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This is the official website of London Tonight, on ITV1 in London and the South East every weeknight at 6pm.


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.