Jeremy Corbyn made his first appearance on the Andrew Marr show on Sunday. Marr was clearly ready to ask him lots of conflictual questions and within the first few seconds of the start of the interview was interrupting his guest. The first interruption came about due to a slight pause by Corbyn’s in his speech to clear his throat. Microseconds can be important in high profile TV interviews and Marr clearly took the pause and the falling intonation as a sign that Corby had finished his turn.
AM: ... the issue of whether Jeremy will be successful (.) how long that will take (.) we’ll have to wait and see (.) I would be talking in terms of allowing Jeremy (.) two or three years now do you feel you are a man (.) kind of (.) on probation to that extent JC: I’ve been elected leader of the party (.) it’s a great honour it’s a great responsibility \ (0.3) AM: but you don’t feel= JC: = >I’m doing my best< woooooo you’re going too fast (.) I’m doing my best to try to ensure ... AM=Andy Marr; JC=Jeremy Corbyn
In detail, in line 1 below, Corbyn has falling intonation on ‘responsibility’ and a pause of 0.3 seconds which is quite significant in the context. Marr took this as a TRP (transitional relevant place) and decided to reinforce the point of his question by interrupting at 2. Corbyn regained the floor in 3. The latching here (=) indicates there was no pause between AM in 2 and JC in 3. Corbyn also increase the rate of delivery of the words as indicated by > < symbols. These two features indicate that Corbyn was competeing to regain the floor.
1. JC: it’s a great responsibility \ (0.3) 2. AM: but you don’t feel= 3. JC: =>I’m doing my best< 4. woooooo you’re going too fast (.) 5. ((hand gesture and wry smile)) 6. I’m doing my best to try to ensure ...
Then in 4 a long ‘woooo’ by Corbyn signals a put down of Marr’s attempted interruption suggesting it was too quick; that Corbyn didn’t feel he had been given enough time to give an answer, which he explicitly states next: ‘you’re going too fast’. In 5, Corbyn resets himself and gets back to what he was originally planning to say.
This microanalysis of the conversation indicates how participants operate on very subtle and often hidden cues in the speech and body language of each other. Interviewers and politicians certainly need to be on their toes!