Kampusch interviewer and interviewee on new show

By Tony Paterson

Austrian television viewers tuned in last night to watch Natascha Kampusch, the country's internationally-known cellar kidnap victim, introduce her first chat show with a bizarre and heavily stage-managed encounter with the former Formula One racing driver Niki Lauda.

The 40-minute programme entitled Natascha Kampusch Meets ... was aired by the private Austrian channel, Puls4, and was an attempt to capitalise on the fascination the 20-year-old has continued to hold for millions since her release from eight years' incarceration.

"So much has been reported about me," she explained in a trailer for the programme, "now I have a chance to decide on the content." The pre-recorded programme opened with Kampusch sitting face-to-face with Lauda, the 59-year-old former star of Grand Prix.

Kampusch kicked off her interview with an awkward question to Lauda about what it felt like to be the first guest on her programme, to which he replied that he was "inquisitive" and felt challenged by the show.

Lauda briefly discussed the agony of the near-fatal car crash that left him heavily scarred, his love for his wife and the fact that he once faked a school report and concluded. "We have both experienced extremes in different ways." Then Lauda turned the tables and began interviewing Kampusch.

She was 10 years old when she was kidnapped on a street near her Vienna home by Wolfgang Priklopil and was held prisoner for eight years in a cellar beneath his home, only escaping in 2006 after she managed to flee into a neighbour's garden. Priklopil committed suicide hours after her escape.

Kampusch has been trying to come to terms with normal life ever since. She told Lauda she tried to deal with the memories of her time in captivity with what she described as "psycho hygiene". She added: "I practise this for as long as it takes to find solutions."

Asked about what she would like to be doing in a year's time, Kampusch could only reply: "I would like to explore everything".

- INDEPENDENT

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