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


Fri 27th Feb

Good afternoon.

I write this from the Tower Of London, gazing fearfully out of a Tudor latticed leaded window at the very spot where, among others, Anne Bullen (the Boleyn bit was an affectation by her affected father) lost her head to a French swordsman.

Mine was purely an historically anecdotal time-filler when I suggested to HM The Queen, this morning, that she might revert to Saxe-Coburg Gotha as the family name now we were so happily ensconced in the family of Europe. Marines and plain clothes security men - actually dressed in rather fine Gieves & Hawkes tweed jackets - descended upon me in a flash and it was up Borough High Road, sharp right and over Tower Bridge to William the Conquer's monstrous White Tower before I could say "I am a Stewart - distantly related along the James the First line..."

Anyway, before things went tragically pear-shaped, I had witnessed Elizabeth Mountbatten Windsor (OK: got it now) declare the new Royal British Legion HQ open but saw little after that. So we have dispatched Lewis Vaughan Jones (also distantly related along the Henry Tudor line, a Welsh war-lord who became Henry VII after giving that decrepit northerner Richard III a good seeing to at Bosworth in 1485. I'd have sold him a horse but, alas, was not there even in spirit. Three generations later we had a Scot on the English throne but for a quarter of a century we endured a Welshman. Gadzooks, as they said in those days.)

The above is not racist but said as banter. How our colleague Geraint Vincent meant it to be understood when he said "One Eskimo" was racist I am not sure. A some time pop star called, I think, Kristian Leontiou withdrew, Greta Garbo-like, to the solitude away from his brief spell in the sun of stardom. Then along came a fresh opportunity and he was signed back to the world of popular and, he hopes, profitable culture in a band Geraint couldn't bring himself to mention and which we will call, for his sake, "The Sole Inuit". Lucy, back from her Oscar glory, went to meet him. Or perhaps find him. Only time will tell and that time is 6pm.

Amanda Knox, accused of murdering Meredith Kercher from Surrey, has her fifth day in court though it has taken almost as many weeks to get to that point because the Italian lawyers are all doing other things at the same time. I wonder if the Italian Inland Revenue knows. Or even exists. Stephanie Gosk, an American reporter covering the case will bring us up to date and, if she is anything like the others who have reported for us from Perugia, we will all be well served.

Not well served were the Met by whomsoever "screens" recruits when a young man said he wanted to be a PCSO - Police Community Service Officer, officially; plastic cop to the critics. He got in and it was only when he was suspended for an alleged assault on a colleague that they discovered he had also been accused in the past of an assault on someone frighteningly younger. It is a nasty story but one which requires telling, pour encourager les autres as Voltaire said of the execution of Admiral Byng who had failed to take Minorca. Why we wanted Minorca, I am not sure, but the episode yielded a good bilingual cliché. Marcus, more of a Gunner than an Admiral, reports.

His sworn enemies, Tottenham Hotspur, are engaged in hostilities masquerading as the beautiful game - they take on ManU in the Carling Cup Final this weekend. I am told they nodded through some other side in the UEFA Cup to keep their minds clear for domestic glory but that sounds like an elaborate excuse to my rugby loving mind. We'll see - Paxo stuffs the tape machine with team profiles and Harry Redknappisms.

The Oz, back from a tea-run and now on a make-up run will craft what not to miss which won't mention the alleged peodophile who is on the run because, with luck, he won't be missed by the cops. Treatment of his thyroid condition has left him radio-active so I imagine he gives off a buzz in day-light and glows in the dark. Glenn, clad in lead apron and thick rubber gloves is either in pursuit or off to join the masons - all revealed at 6.

Papers and richly anticipated weather which is looking good, is it,not, should round if off well.

If my appeal to the Privy Council succeeds, I'll see you at 6. Otherwise it's an OB from Botany Bay next week which at least will make the Oz feel at home.

In hope and just a little expectation,

Alastair and Alex


Tues 26th Feb

Good Afternoon one and all...

If you were asked to draw up a list of 'Things That Make Britain British' , talking about the weather would be up there. Fondness for a cup of tea would be included, no doubt. And, I think, a propensity for queuing. Queuing to get into Wimbledon, while drinking tea from a flask and chatting with perfect strangers about how 'mild' it is would probably be about as British as you could get.

Sometimes though, wherever you're queuing, people push in. What happens next? Opinion is divided here in the office. Some people reckon most of us would say nothing. (Out loud - that is. They'd moan about it under their breath or with their mates, after the event.) Others would humbly say something along the lines of "I'm terribly sorry, but there's a queue". No one, however, has suggested getting their boyfriend to beat up the other person.

That's what Antonette Richardson did at the Merton branch of Sainsbury's last year. Only, she got her boyfriend to beat up the wrong man. A man called Kevin Tripp, who later died in hospital. Now, we're not going to judge her actions here. We don't need to. A jury found her guilty today of manslaughter. Her boyfriend had already owned up. It does leave you asking yourself though - just where does that level of aggression come from?

The story will get you thinking, I'm sure.

We also want you to think about our report on truancy. Apparently inner London boroughs are among the worst in the country for numbers of schoolchildren just being 'children'. One suggested solution is to text the children's parents, tipping them off that they didn't turn up for classes. But should any of the education budget be used in this way? Watch the full report and send us your thoughts later.

Plus there's a genuine breakthrough from Surrey. Anyone who gets stuck in the twice-daily traffic jam that is the A3 in Hindhead will have been following progress on the huge tunnel being built to alleviate the problem. Well... drum-roll, please... the two teams tunneling towards each other met up today, underground. At least, they're supposed to have met up. Here's hoping everyone was tunneling in the right direction.

There's a report on bad behaviour on trains.

And Simon Harris will be in the studio to talk us through the jaw-dropping sum being set aside for security at the Olympics... and the jaw-dropping sum being set aside in case the first jaw-dropping sum runs out.

And then there's Glen. Now, I don't think he'd mind me saying he's not exactly a giant of a man. (Intellectually, yes. And as an all round decent chap, most certainly. But, in terms of 'suit size', there are bigger people.) And, when I asked him a moment ago 'Glen, when did you last go to the gym?', he looked a bit confused, thought a bit and then replied 'Er, never. I don't think I've ever been to the gym'*. So, who better to meet up with one of the toughest actors in Hollywood for a bit of personal training...?

You wouldn't want to miss that, now, would you? (Ed - a quick clue to the actor - I pity the fool who doesn't watch that)

See you at SIX.

Ben & Alex

* Oh all right, the last time I went to the gym, was when I took a wrong turning.


A Belated London Tonight Tonight Wednesday 25th February 2009 - Sorry!

Good afternoon.

Drinking, smoking, swearing, fat-foods, fast-foods, betting and speeding. These are among the many things people consider giving up for Lent. Despite being raised as a Catholic, I do not go along with it - like New Year's resolutions, they are token gestures made in a fleeting moment of guilt. No, I like acts of resolve rather than assertions of resolution. So I will continue to smoke, eat fat- and fast-foods and bet .... from here, via Easter, even until eternity. I haven't drunk for ages and I really do do my very best not to speed apart from when I am trying to get to the last luxury before my family closes in on the goodie in question.

However, for London, I would like to propose an under-taking for Lent - can we all collectively give up violent crime and acts of inhumanity? And, if the next 40 days go well, stick to it? That way people wouldn't need to import vile and violent weapons like the "hand-spikes" we report on tonight: gloves with foot long blades attached - a cross between Freddy Kruger's foul finger nails and the bits that extended out of the Wolverine's hands in X-Men. They exist, are available on the internet, and attempts have been made to import them to an address in London. Customs intervened, thank goodness; but we ask why, in the first place? Tamsin, more of an elbow length, white glove girl, wonders what the world is coming to.

There is goodness out there, too, however: some kids found a newborn baby, wrapped in a plastic bag, in a stairwell. They did the right thing and the babe is making slow but steady progress. Hard to imagine what is going through a young mum's mind right now but the Boys in Blue don't want to chide her, they want to find her as they have fears for her well-being. Help Marcus help them at 6.

I've never liked the expression "they behaved like animals" because many animals behave much better than many humans. However, some are seriously unpleasant like the one who inflicted an injury on Roger the horse. But thankfully some of The Good Guys brigade came to his rescue and he is now doing his bit to put a little equestrian sunshine into the lives of some disabled and under-privileged children. Liz cries, Hi Ho Silver! and then re-phrases it Hi Ho Roger! as she dons her "jodhs" and boots and rides off into the sunset of a better place.

Tim O'Toole is taking the western extension of the District line to the starter point of Crossrail and heading for Heathrow and the USA. He's had enough of London and London Underground: in this, me thinks, he is not alone but, unlike him, the rest of us haven't been running it for 6 years. He is just a Yank who wants to go home, he says. But how come Bozza has let him slip through his fingers and why, if Tim just misses the prairies and amber skies, didn't Bozza set the blood-hounds of succession loose some months ago? Harris, tempted to utter a plea for "anarchy on the Underground", curbs his revolutionary zeal to seek a sensible answer.

The Oz has been to see Clive Owen, a handsome actor I remember from a gambling movie called, I think, Casino: he has a new movie and the Oz is quite taken though she also plays the part of matchmaker in her conversation. It gets close to the line but the Oz stays south of the latitude above which lies sin. That's a relief.

Papers will record the death of David Cameron's little boy - tastefully, I hope; Chrissie will predict with elegance and authority - it's what she does.
And I will attend.

Faye, incase you thought I had forgotten, is part pirate, part Dandino and part Black Shirt today. No thigh-slapping yo-ho-ho yet and not a Fascist cell in her lovely frame. So her wardrobe must be a tribute to the confusion impending motherhood can bring. Or she has given up for Lent...

See you at 6.

Alastair & Alex


London Tonight Tonight Tuesday 24th February 2009

Good Afternoon to you...

It has to be a bit of a quickie this afternoon as, for one reason or another, we've got a bit behind. To be honest we got a bit distracted with talk of babies, baby names and flipping pancakes.

Which raises the first question of the day - what's everyone giving up for Lent? Is anyone giving anything up for Lent? If not out of religious purity then to prove you can do it... Or even as yet another excuse to give that diet a go. Ken (one of the two editors of our lunchtime and late bulletins) told me he's thinking about giving up chocolate. And ice cream. And crisps. I'm not going to comment on whether he needs to be dieting but that could be one hell of an Easter Sunday. Alex is also going for it - not only is she giving up the fags, she's also looking to pack in her slothful ways by joining a gym. Now, there's dedication. We wish them, and anyone else, all the will power they need.

Okay - on with the programme.

We'll be hearing Terry Lubbock's reaction to the news that Essex Police have apologised for the way they handled their inquiry into the death of his son, Stuart. You'll remember he was found dead in Michael Barrymore's swimming pool in 2001. No one has ever been charged with his murder and an investigation by the IPCC has found that Essex police didn't do the very best job. In fact, some evidence went missing and the evidence that didn't go missing wasn't assessed properly.

Meanwhile, Boris Johnson has been the subject of an investigation by ethics watchdogs. They wanted to know why he phoned the Conservative Home Affairs spokesman, Damien Green, on the day he was arrested by police looking into alleged leaks from the Home Office.... Did the Mayor of London cross any lines in doing so? We'll have their verdict.

We'll be asking for your verdict on a new statue of the Queen Mum that was unveiled by her daughter today. Half the royal family turned out for the occasion - as did our cameras.

Speaking of mothers, we'll be helping a 48 year old Londoner to find his. He was abandoned in a stairwell in Golders Green when he was just a few hours old. Now, blood tests suggest he may have Scandinavian heritage. Was his mother an au pair who found herself pregnant when she didn't want to be? Despite all his efforts - and those of a private eye - David Stevenson has never traced the Mum he never knew. Can you help him?

We'll also be talking to Ned Boulting about Arsenal's chances against Roma at the Emirates Stadium in tonight's first leg of their Champions League clash.

And we'll be talking to the legendary Motown singer, who's a bit of a legend in her spare time... Martha Reeves.

Seriously, why would you miss it?

See you at SIX.

Ben & Alex.


Fri 19th Feb


Until yesterday only one teenager had been stabbed to death in London this year - one too many already. But considering six kids were killed in the same period last year - something to take positives from. Sadly, that all changed last night when a 19 year old and an 18 year old were killed within 3 hours of each other. Glen Goodman's going to be telling us what happened. We'll also be talking about what happens when people who've been involved in violence in the capital rock up at our hospitals. Doctors say a lot of people are lying about how they ended up with a bullet lodged in them or a gaping stab wound. Big Ed dramatised for us in the meeting - Victim A: "I fell on a poker" Doc: "But I just x-rayed you and there's a bullet in your arm..."

Then Nick Wallis is going to be teaching us about what kids are being taught in school. A bunch of students have been asked to write about the July 7th bombings - but from the perspective of the bombers.... That particular lesson's been scrapped now - but he's going to be telling us why it was thought to be a sensible exercise in the first place.

There's a parking tale tonight - but not as we know it. For once we can park our cars for free! The lovely people of Kensington and Chelsea (I'm sucking up you see...) are trying to tempt shoppers away from the likes of Westfield and away from trying to pinch pennies and back into the shops. They're going to see if free parking does the trick - if they throw in a shopping spree in Harvey Nicks I'm there!

Another place I'd quite like to be is LA - but it's probably for the best - I'd just trip on the red carpet, try and snog Brad Pitt and then make off with a goody bag and a gold statue. It's best left in the professional hands of Miss Lucy Cotter who has had more than a couple of star turns herself this week and probably deserves an award statue of her own! She's checking out the red carpet and taking us behind the scenes of one of the main contenders Slumdog Millionaire. It will be the glamourous highlight of the evening I'm sure.

Then there's more movie magic from the one and only James King. Am interested to hear his take on Confessions of a Shopaholic - you'll remember Lucy met the star Isla Fisher and Al and I met the author Sophie Kinsella earlier in the week - Al was very taken with her and her gorgeous little boys who'd turned up in the studio with her - properly dressed and very well behaved. I was very taken too obviously - but was distracted by her gorgeous premiere frock and fab Louboutins! Anywho - James is going to give us his view on the flick (which I loved but can't imagine Al would) he's also going to talk us through Gran Torino - which for some reason I thought was about cars..but considering it's a Clint Eastwood directing and starring type outing I don't suppose it is - I'll leave that one to James.

There's also What Not To Miss - and you won't want to miss the teddy bears!

See you at 6.

Alex & Alastair.


Thurs 19th Feb

Good afternoon.

My eldest son Alex is a post-graduate in English at Oxford University and has been known to forcefully throw a shoe at the TV when infinitives are split - "duck! It should have been 'forcefully to throw!"

He is also a stickler for other rules of grammar - he has a temporary job in a cafe and, when an American customer who'd been kept waiting a tad ( as THEY say) , stormed up to him and said "I'm leaving! You either need more staff or less customers!" he politely apologised but corrected her suggesting they needed "fewer customers". His is a terrific little cafe and I am sure the only living creatures to occupy it are staff and customers. No caged birds nor cats, curled up on the window ledge. And certainly no cockroaches. Not so in a greasy-spoon on the Leyton High Road. Alas, for them and hurrah for their customers, the Environmental Health brigade found these resilient little monsters and have said "No more bacon sarnies nor tea from here!". Getting rid of the flat brown horrors may prove very difficult. It is widely believed that, in the event of a thermo-nuclear strike, the sole survivors would be cockroaches and Keith Richards, lead guitarist of the Rolling Stones who would also appear to be one of God's indestructibles. Anyway, Ronke has the "find" and we'll ask her to keep an eye on the "cure".

Google is a noun that has become a verb as the corporation straddles the earth. To assist in it's straddling it has created Google Earth - not an assertion of empire but a very useful tool for finding anywhere on the planet apart from the White House, and a few other sensitive spots, that have been blotted out. Can't see Al Qaida relying on Google Earth should they plan the ultimate US outrage but I guess it is another stable door worth keeping shut. They, that's Google not Al Qaida, have, of late , refined GE to "Streetview" which involves a device that looks like it has come off the Dr. Who set on a budget-cutting day - a pole, with a camera on top, sticking out of a van. But it records not only No 31 Acacia Avenue but all the homesteads on that urban thoroughfare and every other street it can navigate. The detail is amazing - front-doors, dustbins, yards and gardens - nothing escapes it's Big Brother peering. But now the citizenary , clutching it's collective copies of the European Act of Human Rights and it's neatly ironed copies of the Daily Telegraph, is fighting back. "My cat's privacy has been invaded!" bellowed bruised of Belsize Park. "My lace curtains are there for a purpose!" hectored het-up of Hampton Wick. The protests are legion and Harris, who has the cell-phone numbers of every MP but keeps his own address a secret, is on the case. Perhaps Google will try to buy him off by asking for a portfolio of his finest aerial photography but I know he is not for sale.

Also on a pole and certainly not looking anything like something off the set of Dr. Who is Abi Titmuss. I have read much about her but in private and discrete moments. Now I am to meet her, in person, in the studio. I am glad the Oz will be there too. Her previous claims to fame have not always been of the most prudent nor even savory type. But she is an actress and she has won an award. And, now, she is to tour in a comedy. My only thought is how much thought did her agent and father confessor give to her casting as a pole-dancer? Leopards and spots, type and cast, dog and trick are just six words which come to my mind but, dear reader, mine is an open mind and I am keen that doubt and benefit also collide as we approach this interview.

Lucy, I have no doubts about. We are so lucky, as I honestly believe are you, that she is our entertainment correspondent. Her performance at the Brits last night was brilliant - she talked to everyone, she performed live and she even caught a minute with THE winner of the night, Duffy, with about 15" notice! Tonight, how little Miss Lovely prepares for her next great adventure -The Oscars in LA. And if last night's dress is anything to go by, you should all be glued to the screen!

Two odd bits of urban planning to end with - do not fall asleep at the mention of urban planning! One is an attempt at a cull of the blind and partially sighted in Sloane Square and on Exhibition Road. Told you it mattered. Liz will explain why a theory, borrowed from Scandanavia, to improve road safety could tidy up our streets only to subsequently litter them with the ranks of the wounded, partially sighted and blind folk I mentioned above.

The other bit of planning sees a fine town in Buckinghamshire, which boasts one of our finest Girls' Public Schools, turn semi-pimp. Well certainly just "sub" semi-pimp. It began with a ban on kissing by Virgin Railways, (an irony in itself I thought), but has escalated to an encouragement to throw away some of our morals. This sensitive subject is in the hands of Glen and I hope, unlike in the opera, his tiny ones aren't frozen in shock.

Maybe Chrissie can tell us. Perhaps we'll read about it on the front pages of London's papers. My money is on Duffy still taking pride of place but I am usually wrong.

Finally Phil is troubled - he mounted a search for his wellies yesterday only to be submerged in four centuries of regal mud in St. James Park. Today, the Big Boss has asked him to go to a farm where there is a planning row. "But the manure could fly!" he voiced as a reasonable concern, in words to that effect. BB wouldn't budge and Phil, fearfully, headed off to Watford asking where he might buy protective clothing that extended beyond his feet.
He is a man of real merit.

The Oz is reading about pancakes on the Independent website - Shrove Tuesday? 5 days away! But do the Australians go for maple syrup or the more proper sugar and lemon juice? I hope I am invited to find out.

See you at 6.

Alastair and Alex


London Tonight Tonight Wednesday 18th February 2009

Good afternoon.

Harris has a bad leg and is threatening to go home. The Oz has gone to get tea. Faye has fallen out with her midwife. Phil is wandering around muttering about having lost his wellies. Ken is whistling a curious mixture of "I'm forever blowing bubbles" and "Spinning Around".
All of the above and more are relevant to our programme tonight, I just wanted you to know the pressures under which I work.

First Harris and the leg: I am concerned about the leg but more concerned that he is threatening to go home. If it is that serious he should go to hospital, a doctor or a physio. Going home is dealing with the symptoms not the real problem. His report tonight may have influenced this error of analysis. In the last 24 hours, there have been at least three shootings and two stabbings which remain, so far, unsolved. And 10 of Enfield's finest have been collared for allegedly handling stolen goods. Meanwhile, the very men and women, charged not with these crimes but with the management of their solution, are meeting at the Met Police Authority examining their navels as they muse over the now seriously whiskery question of whether or not the Met is institutionally racist.
I abhor racism but I also abhor people banging on with redundant verbiage in a vacuous fashion about what has become an abstract concept whilst real bad stuff is going down on their beat... Maybe that's why Harris really wants to go home: deep frustration rather than dodgy tib' and fib'.
Tune in at 6 and see if we managed to keep him off the bus and on the job. I think we'll win and I think you'll be well served by this master of inquisitive but never cynical journalism.

The Oz and the tea run: if, on her brief journey to the tea-shop, (it's called Butty Boys for some quite incomprehensible reason), she were to chance upon a person who had passed out, dropping a bag to their side which proved to be full of beer-vouchers, I have not the slightest doubt that she would attend to the person's needs and make sure the bag of dosh was secure, pending his or her full recovery. I think you'd do the same. Indeed, I think most people would. Sad, then, that when a little old lady in Enfield, going about her business which may or may not have involved a tea-run, chanced upon all of the above, she apparently lifted the bag of dosh and did a runner. Sad that. Sadder for her, it was all captured on CCTV - so clearly, dear reader, so very clearly! Jon is in a race against time - will the cops get to her before we get to air at 6? Tune in to find out who wins. You'll either have the full, grubby details or a lawyerised version in which we'll try to say "alleged" more times than the Oz says "gu-day" of a day.

Faye and the midwife - a case of "the computer says No" I am afraid. Faye, (jeans, blue pin-striped shirt and shoes the Oz was sure were Chanel but Faye says no, a £35 special from Office) was due an appointment and an IT glitch screwed it up. Officialdom in the form of lots of starch, billowing blue cotton and a passing resemblance to Hattie Jacques, argued with her attempt to re-book: "Her" being the patient, tax payer and excited mother to be. Officialdom: can't live with it but CAN live without it. Officialdom told a lovely couple their precious baby, who needed a heart transplant at 28 days, couldn't have one because no little soul, short of two months of age, can legally become an organ donor. Ergo, no new heart for little Sara. But her parents and her doctor were made of sterner stuff - enjoy the delicious outcome with Liz and consider a campaign to ease the challenge Sara's parents, and others, face.

Phil and the wellies - it's all about draining the lake in St. James' Park. I claimed Henry VIII had established it - Faye thought later and I think it is a score draw but with her winning on penalties. HVIII bought the land, his flame-haired daughter Lizzie, The Virgin Queen, tarted it up, but weird and wonderful James I(England) VI(Scotland) drained the park and created a lake. He, being the exotic dear that he was (if you are over 18, read the history in private) put some of the oddest things imaginable there. This may have attracted a pelican from Southend who is now also resident. Apparently they found a lot of wedding rings last time which prompted the Oz and I both to say "that old trick, again". Phil, if he finds the wellies, will see what else they find this time.

Finally, Ken (West Ham -"I acknowledge no equal") and the songs: he wants the entire Upton Park squad to enter our Search For Stars competition to prove his point that there is SOME talent in his team... that's up to The Big Boss, to be frank, Ken. Ken is not alone, however, in enjoying the musical merits of Miss K. Minogue who is hosting the Brits tonight. Lucy, in a decision devoid of logic from Ken's and my point of view, got the gig.

Chrissie has the weather, we have the papers and I have run out of space.

Join us, if you will, at 6. "Nice tea, Oz: thanks".

Alastair and Miss Darjeeling.


London Tonight Tonight Tuesday 17th February 2009

Good afternoon.

I remain despondent due to the spectacular lack of spectacles which led me to stumble on a couple of occasions last night for which I apologise. "Get a lite", I thought the Oz messaged me, in a loving and friendly fashion. "A lite?", I thought. Does she want a match, but can't spell? "...a LIFE" I now realise is what she wrote. This doesn't look good. Anyway, here we go.

Harris, I know well, so I have no doubt that it was he who just debated with Faye ("Oh dear, what can I do? Baby's in black and I'm feeling blue") as to whether he should do an in vision "bong" or a voice over "bong". These things - our headline pitches - matter. They are, to us, as the Diet of Worms was to Christians of the Middle Ages. His sales pitch for your attention will involve a wall and the question of whether a man, who has spent the bulk of his adult life behind four of them will, shortly, depart via a gate rather than over one... His subject also spent some time in Rio when he should still have been spending time at Her Majesty's Convenience. I speak, of course, of the Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs.
Actually the train wasn't that great - it was a Class 45 Diesel Electric but the scale of the theft and the audacious nature of the heist earned it the moniker "great". Ronnie is dying but, as Bob Dylan wrote, "he that is not busy being born, is being dying" so it doesn't make him unique. No, Ronnie is within an "arm of the law's" length of meeting his maker, and his son Michael will tell you, from our studio, why he thinks enough is enough. We'll then ask if you agree.

You may or may not agree with a judge who faced one of those King Solomon moments. A father, who had been accused but never convicted, of harming a child fathered another, only for Social Services to "confiscate" the child and put it up for adoption. The man and his partner appealed and the judge stood by Social Services. Now they feel it is a case of "Damned if they did, and damned if they didn't" but, as I said, the judge stood by them. Give ear to the aggrieved couple and make your own minds up. It is a real conundrum but Ronke will guide you through it.

Glen, I am told, will do a "short" piece to camera about Jade Goody. If I had said that, The Big Boss would have accused me of being heightest but it was Faye so, nah nah na nah nah, that's OK. Jade, like Ronnie, is close to death but never robbed a train. She did appear in The Great TV Horror that is Big Brother but other than that her record is clean. Nevertheless, her sweet innocent life draws to a close. She wants to marry her lover in London first, and has chosen the hotel where all this will happen. Glen will rise to his full stature to deliver a touching and sensitive tribute to this poor woman's plight and plans.

The plight of Windsor fire station is also in our plans for coverage tonight. I stood there on the night it caught fire - the evening the Duke of York proved he was more than a golfing playboy, and the night the Queen, wearing wellies and a head-scarf, wept quietly as centuries of what to us was history and to her was her family's prized possessions were threatened by fire. Now they want to cut back on the station. If I was the person in charge, I'd tread very carefully. Few know, but capital punishment is still on the statute books for arson of HM Docks and interfering with the line of succession. Should there be another blaze and should Prince Edward's toy boat or rubber duck go up in smoke, I think a case could be made. And if the Royal master bedroom caught even a whiff of smoke, it would be on with the black cap and off to that place of execution where a person would be hanged by the neck until... well you know where this is leading.
Also Sir Elton John lives nearby and I don't even want to go there... tantrums and tiaras would be as nothing to what would unfold should any of Elton's various collections become ashen. Liz, who likes a man in uniform, will try and pay attention to the arguments. We stand ready to hose her down.

Ben is going to play Paper, Scissors, Stone with a Robot. Or possibly Crown and Anchor with someone called Robert. My eyes are glazing over in so many ways.
I will end by urging you to join Lucy as she gets the full Jerry Springer treatment as the former Mayor of Cincinnati explains how he is going to be a troubadour barrister in a musical that celebrates the Windy City. I think he has lipstick on his cheek but, again, the eyes, dear reader, the eyes - Lucy denies all but is all of a glow.

The Oz has just brought me tea. If I see a pair of slippers and a brochure about retirement homes, our burgeoning friendship will crash like the ceiling of the Great Hall at Windsor... and there will be no firemen, as you now know.

See you at 6... well at least I'll be squinting in your direction, as the Oz holds my white stick just out of shot.

Alastair and Alex.


London Tonight Tonight Monday 16th February 2009

Good afternoon.

I have broken my glasses and am fearful of making a range of schoolboy errors. Bear with me.
In the Olympics, men do not do synchronized swimming and women do not do boxing. I therefore assumed that the lack of spectacles had led me to understand that the Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell wanted to change that. After all, those sports have little enough money for those who have traditionally, in gender terms, given their all in pursuit of precious metal in those disciplines; and the roads of London, come 2012, will be quite busy enough without extra buses full of manic supporters of groups of men who can twiddle their toes whilst floating, upside down, in five meters of water... let alone, a dose of double deckers, groaning under the weight of lasses who like nothing better than seeing members of their own fair sex bringing paralysis to the solar plexis of another fair maid. But, No. Focus has not alluded me - it is what she wants and we will ask her why, having first heard from Harris, who wants close formation aerobatics introduced, asap.

Again, I rubbed my tired eyes in disbelief when I thought I saw a suggestion that London property prices were recovering. It nestled, neatly in my paper, alongside reports from the CBI that this recession would last forever, having left us all, our children and our grandchildren, each owing a cool trillion in taxes. But, no, it is true according to RightMove.com. To make sure, we have asked Kirstie to pop along and give us the definitive view.

My third example of possible ocular deficiency was my understanding that we were doing a piece on the film of a book about addiction to shopping - "Shopaholic" it seemed to be called. Now, call me out of touch or old fashioned but have we not been reporting upon the demise of the high street, the collapse of Woolworths, the bankruptcy of the Icelandic firm Bauger that owns what was left of our shopping centres? Who, in their right mind, would publish and even make a film of such a book in the current climate? Dear reader, you read a-right: like St Peter, I hear the cock' crow a third time as my denials of a truth are exposed. The book has indeed been published and has now been made into a movie just as we all hit Depression Road, via Recession Row. I wish them well. It is a good book and we will meet it's authoress, Sophie Kinsella. And, according to Lucy, it is a good film - she has seen it. The Oz says she went to see it this afternoon... odd, I was working.
Me thinks the Oz was indulging in a little retail therapy herself under cover of "research". She certainly blushed as she walked past me on the way back into the newsroom as I took coffee with a chum. He wondered who she was, and I wondered where she'd been. And then we returned to the hi-art of West Ham, the micro-tactics of Crystal Palace and the post-Cold War prospects of Chelsea FC... The life I lead.

Two final temptations for you - our Search for Stars continues. I have been excused a role due to the lack of specs - I might confuse an air-raid siren with a basso profundo, or the popping of aerated plastic wrapping with a tap dancer. I am not to be trusted until ocular clarity returns tomorrow.

And then there's Robin - he has a sore throat. I think it is God's punishment for his having inflicted so much cold and dampness upon us all these last few weeks. He must pay the price and, in good time for spring, his dulcets will return.

Faye, (grey top, grey cardy, black trousers - at least that is what I think I see though I suppose it could be akin to Joseph's "coat of many colours" as I may have lost colour perception as well as focus) - is very excited about the programme, as is the Big Boss. I just hope I have been reading the same notes as them. I am excited, too, I just hope it's about the right things.

Only 6 will tell.

Join me and the Oz, unless she is off to give the economy another final touch on the tiller before tea...

Alastair & Alex


Friday 13th(!) Feb

Good afternoon.

To a scout, it's the "woggle"; to a sailor, "bell-bottoms"; for medics, "stethoscope and white coat"; and with city types, it used to be "a bowler and brolly". Sartorial branding is important: you wouldn't want to ask a scout to do brain surgery nor a consultant to do a sheep-shank, would you? Ergo, the identifying "kit" to help you ask the right thing of the right person. The "brolly", or umbrella, I imagine was a nod to our consistently inclement weather. But the logic of the bowler in this unique combination is beyond me. A curiously British version of the American "derby" hat, as worn by Paul Newman in "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid", it replaced top hats among gentlemen riding to the hut who had got fed up losing their toppers to long-hanging branches - not as fed-up, perhaps, as the foxes who lost a lot more to low hanging hounds. But why in the city? Anyway, my personal experience of the bowler is that my dad (he gets around - he was flying Gloucester Javelins in yesterday's blog) wore one when, as a serving officer in the RAF, he "flew" a desk for three years at the Ministry of Defence. I think he was a spy with "stock-broker" as his under-cover "legend" but that is probably a fantasy of mine. Why Robin will be wearing one at the end of the programme will become as clear as a winter's night but you'll just have to wait. It will be worth it.

Whether the NHS's mighty, pan-England, number-crunching, file-collating, patient-organising computer is worth the £12 Billion it has cost will be less clear when Glen, an aficionado of the abacus and quite anti even the pocket calculator, hears from the London hospital boss who says it is a costly nightmare. 40 extra IT-problem solving staff and fewer patient appointments were not, I am sure, what the NHS managers had in mind and they are not being seen at The Royal Free as an unexpected bonus. The name Royal FREE has a certain irony, I think you'll agree, when you hear our witness explain how much it is costing him to deal with a computer which is about as welcome as food poisoning at Christmas.

It is to be hoped that Zorro the Zebra shark from Belgian will be a little more welcome by the "lady-sharks" of London's exquisite aquarium. He is a bit of a Casanova among sharks - the Dirty Den of the deep - and has been putting the fear of God into the "lady-sharks" of Bruges, or Brussels, or wherever he was swimming before. (Did you know sharks have to keep moving, all the time, or they sink and drown?) Anyway, given it is Valentine's Day I hope Zorro has brought some of those lovely chocolates his mother-country is renowned for else his ardour may be seriously cooled. Lewis, the matinee idol of Mumbles, is our Mayor of Amityville.

We've quite a bit of football that seems to involve a dutchman who is a big Gouda in Russian and about to hold sway over The Bridge; Al Fayed's lot crossing the Severn Bridge, assuming it has re-opened; and bubbles being blown on Teeside. If you are a fan, you'll understand that lot and if you are not, you won't, in your bemusement, care.

The family of Jean Charles De Menezes do care deeply that, yet again, but probably for the last time, they have been told no-one will face charges over the killing of their son. Move on? You couldn't, could you? Marcus brings closure to our coverage if not to the family's grief.

No grief in our film review which involves a hamster called Rhino who is a stalker-esque fan of a dog on tele. I've seen it and love it but Robbie may demur - if he does, there'll be a fight. The Oz and I are both total softies for animals and text each other about the best funny animal pictures in the papers. I've just realised how sad that sounds but it keeps us happy and Orange in profit. And the other film is Hotel for Dogs - about which I know nothing but sense it is all in the title.

The Oz will also do a What Not To Miss, which is, in itself, not to be missed. Robin, I've mentioned. The papers, I haven't - so I will: we'll have the front pages of all three unless there's a strike, a paper shortage or the Russian's gone missing.

And we'll have the latest from the compelling trial of Foxy Knoxy and her Italian lover, charged with killing poor Meredith Kercher. The trial only happens on Fridays because one of the lawyers is an MP in Rome and is tied up, Monday to Thursday, passing laws no one pays any attention to, given what I know of Italy and Italians. And we think we've got trouble with our lot!

That should set you up for a wonderful weekend.

See you at 6 - I hope!

Alastair and Alex


London Tonight Tonight Thursday 12th February 2009

Good afternoon.

The best politicians are great word smiths: Churchill, Disraeli, Michael Foot. Many are tremendously well educated - Cameron was described by his tutor at Oxford as the brightest student of politics he had ever taught; Harold Wilson and Enoch Powell were Professors shortly after they were old enough to vote. So when Boris went off on a verbal tirade at the Chair of the Home Affairs Select Committee you might have expected some literary lightening - a verbal Vesuvius, a classical cacophony of luscious illiteration. No. He apparently used the "F" word ten times, and popped in a two syllable description of bovine excrement for good measure.
No "terminological inexactitude" here - he was straight to the point, with a flourish and frequency of which Chaucer would have been proud. I mention "terminological inexactitude" because it was what Churchill quickly coined as an alternative to "the lie" when reminded by the Speaker that MPs can't accuse one another of not telling the truth. MPs just don't, in the House of Commons. Yeah, I know: difficult to stomach but there you go.
So, was Bozza a little economic with the "verite" as a senior Civil Servant once admitted in court when conceding he hadn't been fulsome with the truth, or did he feel he was simply wrongly accused? The matter was the Great Case of Damian Green and the man with the burning ears and soiled soul is one Keith Vaz, former Minister for Europe, still an MP for Leicester, and now Chair of the important Home Affairs Select Committee. The Oz and I will preside over our Star Chamber and will then invite you to be the jury. Thoughts on e-mail or by text and let's have no Boris-isms, please.

For years the good people of Richmond, and there abouts, have wanted to get to the East End by direct rail service. Now they can. Well, no they can't but they will be able to by 2012. What is more there is much celebration that this is being achieved for a paltry £75 m - an amount most modern bankers wouldn't miss if it fell down the back of their plush, taxpayer provided Liberty's sofas. But if so simple and so cheap, why such a long wait?
Harris asked Geoff Hoon, the Transport Secretary, about the delay, but may have nodded off halfway through the answer. We'll find out at 6.

The theists have hit back at the atheists on London buses. God knows why but he may yet tell. Perhaps he will place his own thought on a bendy bus. I'm hooked. Hope you are, or purgatory awaits you. The Big Boss thinks the new theistic response may prove difficult to believe if you've been stuck in traffic on a number 14 for nine hours. I have warned him of a lightening strike before 6.

Modern health care in London is supposed to be a great example of "the money following the patient". In Essex that penny is yet to drop. In fact the huge pile of pennies making them all healthier has waddled off in a different direction leaving one GP, with a waiting room as crowded as the 02 on a Kylie night, funding provision from his own pocket. He's a hero, the system has come unstuck and Lewis is asking the NHS Trust for answers.

Ben has gone to an exhibition which celebrates unusual talents which, in Victorian times, were known as "freak shows". Think Elephant Man and Bearded Lady and you are on the right track. I think he is just spending a very dubious afternoon in the company of a female contortionist. I'll certainly be glued to his report and not in a judgmental way. I am just impressed: last night, mitten crabs; tonight, a woman who probably wouldn't know what a mitten was if it tried to cover her fingers up. Bet her name is Fifi.
Also at the show, sword swallowers and, according to Faye, "fire-blowers". She is sporting a tight white T-shirt and those vein-vanquishing jeans again so I suspect circulation problems may have numbed the brain. "Fire-eaters, Faye, fire-EATERS"!

Glen meets the man who, despite £10 million, couldn't find true love. Only when he pretended to be Joe Normal on Nine and Nine pence did he meet the woman of his dreams. If he really thought he wasn't going to be a magnet for gold diggers, having said "Hi, I'm Joe and I'm worth £10m", then I fear for his sanity. As for the girl with whom he finally found true love, I suspect she may just have had an inkling that "you've got to be in it to win it...". We'll see.

Robin has looked a lot more self-confident since the sun came out - he hopes the contract on his life has now been lifted. We may ask him at 6.
The papers have lots of "F"s and even more "****"s on their front pages - Boris, what have you done?!?!

The Oz is excited by lots of pictures of Koalas with little mittens protecting their little paws from the nasty blazes Down Under. I think they are Chinese crabs in fur disguise to avoid ending up on Ben's restaurant menu, but she seems happy in her ursine fantasy. It's a "Down Under" thing.

We'll see you at 6. (She'll be the one cooing and I'm the one feigning shock at Bozza's vocabulary. In Australia, may I remind you, it is the norm).

See you at 6

Alastair and Alex


London Tonight Tonight Wednesday 11th February 2009

Good afternoon.

Tonight's programme is a menage, a pot pouri, an ensemble - a "first", a "guess what happened next" and, tragically, a "here we go again". There's also a classic "told you so" from the French, so that can wait.

First, the tear-jerking "here we go again". For Baby P, read Rhys; for Haringey read Newham; but for 'mother', read the same tragic catalogue of abuse, casual polygamy and, frankly, inadequacy. There was, again, a vagrant partner - in fact, in the case of Rhys's mum, there were several. He was two months old, had a sibling in care, and was dead by the time the ambulance arrived. The stuff about missed appointments and missed signs of abuse are common factors, again. I am not for a moment being judgmental of anyone but I, and most of us here, are growing grey with our despair. Ronke has a go at making sense of it but, good journalist though she is, I think she is condemned to a factually accurate account of "what", but an echoing void when it comes to the "why". We'll see.

The "first" is Mike on a Javelin. My father flew Javelins. They were an early delta-winged night-fighter built by the Gloster Airplane Company. I can't think that Mike is in one of them and it wouldn't be a "first". No, for him, the sleek blue lines of the trains that will spirit the adventurous consumers of global sport to and from the 2012 Park and London's northern Termini in less time than it takes to say "What, then of the legacy, Boris?". I doubt there will be a buffet or functioning toilets as passengers will not be on the train long enough to imbibe let alone ablute. That settles one part of the legacy - such trains, post-2012, will fit perfectly with the rest of South West Trains' rolling stock. Cue the fat-controller.
Talking of which, the slender, elegant, lovely and still seriously pregnant Faye is returned from her New Year holiday - it is only fair: she'll do well to get to the end of the road once the baby is here. Anyway, I welcome her back with all my heart, fond and respectful though I am of, and toward, the Big Boss. But I can't see him in a slender black tube dress, topping off splendid shiny black leather boots, crowned with a nonchalant grey cardigan... but I may have misread him.

The "guess what happened next" especially appeals to Faye's sense of irony, her taste for the good things in life and her affection for the Orient. Remember John Prescott and the crab in the jam jar he called Peter? It was a Mitten Crab and came, originally from China - well, not that one, but the breed. It seems they have caught the eyes of London's piscatorial glitteratti who have, with the crack of a pair of shellfish bone-breakers, declared them edible. The Richard Bransons and Alan Sugars of London are playing romantic music to them as I write, and preparing a nursery for thousands of the little mites... or Mittenettes, perhaps? Ben goes all Rick Stein for us, for you and for his supper.

The classic "told you so" is Le Grande Fromage de Paris who led their failed bid for 2012, explaining to Harris 'pourquoi' they never wanted "Les Grand Joues de Deux Mille Douze" in the first place and, "zoot", given "Le Recession", "maintenant", who would? Harris promises not to mention cheese, eating, surrender, nor monkeys in his script and nor will I. Again.

Finally, they were big in the 90s, Soul? Clubbing? Clubby Soul? Faye, Gorgeous Dan and even the ever elegant Robin, were conducting a debate about a group I knew not, in a language which could just as well have been Urdu or Sanskrit for all it meant to me. I enjoyed the observation that they weren't Spanish but my enquiry if they were scratched, fell on more modern ears. They are GROOVE ARMADA and Lucy has been getting down and doing what entertainment types do.

Robin is in fear for his life and is threatening to make up a good forecast even if the outlook is bad. Nick has a terrific row which is a kind of massive scale version of you or me leaving the tap running, but it features God's rain, Thames Water, a sluice gate, the Environment Agency, insurance companies and a lot of expensive cars that aren't now worth much.
We'll have the papers which, once read, will come in handy for mopping up.

The Oz is poised, understands modern music, is worried about the crabs, but is sound on the French. I think it augurs well.

Find out for yourselves at 6.

Alastair and Alex.


Mon 9th Feb

Good afternoon.

I suppose it might have been an initiative test in some search for new management trainees. If it was, it was pretty complicated.
First they had to choose their moment: appalling weather. Well, on Monday, along it came in spades - the worst for 18 years.
Then they had to square the Mayor - he dutifully went on tele' and said he didn't want it to be a "skivvers charter" but "staying at home" did seem a sensible option. Getting complicated, now. Following that, they had to ensure that a bendy-bus jack-knifed, allowing them to "pull" all 7999 other buses back to their depots. Might have been easier to get one to explode but the jack-knife was beautifully and safely executed. Finally, they had to fix it so that, bar a few stretches, the Underground stood at a standstill.

"Now, how many of our people will make it to work?", TfL may have thought, in a machiavellian manner. (Italian political theorist and henchman to the Borgias: see The Prince and the Florentine Letters).

Well, most got in but a few didn't and those that did aren't being made managers and those that didn't aren't being paid. The normally angry Bob Crowe is apocalyptic and the normally mild manner TfL are standing their ground. Odd because it is shifting a bit - was it just a handful who stayed away or a mightily disruptive critical mass? Can't have it both ways.

Harris -(it had to be, didn't it?)- seeks to untangle this philosophers knot of industrial relations and just remember - lack of tubes and buses disrupts you and lost revenues due to the aforementioned costs you. Ping-ping and mind the doors, here comes Harris.

In another case of having your gateaux and crashing those gleaming white incisors into it, rail firms are selling season tickets like there is no tomorrow and, for some of their passengers - SORRY:CUSTOMERS - there may not be as fewer carriages are being linked together to make up the average train-set (yes, that is REALLY what they call them) and fewer services, in some areas, are being run. Mike, who loves trains and all things "transport" wonders what it all adds up to. I could tell him but I still have to use the trains and don't want to get banned.

There's another story in the running order called RAILCROSS which I though might have been an up-sum of all the above but it is not. It is a visually compelling yet behaviorally terrifying expose of people playing chicken on level crossings. Kids in trainers and adults in cars - all are staggeringly stupid and all lucky to be alive. We'll also remind you of those who weren't lucky enough still to be alive in the hope it might stop people doing it. Watch out for how close an express can get to a foot - it is measured in angstrom units... quite unbelievable.

Totally believable are the measures property developers are going to tempt you to part with your "hard earned" to purchase one of their "well built"... as an economist, I don't think it will work but, as an investor, I may review my shares in mobile telephony and regret John Lewis is a partnership in which I can't buy shares.

Lucy is delving into "hip-hop meets the movies" and I am told by the Big Boss it is notorious. "Surely, she has not been that badly behaved", I ventured. His eyes glazed over as he explained all. You will be wowed, once you've, like me, got the drift. Another cracker from the lovely princess of entertainment.

Finally, my favourite story because it has so many dimensions, twists and turns. It is about dogs from Afghanistan that are not Afghan Hounds. It features a character called Bear who isn't that at all, and a very tough soldier who is known to all his friends as Penny. The dark side is fighting - human and canine - and the warm side is a trained killer doing his bit for man's best-friends. If that doesn't have Spielberg on the phone and you in your TV seats, I'll eat my sou' wester (look outside!).

Talking of which, Robin will tell me if I should stay in town and if you should stay in doors, today, tomorrow and for the foreseeable....
and the papers will be in English but we are watching the Standard closely, comrades.

Breaking News - Chelsea have sacked Scolari - Brazilian Blues...I can see it now!

Now, it may be the Oz. It can't be Katie, even if that is what the roster said. It will be someone unless, for me, it is like the initiative test the bus and tube gang faced on Monday last. Can I do both?

Share the resolution of this mystery with me, at 6.

I hear "Waltzing Matilda" and the pop of beer cans in distance.... could it be? Might it be?

See you later,


Alastair, PLUS The Oz, NOT plus Katie... or PLUS some other "belle of the ball" , should the slipper fit.


Fri 6th Feb

Good afternoon.

George Bernard Shaw was a brilliant word-smith, social reformer and plus-four wearing "lefty". His "Pygmalion" was a blistering critique of social and, specifically, linguistic prejudice. Henry Higgins was his vehicle for proving the that "lot" of Man, (or, in the play , "woman" , via Eliza Doolittle,) was not a given constant but could, with effort, be improved upon and enhanced. By the time Lerner and Loewe got hold of it and morphed it into "My Fair Lady" it had lost some of it's edge and a bit of xenophobia had crept in, aimed at the Hungarians by saying there was no "ruder pest" than the man from "Budapest". But with regard to current UK meteorology, they got it spot on in a test to restore aitches that held that "In Hertford, Hereford and Hampshire, hurricanes hardly happen". They don't. Snow storms, however, do and today is a worrying example. Nick is our Colonel Pickering , observing how the good people of the Home Counties and parts of London, are coping. ( Higgins could tell, from their accents where they came from, down to the street. But we'll put locators at the bottom of the screen for the non-Higgins among you as we range across the region.)

Marcus, who comes from a dense forest ( or a long line of trees) in Hertfordshire, has taken my comments on last night's show amiss. He couldn't get in and told you all in fulsome detail. I ventured it was a long-winded master-class in the craft of lead-swinging, much regarded in those parts. To prove his point, he is, even as I write, struggling manfully through all that the elements can hurt at him and recording it all for posterity on a small video camera. I wonder if, like Captain Oates, he said to his wife "I am just going out. I might be some time" ? My own view is that his super-human efforts have more to do with the fact that we are also previewing his beloved Gunners vs Spurs but maybe cynicism is getting the better of me. You may see Marcus later. Or not. Then'd I'd feel bad, wouldn't I ? Or, "would I not?", to be more grammatical...

James will probably look like Captain Oates, sun-goggles and fury boots, as he struggles in to tell you what he thinks about "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" and "Doubt". I know he will be that keen because the casts are remarkable. There's the ever improving Brad Pitt turning, like the chrysalis of a pretty young juve' lead, into the butterfly of an heir to Marlon Brando. The Oscar Academicians agree having given him and his latest offering no less than 13 "Ben Hur-like" nominations. Then there's Meryl Streep who can make me laugh and/or cry as well as Judi Dench and from me that is high praise. The themes of both movies are fascinating so you won't want to miss JK in critical flow.

Nor will you want to miss our America cousin with the latest from Italy on the so-called "Foxy Knoxy" trial for the killing of Surrey student Meredith Kercher but I give no guarantees for pronunciation. Americans, you know, have a way with words. Our words.

And you certainly won't want to miss Gary Go. Take That didn't and were so impressed "they bought the company" - well, they bought the rights to have him as their support act on their up-coming tour. It is a bit like Richard Branson saying he quite likes your idea for a business or Alan Sugar saying he reckons you deserve a trial period in one of his. Gary will hit the big time at Wembley a mere stone's throw from where he grew up. I suspect the fans will be throwing accolades and other sundry items at him by the end of his set but let Lucy "introduce you", as Robbie Williams would say, to the young man so you can decide for yourselves.

We'll have the weather in several ways and the papers which may well seem very similar but we'll see. And we'll have a green snow-caterpillar. "How?" asks the Oz. "Because we can" says The Big Boss. I'm thinking of those wonderful little bottles of icing-colourant my mum had an endless collection of but I guess it could be magic or grass stains.

And to top it all off, a marvellous story. There is no upside to leukemia and to be a victim to it when you are 6 must be shattering, heart-breaking and soul-destroying. But 6 year old people are remarkably vibrant and can dream in a way that only fades when you get older. Perhaps it is because their chances of getting older are less than children who are not burdened with this ghastly ailment that they dream big and with determination. Enter the Met - criticise them for what you want and as much as you want but every now and then they play a blinder. Put those two thoughts together and you might just be imagining why you won't want to miss our report. Phil's your guide but you'll need your own tissues.

Alastair & Alex


Weds 4th Feb

Good afternoon.

Most mornings, I buy eight newspapers. In the evening, going home, I buy the Standard, bag "thelondonpaper" from the stand at Waterloo and then hunt for a discarded copy of "Lite" on the vacant seats on my train. It costs me a fortune but I do it to keep up to date.

I am confused by the economics of what has happened at Associated Newspapers. They own the Evening Standard and Aleksandr Lebedev, who is certainly considerably richer than I am or will ever be, has just bought the paper for a pound. I gather , for his pound, he gets the entire output of the presses until such times as he sells. He now "owns" the paper. Apart from being an oligarch - a member of a tightly knit group of like minded, wealthy influential individuals, wielding collective power for a common purpose - he is also a former KGB spy. Now say what you like about Rupert Murdoch (well, within reason: he has fine lawyers) and think what you will about the Barclay brothers (the "think" bit is good advise as they have even better lawyers) but, to the best of my knowledge, Rup' never spied for Australia and the Barclay Twins never spied for the Channel Island of Sark ... which they own. What is happening to this great industry? Robert Moore, ITN's European Correspondent and Phil Bayles, our "getting into work" correspondent, have joined forces to solve this riddle, wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.

Which takes me neatly to a wheel-clamping saga of similar ilk - the riddle is why a man parked at a gas station whilst going to get a sandwich; the mystery is why the clampers sprung at his car, clamped it and charged £465, rising at £80 a half hour, until he paid up and move, despite the objections of the gas station owners; the enigma is why the man refused to budge. Liz makes sense of it, a titanic achievement in its own right, and we ask you to solve the e=mc2 of London parking with your thoughts in e-mail form... or e=mc2 form.

Less complex is the Rail operating companies explanation for fare rises hugely above the rate of inflation - it is because they need the money and it is because they can. MPs are taking a different and rather dim view. Harris, a democrat, commuter and passingly good mathematician, has been giving ear and will share. Methinks his analysis will be clearer and crisper than the Rail companies complex fare structure that make the full proof of e=mc2 look like the two times table.

Give them a bit of snow, however, and all becomes clear - they shut down. So when a splendid radiographer from Kent headed to do his wonderful, lead-apron clad work at Guys, he couldn't. He had less chance of getting to work than an alpha, gamma or even X ray has of getting through his apron. An inspiration to us all, he did the Good King Wenceslas bit and, without even a page coming hither and standing by him, trode off through the deep and crisp and even stuff. I'll say no more than to urge you to follow Lewis' explanation of one man's achievements over the brute force of nature and Network Rail. It is inspiring. His achievement. Not Network Rail's.

Robin is on the roof. Serves him right, and at least he won't get stuck at home... though I suppose he might get stuck up there. Oh, well: he'll know and share.

Marcus goes to a restaurant where you pay what you want for the food you eat. Think about it. You'll be begging for more by the time he finishes.

And Lucy has found another group of musically gifted Londoners raising our collective blues so well that they have called themselves KING Blues.

I think that is it apart from a complex linguistic row between N Power and Westminster City Council that involves electric cars, brand names and the product of crushing fruit. Only Glen, dear readers, only Glen... and he does.

The Oz is quiet. Have I offended her with my reference to Rup' ? Are they related? Is my future made or damned?

Find out at 6.

Alastair and Alex.


Tuesday 3rd Feb


I have to admit it - I love snow! Waking up yesterday I was like a kid on Christmas morning - I've never seen so much snow here - and it turns out I'm not the only one.

I was due in the office though...after a slight panic about lack of trains/tubes/buses I was kindly offered a lift. Think it was the quickest I've ever made it to work, even going 20 miles an hour. The roads were blissfully empty and the views along the Thames spectacular. Getting home was a slightly skiddy taxi ride - but, all in all, no drama for me.

Slightly more complicated today - heels were clearly not the right choice of footwear - bear with me, I'm new at this snow thing. I had to head home after a couple of very close calls and track down some flat boots - another things I'm new at - btw Uggs aren't good in the snow either. Anyway, I managed to stay upright, grabbed a train from Clapham Junction and a bus from Waterloo without ending up on my bum once and made record time again. So what's the problem!?

Well, my story's not gone down too well here. Al's been stranded. After making it in yesterday he had to hole up in a hotel to be here today and as there are no trains running to his neck of the woods I imagine he'll be doing another spot of sock washing in the sink tonight.

Robin's here - but he had to abandon his car and plans to get to work yesterday. After attempting to bring us the weather - he found himself a victim of it and spent 3 hours getting here today - that's commitment to the cause.

Even though we're all here - I know plenty of you are still stranded or suffered another hellish journey in. Glen Goodman's been checking on how the Capital's coping on day two of the snow slow-go.

So, clearly - I'm one of the lucky ones and will stop asking what everyone is whinging about before karma sees me slide down the road on my backside on the way home tonight.

Other lucky ones include all the kids who go to school in Surrey - another day of snowman building and snowball fights! Not so lucky - their parents...just what do you do with the little poppets if you work? As the Big Ed points out 15 years ago 25 per cent of parents both worked - now it's 70 per cent. Nick Wallis has been finding out what the kids are getting up to and why Surrey County Council decided to shut all their schools rather than let headteachers decide.

We've also been checking out what the rest of the world's been making of our snow melt down - I got an evil look from Al when Big Ed mentioned the Aussie coverage - not my fault! Apparently the American's have found it funny too...

As if that's not enough we've also got the legendary playwright Sir Alan Ayckbourn and his leading lady Janie Dee in the studio. There's also some brilliant footage of some snowy japes on Hampstead Heath yesterday - see if you agree it's what we should have all done to clear up the snow on the streets of London - with Boris on top!

See you at 6.

Alex & Alastair.


Monday 2nd Feb

Good afternoon.

From the most complex meteorological data on the internet, courtesy of NASA, to a bit of old sea-weed hanging on the back door, it was blindingly obvious it was going to snow. Hotel bookings rose and dedicated workers stayed in town on Sunday night. So how come London's buses, the vast majority of the tube and the bulk of our deconstructed over-ground rail network were caught on the hop? Well, not so much "on the hop" as tragically static.

Phil does a passing impression of Peter, Paul and Mary with a "trains and boats and planes" attempt to get to work. We think he shared much of what many of you have shared today so we will share Phil's Video Diary with you. It is a joy: wonderful pictures, extraordinary experiences and all in the hands of a true wordsmith - it reminds me of Browning's "How They Brought The Good News from Ghent" : Phil "sprang to the stirrup", and all that.

We've put Glen on the roof for fear of him getting overwhelmed by a drift - he is trying to work out how it all came "to pass"; Will Gowing of Trafficlink will tell us, live, where it is still resting, much of it not having come "to pass" at all, but rather refusing "to pass" and, instead, settling on your roads, lanes and driveways.

And, from TfL, Peter Hendy will join us to explain what he didn't do, what he wished he'd done and what he plans to do, given there's more of it to come. Remember, Peter, you wait ages for a snowfall and then several come along, one after the other....

KD is especially concerned that he still hasn't withdrawn the Bendy-buses despite our collective concern that they are quite likely to do a spectacular impression of the capitol's November 5th celebrations without a by-your-leave. Yet one jack-knives and the roads are cleared. 8000 buses, tucked up warm for the night and the day as the rest of us struggle through the deep and crisp and even stuff. She is quite exercised by it all having had to battle in herself but I heartily approve of the green-wellies. Only she can carry off the haute-couture/gardening gear combination.

We employ some brilliant cameramen and women who have captured the moment - the snow, not KD's welly-clad-arrival - but some of you have topped even their terrific efforts with phone-cameras, little digital cameras and who-knows what else. We say "publish, and be damned" , and we do and thank you!

Mark Little may be in the studio. He was in "Neighbours" where it was always sunny but our weather may preclude him chatting about a welcome return to the West End. I guess if things don't improve he won't even make that. Wonder if his agent has really thought this through? Might ask him that. Or not. Depending on the weather.

Robin definitely can't make it - frozen to his own little forecasting outfit in the deep south - but Manali has, so we'll grill her. First to warm her up and then to get some answers about when we might see spring.

Global warming? Tell it to the birds.

We shall have other news, the front pages of the London papers - one of which is now to be edited by the former editor of Tatler so I imagine debs in diamonds tip-toeing through the snow whilst, in the other two, it'll be more Lily Allen... I may be wrong.

Our best advice to you is remain in, wrap up warm and stay glued to us at 6. We will inform, entertain and enlighten you - a joy to know you are there, warm from the tip of your noses to the tip of your toes-es.

You know it makes sense. Shame the powers that be apparently didn't feel the same way about last night's forecast.

See you at 6.

Alastair & Katie