Brian Clough and Don Revie: Remembering Austin Mitchell - the man who chaired their explosive interview

Long-serving Labour MP and former ITV Calendar presenter Austin Mitchell has died at the age 86.

Wednesday, 18th August 2021, 4:18 pm
Austin Mitchell interviewing Brian Clough and Don Revie in 1974. (Pic: ITV/YouTube)

He was well liked in his constituency of Great Grimsby and was also well known for his work on ITV's Calendar during the 1970s.

But he also played a role in arguably one of the most memorable pieces of football television ever - the infamous interview with Brian Clough and Don Revie, shortly after the former had been sacked from his ill-fated spell at Leeds United.

It was in 1974 when he chaired the prickly encounter between the two great managers of the time, which later inspired David Peace to write The Damned United.

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It is thought that Mr Mitchell was not a huge fan of football at the time and was guided through the interview by his producer via an earpiece.

At one point, he is scolded by Revie after he interrupted an answer, who told him: "Austin, don't start jumping the gun. You asked me a question. I'm going to answer it."

Shortly after, when he steps in to infer Brian Clough wasn't the right man for the job, Mr Mitchell was once again scolded by Revie, who tells him: "You are totally out of order there."

The interview was recreated for The Damned United film adaptation, which saw Michael Sheen play Clough, Colm Meaney play Revie and Mark Bazeley as Austin Mitchell.

As tributes poured in for the former MP and presenter, former Downing Street director of communications Alastair Campbell said he would go down in history for his role in the interview.

He said on Twitter: “Sorry to hear of the death of Austin Mitchell. Great contact when I was a journo and great company when I was with Labour, even when we disagreed.

“Best known of course as an MP but a place in history as TV Interviewer who did the ‘real life’ Brian Clough-Don Revie interview immortalised in Damned United. RIP.”

He was born in Bradford in 1934 and studied history before moving to New Zealand, where he worked as a university lecturer in the subject in the 1960s.

His brief change of name to Austin Haddock came in 2002 as part of a bid to boost Grimsby’s fishing industry.

Mr Mitchell, who leaves four children, married his second wife, Linda McDougall, in 1976.

He died at Leeds General Infirmary on Wednesday morning (Aug 18).