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What Not To Miss this weekend

These are the events featured on this week's What Not To Miss:

Romeo and Juliet

Taste of Spain

Get Walking Day

Walk London

London Tonight Tonight


I am absolutely boiling! Remember Tuesday - it was raining and felt like winter again, right? Well, I had on black suit trousers, fairly sensible shoes (for me anyway) and purple jacket. We interviewed Simple Minds but it didn't go out on the show - we decided to save it for you for today. So I've put on the same outfit - not to trick you into thinking they were here today - but just so it looks neater. Well, I'm sorry I did 'cos Al's not wearing a tie today - Friday and all that - so is clearly wearing different clothes and now I look like I've just run out of things to wear. Al agrees and mostly giggled at me. He's off seeing his bank manager now so I shall giggle at him in his absence. He can be smug with his open neck shirt but if I get stinky and sweaty he's the one who has to sit next to me!

He has no choice in this - like many of you have no real choice in where your kids go to school. As far as I understand this school system thing - you live in a catchment area, you chose your schools from the ones in the area and cross your fingers your little ones get into your first choice. I think there are ways you can increase your chances - but lying about where you live may be pushing it too far. One Mum's accused of doing that to get her child into Pinner Park First School - which boss with two little ones assures us is a good one. Glen Goodman - who I'm sure has already put the names of his week old twins on the list of a fab school - is well placed to find out facts and answer questions.

Answering questions is what businessman Ian Griffin is going to have to do. He's disappeared after his girlfriend Kinga Legg - who ran a tomato exporting business in Oxshott - was found beaten to death in their flash hotel in Paris. Details about the couple and how he disappeared in a Porsche all sound very glamorous and much like a script from a thriller. We're intrigued - as are the police who are still searching for Griffin - but for Kinga's family I'm sure the story is just tragic and heartbreaking.

So, we move on to the football. It's not tragic but I'm sure many Blues fans will be sad to see Guus Hiddink go - it's his last game tomorrow - Chelsea are playing Everton in the FA Cup final. Lewis is at Wembley a day early to tell us all.

Then James King's going to tell us about the movies out this week. Just watched the clips - Fireflies in the Garden looks great - Julia Roberts, Willem Defoe and Ryan Reynolds - slightly depressing for a sunny weekend perhaps. Then there's Drag Me To Hell which look ridiculously scary. It's Sam Raimi's foray back into horror flicks and I'm told it's v good. Look forward to hearing what James thinks - he loves a good scare.

Then there's our interview with Simple Minds - the outfit ruining interview which is actually a really good chat with Jim Kerr and Charlie Burchill who are both great fun. So I shall put aside my outfit stress and look forward to playing spot the difference with my hair and earrings whilst reliving our chat. Easily pleased.

We shall aim to please at 6. See you then

Alex & Alastair - who has still not returned from bank manager chats - oh dear.


London Tonight Tonight


You have me both Alastair and myself for company this evening after last night's football stole our programme from us. I'm sure a lot of Man United fans will agree they would have been happy to miss some of that match for more of us but, move on they must, as shall I to something which may hinder our movement more than just a little.

If the strike on the Victoria line didn't make your journey into work a pain last week - then this next one certainly will. Tube staff are threatening to close down the whole network for 48 hours. I can't remember when that last happened - hold on, let me google. Googled...couldn't find it. Asked Ken..made him swear about plans for another strike. He said he remembered having to walk from Fenchurch Street last time. I reckoned it must be a year ago at least. He deposited money in the swear box and found the story we did last time there was a full tube strike. September 2007. So - that's while ago then, nearly two years, yes? Now we could have another one. They're trying to sort out the row - over pay deals and job losses - but we're bracing ourselves and sending Phil Bayles out to hear what you think and to track down Bozza.

To another mode of transport now - and the one in question is a little black BMW. Very cute and very useful when it was needed to ferry one of my girlfriends to hospital after a meningitis looking rash appeared on her chest. So said car was parked, she was admitted and kept overnight, so car was as well. When it came to driving her home the next evening we found quite a big bill on the car parking ticket. Now, I figured there wouldn't be a charge as it was an emergency and all, thinking the nice security person would take pity on the silly blondes with no cash. But, we found a machine which took cards - handy - and paid up. If we'd been in Basildon the nice lady who looked after their hospital car park - until very recently - may well have let us off. Not that I'm trying to get out of paying - but it just seems like the wrong place to be worrying about cash when you're worried about yours or someone else's health.

The people around the desk here agrees - Al's done a swear about it all, recalling having to rush his Dad into hospital and having to think about change for the machine. But Emma - who's been to get all the facts on this - says the hospital in question had just forked out millions for a brand new car park and had to pay for it somehow. There is debate. You will get all the details later - and find out why the lady in charge of the charges decided to take charge - and resign.

We've got the third part of The Afghan Trail tonight - the last few nights you've seen the lengths people are going to to get here - now Lewis is going to tell us what happens to the ones who do make it to the place they call 'paradise'.

There's also a whole lot of rubbish on the show. Well, in Trafalgar Square. If we collected all the stuff we chuck away on our lunch breaks around town - where there are no recycling bins - we'd be able to fill up the square. We haven't really done it - some techie wizardry's been employed and Glen has been deployed to see what's being chucked away and what the non-recycling lunch-hour answer could be.

Christine Ohurugu's got an OBE and Neil's got me practising how to say her name - I should be fine coming from the world of sports news, which she has featured in quite a lot. But he's insisting on me saying it three times so I shall practice for you. If he makes me mess it up I shall put a curse on the FA Cup final on Saturday which he is over-excited about. I'm excited about the promised sun this weekend and getting ready to barbie like we're all down under.

But before I get the shrimps (which I've never barbied - bangers and burgers mainly but I might try the prawns...) we've got Sandra Bernhard. She was in Roseanne - which I spotted as a box set on Robyn's desk. She's been trawling through to find a clip of Sandra in the show - but hasn't had any luck. Lucy, though, was the lucky one who got to meet her and will introduce you and us to her later.

Then, more baby animals!!

Damien Steward's going to introduce us to a baby gorilla.

What more could you want? I will want to take it home.

See you before then, at 6, for the full 27 minutes with the Al. Do join.

Alex & Alastair.


London Tonight Tonight

Good afternoon.
I am forlorn. Neither Arsenal nor Chelsea are in Rome and, therefore, neither am I.
What is more, because the game is going ahead anyway, to keep Manchester United and Barca fans quiet I suppose, our programme becomes something of a televisual shrinking violet. We have 12 minutes and 10 seconds to inform, educate and entertain you, as Lord Reith of the BBC would have put it - though I suspect he was either a Rangers or Celtic supporter, given he hailed from Glasgow, though I remain blissfully ignorant of his faith and therefore his loyalties in this matter.
Adding insult to injury, I am on my own. Katie is presenting the Evening News, earlier than normal, and the Oz will be emerging from marsupial hibernation to present London's late news. All alone am I, so please be there with me and for me.
If not for me then for Ronke who has worked very hard on the second part of her Afghan triptych - tonight it is a case of "suffer the little children" and how their mums and dads have to raise a King's ransom to get them here.
Spare a thought for Harris, too - he is working on the oddest of stories that involves a freezer, a cadaver and what looks like the weirdest display of family ties I have ever come across. It is not a nice nor happy story but I suppose it has a certain macabre fascination. Thank goodness for Harris and his subtlety and taste.
Devoid of subtlety was the BNP's attempts to lever their leader into the Buckingham Palace Garden Party on the coat-tails of their GLA representative. "I think not!" said Bozza. "Take him and you don't go", he told Richard Barnbrook, GLA, BNP - not sure about other honours or qualifications that require letters after his name. Anyway, someone blinked in this row, this very afternoon, in the glare of publicity and sunlight. Find out who, and cheer or weep, depending on your take.
I suspect universal cheers at the Attorney General's decision to seek a review of the sentencing in the Baby Peter case. Suffice to say I don't think the guilty ones will be spending time with their friends any sooner than had initially been suggested by the Courts.
We've Joan Rivers, who is very funny, very show-bizz and very American. I can't remember why but I don't care - she is very funny, very naughty and ... well I think I've made my position clear: I hope you agree. Daisy makes the introductions.
I suggested the weather was so awful that we might try and keep quiet about it, only to be told there is good news from the barometer so Mona squeezes in. Papers at a push but, alas, e-mails fall off the edge. I'll miss that as I enjoy your observations very much.
I think that's it and that , within it, you find enough to spend the briefest of moments in my company before the football. To all Arsenal and Chelsea fans - "you WERE robbed!" To ManU fans, "go for it!". And to Barca fans, "shouldn't you be at work?"
See you at 6... but not for long!
Alastair and an empty yet cherished space.

London Tonight Tonight

Many of us will be glued to the television tonight. It's the Uefa Champions League final, Manchester United take on Barcelona at the Stadio Olimpico, Rome.

With kick-off at 1945 it's going to be pretty warm on the pitch for the players. Temperatures still around 27 degrees through this evening.
Bright sunny skies, the sunshine could spark of a few showers, but it should be predominantly dry.

Back home, thing's are looking good too, as today's rain clears through, it going to be getting warmer day by day. By the weekend we could see temperatures rise to around 24 degrees, 75 Fahrenheit!

With clear blue sunny skies, the weekend weather is looking fabulous (perfect for a BBQ!) although it will turn more breezy, especially by the coast, during the course of the weekend.

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Good afternoon.
Ken "West Ham were robbed" Hayes is in charge today and was a little late for our planning meeting. He tells me he went to give blood. Despite that, he ran through our "offering" to you without notes! The miracle of modern medicine.
Mind you, it's a good set of "offerings" and I think you will find much to interest, entertain and even exasperate you.
How close, for example, did London come to being "de-Boris-ed" ? There he was, the blonde velopede, cruising under cover of a throng of velopeds when a lorry came close, hit a speed bump, threw its door open and nearly reduced London's population of cyclists by "several" and London's stock of Mayors by "one". Given we only have "one", this was a serious threat. It was all captured on video so we can analyse the risk to London's democracy, frame by frame.
Whether this made today's bid to encourage more Londoners to take to their bikes a "close run thing" I don't know. I suspect people turned out for the handsome Olympic yatchsman with the tousled hair, despite the rain. Damian borrows The Office Bike Clips (previous owners: Glen and Lewis) to find out.
How close is Afghanistan to being devoid of Afghanis? Not at all, I can assure you. But it may seem like that in parts of London as a Khyber Pass-full of them wend their way here , day after day. Given what we have seen and heard of Helmand Province, Laskhagar and the Swat Valley, I am not surpirised. And given the insurgent Taliban's approach to education is "a little for the lads and none at all, under pain of death, for the lasses" I am even less suprised. It is not for me to take sides over the war but I can certainly sympathise with anyone who thinks anywhere on the planet is a better place to be in than Afghanistan just now. But for London and it's social services, it's hospitals and it's schools, there are real pressures. Ronke examines them from both ends of the telescope with passion and impartiality.
Just how close is one of the country's best Boy's Homes to being empty? Very close unless the Youth Justic Board changes it's mind. Mind you, they're closed today because they get another day off unlike the rest of us who only got yesterday. Where's the "justice" in that, I ask? But back to my theme. This place is not poised to be empty because the youngsters have done their own versions of Tom, Dick and Harry, sprinkling soil from their trouser bottoms around the streets and parks of Penge. Nor are there a bunch of little Steve McQueens' in the making, poised to blast their bikes over the fence. No, the authorities are closing it. It is a brillinat place, held up as a vertiable icon of excellence , doing good in keeing kids straight. So, let's close it. someone said. Lewis, as straight and narrow a childhood as you could hope to have, asks, Malcolm Muggeridge like, "Why???"
Little Layla Towsey was frighteningly close to death. She had meningitis and, as most people know, too many children don't come back from there. In a Dickens novel, however, her miraculous recovery (hurrah!) would have been to the shrill chords of a church organ; in a spagettii western, it would have been to the strains of Aaron Copelands Fanfare for the Common Man. But in C21st London it was by way of a tribute to a band of Scandanavian troudabours who eared more for their native Sweden , at their peak, than Volvo did. If you know the story already, you'll enjoy it again. If you don't, I'll say no more but ask you to be there and join with Layla's mum in saying thankyou for the music she did come round to.
Just how close are Bob Marley and Amy Whinehouse? Not at all, as far as I know, but they have a shared heritage. It was John Donne who wrote "no man is an island" but had a man not established a very particular Island, that connection wouldn't be there. How close these things can be. How ethereal. A brief encounter or a "never met" yet unbreakable link... The Oz is looking confused. I'll hum "Still haven't found what I'm looking for" and remember E.M.Forster's famous line from "Howards End" : 'connect. only connect'. I love it. She is now smiling, stroking her hair, sipping her water and wondering..... who is coming to take me, or better him, away?
I will, however, be here, with her, at your disposal, at 6.
Unless Bono needs me.

See you them. I hope.
Alastair and Alex

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.


What Not To Miss this weekend

Oxford Street Traffic Free Day
Foodies Festival
Carter's Steam Fair

London Tonight Tonight

Good afternoon.

My son Freddie is 16 on Monday.

Faye, shrinking to an agreeable "front-cover-of-Vogue" size as I write, was delivered of her lump earlier this week. It WAS, after all, a baby and not a Mary Tudor fantasy nor wind. Glen and Mrs Glen went one better and had twins - I am not sure about weights and stuff but perhaps (2 x the Glennettes = 1 Fayette) ? Anyway, the team took cake, this afternoon, by way of celebration. This will come as no consolation to Faye nor Mrs Glen who, I imagine, are more interested in sleep and cool drinks but we raised a bit of carrot and lemon confection to their health and happiness.

This is a consciously ugly yet not unthoughtful segue: no one ever raised anything in celebration for, or with, baby Peter. He was not blessed with a Mr or Mrs Faye, nor a Mr or Mrs Glen as his mum and dad. His natural father appears a descent enough man who simply wasn't there and will scorn himself for the rest of his life for having taken Peter back to the home in which he died rather than to the Police, perhaps. All that was ever raised for Peter were fists, and belts, and sticks and voices. Today his step-father, mother and their lodger were jailed. None was convicted of murder because none could prove who struck the final, fatal blow. And lesser charges meant an odd display of the English law as an ass: "life" and "indeterminate" sentences will, initially, mean 10 and 12 years for the mother and step-father, and 3 for the lodger. The step-father was also jailed for raping a 2 year old. Yes, I know: unimaginable.

Equally unimaginable is how those in the social services, Police, legal profession and doctors will react when they read the serious case review that says Peter's death "could and should" have been avoided. Ronke and Nick combine forces to make objective sense of this catalogue of horrors and hind-sight.

Robin has just said I have "panache". I am honoured but I'd have sworn it was Gucci when I dabbed it on this morning. Anyway, I am deeply envious of him today because he is going to Kew Gardens where they celebrate the 250 years which have passed since Mad King George III ( new readers note: there were not three "mad" King Georges but there were six King Georges, the third of whom was mad) created, from a mix of borders and beds, the finest gardens in Europe. In part they were for his beloved children: it is a big place but he and the lovely Queen Charlotte had an awful lot of kids. Among other things you can see the finest water-lilies in the world - OK, I am biased but bring me better and I'll concede the point. Robin has a "two good-one bad" outlook for the bank holiday weekend and, I expect, a surreal anecdote or two. The Prince Regent of forecasting is at your service.

Soon, not to be at your service, will be London's fleet of Bendy Buses - apart from the incendiary few that have already gone to the omnibus crematorium in the sky. But there's a problem - the rest of the world , and I do mean the THE REST of the world, are wiser than the TfL of Ken's day: no-one, but no-one, wants them. Not even a variation on the theme of Peter Mandelson's cash-for-bangers scheme will tempt purchasers. A snip at £80k, the jam-causing-lane-blocking-boot-exploding-fare-evading-people-moving machines remain as unloved as a dose of swine 'flu. Emma is On The Buses to raise her hemline in a sultry effort to help get rid of them. I'd just get all the people off and set about them with a box of matches but that is both unwise and dangerous so I probably won't be allowed to.

I am being allowed, with the Oz, to talk to Tony Curtis: yes, THAT Tony Curtis - "Some Like It Hot", "Spartacus", "The Boston Strangler" and "The Outsider". Nowadays he prefers emulating Lucian Freud and David Hockney and will tell us why. We hope. He can be moody but he's entitled.

Liz has gone to Millwall but wondered what she had done to deserve this assignment. It had been seen as a dangerous place but when I tell you it is all in the genes and there is hope for both progress and harmony you will still not have a clue what I am getting at. Nor had she, initially, but is now sold and eager to explain all to you, in elegant and engaging growls. The rest of the football season is withering on the vine - and hopes are luke warm at The Bridge and positively icy at the Emirates but, like the Conservative Party, they must learn to love Europe as their compensation for not winning the Premiership which I think has a thermo-nuclear device built into it that explodes if anyone tried to take it away from Manchester.

James gives us A Night at The Museum 2 and Tormented. The first is funny, I gather; the second, frightening and sordid. I hope we get them in the right order but given Ricky Gervais' involvement, who knows!

I don't think I've missed anything. No room for the baby ant-eater, much to the Oz's shagran, and no mention of the Monaco Grand Prix, much to mine. How swiftly Lewis Hamilton falls from hero to just being "that bloke going out with the bird from the Pussy Cat Dolls".

Papers - possibly all of them free: I can't keep up with the editorial nor economic policy of the Evening Pravda.

Weather, I have mentioned but I mention again because I am very excited.

And that is that.

The Oz is in make-up so I'll just mention ..... no, she's back!!! Must dash.

See you later.

Alastair and Alex.

Weather blog

Good evening,

'There's a lot of uncertainty about Monday'. Words no weather presenter wants to hear as a Bank Holiday weekend begins.

There's a deep area of low pressure across Northern Europe where it's very warm & this will be lobbing showers in our direction over the next few days. During Saturday & Sunday the showers will probably fall just short of the South coast but on Monday we may well not be so lucky, so it's a case of staying tuned.

As it currently stands you'd be best advised to squeeze picnics, barbecues, walks & cycle rides into the next 48 hours & plan a cinema trip for Monday, or at the very least have your waterproofs with you.

If work is going to prevent you from enjoying the good weather don't despair because I too will be at the office, staring longingly at the sun through hermetically sealed windows & only getting out into the air en route to the sandwich shop. Punishment perhaps for being unable to guarantee perfect weather until Tuesday morning....

See you later, I hope, when I'll be at Kew Gardens who are celebrating their 250th. anniversary this year.



London Tonight Tonight


If, like me, you use the Victoria line to get to work it won't have escaped your attention that is it very, very shut. As Undergrounders we're used to this sort of thing aren't we? Seems to happen every bloomin' weekend on one line or another (Circle mostly from what I can tell). Well, it didn't hamper my journey in today - it did seem a tad busier but the announcer just told me to stick to the Northern and change onto the Central - simples - end of service announcement. Simon went out a little earlier than me to check on the peak timer travel situation - we'll check in on that and hear what your experiences were this morning and tonight too. We're also going to talk to the one of the underground's bosses to see if the strike's sorted things out.

Ben and Robin are discussing red wine across me and distracting me a lot. I think it's got something to do with Maureen Lipman coming in. Ben's doing a bit of research for questions to ask her and has had some sort of brainwave about sending in the clowns. I thought he and Robin would already be there - hahahaha! Sorry. But mainly they have agreed that is a line from the play - I think - and not an instruction or an offer of red wine now, during or even after the show. Not sure where the wine even came into it.. moving on.

There's been more dogfighting and there are more and more dangerous dogs in our city. The RSPCA says London's where they seize the most dogs and where more people are using them for protection - as well as abusing them. Emma's looking into this.

Then, one of our top cops has been charged over an arrest he made. Ali Dizaei arrested a man outside a restaurant last year - but has now been charged over it himself. Lewis is going to explain it all.

Now, you might have seen this guy in last night's papers - he commutes to London to work - but unlike some of our MPs - his second home is a tent. Just 37 squids from Lidl too. Much hilarity in the meeting about this - canvassing opinion, pegging the story.. giggle, giggle. I personally would love to see our MPs camping it up this summer - not like that...living in a tent rather than a lovely second home. Phil's been to meet the example himself.

After all that Lucy's at the Ivor Novello awards -they're just being announced but I won't give the game away - a certain band whose frontman has a daughter called Apple are up for 3...

I had to put that in so I can talk about babies!! They're popping out all over the place here. Not literally - obviously - but Faye our Deputy Editor had a little girl yesterday, Ben's wife had a little girl on Friday (during the show and everything!) and now Glen's wife's just had twins - a girl and a boy!! I can see two growing bumps from where I'm sitting too - so there are more on the way!! Will keep you updated - and congrats to all.

See you at 6.

Alex & Daddy Ben.

Weather blog

Good evening,

The pollen levels are slowly rising - the trade off for fine Spring weather - & the sneezing has started. A couple of weeks ago this would have been dismissed as the onset of swine fever but I think we have to accept that the allergy season is underway. I'm told the dirty air in metropolitan areas doesn't help either & that allergies can strike at any stage in our lives, which is exactly what's happened to me this year. I'm very fortunate in that I'm only a mild sufferer & whilst I realise that serious allergic reactions are no laughing matter, on a personal level it's a price I'm happy to pay for settled, sunny weather at this time of year.

The weather looks set to remain good for the next few days, meaning it'll be a Bank Holiday of sore eyes, itchy noses & mucus. Nothing that a good dose of sunburn won't sort out. Be careful out there....!

See you later,



London Tonight Tonight

Good Afternoon to you...

Well, as I sit here writing this Ms Hyndman is over to my left, seeing off some soup. She's not feeling 100% you see. Bit of a cold. Still, she's going to soldier on through the afternoon and evening. The needs of the many outweighing the needs of the few, eh? That's the spirit.

It certainly was the spirit that may have saved the lives of countless Greenwich residents back in the 2nd World War when an airman found his Spitfire heading for the ground. Instead of bailing out, Robin 'Bubble' Waterston (great name - great man), stayed in the plane to steer it away from housing and point it at open ground. He died so others might live. We'll remember his ultimate sacrifice on the programme tonight in the hope that someone watching may actually remember it themselves. If you do, or if your Grannie ever talked about the magnificent man who stayed in his flying machine to save people's lives... Woolwich Artillery Museum wants to hear from you.

We're featuring another appeal tonight, actually. A church appeal, in fact. Okay, churches are always asking for cash to mend the roof, restore the organ, replace the cassocks etc. But this is no ordinary church. St Margaret's - slap bang next to the Abbey - has quite a few claims to fame. Diarist Samuel Pepys was married there. And poet John Milton. And Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill. Oh, and a certain explorer, Sir Walter Raleigh, is buried there. The problem is the roof and walls are crumbling, and £2 million is needed to repair them. We'll take a look around later.

Changing the mood entirely, we'll be reporting on the 15 year old who was murdered by an ex-boyfriend after she dumped him. Thomas Nugusse stabbed Arsema Dawit more than 30 times. He's been sent to a mental hospital. But for Arsema's mother, this has not offered any sense of closure. She's still furious as she claims she'd told the police that Thomas was stalking her daughter and believes that if they'd acted on her complaint, Arsema would be alive today.

We'll also have the latest on a looming "Tube strike... the why's, the when's, the "are the unions right on this one"?

Sticking with the Tube... do you feel safer riding on the Underground? Safer than you did last year, that is? Figures out today show the number of reported crimes has fallen. There's some good news on the Overground too. Overall, reported crime has fallen. But, and it's a big but, the number of violent crimes committed has gone up on certain lines. We'll look at where and why.

And to show that we represent a very broad coalition of interests, we'll be talking to Graham McPherson. Yes, the Graham McPherson*. Live in the studio.

See you at six,

Ben & Alex

*Oh, alright, Suggs from Madness will be here. With Chas Smash too.


London Tonight Tonight


I fear all my joking about swine flu has given me bad karma and in turn a bad cold. I say bad - it's just a sniffle really - better a sniffle than a pig like snort you see. The other half had it - and was dying like all men with man flu are and repaid my nursing duties by passing it on to me. I was the one who was in need of nursing after a mouth op left me unable to speak and too swollen to grace your screens - but glad to be back now albeit a little snotty!

But, for all my sniffles today I don't really have anything to complain about - unlike people living in much less fortunate circumstances in our great city. Although I'm sure many people living in poverty don't complain even when they have more than enough reasons to. In fact, as you'll see in our 3 special reports tonight many don't just get on with it - they rise above and aim for the stars. Liz Wickham's been to the school in one of our poorest areas which is churning out kids destined for Oxbridge. Glen Goodman's looking at the rich-poor divide in Haringey and Mark Thatcher's investigating life on London's Living Wage.

Before that we've the second 7/7 report. The headlines are - security services too stretched - missed opportunities - but MI5 not to blame for letting one of the bombers slip through the net. Simon Harris has the questions and answers on all that.

Right now, what I have is a nice cup of tea - Al's just commented on the quality of his cup of tea too. I think tea really does have the power to make you feel better - seems to be working for both of us right now anyway.

Al's glued to the TV - and was on it not so long ago announcing the Speaker's resignation - fascinating stuff - especially for people like Al, who live and breathe politics. Will have to work extra hard to get his attention today - I may well have to head out for emergency Turkish Delight.

But back to the show - and Marcus is down at Harrods - not picking up treats for us - but checking out Mohamed Al Fayed's son's contribution to the Knightsbridge store. Karim's been deaf since the age of two and is turning his experience into a part of the business.

Then Bill Clinton's getting rid of a roundabout. The former US President's backing a project to create carbon neutral cities - and they want to try it out in Southwark. Not sure where the roundabout comes into all this but I'm sure Damien Steward will fill us in later.

There's also JLS - remember the runners-up on X-Factor last year. The cheeky boys will hopefully be behaving themselves around Lucy - she's been to see them shooting their first video. They were so popular on the show - only just being beaten by Alexandra. Lucy's the one with the showbiz knowledge so she'll be able to tell us if it sounds like a hit.

Then unfortunately that's it.

See you at 6.

Alex & Alastair.

Weather blog

Good evening,

There's nothing like a broken appliance for sorting out the wheat from the chaff. The office dishwasher has recently been out of service for a fortnight & it's been interesting to watch the standards of kitchen cleanliness gradually deteriorate during that time. For the first couple of days things didn't look too bad but then it all nosedived. It started with a handful of unwashed mugs & quickly became a train wreck of abandoned crockery, spillages & overflowing waste bins. Some people were able to ignore the horror, some seemed unaware of it & some (the minority) snapped, complaining loudly at an epidemic of such slovenliness. Luckily the repair man worked his magic moments before it turned really ugly.

I'm rather sad it's all been resolved as my colleagues have returned to venting their frustration by moaning at me about the weather -the strong winds, the showers etc.etc.- & are no longer preoccupied by the student digs style kitchen area. As we inch towards another Bank Holiday weekend the meteorological stakes get higher & higher (currently there's the promise of it staying dry & cloudy) but if things don't look substantially perkier over the next couple of days I may well indulge in a spot of domestic sabotage in a bid to shift the focus once again....

See you later,



London Tonight Tonight

Good afternoon.
Political satire normally thrives when either Government is too strong or Opposition too weak. The brilliant Rory Bremner was at his peak when Tony Blair seemed to do little wrong, apart from the occasional war, and the Conservatives were treating the leadership of their party like an over-running yet inconclusive episode of Britain's Got Talent. David Frost came to prominence, alongside giants like Peter Cook and John Bird, when Harold Wilson walked on water and Alec Douglas Home and Ted Heath didn't. But these are stars. What made the Comedy Club so special was that it invited all comers to take to the stage and to make us laugh at the expense of those we were supposed to hold in respectful awe. This very afternoon, the House of Commons resembled a Lego tower - after my son had lost his temper and taken his boot to it - as it tried to sort out the MPs' expenses row. So how entirely appropriate we celebrate the birthday of the Comedy Club and talk to one of its first "breakthrough" beasts - the splendid Alexei Sayle.
As if in stereo, coming out of the other speaker will be Esther Rantzen. No mention of funny looking vegetables nor dogs that sing whilst frying eggs, she wants to put herself forward as an MP in the Constituency of a woman who worked in Westminster, lived in Luton but spent lots of your money sorting out dry rot.... in Southampton!
Margaret Moran, be warned - there's an Esther on the loose on our programme.
In a surreal way, that only Bozza can manage, the Mayor finds himself in South Korea, addressing the issue of climate change only to find himself under savage attack by the friends of the planet for the way he got there. Now I think a rickshaw, steamer or sturdy pair of boots may have proved inappropriate to the task and we might have missed him for too long but the carbon cloud busters have a point. Bozza has hit back with a lexicon of cyber communications that range from internet video blogging, via twittering to phone blogging. Me thinks the Mayor doth protest too much, quantitatively if not qualitatively. All I wanted was a postcard. Harris, more a Remington type-writer and loud voice man will make sense of it for you, I know.
It was Disraeli who talked about "Lies, damn lies and statistics" but who also said politicians should "never explain". I wonder how he would have explained the oddity of our "falling" crime statistics banging into a public perception that it is still dangerous and worrying out there? We've the latest numbers on the day another yob is jailed for another pointless but tragic killing. Marcus takes the dabs on this one.
People often leave things on trains and seldom get them back. But Euston lost its beautiful archway entrance and is about to get it back. Phil found it in a canal, wedged between several political manifestos and a few shopping trolleys. I remember it in its original glory and I trust they do it justice. It is up there with the roof of St Pancras and the frontage of Kings Cross, believe me.
Enough, already, I feel. Robin was going to go out but was blown away by the wind. We'll hold him down with guy-ropes in the studio so he can explain the bright and breezy state of affairs.
Papers awash with coppers wanting to feel the collars of MPs and Bex on England's World Cup hopes - I think it is more about who might host it than win it.
And that is that.
Marcus has just observed that Katie and I are doing the show tonight and muttered some celebratory observation about "the old chemistry". I hope he isn't planning a Guy Fawkes on the studio and that he is as pleased to have us both on as we are both pleased to be on.
At 6.
See you then unless we smell gun-powder or hear a clock ticking.
Alastair "rare-earth" Stewart and Katie "precious metal" Derham.

Weather blog

Good evening,

The weekend weather can best be described as mixed. Even when the sun shone the clouds were never far away & the only advantage to the heavy showers that were knocking around was that the pollen levels were low as a result. In fact that trend looks set to continue for the rest of the week.

Last night in our house the grey clouds moved indoors at around 5 o'clock as my children set about tackling homework & getting bags ready for school. This was all done with minimal fuss but the quiet depression that settled on the household was difficult to ignore. Whilst trying to jolly things along I realised that, in middle age, I still suffer the back to school blues myself. Indeed if I hear the theme tune to Black Beauty even now I practically need medicating, as that was my cue to get into the car to return to boarding school.

So on a cold, wet Monday I remember those dismal years & take comfort from the fact that I don't have to wear shorts any more unless I choose to (never) & that I won't have to go for a swim in the lake before breakfast....

See you later,



London Tonight Tonight

Good Afternoon,

Today I'm afraid Alastair has been called off to an important meeting so he's asked me to take the helm.

I'm on day four of five presenting which has been wonderful. Not only does it mean sitting next to the lovely Mr Stewart but it's also warm here in the office and so far has involved less running around.
Usually I'm out and about manically chasing whichever star is in town which is what I just love doing. But the downside is I don't really get a picture of what else is going on in and around the capital. Today there's been plenty.

If you were up early enough for GMTV you will have seen the weather girl Claire was forced on air with wet hair and apparently Kate Garraway did her make-up in the dark! All because of a massive power cut caused by a burst water main in central London and that's where we begin.
Buses have been diverted, roads closed and general chaos for everyone.

Next sad and frustrating news for the families of the four young soldiers who died at Deepcut Barracks in Surrey.
Their calls for a public inquiry have been rejected again by the government who say this is the end of the matter. Earlier in the week we heard from the family of one of the soldiers - Private Geoff Gray - who claim new evidence shows their 17 year old son was murdered.
No doubt we'll be hearing more from his parents who are still trying to find closure and justice on this tragic situation.

Our email topic today is sure to stir up reaction - the issue of travelling communities is always an explosive one.
90 families who currently live on a site in Essex have been served an eviction notice.
They've been living on what is one of Europe's largest traveller sites since the 1970's but have been refused planning permission.
It's a really interesting one as The House of Lords and even the United Nations are getting involved.

I'm sure if you've been watching the news recently you'll have been absolutely incensed by the expenses row.
It was amazing - just as we didn't think it could get any worse - more revelations today and there's been a resignation.
Andrew MacKay - David Cameron's minder - so a quick word from him and then onto a story which should restore your faith in human nature.
Ellen MacArthur is involved with a charity which helps young people with cancer. Today marks the culmination of a year-long programme which sees the kids sailing up the Thames!

Then to the Royal Albert Hall and two men I was desperate to meet but that honour has been passed to the lovely Julie instead.
2 of the three tenors, Carreras and Domingo, will be joining her along with some Irish priests who have outsold the likes of Beyonce in the album charts. You couldn't make it up, could you.

To end - Damien has been waving off the Household Cavalry who are off to warmer shores and Chrissie will be live with the car that can walk on water. Well, drive on water anyway. What more could you possibly want!!

Take care,
Lucy and Alistair

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London Tonight Tonight

Good afternoon.
We flirted, earlier in the week, with Agent Provocateur, the celebrated manufacturer of ladies lingerie and things. The context then was G20 protests and infiltration: this time it is one of their popular products that prompts an odd but, I hope, appealing connection: suspenders. We have several of them in the programme and most are to be found up Wembley Way. A "suspender" first struck at Hank Roberts' expense. He is the geography teacher who blew the whistle on the bonuses being paid to the Head at Copland Community College which made a Lib Dem's claim for a trouser press look exceedingly modest. The LEA, wisely, took a look at Hank's complaints and now the "suspender" has suspended the Head, his Deputy and the Bursar - school talk for a bean-counting money-man. Finally the "suspender" took a look at the school's budget itself and promptly suspended that. Talk about the twang of firm governance! Lewis dons a mortar board and battles through the cloud of chalk-dust to see where all this will end. Not an apple for the teacher in sight but lots of people in sports jackets with leather elbow patches, standing in the corner it seems.
Old Mother Hubbard, you will recall, went to the cupboard to fetch her poor doggy a bone. But when she got there, the cupboard was bare. This comes to mind as I tell you the latest twist in the 2012 Olympic saga. First Seb and the gang went to the private sector to ask for cash to help build the village. The private sector said "Sorry, Recession. Our corporate cupboard is bare". So Seb and the slightly desperate gang then went to the Government and said "You know that precious contingency reserve we've got for really serious emergencies? Well, we've just had another one". Seb then explained the private sector problem, Ministers said "OK" and another £300m slipped from one column to another and, lo, the village is saved. My point is, come 2010, 2011 (or even the first half of 2012), there is bound to be "something else" that Seb and the now seriously desperate gang are going to ask for, only to find the cupboard as devoid of beer-vouchers as poor old Mother H found her's in pursuit of canine vittals. I so hope they know what they are doing but, in an effort to reassure ourselves and you, we will be asking Tessa "nothing Old Mother Hubbardish about her" Jowell.
Baby Peter might have been spared a terrifying, lonely and savage death had the medical profession delivered. I don't mean coming up with some miracle cure or magic pharmaceutical concoction, nor an act of heroic surgery or even the laying on of curative hands. No, I mean just doing a little extra in their jobs. That is the blunt and awful conclusion of the latest, and probably last, official report into the little chap's tragic demise. Liz takes a deep breath and takes you there.
Many deep breaths required around the newsroom today as the simple yet horrid truth emerged about the death of another little boy. He was having fun at the funfare when it all went fatally wrong. Marcus, a tough old nut at the best of times, is gritting his teeth and dealing with the story as the great journalist that he is but also as the loving dad that he is.
Some light relief is needed - news is a ghastly mistress, sometimes, isn't she? How about a celebration of some of "the few" who flew in the colours of 601 Squadron, The County of London, rebuffing the Luftwaffe and giving Blighty a breath of a chance in the 1940s? Yes, I like that.
And what about the clean-cut, clean living Jonas Brothers - an American pop ensemble who have launched themselves onto the silver screen? They are God fearing fellows, I know, so I am sure their work will be well received or the skies will open and rain, lightning and a plague of frogs will fall upon the critics. Yep, we'll have some of that, too.
Finally, London's papers - my money is on wall to wall funfare disaster - but the Standard might go on the Mayor of Moscow's extravagant expenses claims.
Robin is in hiding... as is our spring-turns-to-summer weather. We'll unearth him before 6.30 for an explanation and a prediction.
Lucy is with me again which I like very much. She seems less unhappy to miss a wander along the red (or blue) carpet tonight than she did, truth to tell, last night. Perhaps Ricky G and Ben Stiller had something over the boys from the Sunday school? Dunno.
Anyway, I will be here and so will she... unless an angel descends from on high and tells her he brings tidings of great joy and that she's off to Leicester Square. Hope not.
See you at 6.

Alastair and Lucy


London Tonight Tonight

Good afternoon.
I have an enduring soft-spot for Dagenham.
In the 1980s and 90s, I counted Bryan Gould, the then Labour MP for Dagenham, as a personal friend and find the current MP, Jon Cruddas, an impressive chap.
I even owned a Ford Escort in the days that they were known as Dagenham Dustbins.
So you can imagine how thrilled I was with the "entertainment" when I went to a fabulous birthday party a few weekends ago at Claridges. The birthday boy was one of London's top show-bizz lawyers and the finale was the spectacle of the Dagenham Girl Pipers band marching in and playing "Happy Birthday". He was a fan as was his father before him. Not a dry eye in the house, or the hotel.
And tonight we anticipate Kleenex and red-eyes in sitting rooms across the capital as we celebrate the 80th anniversary of the Ford plant that provided so much employment for so long and for so many of the fine people in that part of east London. Lots of lovely old pictures too of Cortinas, Consuls, Anglias etc. to bring back the days of black and white "go-faster" stripes, nodding dogs and dangling dice.
Tears for very different reasons in the Gray household tonight, I imagine: eight years ago, Private Geoff Gray died from two gunshot wounds at the Army's Deepcut training barracks. His parents have never been satisfied with official verdicts and today went to the Ministry of Defence to hear the latest and possibly last version, from the Army's perspective, of what happened. Why they didn't like what they saw nor how they were treated will be explained by Ronke who has been chatting to mum and dad Diane and Geoff.
Also not liking what he has seen, read about and been told of is the Prince of Wales. Not snide snap-dragons nor noisy nasturtiums but angry architects. What they want to do with the old Chelsea Barracks clashes with what he wants in a way that would do justice to the best of battles fought over the centuries by the Coldstream Guards who used to be based there. HRH is opening a "second front" at the Royal Institute of British Architects tonight but the men and women with the set-squares and sharp pencils are poised in their salients as I speak. (Well, "write" but "salient" allows me a better alliteration.) Harris, more of a Palledeo man than a Foster fan, methinks, chooses between the Dorics, Ionics and Corinthians to find a handy hiding place from which to eves-drop on this elegant row.
Richard Briers is surely one of our most elegant actors.... apart from in the Good Life when he was a muddy smallholder covered in the stuff one Tory MP claimed rather a lot of money for, for several bag-fulls. He was hosed down and went straight for a while, producing some fine work. But the call of the soil and the temptations of the allotment proved too strong. But why would the international jet-set take his latest adventures amiss? Phil, our very own Monty Don, dons wellies to discover.
The lovely Lucy is with me for a second evening. "Hurrah", I say. "Hurrah" says Nick, even louder I fancy, because her being with me means he can be on the Red Carpet in Leicester Square. "Night At The Museum: Battle Of The Smithsonian" is the clunky title of the second episode from this new Hollywood franchise. Never saw the first one so I am poised to learn. Ricky Gervais, I am told, and Steve Coogan make appearances: whether this is to do with the "museum" bit of the title or the "battle" bit I don't know but they are both fighters and have both been around a while. Nick will enlighten us, no doubt. The Smithsonian, incidently, is Washington DC's equivalent of our Cromwell Road based Victorian collection halls, (V&A, Science Museum etc) but without the busy traffic or elegant architecture.
Robin has worrying tidings on the weather front and refuses to step outside in case it is misunderstood as an invitation to fight. Take what comes, I say, and take it like a man.
The papers - the Evening Standard was free last night at Waterloo: how worried are they??? - will be there in front-page-competition for your clarification or, if they are all the same, confirmation.
And that, I think, is that. There are some other bits of "news" on the back-burner but I am not sure which will "set" or "rise" to perfection first so you'll have to be there to know.
See you at 6.

Alastair & Lucy.

Weather blog

Good evening,

My neighbour, Joan, was delighted with yesterday's weather. Monday is wash day in her house & she was able to do "four full loads & get them all breeze dried before teatime".

Having worked over the weekend I had the day off & decided to tackle the garden which is a riot of apple, cherry & lilac blossom. Riot is a carefully chosen word given that much of the blossom was travelling horizontally in the strong easterly winds, with the net result that the trees are now looking rather denuded. I can't in all honesty claim that my efforts at gardening have improved things greatly either....

The weather's pretty shabby for the next few days; cloud & rain being the staple ingredients. So if, like Joan, you like to 'peg out' I'm afraid you've missed your chance.

ITV London bulletins, however, will be unaffected weather conditions so I hope we'll see you later.



London Tonight Tonight

Good afternoon, and isn't it?
I have just been outside to enjoy the lovely afternoon sun and can report that last week's trench is now fully filled in, leaving some fresh tarmac scars, a lot of dust and very neatly repainted yellow lines reminding motorists they may not park there. Apart from motorcyclists who have their own little "Motor-cycles Only" bay, undisturbed by the trench but now flanked with fresh yellow lines that stop, abruptly, at the bay's edges. Sitting there, legally, is an old scooter with a little "Jam Buster" sticker beneath the number plate. In a reverse of Orwell's "Animal Farm" dictum of Two Legs Bad Four Legs Good, we live in a city where, for a long time, it has been Two Wheels Good Four Wheels Bad. Like a corner square in Monopoly, "Free-parking" was the order of the day for the bikes but, in Westminster, no more. And the Mods, Rockers and, for all I know, the Secretary of State for Communities who rides a Harley, aren't happy bunnies. Or bikers. Glen dons his leathers and skid-lid to explain all among the protesting greasers.
Whether or not all the protestors are the genuine article may prove tough to tell. The Met have their own squadrons of elegant masters of the beautiful BMW and the huge Honda. They chase speeders, act as out-riders to resident and visiting dignitaries and generally roar around town looking cool. But if the G20 protests are anything to go by, some of them may have left their law-enforcement leathers at home and donned jeans, Hell's Angels T- shirts and who knows what to blend in with the protestors. That is the allegation coming from some of the G20 lot and they have got a hearing, and not a little sympathy, from Tom Brake MP. When it was suggested at the meeting that this might make them "Agents Provocateur" a slightly risque conversation ensued involving stockings, suspender belts, footballers, my share-portfolio and whether or not the lovely Lizzie, our news editor, and the equally lovely Lucy, with whom I am lucky enough to be presenting tonight, would be able to concentrate. Friends, I fear the lack of concentration for predictably puerile reasons would have been elsewhere. Marcus rises above this youthful exuberance and delves into the allegations of mutton dressed up as lamb in the policing of public order in our great city.
There was a distinct lack or public order in Tower Bridge this afternoon when all hell broke out because a lift fell ten feet in a scene one can imagine doing justice to a Hollywood block-buster or, I fear to report, bone-buster. Ten people were on board and six had nearby hospitals added to their tourist itineraries. Seriously frightening stuff. Harris, who has been known to whistle "Miss Otis Regrets" (Google Otis and lift) will be saying "Ground floor: casualty and A & E" as he reports on the plight of these poor souls.
Bones were broken but life, thank goodness, wasn't lost. Such fortune did not befall the heroes on the Greatest Race ever raced in cinema - the chariot charge in Ben Hur. Flogging your opponent, mid-race, would nowadays certainly mean a hearing before the Jockey Club for "Inappropriate Use of the Whip". But forcing jagged wheel trims into your opponents spokes, only for said opponent to fall beneath what remained of the chariot as it scorched its way across the blood-stained sand, is fatally short of cricket. Yuk. So, having enjoyed Pink Floyd and the Rolling Stones in recent months at O2, I am intrigued to learn how a re-enactment of said carnage under the protection of the former Dome will look, sound and even smell. Julie will tell us and you may need a strong stomach for this one.
I think Phil probably needed that attribute too went he went underground for you, to see the completed London orbital water-system. It may be modern but large volumes of water, underground, have always worried me.... unlike rats, amoeba and other aquatic life-forms. I know: sieves, treatment plants, boiling and the rest of it but I remain cautious. W.C. Fields made a powerful argument against drinking water with which I do not agree nor will I sully these pages by repeating (Google if you dare!) but I retain my more modest reservations. So, Phil - rubber gloves, wellies and lots of soap - is your guide.
The People's Millions doesn't have long to run so tune in to learn details of how to join the queue of the deserving - £50 k the ceiling but lots of it to go to London's best good causes.
Lucy, celebrated for the loveliest giggle on British TV, is giggling into the phone as I write. No, she has now leapt to her feet and is rushing to talk to one of our producers. I am secretly giggling with pleasure at the prospect of working with her again. But you never know who else might drop by, such is her professional circle of friends and contacts. Perhaps Michelle Pfeiffer to apologise for getting my first name wrong last week? A weekend of bleak introspection followed, I can assure you, after she referred to me as "Alan".
I will write a large cheque to persuade Chrissie to persuade "The Gods" to keep this weather fine. But she is talking of Horse Guards Parade, Trooping the Colour and abseiling. I am confused but I am assured it will be brilliant and not distract from an accurate forecast.
The papers - wonder what you'll make of the new look Standard? - and that's about it but as I proof read these ramblings I can think of little that out-does it, between 6 and 6.30.
Lucy, leather-clad-bikers, under-cover agents, Agent Provocateur, miles of pipes to ponder, and millions of pounds to give away - enough for everyone I'd have thought. If not, on yer bike - but we'll be here!
Alastair and Lucy.


London Tonight Tonight

Good afternoon.
Among the pantheon of great journalists in the canon of English literature, two tower above most: George Orwell and Charles Dickens. I don't think "1984" or "Animal Farm" would make great musicals, though there are a few laughs in Orwell's "Keep the Aspidestra Flying". But Dickens' "Oliver Twist" begat "Oliver!", to lasting success. It is, in truth, a bleak morality piece with an uplifting finale of family love. At its dark, throbbing heart is a gang of young criminals who, in modern times, would have been held up as frightening examples of abuse and neglect; but in the musical they are an "artful" band of "dodgers" who sing and dance their thieving way through London's streets. They are all boys. Today we have a troubling example of a C21st Fagin who frightened a posse of young girls into mounting a lucrative campaign of pick-pocketing on the London Underground. Phil reports on the devastating scale of their "got to pick a pocket or two" antics and what befell their svengali.
I love horses and so do my children. They are lucky enough to have their own and lavish TLC on them without too much prompting. Though big, they are creatures with warm, winning eyes, a controlled power which respects the presence of smaller creatures and a curious ability to reciprocate affection despite their relative size compared to the young, human recipients of that affection. To read of the uncaring cruelty visited by the Gray family upon their collection filled me with sadness and disbelief. The RSPCA, as they often do, came to the rescue and the Courts are poised to do the right thing, too. Glen, a fine reporter who, in another life, might well have made an equally fine jockey, saddles up and rides off into the sunset - well, to Amersham actually.
That will take him north from here: just as well he isn't heading south, towards Sidcup, given he might just fall off his steed and be in need of A&E. It is a service that is to be lost from Queen Mary's Hospital in that fine borough. And, God forbid that he should have a sex change and fall pregnant - maternity being downgraded too! The planners say, as planners always do, that it'll be alright, and good, and even better; the locals say not if you have a stroke, heart-attack or go into labour. Lewis, our healthiest young reporter (no risks here!) is on his way with a blue light on his handsome head to discover who is right in this clash of the claims.
Our dear American Cousins are in Perugia with the latest on the Meredith Kercher case - DNA is said to link Amanda Knox to the killing of Meredith. Our hope is that technology will link us to the Cousins: fingers crossed.
Fingers, arms, legs and anything else that "crosses" if you play your cricket against Thames Ditton. A man with a past has joined them and we will reveal him at 6 - as he whacks all opponents' hopes to the boundary without them touching the ground! Marcus is all in white, with his trousers held up with his old school tie.
At risk of offending Marcus, and every other Gooner, plus my son Oscar, and every other Blues fan, I will say that we are previewing a Battle of the Giant LOSERS of the Beautiful Game. Who needs the Champions League when runner-up status is at stake in the Premiership? This doesn't get any better, does it? I'll stop and move on.
Films - can't bear Star Trek - but quite like the sound of the "fantasy horror animation" as described by the New Boss. But what will James make of "Coraline" and the Trek offering? Don't boldly go to the channel changer and you'll find out at 6.
What Not to Miss is not to be missed; some debate about where to put Robin - the roof beckons but who knows: not him, yet!
The papers are full of second homes, Jaffa Cakes, horse manure and MPs.
And Faye, (black suit, silver pendant, smart shoes and the biggest belly I have ever seen for one so lovely and normally so size 8-ish) has popped in to say Hi. That's nice but I think next time there will be two of them - or three if hubby comes to celebrate too - and I think it will be soon.
The Oz is in make-up, not that she needs much. She is going to see a girl-friend in her first-ever flat-racing race at the weekend which I envy, in so many ways. Perhaps I'll just have a fiver on the outcome.
Gosh, is it that time? People are talking to Faye about towels and hot-water, hospitals and birthing pools. Odd that. But not as odd as the letter that arrived from the Post Office Press Office, containing some really beautiful new stamps celebrating Henry V111's 500 years. They forgot to pay the postage! And the Government expects to sell it off to the Dutch? They must be mad.
See you at 6, unless I am sent to you recorded delivery in which case, see you Monday.
Alastair and Alex


London Tonight Tonight

Good afternoon.
There are men digging a trench outside our building. They are burying green tubes but claim they are "laying cables". I am suspicious because they have virtually completed this clandestine activity in a couple of days. Were it water or some other vital utility, it would have taken weeks; or they would have started and just walked away, mysteriously. What are the cables really for? What will be running through those green pipes? I only ask because I am a suspicious person, at heart. Were the pipes blue, it would be clearer - they would be proper conduits for the stream of expletives and venom which flowed from the mouths of Hiddink's babes after their brutal, questionable, dubious and badly refereed departure from the Champions League last night. If you are a Barca fan then welcome to our great city, and goodbye; but if you are Norwegian, then I'd get back to the land of the fjords asap if I were you and you might be advised to take the myopic whistle blower with you. Actually, he had to be smuggled out pdq - perhaps the pipes were laid in preparation for his "runner" - surely he planned to ensure ManU met a team other than another English one some moons since? I am told it felt that way. We're completely impartial observers here, of course. Glen, even more impartial in these matters perhaps, and, I suspect, not averse to Scandinavian culture, is down Stamford Bridge way to pick up the pieces.
There were not too many pieces of the Bismark left to pick up after Rodney and George V had done their duty to King and country. They were not the character from "Only Fools and Horses" and the Queen's grandfather but a pair of fine battleships of the line. But putting Bismark in a condition to be dispatched Davy Jones' way were the pilots and observers of a squadron of Swordfish aircraft, the pride of the Fleet Air Arm. That great organisation celebrates it's centenary on the Thames at Greenwich. Chocks away with Bomber Harris, on loan from the RAF, for the duration.
The duration of Samantha Orobator's stay in Laos may be a touch shorter than she had feared - at one stage it looked as if it might have been tragically permanent as she faced the prospect of "justice" by firing squad for having an obscene amount of heroin tucked between her night-dress and wash-bag when stopped at the departure gate. HM Government seem to have done a deal and a lawyer is being allowed to see her. Martin Geissler, one of ITV News' finest foreign correspondents, is there and has the latest as Liz wraps up the comings and going in the diplomatic world.
There was a time when a ransom might have been asked for and paid - but any such claims upon the Peoples Millions would, I fear, be judged inappropriate. Other better causes however are welcome to pitch for the pounds and the "how to do it" bit comes mid-way through the show.
Then the bit I am entirely schizophrenic about. I have always adored Michelle Pfeiffer (I thought of fjords as I typed that - the spelling rather than the view, I suppose). The Fabulous baker Boys would be on my Desert Island list or, failing the whole movie, the bit on top of the piano.... Anyway, she is in town to promote her latest offering. My interests are known and my interviewing skills, normally not in doubt. The Oz likes Hugh Jackman and got to interview him. I like Michelle but the Oz goes there too. I am down, as down as those wretched pipes, sinking beneath a surfeit of concrete and clay as I write. Anyway, the "Oz meets Michelle" is also on the show. I'll be the bloke on the left, looking the other way.
Phil, after the lions, should have known better. There's a story in the running order called Animal Man. It features a "man", plus leopards, lions, snakes, iguanas and sloths -- who may be "slow" but have awfully long claws. If he survives, he'll be with us. If not, look out for a black tie and a letter of apology to Mrs B. who is still getting over his dalliance with the Chelsea Pensionerettes, I am told.
Chrissie is worried about tomorrow but slightly more optimistic about the weekend; the papers are awash with tear jerking tales but share we must, and share we will.
I'm off to check on the progress of the pipe-men and expect the Pfeiffer bit to have been deleted by the beautiful but defensive Oz by my return. I will trust the New Boss and see if it is misplaced or rewarded.
See you at 6.
Alastair, who can't be trusted with American actresses, and the Oz, who can .... with all men and women of the silver screen.


London Tonight Tonight


I'm starting to think there's a conspiracy here - not sure what the purpose of it is but the evidence of it is in the form of chocolate. Bags of it! Yesterday Al magically produced a box of celebrations (well, he probably sent some little person to get them for him..but magic all the same). Then, he proceeded to judge us all by what we chose and how many we ate. Proudly announcing to Chrissie before the weather that I'd eaten 9! Lies, lies and more lies - it was probably more like 5 but that's not the point.

I've lost the point - and clearly the plot. It was all very nerve-wracking last night during the show - with a zillion chocolate calories rushing round my system and the crew from X-Factor filming us (apparently we're going to be on X-Factor - that's far too exciting!!) So, I'm trying to steer clear of Ronke's chocolates today - not that I think she's trying to sabotage my mind or body (I do a good job of that all on my own truth be told). But because I'm trying to concentrate!!

I've just heard a brainteaser - what do Jade Goody, I-Carly, Paris Hilton and Steve Bunce all have in common....? Stay tuned til the end for the answer...

For now though - I'm still trying to concentrate. I've just told Al I'm blogging - he looks confused and a little put out so I'd better make it good - he should be fine - I've pointed him in direction of chocolate bag.

Serious stuff now...

It sounds a bit like Second Life - no, not another brainteaser - it's part of a community centre in south London. The council's spent a bucket load on this place which on the one hand did cost loads - but on the other hand does sound like it's money well spent. This centre's got a computer generated high street - which we're sending Glen down - where kids (and Glen) will encounter drug dealers and the like and be given ways of dealing with scary situations like that in real life. Sounds good - but some schools aren't too happy though 'cos they want to take kids there but it still costs. Glen will have all the info.

Then - another way to stay safe - get a cop to walk you home. Never going to happen, right? Well, it is happening for real in east London - where signs have gone up outside banks offering police escorts for people worried about getting home. Now those are cops you can bank on...get it?! Oh dear.

Now, we've got the latest from Laos where confusion seems to be the operative word. Samantha Orobator's still in jail and facing a death sentence accused of drug smuggling. But some officials are saying she wouldn't face the firing squad as she's pregnant. Martin Geissler's in Laos so will be able to tell us exactly what's going on.

We've also just heard about the sad death of Max Mosley's son. The F1 boss has had a terrible year - finding himself at the centre of a scandal and nearly losing his job. Police say his son Alexander was found dead in west London at home - but they don't think there's anything suspicious about how he died. Ben Scotchbrook will be there to tell us more.

Well, after Arsenal failed to deliver in last night's Champion's League semi - I think "they got stuffed" was Al's observation. And from a self-confessed football non-enthusiast - that's saying something. They were indeed stuffed - 3-1 - putting an end to hopes of an all London final. But Chelsea are still in it - they're facing Barcelona tonight - so we're shifting hopes to them on behalf of London. (Not sure you'll all agree but we have to be patriotic on behalf of the Capital - No?)

Then - the BEST thing on tonight's show - so I'm reliably informed by Neil, Lizzie and Al - is Chris De Burgh delivering his giant easter egg to the cricketers. Now, if that doesn't sound surreal I don't know what does.

Not sure how he managed to snaffle back that egg - I was still in the process of coming up with a way of sneaking a bit - ok the whole thing...!

Oh well - see the egg, cricketers, Chris and all the rest at 6.

Alex & Alastair.

ps. Answer to the brainteaser - they've all been nominated for the Broadcast Digital Award for Programme Launch.. Steve Bunce's Boxing Hour is on Setanta Sports News - so huge congrats to them (much bias from me clearly) for that along with nominations for Best Sports Service and Channel Launch - fingers crossed.


London Tonight Tonight

Good afternoon.
Max, our genius entertainment editor, was the first to swoop when I announced I had just purchased a large box of chocolates to lift collective spirits, post the Bank Holiday break. What he and the rest of the collective didn't grasp was that it was my version of the X-Factor auditions. How bold they were, which hand they used, what language they spoke in and which sweetie they took. Hannah, who is Welsh, came over nearly last, very quietly and said, in good English, "Can I have a sweetie?" Why did she choose a Malteser, I wondered? "Because they are light," she responded with a winning smile. This is a confectionery-lifter of Eistedfodd standards. I can see her winning over Ant, Dec, Simon, the girl who used to be in that game-park drama and old motormouth, himself, Southend Piers. Her future, if not her waist-line, is secure.
Max, meanwhile, who was first, was so becuse he has secured us a glimpse at the real X-Factor auditions down O2 way. The New Boss (as in a Hampshire village, you have to have been round for ages before you cease being the "new" anything) wasn't sure if there were many "weirdos" and he thought there may even have been some men and women of genuine merit. Lucy, for whom I am saving a Malteser, will return with her material and if anyone can get "weirdos" AND men and women of real merit, it is her - for she is a woman of endless merit and talent and not a molecule of "weirdness" about her.
The Oz, who was on the phone, has finally struck - she is going through them all but has settled on ..... a Malteser! These woman. I am now on my nineth mini-Mars Bar.
I do not know if chocolate offers any protection against swine 'flu. It seems to me that a national campaign that involves TV ads and a letter through the post to everyone is a good start... if you have shares in ITV or hope to give the Post Office a boost on the way to partial privatisation. I also find a drug called TAMIFLU difficult to take too seriously. It should be called something serious like Relenza which is another anti-flu drug but sounds like it means it. Wasn't "Tami" a character "in love" played by Debbie Reynolds? We continue to fret about swine flu, quite rightly, as it might get very serious but with 27 cases in a population of a little over 50,000,000,000 I think we remain on the side of the hopeful, for now.
Harris, nevertheless, is on the case and has found three schools and three nurseries that either have cases or are guarding against them. There are official expressions of concern about the reactions but, among parents and pupils, some relief.... apart from those who have had to have their public examinations rejigged. If you've peaked, you're going to be down; if you'd quite forgotten about GCSE French oral, you live to fight another day.
The Oz is now on sweetie two - a Galaxy the size of a postage stamp. That's her calorie limit for at least an hour. Unlike the child Liz chanced upon who is only 16 months old but needs 3000 calories a day to maintain her body weight. She only weighs 17 lbs. The Oz says she is "ickle" which is either a misspelling of one of the results of winter precipitation or an Australian expression of affection toward the small among us.
Andy Townsend is not small - he is a giant among those who both know and care about football - the Oz is like that too whereas I am weak on both fronts. Thank God for the Oz and Andy who will share with you, and me, the second leg prospects of the great Gunners against the fearsome Reds in tonight's continental clash for European honours.
The total value of the 22 players on the pitch tonight is probably not far short of half a billion pounds. A little more than half of that is what was spent making London's railway stations safe and accessible for the disabled and three out of four still aren't. Nick has the sad statistical indictment and has been talking to some for whom it really is a matter of life and death.
There is even more including weather, whether you want it or not, and papers which will not be used to cover up any cracks in the above. You thoughts on swine flu will also be most welcome unless they are contagious.
See you at 6 by which time the sweeties will have all gone and I may find standing up a challenge. The Oz is licking her fingers. Did she sneak a third when I wasn't looking? I muse, I merely muse.
At six, then.
Alastair and Alex.


What Not To Miss

Here are the events featured on this week's What Not To Miss:

Vaisakhi On the Square
Canalway Cavalcade
Henry VIII's May Day Celebration

London Tonight Tonight


The sun's shining - two people got stuck in the ITN revolving doors - I giggled like a school girl - Jon Snow saved them - there are swine flu notices in the bathroom reminding us to wash our hands (Big Boss says he must have missed something about how it's transferred) all very confusing - I'm sneezing, snorting and saying swine flu but Al's ignoring me. It's definitely Friday.

It's not just Friday - it's also the start of the bank holiday weekend - and not just any bank holiday weekend - but a sunny one. Robin says so - well, he kind of said so through gritted teeth - but I'm going with it. Even though I said I'd work on Monday - being sure it would not be sunbathing weather. My flat mate is doing just that at home - lucky redundant/job hunting person! I shall be joining her in our garden tomorrow though if Robin's telling the truth - if not I might lock him up on the roof where he's heading later to stand outside and deliver weather prediction - as if to prove a point.

That's what we can look forward to at the end of the show anyway. At the start we've got the story of a south London girl who's in prison in Laos and may face the firing squad after being caught with heroin on her. She says she was forced to carry it by someone else. She's now also pregnant - which is strange considering she's in an all female prison. We're talking to her friends and to an Aussie woman who's been in the jail there too.

Then we've the latest on swine flu. We're being bombarded with news about the disease because of cases being confirmed all over the world. But we're told that London's prepared and if it starts to spread we have the right drugs. Marcus is checking on that as we hear some businesses are buying in stocks of Tamiflu (the drug to treat swine flu) which could mean people who need it now might not be able to get hold of it.

Jamie Oliver kick started it - now we could be seeing the benefits. Newham's school kids are going to get healthy dinners - and they're not just healthy - they're also going to be free! Emma Walden's going to see just what's being dished up - and if the parents are happy about it...?? Remember the Mum's passing chips and burgers through the fences to their little (ish) ones..? She'll be on the look out for those I imagine..

We're also catching up with those squatters who'd found themselves a lovely home on Raven's Ait - looks like they've been voted off the island.

And we're checking in with the lovely James King - he's going to present a feast for the eyes in the shape of Hugh Jackman - all muscle bound and shirtless as Wolverine in his new movie - it's definitely a good Friday - and then Hannah Montana - little Miley Cyrus (makes me feel v old!) in her latest teen flick.

And if you heard what sounded like a lot of cats being strangled in Trafalgar Square last night you'll know all about this. It was part of a new viral ad campaign - you remember the one with everyone dancing at Liverpool Street - the same company - it's T-mobile obviously...don't know why I feel like I can't say it !! Anyway, they've done another one - it's of a whole load of people doing mass karaoke. Sound like an assault on the ears to me - Lucy went to find out and she also ran into Pink - who can clearly sing. She's also quite intimidating. Poor Lucy thought this might be an act and she would end her interview by saying - I thought you were going to be scary but you're not - she dropped that line after finding out in truth Pink really is quite scary.

Can't wait to see it.

Watch with me and Al at 6.

Alex & Alastair.

ps - We're also just getting news of a shooting outside Wandsworth Prison - and some disturbing details about Baby P's step-father which have just been released in court. We'll have details on those stories for you too.

Robin's Weather Blog

Good evening,

At the risk of morphing into Bill Oddie & suffering a huge identity crisis I thought I'd share with you the news that on Wednesday I heard a cockoo, a sure sign of Spring (as if we needed another one). I can also boast having heard, for the first time in my life, a nightingale. It really is beautiful but if I'm honest there's something a little unsettling about hearing birdsong -however magical- at 11 o'clock at night. I've read that it's International Dawn Chorus Day on Sunday but I'm not sure, even with my new found enthusiasm for all things ornithological, that I will be bounding out of bed at 4am to witness the wake-up call. If I change my mind, however, at least the reasonably fine weather which is on the menu for the next fwew days will take the edge off the horror of a pre-dawn start.

We're doing well in the South East; mainly dry & fine so get out there & enjoy it if you can, but not before you've tuned in to the show....

See you later,