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Tuesday 23rd December

Good afternoon

'Tis the season to be cheerful, slightly earlier than you might have thought. Don't panic! You haven't missed a thing nor left anything too late.
As we are not on air tomorrow, we are treating tonight as our Christmas eve', just for you.

So, we will raise your spirits with our variation upon a theme of Charles Dickens. Despite these "Hard times" and the absence of even a "Bleak House", London's homeless found the arm of affection and support offered to them at nine Crisis centres today. The people who run this great charity say more people than ever are helping out and Robin was been warming her hands on the glow of human kindness. We'll also be talking to one of the people from Missing People who, among other things, wants to say thanks for all the 'phones you've sent in. You are a good lot.

But, alas, our's is a "Tale of Two Cities" tonight - shocking figures published today report the number of times Old Bill was called out - not to pub' brawls and bank robberies but to uprisings in the lower fifth and other troubled cauldrons of learning. As the arm of affection (see above) was being stretched out to the homeless, the strong arm of the law was helping place a firm hand upon the shoulders of a rather worrying number of boys and girls who do not consider these to be 'The Best Days of Their Lives': more a cross between "D Day" and "The Battle of The Bulge". We chat to a London Head who used to run the teacher's union and ask why talking at the back has turned to wrestling at the front.

The worthy stage-coach was a vibrant feature of "The Pickwick Papers" and, if you plan to venture north from our fair city this festive season, you arguably might do better in a landau and four than on one of National "not that" Express's trains, among other TOCs. That's Train Operating Companies though the "operating" bit is often the subject of lively debate in my experience. Jon is our 'slender' Controller with all the details to help you complete your plans to stay at home. I miss the flags and whistles of rail travel whilst others have long resigned themselves to the loss of seats. Standing room only for this one.

"Oliver Twist" famously said 'Please Sir, I want some more'. He braved brutality for an extra ladle of gruel but I think you'll all raise the roof this evening in a similar plea when you see Glen at the Ritz getting expert lessons on how to roast THAT festive bird. The stuffing bit had me salivating at lunchtime but what the Head Chef did with the birds "pins" may come as a first to you. It did me...

We're risking an "Old Curiosity Shop" full of our favourite bits from 2008 in the hope you'll see a little of what you fancied in the last year. If we've chosen the right bits, it is down to us; if you don't like them, e-mail me and I will furnish you with the Big Bosses personal address. I jest. He has power of hire and fire over me. I really do jest...

Finally, we have "Great Expectations" that you will be heartened to hear the touching messages from some of our brave lads and lasses, stuck in Iraq and Afghanistan, which we are delighted to be the passing on to their loved ones, missing them back home here in London.

And finally a real "Christmas Carol", or two, to end with, courtesy of the phonically fabulous choir of St. Brides.

We really hope you can be with us. It is a special programme at a special time of year for a special bunch of people, and that's you.

See you at 6 geese a laying - not at 5 gold rings, or you'll be too early; and certainly not at seven swans a swimming or you'll have missed the lot!

Alastair and Katie.


22nd December 2008

Good afternoon.

Three days to go, and counting!

As the Big Boss and I, both proud parents, mused about the durability of the belief in the veracity of the St. Nicholas story for our children, he shared an observation from Max - our "Father Entertainment" figure.

"My kids don't believe any more. " said Max. "An episode of 'Desperate Housewives' blew it ...". Now his children are articulate, perceptive but still quite young. What were they doing watching 'DH', we wondered? Perhaps that is why they are so articulate and perceptive.

A lot of you have put away the myth that we teeter on the brink of an economic cataclysm, the financial equivalent of Krakatoa or any one, or even all, of the Seven Plagues which beset the biblical Egyptians. You have, in the last few days, scorched along Oxford, Bond and Regent Streets like a plague of high-spending locusts, leaving the tills running with cash as the Nile ran with blood. Lewis, who thinks a bunch of daffodils and a white pinny are signs of a generous character, has gone to Oxford Street to investigate.

There he may chance upon Robin, "Chasing The Lady" or buying top-end branded perfume which you and I know to be water with lime-juice but in "nice" packaging. If he gets ALL his shopping done in time, he'll do us a forecast. Otherwise it'll be a map, a fistful of receipts and a distant voice apologising for the cold but the lack of snow.

Efforts to raise the festive spirits in Walthamstow have hit a snag. Not for these good folk the plaintive voice of a Dickensian child seeking a few coopers at your door in return for a whispered "Away in a Manger"; nor, for them, the uplifting and spiritual mystery of mid-night Gregorian chant amidst the incense and purple of my own Church. No, our subjects favour tambourines, drums, massive choirs and a volume that would tempt the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse to stay stabled. But others are less warm to this December destroying display of Doh Ray Me's. ASBOS are threatened but, with God on your side, ASBOS are to no avail. I didn't know that either. How will it all resolve itself? Ronke researches a range of Holy texts and recent statutes to discover a way forward. Failing that, it'll be ear-pads and civil unrest at dawn.

The Cafe Royal has seen a good deal of "unrest" in it's colourful past which comes to an abrupt end today. It is in for a face-lift and will emerge as an hotel. Oscar Wilde invented the spritzer here whilst indulging in a range of other activities which we will keep even from Max's kids. Boxers boxed here and more Awards shows than an unsuspecting public should ever have to endure were endured here. Katie remembers a cabaret bar and George Melly. Bet George, now sadly gone, didn't !

Incidently, she has just returned from shopping for Christmas which may put even our shopping story our of date. I feel a bit of retail "pump-priming" that will make the whole cut in VAT and Paulson bank rescue bit look like so much lose change.

Kirstie will review London's property year during which many Englishmen's castle's ended up being worth little more than so much lose change. And we make another bid for your surplus cell-phones to yield what can prove to be a good deal more than lose change for the good people of Missing People as they go about their great works this Christmas.

We've also the terribly sad story of the mother who discovered her son had been murdered by her ex boyfriend. I have left it to last because it is sad but we will report it without fear because life goes on out there. And ends. Sadly.

But we will try to raise your spirits, too.

If, however, Robin offers you Chanel Number "4" or claims he has "found" the lady, walk by on the other side. Trust me. I was educated by the Benedictines.

See you at 6.

Alastair & Katie.


Friday 19th December


When I first moved to London I thought the old routemasters were one of the best ideas.. a bit like the trams in San Fran and Melbourne - jump on and jump off where you like. Made complete sense to me. But, I didn't have to try and get a pram on and off one of the things, so I guess they didn't make complete sense for everyone.. Still, when they were scrapped in 2005 it really was a sad day - not just for the traditionalist - now I have to beg grumpy bus drivers (they're not all grumpy, some do let me on..) to open the doors rather than be able to leap - slightly dangerously - on at the traffic lights and I hate the bendy buses - cycling is not fun near one of them. I digress...The point is they're coming back! Happy Days! And they're going to be better than ever - like Bond cars!

Well, not exactly of course but a design by Aston Martin was one of the winners of the competition to make the new greener, more accessible, hop on hop off double deckers which we could get by 2011.

Bozzer's excited - but some people don't think we need them and it's just a bit of a vanity project - see what you think.. Simon Harris is going to be on an old one and showing us the winning designs for the new one.

I would go out and get on a bus myself but I can't move now I've stuffed myself with mince pies (my own fault) and handfuls of Maltesers (Ben's fault for bringing in a bucket of the evil things). I'm not normally such a pig but you I can't help feeling all festive in the office today - a lot of us off for Christmas after tonight's show. A few people have come back in this afternoon looking more than a little rosy after long lunches and Robin's been humming Mariah Carey - All I Want for Christmas. I digress again - point is a lot of you are finished today for the festive period too - even though Monday, Tuesday and even Christmas Eve are really work days...Glen Goodman's looking into his snowy crystal ball and asking if London's going to be like a ghost town next week. While Nick Wallis is out on the M25 to see everyone's cars packed with pressies trying to whizz off - but more than likely finding themselves in a load of jams tonight.

The delicious James King is here - I don't know why I just called him delicious - I'm not hungry anymore - anyway - he's talking about Twilight, which I've just been explaining to Ben is going to be an absolutely huge movie thanks in no small part to the gorgeous Robert Pattinson, and The Tale of Despereaux - another gorgeous creature - the animation made entirely here in London.

Big Boss just said something about egg nog - now I have a serious craving!

Ben and I will be with you from 6 (for the last time this year - Al and Katie are with you next week!)

Have a great Christmas - See you in 2009.

Alex and Ben.


London Tonight Tonight Wednesday 17th December 2008


Woolworths is closing in January - not such a Merry Christmas for the thousands of you employed by them. Not such a Merry Christmas for the million other jobless - some of whom have been without work for over a year. The government says this number is not made up of scroungers, these are people looking for work not just handouts. With jobs being scrapped everywhere from Virgin to Santander to Woolies the latest figures (already trhe worst since 1991) could now spill over to 2 million next year. But, there are apparently a million jobs out there waiting to be filled ...so where are they, why aren't people being matched up with them..? Nick Thatcher's been finding out what you think.

Meanwhile, Bozzer's attempts to save London from financial ruin have earned him this Christmas' "Scrooge" title. Predictable Faye says - but still funny, especially as we all now have an image of him in a scruffy top hat. His ideas for propping up our struggling economy haven't gone down too well at City Hall - Simon Harris tells us why.

Remember how the Millennium Bridge was wobbly - and no one really knew why...? Well, now we know! Big boss greeted this news with a sarcastic "I've been really worried about that for 8 years now" but the rest of us were impressed with Faye's scientific explanation. Glen Goodman's our Johnny Ball tonight - he won't be marching across the bridge to test it out! We shall all be much more the wiser I'm sure.

Lewis Vaughan Jones is back in New York comparing a night on the tiles there to one in our fair city - he really does have a tough life! Find out just how unbiased we are when we pose the question - which is the better city!? I may have a predictable vote for that one too..

Now, I don't usually get all girlie and giggly about celebs - ok, every now and then...Hugh Jackman made me go slightly weak at the knees.. But I think I'm allowed to regress to my teenage years (yes, yes they are quite a long time ago..) when our guest is Jason Donovan. Growing up down under I wanted to be Kylie Minogue (still do obviously but I'm more realistic about fitting into her gold hot pants.) I begged my Mum for a perm and thought that her mechanics overalls really were the height of fashion. I dreamed of marrying Jason with Angry Anderson providing the soundtrack (Neighbours fans know what I'm talking about!). So, the spunky hunk himself joins me and Al in the studio - Merry Christmas to me!

We also get introduced to Despereaux - Faye and I think he's v cute - I'm not sure Al's convinced. Who can fail to be charmed by such a sweet little animated creature. His tail (Faye's joke not mine) gets better too, not only is the movie, starring Matthew Broderick and Robbie Coltrane, hitting cinemas this week, it was also made entirely in London. This kind of project's usually reserved for the animation studios in Hollywood, so it definitely deserves our support. That's my excuse anyway, I just love cartoons really.

Oh - and don't miss Robin - he's got the weather if he's recovered from being upstaged by Britt Eckland's pooch!

We're all here from 6.

Alex and Alastair.



Good Afternoon.
I love the USA. I love it's music. It's cities lend their names to some wonderfully iconic music: Sinatra explaining that "Chicago" is his kind of town; Scott MacKenzie going to "San Francisco" and weaving 'flowers in his hair'; and "New York, New York", by anyone, conjures up the image of the Big Apple within a quaver or two. What do we get? Ralph McTell encouraging us to slash our wrists about the gloom that is "The Streets of London" And who ever penned a memorable melody about Croydon or Barnet? The Kink's "Waterloo Sunset" is as good as it gets, I think.
So it was to New York that we dispatched the naturally tuneful LVJ - he's Welsh, you know - and he came back with a fresh theory about communicable diseases, so virulent that they even cross the Atlantic. Why, he asked, if America sneezes, do we catch a cold... economically? As if to ease his passage, along comes American Bernard Madoff who promptly disappears with $50 billion in a fraud to make the South Sea Bubble look like commercial cheer-leaders to the Great Depression. He has more in the following days but tonight's is worth ever moment you have to spare at 6.
Ken is in charge tonight, de-stressed from the rigours of another weekend supporting West Ham - a point at Stamford Bridge is a point to cherish. He has commissioned a report on the state of play with the London Olympic aquadrome. In Beijing it was a magnificent water cube that lit up the Chimnese sky-line and accommodated even the ego of Michael Phelps and could have made the feet of Ian Thorpe look like "lickle flippers".
Again, and I am not one of life's pessimists, what do we have? Well, according to the very optimistic Ken, a place better suited to mud-wrestling that the four by four hundred metre free-style.
Piers "Mr Speedos" Hopkirk takes the plunge for you. Ladies, avert your gaze but hang on his every word - all of you.
Talking of words, some final words occupy a special place in our folk-lore. In Royal histroy, (and former Buck House press secretary Dicky Arbiter just passed by and said "Hi",) "Bugger Bognor ! " is one of my favourites. The Oz likes "Which way round is this helmet supposed to go?", uttered by Ned Kelly seconds before being felled in a hail of police bullets. He didn't have eyes in the back of his head, where he'd slithered the eye-slits to be, according to the Melbourne Museum of Fine Arts and Dead Gangsters. The celebrated reference to an angel getting its wings every time a bell rings is, of course, the closing tear jerker in a particularly seasonal movie, made many moons ago. The little girl who uttered them is now a grande dame and she joins us in the studio. Got it yet? You will. By the way, it has, over the years, also led to a rather large number of would-be cherubs and seraphim loitering, wingless, outside London's fire stations, only to waft away in celebratory fashion every time a semi or a bungalow goes up in flames. Odd, these Heavenly creatures.
We ring a bell, one more time, for our spelndid mobile phone search in aid of missing people and we hear , one more time, from the weepy wonder who won Saturday's "X Factor Final". Lucy sits with her, clutching the Kleenex. I voted for Lewis Hamilton so am still disappointed. What? A different show? Oh, sorry.
Finally, all the news that's fit to print in our news-belt and the latest on the trial of the family accused of keeping a stampede's worth of horses in conditions that beggar belief. They deny all charges. The RSPCA have some video they think may help the jury decide. It is not an easy ride, I warn you, but it matters so we'll run it.
Papers, if we have time, and certainly some weather from the lovely Chrissie who is coming in in increasingly thick jumpers, longer scarves and now a whole selection of gloves. I fear for communicable diseases but have put a fiver on a white Christmas. The Oz still thinks we're talking the colour of beach-sand, here. She'll learn - lovely, and quick witted - a beaut' combination.
We'll see you at 6 - in hope and not a little expectation.

Alastair and Alex.
Please Note:

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London Tonight Tonight Friday 12th December 2008

Good afternoon.
I won't pretend it isn't an unusual Friday - we've less light hearted frippery for you as a good deal of weighty stuff is playing upon our minds, as it will upon yours.
The idea of a group of men and women, "honest and true", passing judgment on either a fellow citizen or a set of events, is at the heart of our democracy.
I don't know what the jury system in Brazil is like but ours very nearly served the shattered family of a Brazilian citizen well today. I say "very nearly" because the family believed the Police had "unlawfully" killed one of their number. But the Coroner said that was the one verdict the jury couldn't deliver because he didn't believe the Police had committed a "serious crime". Recovering from a sharp intake of breath, the jurors went on about their business and returned an "open" verdict and a series of observations, that will have caused an intake of breath at the Met. The young man was Jean Charles De Menezes and we have the full detail from a dramatic moment where British justice attempted to do well by an innocent young man making a new life in this country, only to fall victim to a cruel death. Marcus is the man with the sad tale of the shooting at Stockwell Tube Station and wrestles with the dilemma of a family seeking solace in justice, incapable of forgiveness, but pondering a new start without their beloved Jean.
To add to your understanding of this tale we have also asked some pretty fundamental questions about the Met's Shoot To Kill policy. The entire Police explanation was based upon the assumption that Jean was in fact Hussein Osman, a suspected bomber on the run at a time only two weeks after the 7/7 killings on London's transport system. But should they have ever been faced with such a ghastly "life or death" dilemma? And if they weren't, how much more dangerous might London be? Tough call but Glen is more than up to it.

The Beatles wrote "It was twenty years ago today..." as the opening line to the opening track of Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club band. They also wrote "I read the news today" as the opening line of another memorable track on that classic of pop. Well, twenty years ago today I read the news of the Clapham train crash - a wood crunching, life-taking, body-breaking debacle that remained a blot on the reputation of the railway for years. In my view, and that of many, it remains there because some of the key recommendations still haven't been implemented. When the great Andrew Gilligan explains to you one of the reasons for that tardiness you may take to the roads or even a rickshaw in future. It will make your blood both run cold and then boil up in anger.

Anger is not a good emotion and whoever killed a convicted paedophile in his caravan home clearly did it in a state of extreme anger, given the horrid injuries inflicted upon the man. We hear ominous mutterings about "vigilantism" and "mob rule". Sangeeta treads with objective caution through Wandsworth.

Then, "Vivat Regina" as the boys of Westminster College are urged to exclaim at the Coronation of a new Queen. ("Vivat Rex, presumably, if and when Charles or Wills get the job but, given the rude health of the incumbent, I'd go shootin' and fishin' a little longer if I were them). "Vivat Mirren" we say as we welcome one of our finest living actresses to talk about her new movie which is targeted at the kids' market but which will do well, on merit, in any market. Dame H is in talks with the Lady Lucy - I won't take my eyes of either of them, unless the Oz nudges me in affectionate jealousy. I dream.

James King is here ("Vivat Jacobus" - that is right, honest) - to pass judgment on a remake and a re-release - They are called something like "The Day Christmas Stood Still" and "White Earth" I think but I am told them are both brilliant so I'd tune in if I were you to discover what they are really called and how good they really are.
The Oz will mull over What Not To Miss this weekend and it won't only feature strong lager, rugby and Kylie.
Robin is taking bets on very cold but very pretty precipitation this winter solstice.
And Faye, back in charge to let Ken prepare for another nail-biting weekend of what it means to support West Ham, is in tight black trousers, a truly stunning grey wrap top and beige pointy boots. But she is going to a dinner party tonight as The Fattest Lady In The World. I think she will fail but look hilariously beautiful or beautifully hilarious in the effort. That is why I love her.

The Oz and I await your presence before you bounce off for a wonderful weekend. Let us provide you with your passports to paradise, but only after we've shared the serious stuff with you.

Alastair and Alex.



Good afternoon.
"Just get on the bumper of an Olympic car and, game on!" was Ken's response to our top story. Ken, a life-long West Ham fan and thus an expert in dealing with adversity is in charge today and we are leading on the publication of the map which shows which roads and lanes will be awarded "clearway" status by the 2012 Olympic lot. His Mr Toad outburst caused a titter in our planning meeting but, the more I think about it, the more sense it makes. Because Mayor Bozza is fast turning into Toad of Toad Hall and subject the the Rats in City Hall will surely shortly implode in a cacophoney ot "Toot-toots" as he careers off yet another road.
One of his key lieutenants, and they are fast becoming few, joins us tonight to discuss what looks like a glimmer of hope on the Mayor's horizon and that of the mullered Met. Slightly fewer of our young-folk are knifing one another and that is a genuine cause for celebration. How they did it, why it has taken so long and how costly it will be to make it stick will be among the isues we will explore with Kit Malthouse.
Childish chortling also broke out when it was confirmed that our special guest tonight, Ms Kate Winslet, had been nominated for two Golden Globes. I know and I am sorry but I am, at heart , a reporter and report I must. Lucy has been chatting to her at titanic length but it is worth every frame.
I am less drawn to The X Factor and the three finalsists who will fight it out for money and glory and a contract with Simon Cowell, come Saturday. Infact there are 6 of them, but four of them are "one" of them, if you follow me. Anyway, Robin has been reading the small print in their would-be contract should they succeed and it shows that if they win and go on to perform in a pub on the planet Pluto, Mr. Cowell will still be in for a slice of the action. Fascinating and what a lesson in life for them all?
There is lots more and the jury at the De Menezes inquest are still looking at their watches so tune in for the above and for a few surprises too.
The Oz and I hope you'll be there because we will be.
Alastair and Alex.
Please Note:

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or entity to which they are addressed.
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G'Day Mates (use of Aussie Slang will become clear..promise).

First on the menu tonight is David Ross. I think the phrase "another one bites the dust" is appropriate here. Boris sure can pick 'em - 4th one of his chosen aides to step down since he became Mayor in May. Mr Ross is a bit of an illusive character and doesn't appear to have spoken on camera as far as we can work out - ever. But Simon Harris will explain why the former Carphone Warehouse director has had to drop out of helping plan London 2012.

Also tonight we meet gorgeous couple James Pegram and Melissa Huggins - they should be planning their wedding but are instead trying to raise cash for a life saving op for Melissa - who has a brain tumor at only 27. Liz Wickham's been to speak to them about their tragic situation.

Andy Townsend's going to be on hand to help me (resident expert) explain to Al why Chelsea fans aren't best pleased and why the most lovably cheerful manager in the Premier League (one Signor Scolari) isn't looking quite so happy lately and why he might be looking even more gloomy after tonight's Champions League match against Cluj.

Those sexy crooners JLS (stands for Jack the Lad Swing in case you didn't know..I didn't even though I am an X Factor addict) caused a bit of a commotion last night. There was a stampede at their gig in Croydon which left 5 of their adoring fans injured - nothing serious but still. Knowing the girls are ok I think the excitement about seeing the lads is clearly a sign of just how big these boys are going to get. But Ken (boss while Faye's out picking up awards and avoiding the champagne) and Al aren't impressed. Apparently there was proper hysteria surrounding the Beatles and the Osmonds. I couldn't possibly comment but Lewis Vaughan Jones has been speaking to other kids who don't remember that either but do think the JLS chaps are worth getting overexcited about.

Last but not least Jim Carrey's in town to promote his new movie Yes Man which is based on a book by London writer Danny Wallace. Lucy's been deployed to track him down..not sure why she's taking the bus with him - surely the pink limo was free..I'm sure we'll find out later.

Now - the use of Aussie slang on my part is to highlight our latest award for Best Regional Television Programme.

The gong's been dished out by the Plain English Campaign - who were clearly judging the presentation before I parked myself next to Alastair on the LT sofa. I fear my slight Aussie twang may damage our chances of winning it in the future - but as Al pointed it out, it is all about him (as most things are!) Methinks the reporters, producers and big eds may have had quite a bit to do with scooping the prize for the second time though (first back in 2005) but we won't tell the main man that. Ken has just held the trophy aloft in the newsroom Oscar style - very impressive - you can glimpse it for yourself ce soir and Al will explain in 'Plain 'English' why we've been so generously recognised.

I'm now going to get the man himself to check this is up to scratch - so Sheilas and Cobbers - catch us on the box at 6pm.

Alex and Alastair.
Please Note:

Any views or opinions are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent
those of Independent Television News Limited unless specifically stated.
This email and any files attached are confidential and intended solely for the use of the individual
or entity to which they are addressed.
If you have received this email in error, please notify postmaster@itn.co.uk

Please note that to ensure regulatory compliance and for the protection of our clients and business,
we may monitor and read messages sent to and from our systems.

Thank You.


Friday Dec 5th

Good afternoon.

I love Fridays - the bran-tub of a show we do at week's end always yields guaranteed goodies for every excited hand thrust into the depths of the saw-dust and tonight's surprises are especially good.

A young picture editor just called me over and asked me to identify The Shadows! A joyous clip of black and white picture, showing Hank Marvin, Jet Harris, Tony Meehan and Bruce Welch, was played to me and I was able to confirm it was, indeed, them. Strumming and drumming and doing that loverly little two-step side-step that became one of their trademarks, the Shadows were there in the back-ground as a young, lip-curler called Cliff Richard was giving it plenty at the front. Tonight he tells Lucy how he plans to conquer Christmas for the fiftieth year running.

I adore the Dutch Masters - Van Dyke, Van Gogh, Van Driver and Van Diesel... it's Friday, I'm allowed a silly joke, or two ! OK, a play on words too far.
Anyway, second only to Van Gogh's "Starry Night" , Vermeer's "The Girl with the Pearl Earring" is my favourite example of the genre. (Van Vermeer parked his "van" and someone pinched it !) ( *enough "van" jokes, Ed)

A rather beautiful film was made of the story of this masterpiece a little while ago, starring one of the most beautiful women ever to grace the silver screen and her resemblance to Vermeer's house-maid in a cream scarf is scary. That woman is Scarlett Johanson and the fact that she is talking to Lucy rather than joining me in the studio is currently in the hands of my solicitors and the most expensive barristers money can buy. Subject only to an Order in Council, I fear you will enjoy her in conversation with the Lovely Lucy rather than me.

I, however, will be content to talk movies with James King who I see is now quoted by the Distributors of Quantum of Solace because he said it was possible the best Bond ever. I stand by Goldfinger but will focus on "Madagascar 2" and " Transporter 3" when he joins us in the studio to help you plan your weekend revels.

If you are in town you may be well advised to stick to avoid a certain type of pedicab. Suffice to say it involves industrial strength batteries, slightly more relaxed pedallers than is right, and a C21st rickshaw crashing through a Soho window. I am intrigued and think you will be, too.

There's lots of football, on and off the field - a ghastly story of a clash between some Crystal Palace fans and some Charlton Athletic supporters, the former being the Red Card collectors, the latter the innocent and nastily hurt victims. The Beak will do a little more than send them off, methinks, but all will be revealed by the non-judgmental Gooner, Marcus,at 6.

Meantime, on the field of dreams, Arsenal still wonder, in their bilingual anglo-french way, "what's gone wrong?" They meet Wigan, more famous in my house for rugby league so Arsene may be even more confused,. Chelsea, in their pan-European, anglo-franco-russo-german way, will contemplate putting the Red Scousers back in their place at Bolton's expense. Fulham hope to stop floundering, mid-table, and join the aristocrats of the top table at ManCity's cost. Excited? Well, I tried.

Finally, and arguable the most exciting part of the show - we revisit Trafalgar Square, still boasting a Norwegian spruce of startling proportions after last nights loveliness, but now shorn of Scandinavian dignitaries and the glitteratti of London's local Government. The choirs, too, have been put back in their chapels and the bands have marched back to barracks. That leaves the stage clear for our star - one of the lions has found his voice! Somewhere between C.S.Lewis' 'Aslam' and Kipling's 'Mufasa', this beast will guide tourists and others to the better bits of London. It is almost philosophical in its reach and conception... that, or a big stone lion keeping the visitors happy. Either way, it does it for me and I hope for you. Watch and listen and be the judges but remember, even stone lions might bite.

Also back from the Square, Robin, with some cold but hopefully dry weather.

Some papers in search of a lead and Boy George being , as Mary Magdalene said of Brian in "Life of Brian ", a "very naughty Boy". It isn't very nice but it is news and it may mean that Boy George isn't "free" to even sweep the streets let alone saunter alone them for a while. Nick will "come and go" with the tale of this emotional chameleon who, just a few days ago, was talking to us about having turned a corner. I am sad but he was naughty and the law must take it's course.

Oh well, I'll cheer myself up with thoughts of Scarlet, Vermeer and a big growling lion.

Salma joins me in seeking your company for an eclectic half hour!



London Tonight Tonight Wednesday 3rd December 2008

Good afternoon.

I think I have mentioned in the past that my family are all big fans of Roald Dahl - the young ones enjoy "James and the Giant Peach", "The BFG" and "Matilda", to name but three. I, and my eldest, really enjoy "Tales of the Unexpected", a series of dark, clever short stories which spawned a good TV series some years ago. "Tales of the Unexpected" is not a bad definition of news, as well. Prince Charles once asked why we never report on the fact that, every day, Boeing 747s, weighing tonnes and full of people, fly successfully and safely between London and the USA. "Because that's what they are supposed to do, sir", came the polite answer. It's when they crash that it becomes news because that is not what they are supposed to do.

So, when a young woman gets up on a cold and frosty morning, bids her husband farewell and begins to scrape the ice off her windscreen, it isn't news. But when a yob leaps into the car and roars off, running her over and breaking virtually every bone in her body, it is not only news, it is an outrage. The full, gruesome details, plus a description of the yob, are in Glen's notebook as I write; and, at 6, he'll lay it all before you.

In several police officers' notebooks tonight are the full details of how they were "proceeding towards the Palace of Westminster" and, specifically, to the office of the Honourable Member of Parliament for Ashford in Kent, Damian Green. I know Damian very well, having worked with him in his days as a fine TV journalist on Channel Four News, and a finer, more honest man, you'd be hard pressed to find. I don't know, as far as I am aware, any of the cops who mounted this odd raid but, from what I do know of that brigade, they are fine and brave men. I know Sir Paul Stephenson, the acting Commissioner of the Met' - he's a good egg, too; and, like Ken before him, I count Bozza as a friend as well as an important target for our honest reporting of London's fascinating story. So I am bemused by what came to pass on that fateful day and I am even more bemused by what Sir Paul and Bozza had to say this morning about who did what, who told what to whom, and what their roles may, or may not, have been on that day. It makes me feel like a bit-part player in one of Dahl's more complex "Tales of the Unexpected". I wish Harris well in toying with this philosopher's knot of a story, but it couldn't be in better hands than his.

An equally complex and subtle story is the tragedy that unfolded this morning in Dartford, though I fear it may prove sadly simpler to solve. A mum in hospital and in custody, and a child, found dead in a house. Jon will tread carefully but will tell you all he can.

Balancing the bad in our community are some remarkably good people upon whom we will "remark" more loudly than usual. "Reach" is a programme for black role models, with nearly half the top twenty being Londoners. One is a young fireman. I asked Faye, (dinner jacket discarded, but satin striped trousers, topped off with a stunning red silk blouse) if he was a "looker". She frowned, scolded me and said "Probably!". So worth staying tuned for a fine example of behaviour, bravery and manhood, at 6.

A fine Frenchman - never an oxymoron in my book - has put his skills on eBay for a good cause. The cause is the fight against Leukemia, and the skill he is selling is an artistic skill of kitchen-crowning proportions. He will cook a Michelin-esque Christmas lunch for the highest bidder and his or her family. The Big Boss won't be bidding because chicken and not turkey is the entree dish, but I may be tempted because chicken and truffles does it for me.

Finally a film called "Twilight" is causing a storm in the States - another beautiful young male Brit, a nod to Harry Potter, and an army of women of "a certain age" in pursuit of him - makes for a good story in any running order.
Not according to Lucy "the conqueror of De Niro, Clooney et al" Cotter - and she should know.

Alex and I hope you'll find enough there to settle your plans for 6 - 6.30 this chilly evening.



London Tonight Tonight Tuesday 2nd December 2008

Good afternoon.

The Big Boss, who held our planning meeting in his office this afternoon, spent much of the meeting auditioning for a part in "Mama Mia", "Cabaret" or in the backing singer line-up for Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of The Moon".
He was commenting on the Olympic Gold medal winning boxer, James De Gale's decision to go professional. The song BB sang, though, was NOT "Thank you for the Music", nor "Tomorrow Belongs to Me" nor "Eclipse". What it was, will become clear when you hear the bell ring for the start of Nick's report. It also features the latest on boxer Billy Joe Saunders who Faye described in extraordinary terms which I cannot commit to print. That such utterances could emanate from this elfin delight in butter-milk silk surprises me until I reflect that she is wearing the same black boots as yesterday and a slightly threatening black cardigan: it is a day for the Dark Side, clearly, and I am now on a Star Wars rather than a Pink Floyd theme.

"Be careful with that axe, Eugene" is a less well known ditty by Pink Floyd but sums up what we have been forced to say to many of you since the publication of the inquiry into Haringey's Children's Services Department - ( few of you, I know, are named Eugene but you get my drift.)
That fury persists, fuelled by the confirmation that, in English law, Ms Shoesmith (et al) are fully entitled to draw their salaries until such time as it is decided ..... well, that they aren't.
What her understanding - and that of her co-workers - was on Baby P's entitlements under English law is less clear and, of course, he can't appeal, complain or employ expensive employment lawyers. He's dead. We think it will take all the skills and persistence of Ronke to get within axe-swinging distance of the rights and wrongs of this torturous tale, but she will and then she will share at 6.

"The Trial" is a fine, disc-two, side-two offering from the double album that is the Floyd masterpiece "The Wall". In the case of Jean Charles de Menezes it is not a 'trial' but an inquest; though, for all concerned, it has, in a very real sense, been a trial not least for Jean's family and the coppers under investigation. An intriguing twist today that Marcus will delicately explain. It will be quite brief but quite important.

"The Final Cut" was the final Floyd album featuring Roger Waters on bass - less well known than "Dark Side", "Wish you were here" and "The Wall", but a fine piece nevertheless. Whether or not the budget-trimming endured today by Sport UK proves to be the 'final cut' is a moot point - but I'd not hold my breath if I was in the "wiff-waff" team, the basketball squad or if I were an aspiring English "bob-sleigher"!
What's more, like carol singers, our brave heroes of Beijing will also have to go round the houses asking for more support. And we talk of coming fourth again? In what? The begging stakes? Or the four by four "lend us a fiver" relay? My mood sinks.

And then, whoosh, it soars again! X Factor's final four did a gig for charity last night in London and Lucy was there - the fab 5 in anyone's book. Hang on... Lucy says it wasn't for charity unless the four have declared themselves a new charity. Gloom again... But hurrah for Lucy's journalistic integrity - literally, not just a pretty face but I've always known that.

Then there's the weather - a Leonard Cohen moment overtakes me! We used to say, at University, that his was music to commit suicide to, whilst Floyd's was music to .... well, to do a range of entirely different things to, most of which were illegal but all of which were enjoyable. Misspent youth? Not a bit of it ; worth every penny!
As is the Evening Standard which will be the only paper with breaking-ish news - the other two went to bed earlier than my ten year old son. Front pages if we can and then off home to a mug of hot chocolate, soft wool socks and I'll be "Comfortably Numb", Floyd's best ever track.

See you at 6.

Alastair & Alex


London Tonight Tonight Monday 1st December 2008

Good afternoon.

Catholics have a curious attitude to death - and I speak with the experience of having been raised by a Catholic father, with muted protests from a Baptist mother who had to sign a document saying any children she bore my father would be raised in the One True Faith. "Catholic" means universal and they take it very seriously. Anyway, if, like Charles II, you confess all on your death bed, even years of apparent Protestantism and serial adultery, you can still get to Heaven. If you die in a state of mortal sin, suffice to say that heating bills will not be a problem for you for all eternity. If you die in a state of venial, rather than mortal, sin, the next stop on the last train for you is purgatory. Time will pass and so will your soul, eventually, to "a better place".
If a child dies, unbaptised, a cruel state called limbo befalls him or her - neither Heaven nor Hell and no promise of resolution. I cannot believe that was a loving God's game-plan and have always been convinced it was a notion hatched by a Church, anxious for baptism fees - but who knows.
In my view, few would doubt that Baby P is now in "a better place". Here, on God's tortured and troubled earth, others now face a less clear future. Ed Balls has passed judgment on those in Haringey charged with looking after the little soul whilst he, all too briefly, lived among us. Ed's judgment has been swift and pretty comprehensive. The full details from us and we will then seek your judgment and share some of your thoughts back with you.

Whether the guilty ones will be forced to wear day-glow jackets has yet to be decided but a little like the "sack-cloth and ashes" of the middle ages, petty offenders will have to dress in that "can't miss 'em" mode and Home Secretary Jacqui Smith, joined by Justice Secretary Jack Straw, went to Slough to announce it. At the same time there was an explosion at a factory in Slough and further doubts were raised about Ms Smith's role in the arrest of Damian Green MP. Now I am not seeking to draw any conclusions here and I am quite certain neither Cabinet Minister will be found to have had anything to do with the explosion; but the search of the offices of Mr Green may yet see Ms Smith examining her autumn wardrobe and day-glow might just be the new black! Lewis Vaughan Jones plays Georgio Armani to the entirely innocent Ms Smith.

Too soon to know who was innocent and who was guilty in Guildford at the weekend but a man was shot dead by Police, and the Independent Police Complaints Commission are looking into the facts as they do, automatically, in such cases. Phil has also been examining the facts and has a really moving interview with the Bishop of Guildford on whose manor it happened.
Faye, like a wasp wrapped up against the cold in an old movie (black, white and grey dress, black boots and grey cardigan), says two scenes from The Omen were filmed there. I think it is the ugliest Cathedral in the Kingdom. Neither of these facts are important but we are in a sharing mode this Monday so consider yourself shared with.

Sharing her genius on all things property is Kirstie who will consider if RBS-NatWest are being helpful, patient or taking the mickey by delaying repossessions by three months. Lending's down but, against that backdrop, it is hardly surprising, is it?

What is surprising is that Harris has been to Glasgow - Scots joke that everyone likes Edinburgh but Glasgow is an acquired taste. Anyway he's there to report on their experiment with mobiles on the metro. Given the Glasgow accent, I am not sure if Harris (London - West Country) will have a clue what they think of it but we can always put a translation at the bottom of the screen if you think it will help.

No papers tonight - we are resolved to save Brazil and her rainforests or, perhaps, we've failed to pay the newsagent: I am investigating.
Weather, currently very Glaswegian if not a little Aberdonian - Chrissie wraps up and wraps it up.
And a warming tale from the genius that is the Great Ormond Street Hospital collective.
You see, we start with bad stuff and children but we end with good stuff and children. There is a God and He or She is in His or Her Heaven... and not alone.

See you at 6.

Alastair and Alex...