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


Weather blog

Good evening,
There was a train delay this morning -signalling problems- & it was interesting to note the intricate ballot of the passengers' reactions.
Initially there was much tutting & general meerkat-style looking around. Then a flurry of noisy phone calls accompanied by eye rolling & arm waving. This was followed by a moment of stillness & collective resentment as the fast train sped through the station carrying its cargo of smug air conditioned commuters punctually into town, before we all finally accepted the inevitable, unfolded our papers & found a place in the shade to sit things out as the sun beat down on the crowded platform. But for the rising panic caused by a looming morning weather bulletin, I might have even bought myself a coffee & actually enjoyed the enforced wait.
It was already hot when I eventually arrived in London at 9.30 & the mercury has been rising ever since. With that in mind I've been fighting my natural instincts to rush everywhere & risk overheating, but instead have taken the day at a marginally more Mediterranean pace & so far it's working well. The heatwave will be with us for the immediate future during which time I'm hoping my suggestion of a 2 hour lunchbreak followed by a siesta will have received serious consideration from the bosses.
I'm off for spot of free opera in Trafalgar Square for tonight's programme. I'm intrigued to see what percentage of the audience will be enjoying the performance naked from the waist up with their feet in a fountain....
See you later,


London Tonight Tonight

Good afternoon, which at least means that mad dogs and Englishmen should be coming back in, shortly, having been bonkers even to go out... at noon.
Not a problem down Wimbledon way where there are no Englishmen, or women, left in the competition. Mr Murray is a proud Scot and we Scots are proud of him. Given England's tough sporting time of it, recently, we are happy to lend him as a temporary talisman but should he hold aloft the gold cup, we shall have him back like the stone of destiny. I know England's doing "alright" in the football and that our women cricketers have done "v well" recently but I am sure it will back to the norm, ere long !
If I was asked to play at Wimbledon I would say "pass", politely. The women shout too much and the men just aren't the characters McEnroe and Connors were. Nor that handsome Romanian whose name escapes me. No, the idea of wearing white and having a slav send bright yellow and deceptively hard balls at me at speeds of over 100 mph is not my idea of a fine summer pastime. Even with the best part of half a million at stake. And I am wise for there are serious health as well as sartorial issues out there. The LTA must have a "let" or a "bye" from the Department of Health because the DofH have just told the rest of us to take it easy in this heat - there are serious risks of heart failure and stroke as we nudge record levels. I'd have thought more than enough had been written and said about global warming to make this a statement of the blindingly obvious but it seems we need another reminder. "Why?", with a nice bloke from the NHS; "how?" from Glen; and "what about Wimbledon?" with Robin, who will either use the language of "persistence" or "passing spell". I'd tune in, seek out the solar topee and keep a fine glass of something nice and cool to hand.
Many of us have never quite forgiven our otherwise faultless parents for sending us to boarding school. In some cases I am sure it was because the parents couldn't stand the sight of their little darlings but in most cases it was Army, Air Force, Navy, or diplomacy calling. In many others it was class confirmation (Eton) or class aspiration (Harrow). Lewis is trying to find out why a state school in Brixton wants to offer the cold shower and dodgy house-master challenges to a new generation of kids. The charities and the parents are split.
Marcus reports on a delicious case of just desserts which involves two MPs, a certain lack of clarity and some of swampy's mates having, at last, a place to rest their feet if not take a shower. They could if they wanted to, mind you ; they just don't chose too. Order, order, I say.
Westminster Abbey is fine and complete in my humble opinion. It has emerged, however, through a milennium of transformation, of never ending morphing. However, Damien reports on what some would say could be it's crowning glory - pun intended. I'd leave it.
We've Johnny Depp talking to Vanessa which I think is brilliant and so too do most of the office.
And we may be talking to a tall, thin American pop-star who I get confused with a popular brand of foot-wear whilst others say his name has something to do with leg-garments and serpents. He is also a big tennis fan so he is probably mad, too.
I think that is that.
I am waiting for Katie. I hope she hasn't gone to Wimbledon and fallen for a man with dark eyes and more syllables in his name than you could shake a racket at. Doubt it. Probably just paused for a rest in the heat. That is why I stay in and send out for fruit.
See you at 6.
Alastair & Katie

Weather blog

Good evening,
The morning walk from the station to work is a pleasure. Especially in fine weather. It's good exercise & also a great chance for a spot of people watching.
This morning my eye was caught by a woman who, in a sea of people in T shirts & shorts, was wearing a long dress & holding an umbrella aloft. Naturally I made no judgment, in the same way that, a couple of months ago, I didn't judge the man I saw jogging backwards in the cycle lane into oncoming traffic. I did, however, study this woman from a distance & came to realise that, in direct contrast to all those around her, she was in fact perfectly dressed for a heatwave: completely covered up & carrying not -as I had originally thought- an umbrella but a parasol. An inspired idea. She was as cool as a cucumber & a million miles away from collapsing through heat exhaustion.
With daytime temperatures set to stay at around 30C for much of the week & the nights promising to be muggy & airless, we'd all do well to take a leaf out of her book as life could be pretty uncomfortable in the immediate future. And if I was in anyway an enterprising person I'd be setting up an on-line parasol business between bulletins & laughing all the way to the bank....
Hope to see you later,


London Tonight Tonight

Good afternoon.

I was at boarding school when Jack Kennedy was shot and we were marched into the chapel to pray for world peace.

I was at a dinner party in central London when it became clear the Berlin Wall was about to be breached and it proved such a bugger to breach that I managed to get to Berlin in time for the collapse of the wall and, with it, east European communism.

And I had just got back to my hotel room last night when news agencies made that fatal transition from reporting the illness of Michael Jackson to suggesting he had died.

So, here I am, after four hours sleep, four programmes already, and yet poised and keen to tell you we have even more, and fresher, to tell you about this sad event.

To some he was that odd bloke whose nose kept changing shape and who allegedly had odd tastes in how, and with whom, to express his affections.

To millions of others, across the capitol and around the world, he was a deeply gifted, albeit deeply flawed, genius who rose from membership of a talented novelty act to become a redefining , re-inventing dynamo in the world of popular music.

Tonight we talk to people who echo that , here and in the US of A.

And given he was so good and so popular, his recently launched series of concerts, like topsy, grew and grew with demand. In the end there were to be about 50 and they'd still sold out. Touts were getting four figure sums for single seat tickets. Now that for clinically incontrovertible reasons he can no longer fulfill his contractual obligations to O2, nor they to the thousands of fans, a mighty mess emerges. There is talk down Greenwich way of "self-insurance". No, new to me as well. You crash you car into another car and tell the 3rd party "Fear not - I have self-insurance". No, I don't think so either.
We'll ask O2 the £300 m question, (for that is what seems to be at stake here), "Whatchya gonna do about it?"

The Oz has just returned from talking to an expert witness on the "cultural influence" front - it was her destiny, I guess. Or at least the off-spring of it.

The clues are there, dear friends.

Lucy has donned wellies and borrowed a tent to talk to the pyramid stage brigade down druid way and she will share her expert thoughts and their emotional
out-pourings, too.

Then we will ask for your thoughts - they can be eulogistic or enquiries about how you get your cash back - both acceptable though I think the former have the edge over the latter in terms of getting read out.

Then - swimmers, barges, HMS Belfast and glass-top-tourist-boat operators.... beware! Some large spherical objects are shortly expected to be floating down and then up the Thames. "Beware" the man in the crow's nest might call. "Aye aye" might come the response which, phonetically would be right on the money. Phil mounts the ferris wheel of fate for an explanation.

James will talk about "Year One" , which every seems to hate, and "Sunshine..." , which seems to have other words in it's title which no one can remember just now. But he is complete and very good so I'd listen to him.

The Oz will have tips for the weekend not including net practice for the Oz eleven nor tinny tipping training for their supporters. No, much more sensible than that.

Chrissie is safely back in the studio having been chatted up by the ghost of Henry VIII yesterday. We take our duty of care seriously.

And tonight is the last night of The Big Boss. He is heading north to fresh challenges. He is a friend as well as a boss - how lucky am I? He is a boss AND good at what he does - how lucky are we and how rare is he?

If you have liked what we've been doing these last five years, cry hurrah for The Big Boss. If you haven't, blame everyone from Ken Livingstone to Dame Shirley Porter, via the Bendy Bus, Congestion Charge, Thames Water and the rest of it. But not him. He only tells it like it is. Thats why he's good. He's nice because he's nice. That's why I like him and will miss him.

See you with a tear in my eye at 6.

Alastair and Alex


London Tonight Tonight


I've been asked a lot recently who I'm going to support in The Ashes - being the holder of two passports means my loyalty is split - but I don't need to answer that question now as I've just been told there's a third option! There's a team of Aboriginal cricketers coming to London - so I'm going to be supporting them - and then claiming to have supported whoever wins the Ashes from the start - but that's another blog altogether.

Ben's going to introduce us to the latest cricketers to pop up top from down under.

Before that we've got tennis fans who've gone to some extraordinary lengths to park at SW19. Some MPs caught up in the expenses saga who might now lose their house - the 60th anniversary of one of Soho's most famous coffee shops and Gerry Anderson in the studio - you know the guy who created Thunderbirds yes?

Oh, and also a woman who've used her metal detector to help pay off her mortgage - well she could also buy a nice car and go on holiday and lots of other lovely things but you get the picture. I was a bit mean about her in the meeting - which I take back - because after seeing her and finding out she's spent years searching for something of value and found nothing until now, I reckon she deserves it. Maybe she'll share!

Sorry - I've had to rush as I have been distracted - I have to admit a little bit by the tennis which I've just seen has lost our last British girl - and London lass - Elena Baltacha. Oh dear.

See you at 6 then.

Alex & Alastair.


London Tonight Tonight

Good afternoon.
When I was younger I quite often left a ten shilling note in my jacket pocket so, weeks later, when I wore the jacket again, hurrah, I was ten shillings better off than I thought. For younger readers, there used to be 20 shillings in a pound and a ten shilling note was a lovely pinky red piece of paper worth 50 p in new money which would get you a pint and a packet of pork scratchings. For even younger readers, a jacket is an outer garment that does the same job as a hoodie but always allows a view of one's face.
There are, as I write, a lot of people rifling through every single jacket they can find at the LDA because they have not misplaced ten shillings/50 p but 200 million times that amount. Some are saying "I'm sure I put it there...", others, "have you tried that really very big biscuit tin....", even "Thought of checking under the mattress...?" But, no, they can't find it. Of course it may have simply been pinched but no-one is saying that yet. Seems to us a better bet than a Blackpool beach donkey in the Grand National but who are we to say? Well, we are your voice and your guardians so we shall unleash the forensic and journalistic skills of Harris on the case and see if he can find the cash or the culprits.
Now I am old, I often find myself telling my children to turn the taps off. I care for the planet but I also care for the fact that I am billed by the water company via a meter. If I don't pay I imagine they'll turn the flow off. Well, apparently not. They can't, in law. Water is , in a way, a human right. I always thought there were a range of philosophical and intellectual flaws in the privatisation process let alone the dubious economic merit of taking a monopoly from one sets of hands and putting it in another set of hands. Hey ho. Anyway, those clever profit-maximisers at Thames water want all that changed and they are seeking a change in the law to allow them to take a great big spanner to the supply of those who refuse to pay. Those who "can't" would escape their opprobrium so there's another blank cheque for the lawyers. Little if any of it makes a litre or pint of sense so my hopes lie with Phil, who likes a little of the clear stuff with his scotch.
There is a type of shop that says a lot about you if you shop there. Do you buy your pants at M&S or Ralph Lauren? Your cheese at Tesco or Harrods? Your TV and audio gear from Comet or direct from Bang & Olufsen? If you shop at Abercrombie and Fitch you no longer buy a classic rain-coat but you are a bright young Metropolitan type with high disposable income and as much cool as Phil likes with his scotch. You expect the staff to adopt a simpatico tone and manner. So a beautiful young woman with an artificial limb would spoil your entire experience, wouldn't she? No, I didn't think so. But that, in essence, is the case of the company in moving the one-armed stunner from the shop-floor to the stock-room. She is fighting back and we are with her - in the sense we are watching her case in court though, come to think of it, we are probably "with her" too.... Robin dolls up to give ear.
If the UK has the worst drug problem in Europe it follows, as night follows day, that London probably has the worst drug problem, as a city, in Europe and in the UK. I think all of the above are true and truisms. What I didn't know was that the UN are worried about it and that worries me. Julie wears the Blue Beret.
We've some fabulously brave children whose dare-doings I will not reveal suffice to say it would give Enid Blighton a whole series of story ideas for the Famous Five.
Lucy's got La Roux - who promise to be the new Eurythmics - as tantalising a prospect as you could hope for given the brilliance that was Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart.
We've got Chrissie at Hampton Court, doing her Henry VIII to the weather's Anne Boleyn - love you and hate you!
The Oz is again preparing for what to do when THINGS GO BADLY WRONG... is she turning into a negative talisman - or Tasmanian, perhaps? I do hope not as I am deeply fond of her. She will return, I am sure, whilst others will not - at least in rehearsal terms.
See you at 6.


London Tonight Tonight

Good afternoon.
Hard to think, sometimes, that I get paid for what I do. Yesterday I sat next to Katie; tomorrow the Oz returns from whence I know not but return she does; and today, the elegant, witty, charming and occasionally giggly Lucy Cotter - though, believe me, she can do the serious bits with the best of them.
Morbidity and canonisation come to the mind of this old Catholic - I must have died and gone to heaven. Then I remember where I work and I am reminded more of purgatory than that beatific state of purity and karma. London can be the very best city or collective of humanity the world has to offer. Great teachers, teaching wonderful kids in marvellous schools - well some of the above is true in some parts of London - though the "wonderful kids" bit is more true, in my experience, than false. So we were all thrilled to bits when one school was doing so very well it was drawing down a King's ransom in bonuses for the top team. How nice that so many of them were friends, even relatives, too. Then an old curmudgeon in the Geography department called out the academic equivalent of "the Emperor has no clothes!". He suggested it was all a con. We dug, delved and dissected the assertions made by the master of the study of tectonic plates, and, lo, it transpired he had a point. Or several. Given the reaction of Ed Balls, it seems the Sec' of State has learned the management lessons of the Baby Peter case! Jon G wades through the cloud of chalk dust to find an abacus to do the sums.
As the geography teaching whistle-blower would tell you, speed bumps are an ecological gamble, an environmental hazard and often a social irritant: they force cars to emit more fumes by slowing down and speeding up and they tend to make cars make more noise. If they slow cars down and save lives, good. But it is also an issue of unintended consequences. On a long straight road outside a school, for example, they are probably a good thing. On a short cul-de-sac which curves, it seems unlikely to win in the old cost-benefit analysis stakes. Cue Lewis and the good folk of Mercia Grove who are up in arms - the Mercia Grove-ites, that is: not our impartial cool Welsh matinee idol.
I, too, am fiercely proud of my impartiality and that of this programme - we have to be, in law, but we are thrilled to be as a point of principle, too. It only slips with me a touch when it comes to charities and especially kids. So all I will say is that Robin is on a very good and very important story that features good and important things being done for people who deserve good and important things being done for them. It also features some very fine and very famous people who have made it, in part, possible. I didn't like his shark in formaldehyde but for this kindness to children, in their moment of need, I forgive him everything. There, I've given you a clue.
I can't spell. Never have been able to and it has got progressively worse as I have mastered reading out loud and using computers. The only reason most of these words are spelt correctly is that either the boss or a thing called WordCheck makes it so. So I will not be troubling the little darlings who know that eye comes before ee except after sea, and all other rules of lexicography. Why they call spelling bees bees I don't know but I hope they win a yacht or a bunch of chrysanthemums as their prize because I'd like to see their thank-you letters!
Decca famously turned down the Beatles and took on the Stones who used the London subsidiary label in the US of A for such stunners as "Flowers". The Beatles were taken on by Parlophone and used Capitol in the US of A but made no stunners until "Revolver" by which time the Stones were The Greatest Rock and Roll band in The World.
So, what will the signing of one of our premier Guards Bands do for Decca and are Parlophone, even as I write, considering the Band of the Ghurkas? The Pipes and Drums of the Kings Troop? Who knows but Nick is checking cap badges and bugles.
Glen phones in to say he has found a small creature terrorising a part of London to the effect that communications are disrupted and adults live in fear of even going to work. He may be exaggerating, or his "source" may have gilded the lily a little. I am not sure but am willing to give it a whirl. Join me in suspending belief for the sake of a potentially good yarn from the master of the ridiculous.
Chrissie's on the roof. She's not stuck up there but we chose to put her there and she accepted. We will let her down when she promises to forecast, in honesty, a good few days. Why are meteorological time periods called "spells" ? Why do witches and wizards cast "spells"? Letters to the kids who win the contest and we'll forward them.
Finally papers and your thoughts on the merits and de-merits of cul de sacs - the original was a purse, closed at one end, according to Websters. Aren't all purses closed at one end, by definition? Otherwise the coins would fall through. Education? Not worth what it's cracked up to be - unless you worked up Wembley way, or so they say !
See you at six when I will be all a glow.

Alastair and Lucy


London Tonight Tonight

Good afternoon.
Rowan Atkinson is one of my all-time favourite comics. He is clever, has a funny face and collects and drives fast cars. Apart from Blackadder, The Thin Blue Line and a range of parts in Richard Curtis films, he has also done Mr Bean, which I didn't take to, and a series of ads for a popular credit card, which I did. One of my favourite episodes in the credit card ouvre involved an expensive carpet catching fire though I can't quite remember why nor how. But I did laugh. The connection between credit cards and things getting burned connects well with our top story and, in this particular case, it involves fingers getting burned. Ian Clement was one of Boris' Deputy Mayors but isn't any more. He had a City Hall Credit card but doesn't any more. He was booked in one class to and from Beijing but didn't fly in that class. Boris laughed it off last week then laughed Ian off, and out of a job, this week. What has happened to make Ian's flexible friend his deadly enemy? Harris, who always pays cash, is checking the receipts.
Not a carpet but a whole house caught fire in Tooting, hospitalising a family of five. No humour here, at all. Four of them are seriously ill, the police forensic teams are crawling through the ashes looking for clues and arson is suspected. Lewis is among the men and women in white jump suits and has a line to A & E for the latest.
My own eldest son had a "thing" about big and unusual buildings when he was young - Battersea Power Station was a favourite but any gasometer was in with more than an even chance of grabbing and keeping his attention. He has been a life-long member of the "Keep Battersea Power Station As It Is, But Tidy It Up A Bit" brigade and cherishes his copy of Pink Floyd's "Animals" album. As for the gasometers, as under-ground lines from Morceambe Bay have replaced those odd recepticals of the product of burning coal, (other than the coke which was used to build some of Britain's motorways,) he remains agnostic: infact I don't think he's touched on the subject for years. So he probably won't be entering an architectural competition to tart one up, round Kings Cross way. Many, however, will and we'll bring some of their thoughts and arguments to you with the reliability that only gas can promise. Damien is the man with his head in the oven proving that North Sea Gas isn't poisonous, unlike its old municipal predecessor.
We take pride in pushing our Pride of Britain awards again so listen in, and be uplifted.
Lucy has found a pair of handsome Mexicans who, at the meeting, seemed to me to be at base camp 2 in the profile-building game rather than a-top the summit of international fame. I am assured, however, this is wrong - they know Brad Pitt and Kevin Costner. But given there is a popular internet game which proves we are all only seven connections away from Barack Obama, I remain open minded and slightly open mouthed. But gorgeous they are and successful there are. So if intrigue doesn't get you, lust and fascination might.
The fairer sex have had a good time of late on the field of dreams and Julie will celebrate it with some of the Wonderful Women of Wisden and some kids who are bowled over by it all.
Chrissie is at Wimbledon where millions have been spent but probably for no purpose, as things stand. She'll tell you why, in an acute way and in an obtuse way, as only she can.
Katie is running a little late - it has something to do with a purchase from John Lewis. My theory is she is running for Speaker of the House of Commons and is making her "why me" speech.
But if she fails and is Widdecombed by Bercow or Younged by Beckett, she'll be here. If not it will be "here, here" rather than here, if you see what I mean.
I think I do.

See you at six

Alastair and the ever Honourable Katie


London Tonight Tonight

Good afternoon.

The Oz is away and I am here which, on the basis of some of the last few BLOGS, may make a change! She is rehearsing something to do with what we do if something goes wrong. I hope the taxi getting her back here is not part of the plot.

Something shatteringly and darkly wrong happened in Wimbldeon 17 years ago and yielded an iconic image of a beautiful woman, a spring in her step and a smile on her face, almost dancing across the Common. It is of Rachel Nickell, before she was murdered. Her son Alex was with her. It sparked a matrix of anguish and many chapters of human tragedy. A partner robbed of the love of his life; a very young child, not only deprived of a loving mother but, at an unforgiveably young age, made a witness to the greatest loss he could ever endure; a murderer, roaming free for more than a decade; and an innocent man, pilloried in the press, convicted in the public conscience, only to be exonerated - his own life, left in tatters.

Tonight we talk to Andre Hanscombe, the partner of Rachel and father of Alex. It is an awesome responsibility but I hope you will judge it a powerful reason for joining us at 6.

Another pretty gripping reason for being with us will be the evidence Amanda Knox's mother gives in her daughter's defence at the hearing in Perugia, Italy. Amanda stands accused of murdering Surrey student Meredith Kercher. Her parents are convinced she is innocent but will they be able to persuade the Italian Court? Keith Miller, our NBC partner, will share his take, live from Perugia.

And finally, if someone used that old chestnut, "the cheque's in the post" to persuade you they have settled that nagging debt, today is not their day nor your's. Lewis avoids angry dogs to explain why.

I feel it encumbant upon me now to lighten the tone as I slide from hard, and I mean hard, news to the entertaining entertainment part of our Friday fayre.
Joe Meek lies somewhere between Phil Spector and George Martin in the pantheon of music producers. A troubled genius if ever there was, he produced Telstar for the Tornadoes and scored the first ever UK Number One on America's Billboard Top 100. That's good. Turning down the Beatles was not so good. But it ended even more bleakly and has sparked a book, a play and a film. Tonight we talk to the man behind the film, Nick Moran, a star himself; and he's joined by Con O'Neil who plays Joe alongside some other greats including Kevin Spacey.

Then Lucy goes all "luvvie" down in the West End where a festival of thespian frivolity unfolds before the unsuspecting tourists and the sang froid locals. Bet even they can't keep a straight face. I've asked Lucy for some giggles as I feel we need them tonight.

James plays transformers with us to talk about the all-age blockbuster of the summer. I remember my eldest son having a wellington boot that seemed to turn into an articulated lorry some years ago. That's a clue not a boast.

Robin is under orders to promise good weather for a much needed weekend and for the British Grand Prix. If he lies I'll tell you.

The papers, I think, are in search of a lead.

We have more than you could shake a printing -press at. It is that good, believe me.

The Oz is back.... and is off again.

No time for cliches but I feel the hand of history on my shoulder.

Well, if not history, the hope of a powerful programme.

See you at 6.

Alastair and Alex.

Robin's weather ramblings

Good evening,

Waterloo station is a much less vibrant place since Eurostar moved to St. Pancras & Waterloo International was put into mothballs. There's a buzz & a glamour which only international travel can bring to a big old commuter hub, but this week - thanks to Royal Ascot - those two commodities have returned.

The usually grey concourse is awash with colour once again; men in tails & silk ties & women in high shoes & even higher hats, all providing those of us stumbling bleary eyed off the early morning trains with welcome distraction. All, that is, except me because I'm left feeling worried. My concern centres around the strength of today's wind & the precarious nature of the almost architectural structure of some of the racegoers' headgear. I have visions of netting, feathers & possibly clumps of scalp being swept away on a stiff westerly & a day at the races being ruined.

It's at this point (before it all gets truly gothic) I have to remind myself that a lost hat is not the end of the world & that the strength of the wind is not my responsibility. In fact conditions are set to improve quite substantially next week; too late for the horse fanciers perhaps but spot on for any tennis fans out there.

Hoping your weekend is more sun than shower & that you'll join us later,



London Tonight Tonight


I've been craving a huge sandwich - ham, cheese and tomato if you're interested - but I've gone for the healthy option.. some nuts and a fruit salad. Not quite as satisfying but I will feel better about myself when all is said and done and my trousers won't feel quite as tight! Happy Days.

The 'being healthy' part of this is obviously the most important part and that's what kids in Newham are interested in to. Well, that's what their teachers and the council bods want them to be interested in anyway. They've been sent out to the local takeaways - which I'm not sure is the best way to avoid temptation - but they've been sent nonetheless to bestow upon chippys and kebab houses certificates if they agree to put a 'healthy' option on their menu. The idea is that these naughty places will then be less naughty places for kids to venture into. But, the question, I'm sure you've realised, is will they go for the healthy choice even if it is on the menu? Could work.. I guess it's just good to get kids thinking about healthy eating more and eventually they'll see the benefits and ditch the chips. See what they think and we'll see what you think later on too.

Maybe Chris Isaak will have an opinion... maybe not. We're talking to him about his new album later but Ken wants us to question him about the Americans working in London and not paying the congestion charge. I've just been instructed to say to him - off the back of the story about embassy staff avoiding the charge - "hand it over buddy!" Don't think that'll go down too well, but I'm not in charge.

It's not just Chris' countrymen not paying though - they are the number one culprits - but the folk working at the German and Japanese embassies owe a lot too. Bozza's not happy.

But - a good commuter story tonight - the highspeed rail link between Ashford and St Pancras is about to open! OK, I know you're not that excited as it's taken literally forever - but it's there and people living in Kent will be able to get into town in record time - well, not record, but considerably quicker and for four quid more. Nick's been on it and will tell us if speed plus cash equals happy commuters.

Before that we've got unhappy people. This is seriously low. A man's been caught on CCTV nicking cash from a collection at a little girl's funeral. I asked if there was something wrong with him during the meeting - as in was he of sound mind when doing something so horrid? - but am told he is just a nasty piece of work. Judge for yourselves.

Ben's with me tonight as The Al is gearing up for the Late Debate (ITV1 at 11.35pm)

So we will see you at 6.

Alex & Ben.


London Tonight Tonight


Mostly tonight I am looking forward to meeting Bruno. No, this is not my new nickname for The Al - he will always be The Al - until he is knighted and then he will be Sir Al of the Stew obviously.

Bruno is the bum-baring character created by Ali G and Borat geni-ass Sasha Baron Cohen. Frankly, this is the only thing I am interested in tonight. I am extraordinarily jealous that a certain Scotchbrook has not only been to see the movie but is also going to be on the red carpet to meet Cohen's rudest incarnation yet. Why, you might ask, as The Al did, is Ben going and not Lucy? Well, the answer is simple, Bruno likes the boys - so Ben is in for a treat. I think we are too.

This is to my taste - but The Al is far more interested in a museum to honour RAF pilots - or rather the potential lack of said museum. Harrow Council needs more cash to save Bentley Priory - Marcus has been out to find out more about the place and will fill us in on why it needs to be rescued and how.

Now, I am sneezing again - but am pretty sure it's just the hayfever striking and not the swines striking back. But after last night's revelation that Top Shop staff have come down with the flu of the pigs, the disease is back on the menu.

So tonight - we'll tell you why at least 4 schools in London are still open - despite having had cases of swine flu there, what the experts say about that and what you think too.

We're also waiting to hear what punishment Didier Drogba's facing for outburst after Chelsea's Champion's League defeat to Barcelona last season. We meet an artist who's won a prestigious prize for painting portraits of his daughter and then Robin will tell us why on earth London's 2012 organisers think it's worth trying to find out what the weather's going to be like for the Olympics. They can't even get it right 3 days ahead let alone 3 years - sorry Robin - but what!?!

I have - I don't care what the weatherman says when the weatherman says it's raining in my head now. Sorry again Robin.

Get mad at the "British Summer" with me at 6.

Alex & Alastair.

Weather Blog

Good evening,

"UB 40".
"No, there's a BAT in the kitchen."
At which point I realised my wife wasn't asking me to name the artist of an 80's hit, but informing me that we had a wildlife incident. My fault as I'd left the doors open in order to make the most of the balmy evening. Now we all know that bats are timid & that the notion of them flying into your hair is a fallacy, so it was with no small sense of shame that we set about liberating the creature wearing hats & gardening gloves.

You'll be relieved to hear that we were successful & have now added another item to our list of hazards to watch out for when the weather is perfect. With only a few clouds & the odd spot of rain on the horizon before the weather settles down nicely again for the weekend we should be able to relax, but then again unless we're careful we may well find a badger on the sofa....

I'll keep you posted.

See you later,



London Tonight Tonight

Good afternoon.

Etymology is the science of words and their meanings. I love it. Latin and greek roots give us not a thick head of hair but such lovely sequiturs as "belligerent" from the latin 'bellum' for war, and "cinema" from the greek 'kine', meaning movement.

It also allows you to have fun with place names - my mum came from FARNHAM, in Surrey - originally the hamlet of the ferns, whilst my dad grew up in Aldershot, a 'holt' of alder trees. "Get a life", I hear you mutter. "I have and it is rich and varied", I retaliate but take your point and, so, to the point. Why is Pall Mall so called? You see I use the singular so I am not challenging you to define a popular brand of American cigarettes but rather that fascinating London thorough-fare that runs from Trafalgar Square to St. James' and is full of roly-poly gentlemen most evenings. And I have used both Pall and Mall so I am not misspelling dog food nor describing the drive-way to Buck House. Anyway, enough of this. If you've cracked it, we will ice your cake. If you haven't, you will be intrigued, I think. Phil is your guide

Dior would be intrigued to know where a quarter of a million smackeroos worth of their lovely jewelry is. Last seen on a photo-shoot in Islington which featured a cast of thousands - hanger-ons, make-up artistes, wardrobe mistresses and... Ms Lindsay Lohan. No fingers, I must stress , are being pointed at anyone.... but if they were, they might have a few more ruby rings on them than they had yesterday. Lucy, who only wears gold , (and it's all hers), is on the case.

Jon Gilbert was last seen leaving the newsroom in a white coat, broad-rimmed hat and veil. In his left hand, a curious puffer-device and in his right, a small, wooden spoon. "Kew" he said, when challenged. "I thought I was first in line", I responded, still bemused as to where he was going and why. A loss of biblical proportions and an agronomic response George III, the founder of Kew, would be proud of, awaits you.

Awaiting the Oz and I is Ms Sophie Ellis Bextor, who gets fed up when people observe her mum was a Blue Peter presenter. As if she didn't know! Anyway, she is also a fabulous singer and a happily partnered mum of two. But tonight she shares with us, and you, the fruits of an extra-marital collaboration. It is exclusively musical and all above board. It features, and here my memory fades from the Big Boss's meeting, one Russell Small or Smell and an esoteric sounding mob who aren't the Knights of St John, nor the Templars but have dividers and rubber aprons in their paraphernalia. Mr Smell/Small may be "of" the misnamed band, come to think of it. Either way, I adore Sophie, am keen to meet Mr. Small/Smell and am assured by the Big Boss, (it is so good he is back) that the melodic result of their collaboration could be THE sound of the summer. I remember one summer, years ago, when it was Jeff Beck's "Hi Ho Silver Lining" and Brian Auger and The Trinity's "Wheels on Fire". Happy days.

Less happy days in Oxford Street and Top Shop to be more specific. 200,000 people a week visit this emporium so news that one of the cash-register lads has been confirmed with swine flu will not play well. Full, but properly balanced, details from Ben.

Finally, I mix my themes - 'words', 'missing', 'collaboration' and 'illness' to draw you to our top story.

A couple, deeply in love, commit to a civil partnership. One falls victim to an inoperative tumour. These are mere 'words', I know. But one half of that loving relationship is now 'missing' following a caring 'collaboration'. Because the 'illness' could not be cured and was causing progressive and intolerable pain, they travelled to Switzerland and held hands as it was all brough to a loving end. Ronke hears from the survivor who risked prosecution for the man he loved. "You are not alone" are perhaps the most powerful words you can hear as your life ebbs away. In law, aspects of what happened are illegal. Ronke will tell you the whole story and then you tell us what you think.

See you at six, in thoughtful mode.

Alastair and Alex

Weather blog

Good evening,

Summer's here & as a result I'm spending much more time at the vet's.

At this time of year it's anything from adder bites through to yesterday's grass seed incident. Our most hapless dog badly scratched his cornea when bolting through meadows in pointless pursuit of a magpie, hence the most recent appointment. He's a useless patient but luckily our vet understands the stress of the examination table & the indignity of the anal thermometer, so consultations generally take place on the floor with the patient cowering & shaking while the vet soothes with gentle talk & a soft touch. The sting in the tail is that we pay through for the nose for a watery eye & wouldn't for a moment consider doing the same for ourselves. Make of that what you will....

In the meantime the weather's holding well with only a few showers this week before a fine weekend, so I'm staying positive.

Hope you are too.

See you later,



London Tonight Tonight

Good Evening.

Okay - so we're a little bit late with this tonight.

The thing is I shouldn't be writing it at all. Don't get me wrong. I'm delighted to be writing it. I want to be writing it. But it's a little hiccup in the roster that sees me sitting here this afternoon, rather than wheeling small children round the local park. This is not, I hasten to add, a fledgling service I provide for working parents. It's my children who get wheeled. I sort of feel obliged.

Anyway, onto the programme.

And for me the highlight is a story we're calling 'Flush Puppy'. I'll leave that one with you and see if you can work out what it's all about. It's likely to have leave you mouthing "you-are-having-a-laugh". And we are. Have been all afternoon, actually.

One of the things that made us smile certainly was our former deputy editor who's rolled in with her 4 week old daughter. I say former deputy editor - when she comes back from maternity leave she'll be editor. As for our new leader's new baby... Hair? Hair? I've never seen so much on a baby. Anyway, mother and daughter are doing well.

Sorry - back to the programme.

We've got another "would you believe it?" story for you (that's in addition to our 'Flush Puppy' number). A young boy called Stanley who's life has been saved by something Gortex - you may a have a kagool made out of it. Well, some ingenious doctors at Great Ormond Street hospital have used some of this weather-proof wonder stuff to mend Stanley's heart.

We'll also be asking you about Dr Beecham's proposals to shut down hundreds of train stations and thousands of miles of track. Okay, 40+ years on it's a bit late to say 'no' to all of it - but it seems there is movement to reverse at least some of it. Anyone living down in Cranleigh may be delighted to hear that train companies want to bring back your rail station.

Our top story tonight, however, is interview with the parents of Ben Kinsella. Last week his killers were sentenced to life in prison, with an instruction that they must serve at least 19 years. Perhaps, not surprisingly, Ben's parents don't feel that's long enough. After all, they have to live with the knowledge that their son was stabbed to death for no reason whatsoever. They also feel the system - that brought the killers to justice isn't working properly. Theirs is a fascinating and, obviously, moving point of view.

It's a varied programme tonight - and all the better for it.

We'll see you at six.

Ben & Katie




Dogs, Poo and Dribble are apparently the words du jour.

This is mostly because Alastair agrees with Southend Council's plan to ban dogs from beach - I disagree. He thinks they poo everywhere. I think nice dog owners pick up poo. We threw things at eachother to resolve our differences. Luckily it wasn't poo.

Unfortunately Ken has become fond of the word dribble today. I'm trying to separate the afor mentioned words from being linked with this one and suggest it may be a footballing analogy. I can't remember why he was saying dribble or in what context (I was listening, honestly!) but I'm sure he said it three times.

Not sure where I'm going with this - think I'd better raise the tone before Neil Sedaka comes in - although I think maybe, like Alastair, he could be fond of rude jokes.

No jokes until then on the show tonight though as we have to tell you more about the brutal, pointless and devastating end of two young lives. We're following the trial of the two accused of killing Meredith Kercher in Perugia where Amanda Knox is under the spotlight and grabbing headlines yet again. Then the headlines which have grabbed us all today following the guilty verdicts delivered in the Ben Kinsella murder trial yesterday. His killers- branded brutal and cowardly by the judge - have been given life sentences. But not before sticking the knife in again - actually jeering his family, who they'd already torn to bits, as their sentences were delivered. Brooke - Ben's sister - has written an eloquent letter to the papers and wishes, like many of us, that life meant life for these poor excuses for human beings. She's going to come in on Monday and talk to Alastair about how they are coping and what her hopes are for for Ben's legacy.

Also tonight - if the tube strike wasn't enough there could be a post strike too. Actually - is that really as devastating? Don't we all just email stuff now? Hmm - Marcus will deliver the verdict. Then we've got the decision on the redevelopment of Chelsea barracks - the Prince has got his way and the Al approves. Then the dog poo - which I shall skip over rather than tread in again.

Flicks with the King (Hangover and Eric Cantona's movie) both good Ken assures and Neil Sedaka no less, no mess, (dog or other) no fuss.

Right, no makeup so must go and put some on, no lunch so must get something to eat.

No more time,
See you at 6.

Alex & Alastair.
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London Tonight Tonight

Good afternoon, and isn't it? Unless you've tried to get somewhere by tube in which case it was a bit of a rubick's cube, wasn't it? You knew it was possible but it was the devil's own challenge to remember how. Which bit was working and which bit wasn't?
Well, from 7pm it will all be working, formally; informally, like my old chum the Czech puzzle, various bits will still be in the wrong place and it will take a few more twists and turns until the whole network of colour coded tube lines is replete with trains, just where they are supposed to be, and with staff to run them. Now, might that process have started a full 24 hours earlier? With the complexity of a La Carre plot, rumours are running round the Circle Line, and as far as Ongar, that suggest Bozza was to the peace talks what Churchill was to the RMS Lusitania - he got them sunk, for a greater good. Like in "Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy", there are several key suspects and Bozza is but one of them. Piers plays George Smiley in an effort to find the truth and reflects upon where we go from here. To be sure, the fat lady, who I think lives at Arnos Grove, is yet to sing - it ain't over til it's over. Factor in a senior Tory who wants to do to Bob Crow's members what Ronnie Reagan did to the air-traffic controllers in the US of A 30 years ago (look it up: it involved shackles and short-shrift!) and it gets more like "The Russia House" than "Smiley's People".
Meantime, the lovely Em plays Eliza Doolittle to Bob Crow's strikers: "Who will buy these beautiful flowers?" "No-one", says the voice of organised labour and we've a vendor who stands in wilting proof of the economic hardship wrought by the Millwall-Havana Massive. (Look at Bob's T-shirt..)
Away from this weird world of pre-Thatcherite labour relations and slumped small businesses, we find ourselves in the midst of a tragedy. A brutal murder, a beautiful actress sibling, three thugs condemned by the judge as "socially inadequate" and a brilliant campaign to sheath London's knives, too easily used by some of London's youth to kill others of that age group. It starts sadly, gets absolutely desperate in the middle but somehow manages to end on a high note. Ronke will take you through a real life soap and that is not an idle promise.
Damien has gone to Kilburn which I love for its Irish community and Edwardian architecture; but when the reasons why he'd gone there were explained I must have drifted off. Pop-up shops on the high-road appear in my notes and promises of a "good piece". That's renewed my interest but I will be watching it, with you, I trust, without preconditions - bit like Bob and the TfL negotiating teams, I suppose.
In our fizzy entertainment bit, Max has monstered even his own amazing track record - Ray Davies and Heather Graham last night - tonight the Irish band "The Script" who are Sir Paul McCartney's support on his forthcoming tour AND Samuel "BLEEP" L "BLEEP" Jackson, no "BLEEPING" less !!! The Oz went to talk to him and has spent the last few hours in the make-up room with a large bottle of Listerine and a box of Q tips. "Wash my mouth out and cleanse my ears!" she said, on her elegant return. I think she must have said: "Did you really just say "BLEEP"? Coz you can't...!" The Q tips I understand.
Robin warned of a couple of cold fronts last night. And Chrissie risks one or both of them as she journeys to Waterloo. Unless she is very late, in which case she won't make the show, she'll miss the sunset. But she'll still see the dirty old river and people, so busy, before she takes a taxi, into the night. I do hope it is not a chilly, chilly evening for any of us - especially Terry and Julie, for they are in paradise... as will I be when we see and hear a bit more of the Kinkmeister.
I am up for it, and raise the rim of my glass to my mouth to toast you a fine evening's viewing with the two of us and the team.

Alastair and Alex


London Tonight Tonight

Good afternoon.
I am back and the Oz has just slipped out for drinks. She offered coffee. I said I am a tea-man in the afternoons. Tubes of dangerously strong lager were not mentioned which I think is progress, given national traits.
I just bumped into ITN's sports maestro, Richard Pallot, on his way to interview Bob Crow of the RMT. I hope he is not in a hurry nor on edge. Bob will either be late - because he comes by Tube - or grumpy because his members' actions have forced him to come by car or bus. The roads are a bit chunky due to the industrial action his members are engaged in. But, given his strike is not as "one-out-all-out" as he had hoped, they are not quite as chunky as he had hoped and some of the tubes are running. Either way, a "grumpy" Crow seems a better than even bet. Solidarity is one of Bob's watch-words. Alas, the drivers of ASLEF - the Associated Society of Locomotive Engineers and Firemen - may be able to spell it but they don't stand by it. Their name includes "firemen" not because they are membership-carpet-baggers, signing up the people who put fires out, but because they were formed in a by-gone age when "firemen" shovelled coal on steam-trains. But their attitude to Bob's strike is a touch more C21st - not our fight, so we're going to work. The temperature is a as high as the fire-box on a Mallard. Harris is covered in coal-dust at Marylebone while Piers stands forlorn with his England scarf and muted rattle at Wembley to explain why rather a lot of footy fans won't be coming home tonight to the home of English soccer.
We'll have the Maltese connection with the foot in a wheelie bin murder; the hand-cuffs and executive jet saga; and a pop-star who has a little less jewelry to flaunt, poor soul.
Hopefully the Met won't be employing Abu Ghraid tactics in their interrogation of any suspects in this irritating heist. But some are accused of same following a drugs bust in Enfield. It is a very serious development and LVJ has been sinking his teeth, if not his head, into a bucket of watery allegations.
Then our spirits soar - Lucy is neither in the sky nor dripping with diamonds but on the chromatically challenged carpet in Leicester Square. Will it be red, will it be blue, will it have been wafted away to Bollywood? Hopefully not the latter as the delicious Heather Graham is scheduled to stroll along it, in our time, and talk to Lucy about her new movie, which sounds fun. A clash of blonde beauties! Enough to keep you tuned, I'd say. And should an elegant Englishman be your idea of eye-candy we have a giant of the genre. A dedicated follower of fashion who penned the only anthem to compete with Ralph McTell's "Streets of London", "Waterloo Sunset". He also crafted "Lola" - a darkside glance at 60s Soho which was ahead of its time and touched nerves few even admitted to in those days. Ergo, his band's name, The Kinks - he is the legendary Ray Davies and we are thrilled he'll be with us. Got you? It's really got me going, all day and all of the night. Max, our entertainments guru, and I have been joined in cerebral debate: Kinks vs The Stones, as poet-troubadours par-excellence: who best captured the 60's? We have agreed to differ though, secretly, our loyalties remain deeply engrained.
Robin, a fine example of the dedicated follower of fashion, sartorially, steps out in his unique way to risk a forecast for London - a Waterloo sunset or a lazy Sunday afternoon? I know that was the Small Faces but they were mates with the Kinks. Oh well, I can only try.
Papers will pillory Mr Crow and have Bozza "crowing" - pun entirely intentional - and that's your lot.
The Oz has got back with drinks and nuts. Maybe "tinnies" did lurk at the back of her mind, after all. She's also been interviewing Samuel L Jackson for another time. But I gather the bleeper has broken. Can't think why. He is a real star but his relationship with the English language is strictly Anglo-Saxon and in the extreme. Tie a knot to remind yourself to keep your eyes out for his appearance later in the week.
See you at six, unless she's laced my tea or unless you remain determined to travel to Wembley to see the trouncing of plucky little Andorra in a rather empty and windy stadium. I'd stick with us. It'll be 4 nil, Becks will be briefly brilliant and you won't recognise the other lot.

Alastair and Alex

Weather Blog

Good evening.

The trampoline arrived last week.

Well I say trampoline, but in fact what was dumped in the garden was a cardboard box the size & shape of a coffin. This was going to be a Matterhorn of a self assembly challenge & given that we had been driven to drink by a flat pack bicycle not long ago the signs weren't good. The delivery also coincided with our colleagues at GMTV issuing dire warnings about the dangers of trampolines & our children watched in awe struck silence as a menu of horrific injuries was discussed on the cheery breakfast sofa.

So you'll understand that confidence was low as we opened the box, but several hours & several shandies later we did it. Since then the weather has been anything but perfect for trampolining, but children pay no heed to the weather & will bounce in sun, wind & rain & it's worth remembering that we adults can also refuse to have our wings clipped by disappointing weather. So despite the insult of showers we should carry on regardless with childish enthusiasm & we may well find ourselves rewarded with warmer, sunnier conditions by the end of the week. I won't be able to enjoy the sun, however, as I'm booked to do a first aid course. Just in case....

See you later,

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London Tonight Tonight


Never a dull day ladies and gents. It's been all go since I got in so I'm currently trying to eat salad and type. It's becoming clear the one thing that's not going to be all go, or even a little bit go is the tube. I'm making a mess on the desk with my salad now.

As far as we can tell tonight's journey home is going to be a mess too, no matter what. Talks are still going on to try to avert the strike but even if they do all agree to new pay deals and promises about job cuts the Tube's been wound down to a point where it's apparently impossible to get it all up and running again at a moment's notice. So Ben's being dispatched to Embankment Tube where, no doubt many of you will be heading to try to get home before the 7pm switch off. He's going to talk to Boris too - who, it turns out promised to stop Tube strikes as part of his manifesto. See what he has to say about that. Bozza's been tweeting today about the strike. He's said there are going to be more buses and river boats and we can all get on our bikes of course like him so maybe we shouldn't run around like headless chickens and perhaps they shouldn't give into the union's demands. What do you reckon - can we cope without the tube? It'll be interesting to see if we can all go overground instead of underground and still be wombling free.

Anyhow, Phil's not free - he's been sent to Euston which is basically where the talks are going on to keep abreast of any developments. I'm not free either - I'll be in the studio to bring you the rest of the news. Actually - think there might be a few more of you watching tonight if you've all made it home before the Tube's shut down. There's one good thing about the strike anyway!

We won't worry about how we all get back in tomorrow just yet...let's move on then...

Other than the brakes being put on the Tube, we've got the super-hacker trying to fight his extradition to the States, Nick Griffin being pelted with eggs, Chrissie on a boat on the Thames and Lucy with Peter Pan.

Works for me even if the Tube won't.

See you at 6.

Alex & Ben.


London Tonight Tonight

Good afternoon.
"James and the Giant Peach", "Matilda" and "The BFG" proved Roald Dahl was a brilliant writer of children's stories. "Tales of the Unexpected" proved he was more than that and capable of holding our gripped attention, as adults, as much as that of our children. And tonight's show has more of the "Tales" to it than "The BFG" - though Arthur Smith is in later and I've always seen him as something of a big friendly giant.
Anyway, to the "unexpected".
To a degree those of you living in London and those of you living in the home counties both did a bit of the "unexpected" yesterday in the European elections. You cast your votes back on Thursday but when the Returning Officers declared what you had done, it was very different inside the Teapot, that is the old GLC bit, and the dough-nut ring that is the Home counties bit. And both not quite what was "expected". Harris counts the "X"s and reveals all.
Also "unexpected" is Gary McKinnon in what he did and why he did it. Hacking, to me, is making not a good job of the Sunday roast but to Gary it was an attempt to take a look at US defence and space information that was encoded on computers and hidden behind several cyber walls so that the likes of him couldn't succeed. But succeed he did and the Americans, less than pleased, want to throw the book at him. Odd, in the digital age of floppy discs and micro-chips they still throw "the book" at people who allegedly commit computer crime. Anyway, he doesn't want to cross the pond for a judicial natter and face possible incarceration; he's won the right to argue his case here to avoid that fearful journey. Damien went for a chat. Fascinating and rather frightening, I must say.
Not "unexpected" is the RMT threatening to disrupt the Tube in pursuit of better wages and conditions. "Unexpected" is the fact that, with a little more than 24 hours to go, they are still talking to TfL from whom they have already extracted a few concessions. But I suppose if a door is ajar, you lean. "Unexpected" is Bozza's contribution to 'peace in our time'. Phil is in the trenches.
Dr Crippen and his disguised mistress Ethel Le Neve did not expect an intervention from the Boys in Blue as they fled to Canada on an Ocean liner. "Just off for a break", I am sure the good Doctor declared, or words to that effect. But thanks to another "unexpected", the timely invention of radio by Mr Marconi, they were tracked, caught, tried and he was hanged. If the latest research from America is to be believed, however, that may have been the most "unexpected" aspect of all. Marcus plays Mr Pierrepoint for your enlightenment.
Finally, there are healthy heroes in London and we intend to find and reward them as part of our joint venture with those nice Pride of Britain award people. "Unexpected"? That there are healthy heroes? Surely not! That we are cooperating with one of Fleet Street's finest? Never!
For you, my finest friends, the sky is the limit.
Or, as Gary McKinnon discovered, "per ardua ad astra"
Latin in the blog? That is "unexpected".

Up up and away.... at 6.
Alastair and Katie.


London Tonight Tonight


It's electiontastic around here - Mary Nightingale popped her head round the door during our meeting to announce Geoff Hoon had gone - nice to get breaking news delivered in person!

But on London Tonight, we're mostly watching what's happening in Basildon. Simon Harris is there waiting to see if it's a "Labour Meltdown" and watching to see if the BNP gain seats.

The Al's in his element and is bouncing around the office between meetings. I'm watching my twitter feed for progress after just working out how to read messages - well, tweets with @alexhyndman in them. It's all a bit more complicated than I thought but I'll get there in the end.

James King is an aficionado on the twitterage so I may ask him for a few pointers later. He's in to talk movies and not just tweets. He's going to review Last Chance Harvey - the one with Emma Thompson and Dustin Hoffman which looks great and the new Terminator movie which I'm not so sure about. I did see an old Terminator movie - can't remember which one, the second I think - earlier in the week. The other half says it's a classic but seeing Edward Furlong in it looking far too young reminded me just how old I am. I remember being quite taken with him - I must have been around the same age so that's ok right? Not now obviously.

Lucy interviewed Emma Thompson on the red carpet and she was brilliant - Emma was pretty entertaining too! Lucy's not here today, she's at the Polo at the Hurlingham. I'm very jealous, bet they're having a lovely time replacing the divots a la Pretty Woman. Emma Walden's there too so will bring us a report on the posh sport's return to the capital. Neil wondered if this meant the sport could start to shake off it's upper class image. But the Al and I agree it should stick to tradition and stay snooty - think the horses prefer it that way.

Shame about the weather though. I'm sure the ladies would be enjoying stomping divots much more if they were a little less muddy. We are blaming Robin for this. The Al got a sunburnt head on Monday and today he got drenched. He's demanded Robin explain himself. He didn't manage it during the meeting but we shall put him on the spot tonight and demand the nice weather return immediately if not sooner.

Weather, movies, polo and ever-changing/developing electionage aside, we've also got the latest on the Tube strike. It's still on for next week but Lewis is watching developments there and will be able to tell us if meetings today have gone any way towards averting a strike.

Back to the movies, it is Friday after all, and Eric Cantona's on the show. But he's a footballer you say - well, yes I know this obviously but he's also an actor now. Most former players turn their hands/feet to coaching or managing or punditing but not our Eric. He's not ours but you know what I mean. He's actually gone to meet some of our promising young players in Mile End and Marcus has followed suit and will be talking to the great man about the love of the game and his new life on the big screen.

Before all that, Mike Pearse is still in France and will bring us parachuting over Pegasus Bridge and Phil Bayles is with survivors of nuclear testing in the 1950s who've been allowed to sue the government for sending them into harm's way.

I'll get back to twitter research - I'm sure it's about time I persuaded The Al to get twittering - not that he has time right now but I reckon he'd be able to rival Stephen Fry.

Breaking news - it's snowed in Essex! Robin's hitting the phone to find out after hearing a cricket match has been cancelled due to the white stuff. He sounds unconvinced. I'm due to go to the cricket on Sunday. If it's not nice by then and snow free he will be in serious trouble. Think he already is!

See you at 6 then,

Alex & Alastair.

Weather blog

Good evening,

I'm making elderflower cordial this year. A drink that sums up sunny days, balmy evenings & summertime better than any other. No sooner were the elderflowers harvested (not exactly under fire in Helmand province, but a rickety stepladder in a hedge on the banks of a stream is not without risk) than the weather went belly up. Hurtling backwards -at speed- from flaming June to April showers which look set to be with us for the next few days. Time for me to adopt one of my subtle disguises in a bid to avoid the taunts of those who'll be at weddings/playing cricket/attending the village fete this weekend in sou'westers & anoraks. The memory of the recent beautiful weather should be a comfort however it will probably only sharpen our disappointment at the current shabby conditions, but let our glasses be half full (I sense a theme emerging here); it was warm before & therefore it may well be again. A return to sweaty bus journeys & sunburn is eminently possible & in the meantime I will attempt to devise a recipe for an elderflower cordial hot toddy....

See you later,

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.
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Please note that to ensure regulatory compliance and for the protection of our clients and business,
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Thank You.


London Tonight Tonight


A spot of gardening on the show tonight. Well, I quite fancy a spot anyway. My garden in mostly paving stones but there has been an attempt at strawberries and herbs now the sun in shining. They are yet to bear fruit but it is still an exciting prospect. If you're not lucky enough to have an outside I'm told an allotment is the answer. No such thing in Oz and I get the impression they might be a bit old fashioned maybe. Well, apparently they're becoming fashionable again with parents even sticking their kids' names down on the waiting list. I imagine an allotment in London is something which gets passed on from generation to generation - if you're new to the idea, putting your kids' names down might not bear fruit anytime soon though - as Neil tells me there's a 40 year wait in some places! I wondered if there was a London Tonight allotment we could send Chrissie out to tend to - but alas, no - good idea though he reckons. Instead Chrissie has gone to see other people's allotments. I'm sure, like the Chelsea Flower Show, we shall be inspired.

Boris is hoping we'll be inspired too - to help him create a new image for London. A green one with lots of home-grown veg and flowers perhaps? Bozza, who found himself in the drink today - not hitting the bottle but hitting the water after falling into a river! Typical of the Mayor really, which is one of the reasons we love him. Mainly, he wants a new image for our great city - I don't think he needs a new image but he reckons he does. He wants us to come up with a new logo for the Capital - I do hope this doesn't turn out to be another 2012 logo fiasco. Let's hope we can find something we can all be proud of and get behind eh!?

There's more outside action today - in the shape of a butterfly garden. This show is really shaping up beautifully isn't it? This one's a memorial to a little boy who died of meningitis. Such a lovely idea which I'm sure will be the perfect place. Marcus will tell us as he's been to look around.

Lewis has a less enviable task today. He's been faced with the gruesome details of how two French students were murdered. Unmitigated evil and an orgy of bloodletting are two ways the judge described how they were killed which gives you a good idea of just how horrific the story is. What makes it worse, if that is at all possible, is that their deaths could have been avoided. Lewis and Ronke will tell us why and how. The killers have just been sentenced so we'll have details on that too and the reaction from their families.

As we hear about lives taken unnecessarily, we'll be remembering those who bravely sacrificed theirs. Mike Pearse is reporting from France for us tonight - almost 65 years on from D-Day. As veterans and their families head for Normandy to re-live those moments on the beaches, we will all be with them I'm sure.

From sombre notes to much cooler ones. The sounds of Paolo Nutini. Neil says he likes his stuff and wondered whether this was the right thing to admit - I've given my reassurances as I too have a soft spot for Paolo's musical offerings. Not sure what The Al thinks - he's more of a Stones man - but I think he'd enjoy. He's off preparing for Elections. I'll play him some when he gets back.

See his reaction - to the music not impending elections - at 6.

Alex & Alastair.


London Tonight Tonight


I've got more history homework to do today - this time it's about Postman's Park. Postman Pat - this I know about, Postman's Knock, yes, but not Postman's Park.

Google to the rescue. Well, Wikipedia to be honest. Right kids, so history of Postman's Park is basically - it's a memorial garden between King Street, Little Britain (no, not the show!) and Angel Street. It's called Postman's Park - not because postman eat their lunch there, although some probably do - but to honour the postmen who work in the sorting office nearby. There are a load of tiles (47 actually) - made by Royal Doulton no less - honouring people who've done stuff like saved kids from fires. One of those is Alice Ayers. If you've seen Closer (the play or movie starring the lovely Jude Law and the more lovely Clive Owen and some chicks called Julia Roberts and Natalie Portman) you'll recognise the name. Natalie's character takes that name as her pseudonym while working as a stripper. The park features in the movie too. It also features on our show tonight as Phil Bayles has been to explore so we'll all get a little glimpse later and more history too so I shan't spoil any more.

Sticking with movies and we've got not one, but two Hollywood stars on tonight. Not Jude and Clive but Dustin and Emma (that's Hoffman and Thompson). They're on the red carpet (which could be blue or green as the mood of planners dictates) and Lucy's there to catch up with them. Looks like a good movie - I've googled that too, need a movie to see tomorrow night and am trying to avoid being dragged to hell (thanks to Sam Raimi's scary new flick). Unfortunately, Last Chance Harvey (the movie with Dustin and Emma in) isn't out til Friday so I may end up in hell. But, reviews say you'll like Harvey if you liked Under The Tuscan Sun, Stranger Than Fiction and A Good Year. Well, as the last one (good year with Russell of the Crowe) is one of my favourites I will try to catch it next week. Until then I shall probably end up with my hand clamped over my eyes watching horror movies through my fingers.

Before that we've got the latest from Laos. Remember Samantha Orobator. She's finally had her day in court facing charges of smuggling heroin. She was in danger of being executed - but as she's pregnant she's been given life. Her family and friends are relieved and are now hoping she can serve her sentence here. Tamsin Roberts has the details on all that.

Then we pose the question - should the MMR vaccine be compulsory? That's what health officials in London want - apparently we have the lowest rates when it comes to protecting our kids against measles, mumps and rubella. They want kids to have the vaccine and prove it before being allowed into our schools. But what will parents make of that? After the worrying links to autism scared loads of mums and dads off the jab it's taking a while to get them used to the idea again. Not sure if forcing them to do it is the way forward though. Daisy Gray's been to see why health bosses think it is and what parents reckon. You'll get to have your say on this later too.

We've also got Bozza - he's been caught up in the expenses scandal, it was only a matter of time really. He's been exposed by the paper he writes for - The Telegraph - for claiming cash for a remembrance wreath as well as the full allowance for his second home in Henley. Simon Harris has heard his defence and will tell us about that.

There's also some touching news about kids heading for Harvard. They've been given the opportunity that Stephen Lawrence wasn't, thanks to his memory. Damien Steward explains that.

Hopefully that will please headmaster Stewart - who has disappeared to talk Elections - and you.

See you later then,

Alex & Alastair.


London Tonight Tonight


The Al has departed after giving me history homework. As if I don't have enough to do in the day! I was planning on a sneaky stroll in the sunshine but he's beaten me to it. So, my instructions are to google Beefeater and gentlemen at arms. I am neither hungry or after a gentleman at present let alone at arms. But I'd better do as I'm told in case I end up in detention.

So Beefeaters..Google has delivered a quote from Paris Hilton saying they must eat a lot of beef. OK. A slightly more reliable source now - Wikipedia. It says they're basically tour guides. Not actually Beefeaters at all, Al says they object to the nickname - he really does know everything.

So, their full title is The Yeoman Warder of her Majesty's Royal Palace and Fortress the Tower of London. It says they're supposed to look after prisoners and the jewels - but now not so many prisoners means they just get to show people round. Sounds like fun. It says they also wear an 'undress' which sounds a bit wrong to me - surely they're not naked. Ah, there's a picture - basically it's a uniform of dark blue with red trimming and a jaunty little hat. It's because of this uniform that I've been set history homework and am now rambling on at you about Beefeaters.

The point now - some fashion students have designed alternative outfits. I'm thinking pink and sparkly..maybe that's just for Paris Hilton. Apparently there's one idea with a raven on the shoulder, sounds a bit Bond. But I look forward to seeing them - although as Al rightly points out, they have two hopes of the Beefeaters actually changing the outfit they've worn for the last 500 and something years. Bob and No.

Right less beef and more of the show for you now. There are some parents on a school roof. Well, actually there's just one at the moment but it's the thought that counts. They're protesting about plans to change their kids school in Lewisham into an Academy with a high school as well as their primary and hundreds more kids thrown in. They're not happy and they're "shouting it from the rooftops", Neil says.

Simon's been to speak to some veterans ahead of D-Day, Lucy's been to talk to the Pet Shop Boys , Damien's has had a kinky blindfold experience on route to a gold factory and Chrissie's been sent to Woking (which is not like being sent to Coventry) for the weather.

The show starts with some breaking news about that plane which disappeared between Rio and Paris. We've just heard one of the passengers lived in the south-east. Phil Bayles has been dispatched to find out more.

So, while they all get ready to deliver that - I'll get back to my Beefeaters before headmaster Stewart returns to test me/punish me for being slack.

Look forward to seeing you at 6.

Alex & Alastair.


London Tonight Tonight

Good afternoon.
The Oz thinks Gordon Brown is poised to go into the grocery business, specifically cheese vending. He may already have done so, come to that: at our meeting, where we hone our precious offerings for you, she said the PM was "a cheese-monger". Perhaps she has an insight I do not or there may be an antipodean secret passage between her London abode and No10 Downing Street. Anyway, she went out this morning to chat to the dance troupe Diversity who most of you, according to the viewing figures, know were the winners of Britain's Got Talent. When it was observed that the PM was keen to sing their praises too, on TV this morning, the Oz blurted out her curious cheese quip. All, I am sure, will be revealed in her report. And, bearing in mind their ages, watch out for the extraordinary revelations about what the Essex ensemble have been up to in the 48 hours since their triumph. Made me smile, given I have a 16 year old son!
What didn't make me smile was the latest on the missing man whose tomato selling girl-friend was found in a pool of blood in a bath in a Parisian hotel, last week. She's dead, he's disappeared but he found time, if the Times has got it right, to phone a former girlfriend and blame the dead girl for what happened at Le Hotel Bristol. I can see David Suchet, penguin like and bedecked with his slug-on-top-lip moustache saying "The little grey cells are, how you say, perturbed". So, too, are mine so I will urge you to rely upon the excellent Nick for un petite peut du claritee....
We unveil a lot of clarity tonight about a moving story from the great days of The Few. He was the Battle of Britain pilot who steered his fatally winged Spit' away from homes and people into a field - and his avoidable death. We asked for witnesses. Amazing and moving news from Phil tonight - more of a Tiger Moth man, in truth, but that is one for those of you with an interest in aircraft and a good memory for Phil's great adventures!
Glen claimed he could play the piano and then got an attack of nerves. I may be being unfair to him but, hey, "ebony and ivory"... anyway, it seems someone has been littering the capital with Joannas, courtesy of the Big Lottery and Bozza , a tambourine man if ever there was one. We are all invited to lift our spirits with a tinkle or a scattering of scales, it seems. But what went wrong with Glen? We will accord this all the time it needs but I do remember, as a child, the horrors of piano lessons. Maybe we are guilty of revisiting some of the darker recesses of Glen's growing up. I'm hooked, in F sharp major.....
Alfred Hitchcock always appeared in his own movies and also came from the East End. Rachel marries these two facts to fabulous effect for you tonight. I always loved the cartoon outline of the great man used to front one of the many series his great work inspired. And the way he spoke like Gordon Brown, swallowing breath at the start of sentences, in that curious way. Wonder if he was into cheese, too?
Chelsea have a new manager - statistically, that is not news - they've had four in the last 2 years. But I am assured it matters so Marcus, our resident Gooner, will seek to persuade me... and you. If you are already onside, mea culpa. If you are not, it hinges on the number of opposing players between you and the goalie as the ball is passed....
I think. But, as a rugby player, I am probably wrong. But Chelsea do play in a nice colour and they did win the FA Cup.
That, I think, is that. The Oz is in the edit room cutting her piece on Diversity so I have free reign to say this will be a good programme and you won't want to miss it - especially her piece which is so much more than just a puff for a nice bunch of nice kids who are now £100k richer but still have school things to worry about...
see you at six.

Alastair and Alex.