifelong fan of, and she planted a kiss on his cheek

Aspel, who presented a breakfast show on Capital Radio in London from 1974-1984, and fellow former Capital presenter Dene, will feature on Boom Radio on 9am on Sunday, October 8.

‘It’s been far too long. I took no dragging back to radio at all, believe me. I miss it very much,’ Aspel said, as he reveals what celebrities were really like behind the scenes of his interviews…

Here FEMAIL looks at some of Aspel’s most memorable moments with celebrities… 

Elizabeth Taylor gave me a ‘tremendous kiss’

Aspel recalled: ‘Elizabeth Taylor (pictured in the ’50s) was the only person I ever sent a fan letter to because we are the same age – and I got a photograph back a year-and-a-half later’

Aspel recalled: ‘Elizabeth Taylor was the only person I ever sent a fan letter to because we are the same age – and I got a photograph back a year-and-a-half later. 

‘I looked at the signature and I wet my finger and tried but it didn’t rub off, so it wasn’t ink. But she did come on the chat show that I did for London Weekend Television, Aspel & Company. She had the show to herself, and she was terrific.

‘She was absolutely perfect, and at the end of the interview, which was very honest, funny and quite bawdy, as we were having our photographs taken, she said: “Is there any lipstick on my teeth?” 

‘And I thought the interview had gone very well and I could be cheeky, so I said: “No, but I wouldn’t mind some on mine.” She just smiled and we went for a drink with everybody. 

‘As I was chatting with someone else, I noticed she came by my side and she was glossing up with lipstick. Then she took my face between her hands and gave me this tremendous kiss and it was magenta all across my cheek.’

Richard Gere didn’t want to be called a sex symbol

Recalling interviewing Richard Gere (pictured in April 2023), Aspel said he was told to remove the phrase ‘sex symbol’ from his filmed introduction about the American actor, while Elizabeth Taylor treated Aspel to a ‘tremendous kiss’

‘When Richard Gere came on the show, I introduced him and at the end I said, and “he’s done this, he’s done that”, and I used the phrase “sex symbol”,’ revealed Aspel.

‘After the interview, we had a phone call from his agent saying if I didn’t remove the sex symbol thing, they were going to take it up with their lawyer. 

‘He would not be known as a sex symbol. It was very odd. But he took himself very seriously, because he did a lot of stuff for the people of Tibet.’

I tried to copy Jack Nicholson’s grin

‘Jack Nicholson was very good and it felt fresh to interview him,’ explained the TV presenter. ‘At the end of the interview, we had our photo taken together. 

‘I thought, “well, he won’t see me doing this, but I’m going to try to emulate his grin”. So there we stood shoulder to shoulder and I stretched my cheeks and forced my eyebrows up. 

‘And then I saw the picture afterwards and he was doing his famous grin and I just looked slightly depressed.’

Blondie’s dress was too tight to sit down

Debbie Harry, pictured in 1979, also met Aspel when she appeared on his Capital Radio show…but the Blondie singer arrived almost an hour late for the broadcast

Aspel recalled: ‘I waited for Blondie to show up to Capital Radio and she was due at 11am, and my show finished at midday – and she arrived at five minutes to 12. 

‘When she came in, she was wearing a dress so tight that she couldn’t sit down. So I did this short interview with her standing up above me, glaring down at me but it didn’t put me off at all. 

‘I don’t think there are many people who can say they’ve interviewed Blondie while she was standing up.’

I got to sing with Paul McCartney

‘I sang That’ll Be The Day with Paul McCartney on television,’ Aspel said. ‘It was the first show that I did for LWT, Aspel & Company. We had a band and, of course, we wanted him to sing. 

‘He said for me to sing with him, and we did it. They had the words up. As I walked off, one of the band members tugged at my jacket and said “that’s bloody good, you could have done that!”.’

Barbra Streisand was too polite

Aspel recalled: ‘I had to go to a hotel to interview Barbra Streisand (pictured in July 2023) for a TV show – she wouldn’t come to the studios. Instead, she had got all the lighting in the world – but we had to sit about 15ft apart.’

Aspel recalled: ‘I had to go to a hotel to interview Barbra Streisand for a TV show – she wouldn’t come to the studios. Instead, she had got all the lighting in the world – but we had to sit about 15ft apart. 

‘There was absolutely no real contact. It was very brief. She was very polite and pleasant. 

‘In fact, it was that politeness that stopped us from having a really good conversation. She was very nice, but it felt as though it was something you could have done over the phone.’

I was the last person to interview Bing Crosby

‘I didn’t get to interview Sinatra, but we did get Bing Crosby on the show,’ revealed the veteran TV presenter. 

‘And I have a feeling that, sadly, I might have been the last person to interview Bing, because he died on the golf course, within a couple of days of our interview. He was charming. 

‘And when he left the studio, the producer, Simon, said that Bing wanted me to know how much he’d enjoyed our conversation. But it’s a sad thought that he died just after we met.’

An embarrassing encounter with David Niven

‘David Niven was a smashing guy, but there was one slightly embarrassing encounter,’ said Aspel.  ‘I presented the BAFTA awards and it went very well. 

‘We all had a drink up afterwards and I was sitting next to a “lady so and so” at the table and as she was talking, someone came up to me and said, “Mr Niven would like you to come to his table”. 

‘And I replied “delighted to thank you”. But this woman wouldn’t stop talking. The bloke came up again and said “Mr Niven is looking forward to seeing you”. 

‘Eventually, I got up to walk over, and he was walking across the room, just leaving. So the chap said to Niven, “Oh you want to see Mr Aspel”, and Niven replied: “No, not really”, and they walked off.’

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