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Friday 28th November

Good afternoon.

A moment ago, there was concern that we had lost Glen. Draws and wardrobes were checked; bushel measures were upturned; even the Big Bosses filing cabinet was checked, but all to no avail. Then I glanced up and there he was, wearing head-phones and listening to some video track. The ear-phones are substantial in proportion, fair to say, but the main point is we have him back in our midst and poised only to leave us to waive his big cheque at some deserving coves a little later. What is more there are two further surprises pertaining to his broadcast brilliance tonight but I won't spoil the festivities, you'll love it.

"Find the lady" is a popular card-con played by nimble petty criminals on London's shopping thorough-fares. It involves a look-out, a card-sharp and an unsuspecting punter who is convinced he or she can guess which of the over-turned cards will reveal a Queen when up-turned. Sleight of hand means the punter's smile drops and the fiver is pocketed by the card-sharp. They could have been plying their dubious trade on Oxford Street this morning from 7am when punters would probably have been of even blearier eye than usual, and even more vulnerable. But, with breakfast and personal shoppers on hand, it proved quite a pull. All will be explained by Lucy once she has put down, safely, thirteen large shopping bags. Wouldn't want them to go missing, now would we?

I love traveling by air: the excitement of the airport, buzzing with a myriad of humanity off on holidays, away on business or just escaping something they might not want us to know about. Then the surge of the take-off, the affections of the trolley dollies and the questionable give-aways; finally, the sense of adventurous achievement in arriving and the magical mystery tour of the foreign airport to see if your bags made it too. Tonight we've an exclusive expose on why disappointment sometimes spoils that whole adventure. The bags in question aren't at the wrong airport nor have they been stolen but they have been the victims of a variation on the theme of "falling off the back of a lorry" - though the "lorries" in question are quite small. Intrigued? Thought you might be: final call for Lewis who will be boarding at gate 7 with fascinating stuff in his hand-luggage. No liquids, Lewis !

Much liquid will be flowing at the Yard tonight as they bid farewell to Sir Ian Blair. Not an easy departure, which was neither of his choosing nor to a timescale of his making but there you go. Well, actually, there HE goes. He has been speaking and Ronke has been listening. He utters one "sorry" which sounds heart-felt and is almost moving. Maybe I am too generous a spirit but it's Friday and Christmas beckons.

Actually, four of them beckon in celluloid form. The buses have advertised it and there has been much written about it but I suggest you, like me, wait to see what James thinks before we decide whether or not to open our recession battered wallets for "Four Christmases". More of a no-brainer, me thinks, is "The Changeling" - a true story of deep and terrible emotion with a powerful performance by Angelina Jolie. And even if I am wrong about the merits of the plot, she is gorgeous. Anyway, Jimbo on the two offerings, a little after 6.15.

Alex will then build upon the theme of nature abhorring a vacuum as we threat the forthcoming two days as devoid of air or, indeed, any matter. We, like nature, will fill it for you!

Robin says he warned us the red sky image last night was a red herring - it's been cold and wet. Enough, already, dear Robin - enough. As my Headmaster always said to me: "must and can do better!"

We can't do much better than round off with the papers still clinging to the wreckage of Mumbai and Sir Ian's au revoir, I suspect.

Then it's up, up and away for a fantastic London Tonight inspired weekend. If you pay more you can take your bags with you - I find it an increasingly sound investment and haven't lost a thing since my rucksack never made it to Lebanon. But that's another story.

See you at 6..

Alastair and Alex.


Thursday 27th November

Good afternoon.

Can a moment of lonely tragedy change the way we lead our lives and the way we look at others? Can a dancing, smiling child - his life, brutally ended with a shard of glass - have an impact, long after his promising life was abruptly and painfully ended?

Well, if Southwark Cathedral, this afternoon, was anything to go by, the answer is "maybe". In a few days time, Damilola Taylor would have been 18 but, of course, he won't be. Precisely 8 years ago today, his life ended. This afternoon Gordon Brown, who was Chancellor when Damilola died, and David Cameron, who was a young, rising star in the Conservative Party then, sat, side by side, and joined others in celebrating Damilola's life and demanding it stood for change. Putting aside my rose-tinted spectacles for a moment, London's death toll among young people is still a dreadful indictment: 28 this year, already: more, last year. But, who knows, things might change. After the service, there'll be an announcement that might help make that change come to pass. Join us at 6 to share in the magic moments of that memorial service and to hear what might yet make a difference.

What will certainly make a difference is Bozza's decision to act on what the majority of you said you wanted him to act upon in respect of the Western Front of the battle that is the Congestion Zone. But will the change only be positive to your cash-flow and might it be negative when it comes to the quality of the air you breathe and the ease with which you journey westwards? Liz has paid her eight quid and gone investigating.

Bet Jacques Rogge didn't pay the Congestion Charge as he toured London, checking on progress towards the opening of the 2012 Games. He was clear in his edict - no copying, no conferring! It made our Games sound like an international edition of University Challenge. We will, as Frank Sinatra would have it, do it our way and, brilliant though Beijing was, I suspect ours will be slightly more relaxed with beaming bobbies replacing frightening People's Enforcers on every street corner. I may have just rediscovered those rose-tinted specs' but I live in hope. Anyway, what he saw and what he thinks with Nick, a bit of a triple jumper of journalism in truth - and given "going underground" is yet to be declared an Olympic sport, that's probably for the best.

We squirt more money in a good direction tonight, courtesy of the Lottery Fund and ITV's People Millions. We all love this bit of the show and hope you do, too. We were a bit worried when the wind got up this afternoon: the vision of Glen being blown away as he discovered the aerodynamic qualities of our Great Big Cheque brought real concern in some quarters and a very childish smile to my face. See if he manages to land in time to bring joy to the deserving throng - remember, you chose them.

And we squirt water all over the studio as George Sampson comes in to tell us about his latest venture: a charity song for Christmas, proceeds to help our lovely heroes at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children. Squirt water all over the studio? It was George who did a passing impersonation of Gene Kelly, "Singing in the Rain" on Britain's Got Talent and even spun on his head!

Robin will spin on his head if we ask him nicely as he attempts to explain away the bleak mid-winter coming a little early.
The papers will drip with images of Mumbai which the Evening News will be going big on, too.

Your e-mails about the Congestion Zone may be a feast of celebration or a cauldron of cautionary tales of environmental catastrophe. Who knows? You do, because you'll be writing them we hope.

So, faith in George's ability to entertain, Hope at Southwark Cathedral and Charity with the People's Millions - I am getting into the real spirit of Christmas already so I may forgive Robin for the weather.

Alex and I hope you'll share your time with us at 6.

Alastair & Alex


London Tonight Tonight Wednesday 26th November 2008

Hello, Good Afternoon and welcome to London Tonight... tonight.

Okay, who likes pantomime? I'm going to say it loud and say it proud... I love it. I accept there are those who don't. In fact, I accept there are those who loathe it. But I love it.

One of the reasons I love it is that it's uniquely British. Difficult to explain to a yank what makes it so appealing? Written down on paper, it all sounds a bit, well, 'odd'. Man dresses as a woman, girl dresses as a boy, audience shouts out "they're behind you" and "oh yes they are", everyone sings a song, the end. As I say... 'odd'.

So, what's the appeal for Steve Guttenberg? He's made some hugely successful Hollywood movies in his time... 'Police Academy', 'Cocoon', 'Short Circuit'... and yet, this Christmas, he's playing Baron Hardup in Bromley. Why? We'll find out when he chats to us live this evening.

Then there's McFly. Four young lads who've sold an awful lot of records. They're not appearing in a panto this year. They're appearing at Wembley tomorrow. Lucy's chatting to them.

What else do we have for you?

Our top story is the sentencing of a coach driver whose dangerous driving caused the death of three people on the M4/M25 junction at the beginning of the year. Philip Rooney was actually giving a safety announcement over the public address system at the time he tried to take a 40mph bend... at around 55mph. He pleaded guilty to all three charges and was sent to prison for 5 years. Our reporter was at court today and we'll hear from the daughter of one of those who died.

On a happier note, we've been out of the river for a look at some bridges. Not just any bridges. Not any more. 7 bridges spanning the Thames have today been awarded 'Grade II listed' status. (Experts on such matters will know that means you can't paint the door any colour you like or stick on an extension.) So which ones were they? The Albert Bridge, Tower Bridge, Westminster Bridge. No. No. and No. Some of the choice might just raise your eyebrows.

Something else that might raise your eyebrows is the British Heart's Foundation's decision to encourage today's youngsters to pursue healthier lifestyles... through a new computer game. Players can invent their own characters and then feed them what they like... with all the consequences therein. "Wouldn't it be better to encourage the little lumps to get off their backsides and run around a bit"... you might think. Actually, we'll be asking what you do think a little later.

We'll also be asking which of two community projects deserves a People's Millions grant for up to fifty thousand pounds... as well as revealing the winner of yesterday's vote. While we're on the subject, were you watching last night's programme? Did you see the reaction from the 'Learn to Play Steelpan' group when they got their rather good news? Fabulous stuff - we think they're still cheering. So, more of that tonight.

We'll see you at SIX.

Ben & Alex


London Tonight Tonight Tuesday 25th November 2008

Good afternoon.
If a car pulls out at a red light and hits you: you claim against the driver's insurance.
If you accuse someone of stealing your car and they deny it, you may end up in court arguing the case in front of a jury who then decide the rights and wrongs of it.
But if a sovereign state gives explosives to a terrorist group in another sovereign state, who then blow up a part of the capital of a third sovereign state; Who sues who, and who will step in to help the victims?
And what if the third sovereign state then declares the first sovereign state to be it's new "best mate" and refuses to pursue the first sovereign state for damages? The victims are left high and dry.
Le Carre? Fleming? No, Canary Wharf, 1996, with the sovereign states being Libya, Ireland and the UK, respectively.
Tonight we meet the victim who speaks for the many victims of Canary Wharf who have been left, all these years on, with little more than an apology. You can't pay bills or rebuild your life with a "sorry". Lewis Vaughan Jones explores the third party, fire and theft dilemmas of the terror victims.

Tarique Ghaffur - victim of racist career restraint or a man who had hit a professional plateau, only to enjoy no further promotion? We will never know but interesting to note that in addition to the presumed traditional gold carriage clock he will receive at his farewell do on Thursday, he'll also trouser a cheque for a rumoured £300 k from the MPA by way of settlement of their little disagreement. Phil has been loitering with intent outside the Yard and will share what he has discovered.

Our round up of other news involves naughty nooky in far flung places, and Boris accusing the First Lord of the Treasury of dipsomania. I'd watch just to discover what on earth I am writing about.
If that doesn't do it, what about learning who the first happy, and doubtlessly noisy, recipients are of a slice of our People's Millions? A huge blank cheque has been propped up against Hannah's desk most of the afternoon apart from when various vagrants and ne'er do wells wander off with it innocently under their arms only to return it when they realise it is yet to be signed by The Big Boss and therefore of no use other than as a huge fly swat. When signed it will make one group of Londoners very happy. Find out, with Glen, who tonight's winners are. One of the geniuses from graphics has just lifted it: I think she may be about to append the signature and I am the first to realise this... Christmas looks brighter, suddenly.

Before fleeing the country with my People's Millions, Alex and I will talk to Ned about Arsene, Arsenal, Gallas and Fabrigas - looks like two misprints and an order form for a French perfume factory, doesn't it? Fortunately, Alex knows about sport being a Setanta talent when she is not a London Tonight lovely. I will look knowledgeable but she is the genuine article. Ned will know the difference and will be kind about the Gunners chances against Dynamo Kiev - a cross between power-generation and garlic chicken more than a football club, surely? Alex will explain, I'm sure.

Lucy talks to Robert De Niro. The ease with which I write that in a sort of not over-shocked and quite unsurprised sort of way is a tribute to her skills and those of my friend Max who is our Entertainments Editor. Between them, they do bring you some amazing guests, I always think and for which I am always grateful. Hard workers and lovely people, the pair of them.

And that, I think, is that. Chrissie will take options on the weather but look where that has left most of London's hedge funds? Faye, (electric blue top, black troos and Ugg boots as I think they are known), is sporting a scarf today. They all mocked me yesterday, led by our own Cruella de Ville, Derham. Craig David agreed with me and today, the Lovely One has even copied me - the finest form of flattery, I know.
Just making the point.

Now I'll move on to bid you a warm invitation to join me and Alex for another London Tonight at 6.
(I was joking about pinching the people's pounds.)

Alastair and Alex


London Tonight Tonight Monday 24th November 2008

Good afternoon.

A brief missive as the Chancellor is announcing how he intends to creep up behind you all and say "Lend us a fiver. Promise you'll have it back, a little after Friday" - without defining 'a little after' nor sharing with you which Friday, from here stretching to Armageddon, he has pencilled in.
So, our programme tonight features an eclectic mix of news and entertainment, not unlike the emergency budget, the panic package we must call The Pre-Budget Report.
I thought Faye (black top, tight jeans, black boots - wow!) said London had the worst rate of screaming babies in the country. How this resulted in a sharply higher rate of deafness among infants was not immediately clear though I guess a lot of shouting could damage children's hearing. It was only when she clarified that she had said SCREENING and not SCREAMING that all became clear. Perhaps I was missed in those early months, all those years ago? We'll review London's pre-natal services and pre-natal failures to see if we can't help get something done about it. Then we'll screen it from the roof-tops.... no, we'll scream it from the roof-tops.

The significant levels of screening that Baby P was subject to but, yet, failed to save his life, continue to cause concern at every level. Ordinary folk, in their thousands, continue to pay respects to the little soul and have left several florist-fulls of flowers where his ashes were scattered. Fewer in number but potentially greater in impact are the opposition politicians on Haringey Council who, tonight, will demand that Labour heads roll. We'll be there with our basket to catch tumbling skulls and, like the old hags of the French Revolution, will be watching with you, and with our knitting needles clattering.
The chains clattered, allegedly, in Boy George's flat when he asked a visiting model to "hang around" while he went shopping. Alleged "chainee" wasn't happy and BG must explain himself to The Beak.

Opposition MPs are roaring with laughter at Mr Darling as I write so I must press on or I will miss the jokes or the economic forecasts which may, of course, be one and the same thing. If he has anything sensible to say about housing we'll talk to Kirstie about it.
As he borrows billions to bail out the economy which appears, from what he has said so far, to have gone wrong whilst he, like Boy George, just popped out for something at the shops, we have thousands to give away. Ah, yes, it is the People's Millions again and we have our first good causes in need of your support. Our thousands may pass Mr Darling's billions on the road which is Britain's economy... but going in opposite directions.

Finally, Craig David is in the studio: One of Britain's biggest selling R n B artists ever with a string of hits littering the last pop-tastic decade. We came up with two hits, "Fill me in" and "7 days" so his forthcoming Greatest Hits album will be a joyous revelation. He did well in Soccer Aid and was Man of the Match. This mix of accolades is of course, compelling, but I can't see him without thinking of Avid Merion, Kes the Sparrow Hawk and pant-wetting.

Sorry, but I must get back to Mr Darling who is turning into a numerate badger as I write.
See you at 6 unless I am heading for the Cayman Islands.

Alastair and Katie.


Friday Nov 21st

Good afternoon.

I was in Spain this morning, where it was warm, having spent 36 hours at a Conference discussing news. I am glad to be back "doing" news rather than "discussing" it. But I did meet a chap called Sheeraz who runs "Hollywood.TV" which is watched by 500 million people in 130 countries. This is of little importance, perhaps, to you but it knocked my socks off. Feet now recovered and re-covered, here we go.

But where to start with this Friday feast, this surfeit of the surreal, this cornucopia of curiosities, wrapped around a nucleus of nerve-jangling news?
We've a staggering tale which centres upon an 84 year old woman, the Social Services, Plod doing his best, and a neighbour doing the " Emperor's New Clothes" bit at the poor old soul's inquest. I don't want to give it all away because you will want to consume it all, jaws dropping around your waist-lines, as Robin recounts it; but I will say it involves not the 12 days of Christmas but the 12 days of shameful over-sight. It will make your blood boil.

As did mine, as a book-lover and a map collector, when I read about our next story. The British Library, once you've got over the Teutonic architecture and garish red bricks, is one of London's many master-pieces in the sense it houses the finest library in the land, (that of George III), around which is stacked the most comprehensive library of rare and modern books ever assembled outside of my eldest son's bedroom,. (Only a joke, Alex: and a bit of a dig.) Upstairs is a stunning collection of maps from the earliest to some brilliant recent efforts. Enter the villain of the piece who, like me, loves antiquarian books and maps but who, unlike me, doesn't believe that that which is the British Library should remain there, and in tact. What he did took the skills of a master-surgeon and the morals of a Great Train Robber. The numbers are numbing and the damage, devastating. Ronke had to hold me back. Don't you, dear friends, feel so constrained.

Then an act of economic terrorism, a list of larceny, "dipping" on a network scale. As the economy slides into recession, nay even depression... on the eve of the Chancellor's attempts to boost the economy by showering us with used fivers... as the High Street takes on the appearance of an economic Gobi Dessert... along come the Rail Companies. With inflation crashing from a little over 5% to something close to zero, they say "we'll pop our prices up by a minimum 6%... and, just for a laugh, put some up by 11%".

As my blood-pressure was just about getting back to 60 over 120, or whatever it's supposed to be, my cheeks turned scarlet again, my eyes went red and blood-shot at this news: Phil is a calmer cove than I and will tell you the worst. Then we'll ask for your considered views. Bare-knuckles, please: bare-knuckles!

Gloves, actually, are what grace the ferocious and yet clinically effective fists of David Haye , formerly World Cruiser-Weight Champ but now, after one or two too many visits to the pie-shop, taking a crack at the World Heavy-Weight title.

(I won't repeat that joke to him and I'd be nervously grateful if you didn't either because he is coming in to chat to us, live.)

Many are impressed - I am slightly frightened. What if he misunderstands what passes for my sense of humour? Suddenly, Spain beckons again.

But not before I tell you James is here, assessing "Blindness" about which I , too, am in the dark; and "Body of Lies" which many say marks yet another step in little Leonardo Di Caprio's journey from promising " juv' lead" to a celluloid force to be reckoned with.

Robin, a force to be reckoned with in meteorological and televisual circles, has pulled the wool over the normally "eyes wide open" Big Boss who is in charge today. (Faye, at home, I see in a fluffy house-coat and pink slippers for some odd reason.) Anyway, the "BB" has dispatched the Man with the Met' Maps to what passes as a Christmas fest on the South Bank.

Reindeer? Santas? Jingle Bells? No, apparently it is a bacchanalian nightmare that would be quite at home as an adjunct to the Munich beer-festival, save it actually comes from Koln - that is Cologne but without the "umlaut" over the "o". What use is key-board without an umlaut I ask my self? Salma understands me. In this, I fear, she may be alone. Anyway, you'll want to be there at the bitter end (probably lager, given Robin and where he is), for it all to make sense. But, believe me, it does and I am chuffed about it all. Even the boxer and the book bandit, one of whom scares me and one of whom I'd like dealt with by the other one. If this is actionable, you'll never read it.

None of the above, however, will be missing from the programme and I hope you lap it up at 6.

My wife took the children to Lapland to see Santa once and I think that was a lot less sordid than what Robin has in store on the South Bank but we'll only know, for sure, at 6.

I'd watch it if I were you.

Alastair & Salma.


London Tonight Tonight Thursday 20th November 2008

Afternoon all,

Well there's no ignoring it - Christmas really is coming... 5 weeks today in fact, and we're being warned that almost half of us Londoners will take on more debt than we can afford this year. *SIGH*

Maybe it's time to recycle those unwanted presents from last year (as long as you don't give them back to the person who gave them to you) or start telling people you have thought about their Christmas presents... and after all, it is the thought that counts. Loads of sales are starting at the shops so that's a bit of silver lining... although you may want to hang fire like Ben who has just said; "I'm not doing my Christmas shopping yet, I'm going to wait until the retailers are really desperate!"

Feel free to follow any of our tips but it's probably best to take advice from the experts, like the good folk of Bethnal Green. In fact a team of financial advisors has spent time with residents there and, in just an hour with each of they've saved them over £700 each. That's Christmas sorted then!

The credit crunch - renamed the 'Christmas Crunch' for the next five weeks no doubt - has also impacted on the poor greyhounds from the now closed Walthamstow Stadium. Many still haven't found a new home, with one local kennels currently trying to re-home 90 racing dogs. They say people feel they can't afford to take on a pet. Marcus tells them they can!

If you're looking for a new pad, Boris has been on the case today with a pledge to create 50,000 affordable homes in London. But, if you are vertically-challenged with big feet this won't be for you as the Mayor also said; "we should stop building homes for hobbits." Really. I'm not making this up. There was a good point in all this however, as apparently the average size of a newly built home in this country is 76 square metres, whereas our friends in Oz can run around in 206 square metres. Enough to swing several cats in, perhaps even a greyhound! So I'm guessing these new-builds will be a decent size - Simon Harris will have the details for us.

Alexander O'Neal is popping into the studio tonight for a chat ahead of his appearance tomorrow at the Indigo2. Faye told me earlier (that's programme editor Faye rather than me talking to myself) that some expectant mothers listen to the American soul singer whilst in labour. I bet they listen to him at the beginning of the process too! Incidentally, Alexander himself has eight children. Not sure where I'm going with this so best to stop there I think...! Faye has also been doing some spectacular renditions of some of Mr O'Neal's songs for us all! Better than the real thing - Maybe...

On that note, I shall leave you but hopefully see you at 6!

Faye B and Ben


London Tonight Tonight Wednesday 19th November 2008

London Tonight Tonight Wednesday 19th November 2008

Good Afternoon to you.

And we start by bringing you the shocking news that's not really ours to bring you.

Heard about John Sergeant? He's pulled out of Strictly Come Dancing. He says he wants to avoid a "bloody battle". I mean, really. What about all the people who paid money to vote for him to stay in every week. Well, the BBC say they'll reimburse anyone who did. I still feel a bit cheesed off. Probably because I can't dance for toffee.

Anyway, the ITV Evening News will have the full story on that at 6.30pm.

As for what we'll have in our half hour starting at 6.00pm...

Well, we start with the rather frightening news that a suspected murderer has escaped from a mental health unit in Wandsworth. A huge police operation has been launched to find John Claydon who made a run for it last night with another patient, John Slavin.  It's thought the pair of them might have had some help too. We'll show their pictures on the programme, of course... and, if you should see them, the message from the police is - don't approach them. Dial 999.

And, who's fed up with sitting in London traffic... day after day... week after week... year after year...? Well, if you are, now could be the time to start training for the Olympics because come 2012 if you're taking part you'll get to drive in special Olympic lanes dedicated to the greatest sports event in the world. Now, it may be that you're not really up for chucking a javelin or paddling a canoe but the good news is - you don't have to. You can get away with being an official (ie - stand on the sidelines and say 'Nah. do it again') and still get to use the nice clear lanes.  Of course, you might not be everyone else's best mate as you glide past the even-longer-than-usual traffic jams. Simon Harris will referee this particular problem.

We'll also be speaking to a record-breaking funny man (and trust me - he's funny)... Travelling to Paris to get one back at the French.. And looking ahead to a football match in Berlin where England would like a replay of that famous 2001 score-line 5:1. The trouble is all our team are off sick, so it's very much a B team going up against the Germans tonight. We'll speak to ITV commentator, Andy Townsend, to see what he makes of our chances.

Lots to get through.

See you at SIX,

Ben & Katie


London Tonight Tonight Tuesday 18th November 2008

London Tonight Tonight Tuesday 18th November 2008
Good afternoon.
My brother's mother-in-law is Italian and we clash, politically. Of Mussolini, she is of the persuasion that his ability to have the trains running on time begs forgiveness of other oversights like human rights and support for Hitler. Like Hitler, Mussolini was hot on paper work - as was Stalin. If nothing else, you can say of the Soviet Union, fascist Italy and Nazi Germany, ' they ran a neat bureaucracy'.  If only Stalin had realised Marx's "dictatorship of the proletariat" was about giving them what they needed rather than telling them what to do, and shooting them for failure. How history might have been different.

If you have seen the paperwork on Baby P, which Haringey Council et al so painstakingly compiled, you might think the same - if only someone, anyone, had read it all in one sitting they might have thought  "something's amiss here" and how the history of Baby P might have been different. But no, they didn't and he is dead, his ashes scattered in East Finchley Cemetery. Harris has been looking at the paperwork and the Cemetery where he says the tributes to Baby P have now reached "mountainous" proportions. A characteristically sharp yet sensitive piece in promise, methinks. LVJ is on his way to Haringey where a Cabinet meeting is scheduled. (I still find that pretentious as a piece of political jargon.) He will try and eavesdrop but I suspect the very foundations of the council chamber will echo to an embarrassed silence, but we'll see.

Much talk of worms and viruses at  the Royal London in Whitechapel, Barts Hospital and the London Chest Hospital. Faulty hygiene? Brown, slivering things chomping on soil and surviving being cut in half? Tiny microbes that cause infection and illness? No, this is about cyber-space not grubby wards and muddy operating theatres. They have been victims to a hacker who sent a computer virus into the IT system which has reproduced and caused havoc with the system, causing lots of folk to turn up only to be turned away and sent elsewhere. Robin plays windows and algorithms in a bid to make sense of this sci-fi frightener.

Nothing sci-fi about the boys in blue putting the boot into assorted front doors in pursuit of the alleged baddies who brought opprobrium down upon the splendour of the Notting Hill Carnival. Bill's chill "knock on the door" at dawn was pretty dramatic but may help make London a safer place; so it was an alarm call and a strong cup of coffee for Glen this AM and I mean AM.

Mystery surrounds the plight of one of nature's loveliest - only the Queen and the Duke of Norfolk (Catholic, Arundel Castle, Katherine Howard, wife of Henry VIII and all that) can own them and one has been impaled upon a stake. I am writing about a stunning young swan. Our first thought was some cruel cretin had been at work but the RSCPA assure us it was an act of self-harming. Marcus dons his white tights and tutu to investigate tales of recovery.

There are more cell-phones in the UK than there are people. The only other item that can make that claim, I gather, is the number of copies of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" albums. So you must have some, or several, about your home, person or down the back of your sofa. How we can use them to help missing people will be revealed on tonight's show. Don't hang up on me, now: you will want to help.

Faye, (paint-splattered jeans, grey top and black scarf) tells us her delightful husband once shared a flat with two guys who went on to become a part of Coldplay - successful rock ensemble, one of whom has also married rather well. Faye's "beau" joined a jam, one night and, having struck the triangle I am sure with all the musicality he could muster, declared they'd never come to anything and downed another Bud'. Another case of what could have been, methinks, though less catastrophic than the inability to read notes in a certain North London Borough; but I thought it was worth mentioning.

No wonder she keeps telling us she's "stressed". But stressed or as chilled as a rock star's wife, I still love her.

Katie and I both hope you'll join us for our attempts to turn Faye's inventive genius into a programme you will enjoy - at 6.
Alastair and Katie.


London Tonight Tonight Monday 17th November 2008

London Tonight Tonight Monday 17th November 2008

Afternoon ...
Katie here, I'm giving Al the afternoon off, though he will be joining me on the sofa at 6, thank the lord.
A packed show tonight, with the stand off continuing at Haringey Council, as locals and indeed councillors add to the clamour of questions and recriminations over who was to blame for the death of Baby P.  Ronke's got it covered.
The sound of hollow laughter from all of us blessed with a commute to work, as the combined forces of TfL, London Underground, and a whole host of train operators have got their collective christmas hats on, and announced, over a cheery mince pie, that they're shutting down over the festive season. They're effectively closing the transport network in the capital for at least 4 days from Christmas Day. No really, hardly any tubes or trains for days and days. Which when you remember what happened at Liverpool Street last year, is enough to make you reach for the cooking brandy.  Our very own christmas elf, Glen Goodman will have the details.
We've the latest on the tragic accident at the weekend which saw the drowning of a talented young lad from Reading. He was canoeing in Wales .. no one yet is quite sure what went wrong. Still more tragic deaths at the weekend from stabbings .. 3 killed, several injured, including one at the Urban Music Awards at the O2. We speak to Kit Malthouse, Deputy Mayor with responsibility for policing, and ask how he and Boris are going to stop this.
Kirstie's with us to talk property  - always a joy; and Phil's been to Watford to scope out what COULD be the scene of a certain Mr Barack Obama's first official visit to the UK. If the presence of the president-elect on the show isn't glamorous enough, then Lucy's been hanging out with Angelina Jolie, talking about her new film the Changeling.
Apparently some people think she's quite attractive ...... personally of course I'd rather hang out with Al and Robin, discussing the weather and our favourite tea time treats.
Which is exactly what I'm going to do now.
We'll see you at 6...



Friday 14th November

Hi all,

The fallout from the appalling death of Baby P is still continuing, and still getting more shocking. Just when you were maybe thinking matters couldn't be worse at Haringey Council, it's now emerged that the Government - yes the Government - was alerted to a claim that child protection procedures were not being following by Haringey, six months before the death of the 17 month old boy.

The social worker who made the claim wrote several letters to government departments and to the Social Care Inspectorate but, according to her lawyer, they simply got pushed from "pillar to post". This story is changing and developing as I write but I can assure you that by 6pm, Ronke Phillips will be able to update you on today's wranglings. None of these wranglings however will bring back that poor child.

We'll also be able to show you Baby P's face, for the first time, at six.

The rest of the news has something of a property feel to it. The famous New Scotland Yard, the rented headquarters to the Met Police, is being sold off by it's owners. The Met would like to buy the freehold but, as you'd expect, it doesn't come cheap. Around £100 million in fact. That's some mortgage, and you're not going to get a particular good rate at the moment, are you?!

Up at N17, a resurgent Spurs are planning on developing their current White Hart Lane Ground into a new sixty thousand seater stadium. The complex will also have a museum, homes and a supermarket, but will it really be as iconic as the club claims? We know how sentimental footy fans are about their sacred turf.... Glen Goodman is off to investigate.

Golden Balls certainly has the midas touch when it comes to property - or at least the owner of a three bed house in Leytonstone is hoping so because one Mr D. Beckham was born there. Similar properties on Norman Road go for around £250,000 whereas the 'golden' house is on the market for over three times that. Bargain? Or baloney (as they may say in Becks' new suburb of LA)?

I'm not sure if the beautiful James Blunt is into property but he will be residing in the studio this evening to let us know about his new single and latest album. Our boss Stuart is in the programme editing chair tonight and has found a brilliant clip of our James singing a distinctly different version of his infamous "You're Beautiful" song. It's hilarious, and we will of course share it with you later. I won't give it away but it is good to see that our crooning captain can make fun of himself.

I was still smiling on my way to work this morning about 'Billgate' - or rather, Alastair's moment on the show yesterday when we were covering the 25th anniversary of ITV police drama "The Bill". If you missed it, he referred to D.I. Burnside (as in Detective Inspector) as 'Di' Burnside (as in Diana). Well, I was going to let it go but our gallery crew and our guest Alseha Dixon - who clearly all watch The Bill - started to giggle, which set me off. Al confessed to not watching the show... clearly! Anyway, he is the most experienced broadcaster I have ever worked with and, the true professional he is, he put his hand up to the gaffe quite willingly. Afterwards when we were off-air he admitted, "I don't mind... if it had been a political constituency however, I would have been horrified!" Love him.

Al deserves a rest after that so Ben is at the helm and rocking along to Supertramp's "Breakfast In America" at the moment - purely journalistic reasons though, as James Blunt has covered this. We do actually work. Honest.

Robin is also on top form, as always, and will have the weekend weather for you, plus James King has his pick of this week's movies and we'll keep you up to date with ideas for the weekend as the capital gears up for Christmas - already. Agh!

Looking forward to seeing you all at 6,

Faye B & Ben.













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London Tonight Tonight

London Tonight Tonight
Good afternoon.
Good to be back - I missed you and hope, in the nicest possible way, that you missed me. Don't get me wrong - how you say things, really matters.
Like Haringey Council "thinking" that they had said sorry for the death of Baby P. They hadn't. For 48 hours. They now have and Ronke hears them say it. But then again if I say I missed you that is different to someone else telling you that I missed you. Thus, with Haringey - a member of "the Cabinet of Haringey Council" (pretentious, moi?) says she is sorry. Not the leader of the Council. Nor anyone of the army of social service people who bumped into this case but appear to have failed to achieve traction with it. So, an apology at several removes but not one removal of one person from office, job or responsibility. This one will run and run.
Talking of field sports, athletics and the like, Tessa Jowell says if we'd known then what we know now, we wouldn't have bid to host the Games. "Mummy, this great big recession came along and hit me! I didn't see it coming". Well, none of us did but as that Great Economist John Maynard Keynes said" When the facts change, I change my mind". How then is our Tessa saying, now that the recession has knocked her and modern capitalism for six, that she is standing by our hosting of the Olympics? No choice, I hear you mutter. Then don't raise the canard only to shoot it like a Barnacle Goose, you might hear me respond. Bozza says Tessa has been a good 50 meters behind helpful in the last lap of the Let's Get The Games Going sprint. Oh, for a starting pistol.
Phil says "on your marks" several times and still wonders if any of them will ever get off the blocks let alone complete the course.
Apparently Faye's elegant black trousers, (the ones with my favourite satin stripe down the side) are falling apart, but not, and I quote The Stunner, "in a sexy way". She then chortled, as only she can, that she was pleased to have given me "some material". Shouldn't that be the other way round, given the fissiparous nature of her troos???
Nick Wallis finally escapes, troos in tact, from the dank depths of the Underground but not before meeting a Giant Digger and giving a good talking to Tim O'Toole who is in charge. Actually, we like Mr. O'T despite the fact that he learned his trade moving around as many "steers" as you used to see on Rawhide or Bonanza. "Moo" I hear you say. No, I don't. It is my fevered imagination.
But I enjoy a vibrant imagination. This, though, is beyond even that fevered cauldron of creativity - a thug, a wrong'un, "a burglar, gangster and junkie" says Faye of him, in what must pass as the most damming character reference ever uttered outside of anger, attacks another chap. They then bond and form a partnership to combat youth crime. Well I guess they bring both sides of the experience into play but I still fear planks of wood and unethically large brass finger accoutrements may come into play in the final act.  Lewis will prove me wrong, I am sure.
Alesha Dixon is in the studio. She was recently in Downing Street and on "Strictly", as it is known in the trade. Which will she prefer when it comes to her inevitable autobiography? We will ask her. She is a beautiful and talented woman. Not unlike Faye, though I imagine Ms Dixon's troos will be in fine repair. Or she'll wear a frock.
Harry Redknapp is at White Heart Lane and doing to it what John Maynard Keynes (pay attention at the back) did to the world economy after the crash of '29 and the slump of the '30s. JMK wrote "The General Theory of Employment" as a result and changed the way politicians and economists thought for the next 50 years until Milton Freidman, Margaret Thatcher and Monetarism. I wonder what Harry will call his seminal tome? "The General Theory of Putting The Ball In The Back Of The Net, 'arry" ?
Perhaps he'll tell us, at 6.
Why your Post-Office has a better chance of staying open and why Drogba should have kept his feelings about being pelted by morons in the stands to himself; plus all manner of meteorological banter from Robin and a snatch of the front pages.
I am exhausted and may need another day off. That'll be Friday then.
But I really look forward to your company tonight. As does the lovely Faye. Both of them, in fact.
What a happy crew we are - let the vibes reach you, live at 6.
Alastair & Faye & Faye.


London Tonight Tonight Monday 10th November 2008

London Tonight Tonight Monday 10th November 2008
Good afternoon.
We begin with an inquest which may suggest, on the eve of Armistice Day and the 90th anniversary of the end of the War to End all Wars, that we are still sending modern troops into battle ill prepared, under-equipped and at risk. It is not what we should do to them or their families. The Coroner may decide all was hunky dory and who needs a helicopter, medic and armour to avoid fatal attack? I am sure Harris will let us know.
Somewhere between "all property is theft " and "possession is nine tenths of the law" is where we all live. Tonight, two groups of people who are seriously uncomfortable with their part in that.
260 residents of a Peabody Estate have had no gas for ages - they are not Cooking on Gas, and some are not  bathing, showering or even doing the washing up. Not on. Robin is metering their complaints and seeking to sort it.

Also unhappy are many folk who've gone for equity release on their properties - "equity" is  the bit of the value of your home you own as opposed to the bank, building society or generous Aunt Hilda - and it can be realised through a deal with a lender, a deal the like of which I would touch with a barge pole so long you could stand in Windsor and prod Wapping with it. And I am right, because, as LVJ will show, it has come horridly unstuck for lots of people and we will ask our nice friendly estate agent, Philip Bullman, if there is a better alternative? A tent would be better in my view but I think I have already made it clear where I am coming from on this one.

Keith Allen is in the studio shortly to talk about being Long John Silver - I thought he was doing an impersonation of Lewis Vaughan Jones til I realised my eyesight was playing up again and I'd got the letters wrong. I liked him as the Sheriff of Notthingham and his daughter went to school with my daughter. So lots to talk about as well as a classic of early modern literature.

I got very confused about Wimbledon FC and the MK Dons but one, or possibly both, of them is doing very well and we are very excited about it. I fear you'll have to watch for it to make sense. I thought the Crazy Gang sang "Underneath The Arches" but apparently they won the FA Cup in 1988. It is another world.

Robin refuses to go on the roof and the London papers will be damp. Both will be with us.
As will Alex, my new friend. I like her and I know you will, too.
Alastair and Alex


London Tonight Tonight Friday 7th November 2008

London Tonight Tonight Friday 7th November 2008
Good afternoon.

This is the end of quite a week - yesterday, as I hope was not evident on the programme, my heart was in Ohio, my feet in Pennsylvania and my liver in Kentucky. But my mind was with London. I was just a bit bush-whacked by having spent Tuesday night-Wednesday morning presenting ITV's coverage of the US Election.

"Bush-whacked"- how unintentionally funny is that? No, I agree: not terribly. But the film about George W. Bush, called just "W" to save printers ink, is; and tonight James gives his verdict. He also mulls over "Easy Virtue", something GW was never accused of, though his predecessor Bill Clinton had an active interest in the theme.

Obama succeeded George W in part because young people wanted him to and, in part, because of 'yoof' culture and the internet. Boy George, the sexually eclectic leader of 80s pop sensations Culture Club has cut a disc to celebrate OB's win - "Yes We Can". I am sure the 44th President of the United States of America will welcome Boy George's contribution to the celebrations. I might ask him. He is dropping by later and we'll share his thought with you at 6.

Obama wants troops out of Iraq, asap; but, worryingly, more troops into Afghanistan, equally asap. Odd that the world glazes over this contradiction as it celebrates uncritically this New Start, New Dawn and New President. The First World War was supposed to have been the War to End All Wars - except 39-45, Korea, Vietnam, countless civil wars across Africa and the war-like scourge of terrorism on a global scale. Next Tuesday is the 90th anniversary of the end of the one that was supposed to end them all. I thought Americans didn't do irony! We will mark this event by visiting the lovely folk in Richmond who make the Poppies so many of us wear with pride, tinged with just a little exasperation. Phil remembers with them.

There was much debate yesterday about the relative merits of Leonardo (did you see him talking to Lucy last night ???) Di Caprio and Colin Farrell. I was heavily in the Farrell camp until the gang realised I was talking about Colin Firth. They forgave me and tonight Mr Farrell is on the show and you can make you own minds up. Lucy flutters those lovely long eye-lashes in his direction and he responds by wearing a hat. Tasteless and unthinking thespian that he is. Leo was much nicer. And I quote Ms Cotter...

On our news agenda, a little old lady who died because she caught a foot in a railway pedestrian crossing. Network Rail now have to check all such crossings across the country, by edict of a Coroner. You can hear the old souls wake, rudely interrupted by the noise of barn doors slamming shut to the echo of horses that, long ago, cantered away... Sharon hears sadness and resignation from the family.
And another stab victim "fights for his life". Insofar as Yanks don't do irony, I try not to do cynicism but "this must stop" and "put an end to it" are as empty, echoing chambers in this crazy, mixed up town of ours. Marcus hangs his head.

Faye led an extraordinary debate about "Pushing Presents", I confessed to spending extravagantly on my wife for three of our children's births, but, like Scrooge for our daughter, whose fault it was not to be born in the depths of Geoffrey Howe's recession. Faye is wearing a pink and grey striped top - a reject from the "pink" navy, peut-etre? She also has what I think are called fashionably "distressed jeans" on - I think they are just torn but at least they let those blood vessels do their thing.
Hope so because I fear Robin will tell us it is to be a chilly one and we'll need all the natural central heating we can pump round our little bods.

Papers might just make it and your e-mails on remembrance will, I suspect, lift all our spirits which may, just, have been numbed by some of the news.
What Not To Miss should include Camilla Batmangheligh and Gwyneth Paltrow's Jumble in the Jungle but it won't. Be rebels! Ignore Faye's choices and join me in Brick Lane to support Kids Company!!!

I may be sacked for that so see my version of Custer's Last Stand at 6.
I think the Indians are over that hill so I'll sign off in expectation and with my revolver loaded.
No surrender.

Alastair and Faye.


London Tonight Tonight Thursday 6th November 2008

London Tonight Tonight Thursday 6th November 2008
Good afternoon to you all,
Alastair is back today after his US election extravaganza and there is plenty happening in London for him and the rest of us to get our teeth into.
Remember former Mayor Ken Livingston's grand (and expensive) plans for London's transport system? Well his successor has called these promises unrealistic and hollow today, and promptly scrapped around £3 billion pounds worth of major transport projects in the capital. These include the Thames Gateway Bridge Scheme, the Docklands Light Railway extension and the Oxford Street tram.  The Thames Gateway Bridge alone had the potential to create 42,000 jobs. So has Boris gone bonkers or is the money better spent elsewhere?
If his schedule permits, Boris will be live on the show to explain all - fingers crossed.
I have nothing but admiration for the doctors and nurses in our London NHS hospitals, but having spent many weeks at St Thomas' this time last year when my other half was gravely ill, I can see what challenges they, and patients face every day. It seems obvious to say, but when things go wrong it really is a matter of life and death. So that leads us to the story of June Cutmore. She went in to St Barts Hospital for a heart operation with a red wristband and medical notes flagging up the fact that she was severely allergic to penicillin. But she was given it anyway and she died. Her family, understandably want answers. Liz brings you the full story.
You may remember 16 year old Ahmed who, amazingly, survived an unprovoked and savage knife attack a year ago which left him with a blade embedded in his skull. Today Yassin Elmansouri, 17, has been jailed for life. But his victim is also living with a sentence - a sentence which means his life will never be the same as he aims to recover from his injuries. Ronke has been to see Ahmed and will bring you his moving story.
In showbiz tonight, it's the premiere of "Body of Lies" in Leicester Square, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe.  I've been a Leo fan since he played the mentally handicapped boy Arnie in "What's Eating Gilbert Grape" and, I know not everyone agrees with me, but I think he's grown up into a great actor... maturing very nicely methinks. But, I digress... (sorry!). This time he is playing a CIA agent tracking down terrorists, and, with Ridley Scott directing, it should be a good one. Lucy will have the latest from the red carpet.... maybe even Leo (more fingers crossed).  I was supposed to interview Leo once and he didn't turn up because he had a cold, so if he doesn't show up tonight, we've got an interview with Colin Farrell instead. Our brilliant producer Faye (yes there are two of us!) has plan Bs for everything on this programme!
I may be in my element when it comes to Leonardo, but Al has been in his, having a look around a new Rolling Stones exhibition.  Forty years ago the rock gods released the album "Beggar's Banquet" and photos from the time are going on display at the Blink Gallery in Soho. That exhibition opens tomorrow but we can share a sneak preview tonight - hoorah!
If you didn't make a firework display yesterday then Chrissie will be here to let us know if the weather will be kind enough for more whizzes and bangs in the next few days. If it's raining those free papers are always handy as emergency shelter, but we shall of course be taking you through what they are reporting this evening and, if you have some views on Boris' new transport plans, then get typing as we'll be reading out emails and texts on the subject.
Do join us all at 6!
Faye B
P.S. Alastair is extremely chuffed as he interviewed Lewis Hamilton today (you may have seen it on the ITV Lunchtime News) and got a full-blown public apology from our new Formula 1 World Champion. Tune in to find out why!


London Tonight Tonight Wednesday 5th November 2008

London Tonight Tonight Wednesday 5th November 2008
Hi there,
You would have had to have been in your own private cocoon not to have heard the historic news from America today, but JUST incase you have been cocooned, America has elected for change and that change comes in the form of President-elect Barack Obama.
I have to say our favourite news man Alastair Stewart led great coverage of the US election on ITV overnight - that man works so hard. He's still here now as I write this, but by 6 this evening he won't be on the London Tonight sofa... I'm hoping he'll be having a well-deserved nap! A job very well done.
So everyone's talking about the American election and it's relevance can be felt thousands of miles away here in the capital.  There have been parties and celebrations and our cameras have caught some great reactions from Londoners. But, aside from that, we're also looking at the wider issues - can Obama's ability to inspire effect change right here? What do London's young black people think of the man who is making such an enormous impact across the world? As always, we'd like to hear what you think on this one.
Plenty of other stories in the programme tonight, including worrying news about the new state-of-the-art birth unit at St Mary's Hospital in Paddington. An investigation has been launched after two babies have died there in three months. The £1.4 million centre is aimed at providing a "home from home" experience for expectant mothers, but the NHS Trust which runs St Mary's is now rigorously investigating what went wrong.
If you're a smoker, more and more things are going against you, and it's going way beyond having to stand outside in the cold when you want a ciggie. Redbridge Council in East London has announced it is banning smokers from fostering children from January 2010. The ban was passed unanimously last night by the council, but there is a worry that good foster carers could be lost.
There'll be plenty of smoke around the capital tonight though to Remember, Remember, the 5th of November. Chrissie is heading for a fireworks display in Camberley, Surrey and will be letting us know how many damp squibs we can expect this evening - fingers crossed for a dry, crisp evening! 
If you like to rock to your fireworks then you will love what Lucy's been up to. She's been hanging out at a north London studio where ordinary people - well, those with money in the bank - have been gathering to jam with legendary rock stars from Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones and The Who. Rock on!
Hopefully there won't be too much mess to clear up, but if there is, we have the perfect man for the job. Liz has been to meet the Italian street sweeper who loves his job so much he's on a mission to visit (and clean) his favourite tourist locations around the world. Today he's been to Trafalgar Square, making it spick and span.
By the way, for any of you who heard my comment yesterday when Ben asked me what I thought of Colin Firth (my classy "wouldn't say no!"), you'll be amused to hear my husband pulled me up on it as soon as I got home. Yikes! Note to self: be careful what you say on TV. (He's forgiven me.)
Do join Ben and I at 6!
Faye B


London Tonight Tonight Monday 3rd November 2008

London Tonight Tonight Monday 3rd November 2008
Hi everyone,
Wow, what an end to the Formula 1 season! We'll be taking another look at Lewis Hamilton's stunning and historic achievement after he was crowned the youngest ever F1 world champion following that nail-biting race in Brazil yesterday.  Hasn't the 23 year old from Stevenage done amazingly well? Makes you feel quite inadequate really!
Plenty more for you on a packed London Tonight programme this evening, including details of the Mayor's latest plans to tackle crime in the capital. It's called "Time for Action" and, with 27 teenagers dying violently so far this year, something certainly needs to be done, and fast. We'll be speaking to Boris Johnson live to find out all about it and, more importantly, how he's going to make it work.
If you were a homeowner in the Nineties and ended up in negative equity, you won't welcome the news that more people could be affected by the same drama in the coming months than 15 years ago.  Property expert Louisa Fletcher will be joining us to give us the real picture of what we can expect in the London housing market.
You are no doubt aware of that big old Election across the pond, with Americans voting for their next president tomorrow. Barack Obama is on the brink of winning and one person who could be on her way to the White House to visit him, is his Step-Mum. She lives in Berkshire and has been speaking to us about the part she's played in his life so far.
If that weren't enough to wet your appetite, Lemar is in the studio talking about his new single and album. You may remember he came third in the TV show "Fame Academy" in 2002 but that never stopped the Tottenham lad going on to win a Brit Award and enjoying chart success.
Looking forward to seeing you at 6!
Faye and Ben