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The Glass Box for Thursday

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Eddie Mair | 16:22 UK time, Thursday, 23 August 2007

is the place to talk about the programme's contents. If you want to talk about other things - try the handy guide in FAQ on the right. If your comment is about a previous PM - click on the Glass Box link on the right and find the right day.


  1. At 05:17 PM on 23 Aug 2007, Joan Hall wrote:

    With all the shootings going on in this country I can only thank God that the government banned guns. Who knows what would have happened if they hadn't! The ban has obviously made it really hard to get hold of a weapon.

  2. At 05:26 PM on 23 Aug 2007, The Stainless Steel Cat wrote:

    Slightly disappointed that you let a tennis story go by without getting Dot on.

    Given the lack of Welsh accents, the piece didn't half go on a long time. It's not like Mr H was a Bjorn Borg or umm, someone else who won a lot of tennis matches. (Jimmy Connor? Virginia Wade? My tennis knowledge is well out of date.)

  3. At 05:40 PM on 23 Aug 2007, Anil wrote:

    Exiled former Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif has won the right to return home as the power of his long-time adversary President Pervez Musharraf wanes.

    Oh dear me Oh deary me Oh deary me Oh deary me Oh deary me Oh deary me Oh deary me Oh deary me Oh deary me Oh deary me Oh deary me

    The Taliban has a friend called Nawaz Sharif. This guy is a murderous thug - a true Islamofascist so expect more blood curdling violence from Taliban. Hellmand Province will become a real hell hole

    This not good news for the British Troops

    Expect more casualties and grieving widows

    So there you are

  4. At 05:41 PM on 23 Aug 2007, Jules wrote:

    children with guns shooting one another in liverpool...
    GUARD SACKED for tackling drunk/abusive passenger...
    is there a link?
    the world turned upside down!

  5. At 05:48 PM on 23 Aug 2007, Karen wrote:

    Re GCSEs

    I do feel a little sorry for the students getting their results.

    I was first year GCSE and, to stand a chance of getting an A in French, I sat 12 papers. It was less a test of ability and more an exercise in endurance.
    Sciences were 3 papers each and to get an A you had to pass the first two papers at the top grade before your third paper was marked. At least you knew you'd get some mark.

    My sister was in the year below and was sitting a different exam board. She sat one paper for her maths and science exams to get an A-C grade but knew that if she failed she'd get a U. The other option was to sit a lower paper and be limited to C - E. Apparently it was harder to get a C in the C-E paper than it was in the A-C. She was a lot more stressed about her exams than I was because a bad day would mean that she may not get anything at all.

  6. At 05:52 PM on 23 Aug 2007, Keith wrote:

    This is the second time I've noticed, perhaps it happens when I am not listening, but you have started the program about 30 minutes after 5 p.m and have not acknowledged it! So PM is not live! What's going on!

  7. At 05:52 PM on 23 Aug 2007, DI Wyman wrote:

    HSE Warning...cliff walking is dangerous....well I never.....here Fido......fetch.......OH S**T...

    I am so glad for the August News...silly season....wot silly season....


  8. At 06:56 PM on 23 Aug 2007, Brian V Peck wrote:

    Wouldn't it be wonderful if Brown, Cameron et al understood that there is a direct correlation between how a society is organized/structured and human agency...Remembering that it was not that long ago that Mr MacMillian did not want the USA style/form of Capitalism imported into Little Britain as it was too 'brutal' (look it up, and a Tory PM, at that)....Hence, I would suggest now that we have it, we are reaping the rewards of it...massive inequalities and misanthropic behaviour, being the norm...


  9. At 07:38 PM on 23 Aug 2007, Julie wrote:

    When Margaret Thatcher declared there was no such thing as society she spent all her time in office working to that end. What we have now is as a consequence the sort of social neglect she made fashionable. Brian V Peck 8, I agree with all you say.

  10. At 08:02 PM on 23 Aug 2007, Dr Hackenbush wrote:

    I was never a big supporter of Tim Henman, but have certainly come to appreciate his efforts in recent years - enough to recognise that he is due the respect that John Barrett gives him. Greg Rusedski surely had greater potential in my eyes, but this did not translate into consistent achievement. (Injuries maybe play a part in that story.)

    Anyway, by my reckoning, across the decade of Henman he rates inside the top fifteen players overall. Pete Sampras and André Agassi are way up at the top of that list, with Roger Federer joining them in recent years. Few were/are in their league.

    (As a tennis follower, I managed to completely boycott PM during Wimbledon. Which is no doubt why, after a whole furore of interest, the story about who would be Labour deputy leader had totally vanished without trace by the time I could re-focus.)

  11. At 08:05 PM on 23 Aug 2007, Dr Hackenbush wrote:

    On a different story - taking a wok to the top of a cliff is surely more dangerous than using it in the kitchen. Doesn’t everyone know that?

    P.S. Heinous is surely ‘haynus’, no?


  12. At 08:05 PM on 23 Aug 2007, Brian V Peck wrote:

    Well done Julie....but perhaps I should have said..'is becoming the norm'....as I am also very well aware that not everyone is nasty and horrible to one another and go around killing/kniving and so on...but the 'social system' to my mind is not very pleasant to many millions/billions of the population.... and world wide that is..


  13. At 09:40 PM on 23 Aug 2007, Anil wrote:

    Hem Tinman is gone

    He is no more

  14. At 10:05 PM on 23 Aug 2007, orange pekoe wrote:

    The piece on the difficulty of statistical comparisons when it comes to comparing GCSE results from different years was interesting.

    This surely does not apply only to this example. Stats are constantly mis-reported and mis-used, and I've always thought some ability to at least consider where stats come from would be a handy part of the curriculum. Ideally not only in maths, find somewhere else to stick it in so that those who 'can't do maths' (in their own minds I mean) can at least learn to ask their own questions about what data lies behind the headline.

    An obvious example is "4 times the chance of [insert horrible disease] if you [insert pleasant activity]!" To decide if you should give up your 'vice', you need an inkling of the original chance: 4 times 0.01 percent still ain't a huge risk.

    But back to the GCSE story - thanks for at least trying to get an angle, and not just re-hashing the same ol' "they're just getting easier nowadays", Although there was a hint of that in some of the interviewee's reasons for the comparison problems, these were specific and factual examples.

    Each year I think it's so unfair on the cohort who just happen to be 14-16 during the latest attempt to fiddle with education - most of whom will have done their best with what they've been asked to do.

    Oh - and on the Maths grade A-C paper, whereby apparently 20% *can* sometimes be enough to pass with a C. No wonder even those with an apparently reasonable result (C) hate maths and think they can't do it when they know they probably got most of the exam paper wrong.

  15. At 10:09 PM on 23 Aug 2007, Nat wrote:

    Re ; Liverpool shooting
    Gordon says ... " those who are responsible will be tracked down and punished ".
    Would you care to tell us exactly how they will be 'punished ', Gordon ?

    Maybe a bit of ' Community Service' .... maybe a gaol sentence knocked down to a fraction of the original ?

    Best of all, we will all probably be urged to feel a tremendous amount of compassion for the real victim in all this .... the criminal !

    They'll be in Downing Street soon ... that's when things will get really interesting.

  16. At 11:37 PM on 23 Aug 2007, admin annie wrote:

    once again Tim Henman gets coverage totally disproportionate to his achievements; I have no doubt that even now some BBC sports researcher is working out how Henman can be a major factor in the reporting from next year's Wimbledon, despite having retired.

  17. At 12:27 AM on 24 Aug 2007, Dr Hackenbush wrote:

    (16) I stick by my (10), but might agree that the item didn’t warrant as much air time, in relation to important news. For balance, perhaps PM should consider some coverage on James Toseland, who is British and a World Champion, and having more success this year. Likewise Lewis Hamilton, who more of you will have heard of.

    (If Henman is gone, will the BBC finally see fit to pension off Garry Richardson?)

  18. At 01:11 AM on 24 Aug 2007, shocked wrote:

    And not a comment about the best bit!

    Now available in stereo for the froggers :-)


  19. At 08:59 AM on 24 Aug 2007, Vyle Hernia wrote:

    DIY (7) LOL.

  20. At 09:03 AM on 24 Aug 2007, More of me wrote:

    Dr. H (17) No, I haven't heard of Lewis Hamilton. Who is he? What does he do? Should I know?

  21. At 09:43 AM on 24 Aug 2007, Peter Rippon - PM Editor wrote:

    Thanks for the comments. A story we can struggle with is the annual A Level/GCSE results. The Today programme always mops up the political and school reaction. World at One then mops up anything they feel Today has missed and we are always left struggling to find anything new to say. I thought Warwick Mensell did a good turn but to be honest we had tried to get him to do the same interview last week when the A level results came out! So it was an interesting view rather than genuinely newsy.
    Audience research tells us around 2/3rds of PM listeners will have heard the Today programme so we make a point of not doing the same stories unless we can move them on. I do wonder sometimes whether we weigh this too heavily when we decide what to do. News habits online tend to show that the 'newness' of a story is actually less important.

  22. At 11:04 AM on 24 Aug 2007, orange pekoe wrote:

    Interesting to hear from Peter (21) how hard PM tries not to replicate Today stories. I think this often results in interesting views and debates being given by the interviewees you find (and convince to come on!). Sometimes this gives food for thought on a general topic other than the actual 'news', like my ramble on stats set off by the GCSE story.

    It would grate on me however to hear some obviously mangled 'angle' just for the sake of being different. I don't feel this happens often, and I suppose it would probably be a very subjective 'flinch'.

    One more thing - you are probably right that the absolute 'newness' of a story is not the be all and end all. I rarely hear every detail or absorb every
    nuance of a story the first time I hear it, so find some degree of repetition helpful.

  23. At 11:48 AM on 24 Aug 2007, Fifi wrote:

    Peter (21) : When I was being trained as a PR person ... ah, them wuz the daze ... I recall two rules of thumb taught to me by my boss, who by 2006 had gone on to become President of my chartered institute:

    1. The best news story in the world won't make it to the Telly unless it's VISUAL

    2. The most interesting story in the world won't be used unless it has something NEW in it.

    He was a trained journalist, I wasn't, so I just had to accept he knew what he was talking about. And in general, experience shows that is normally the case.

    But PM's position is unique: it's following on from 2 other current affairs programmes, on the same channel, likely to be sharing a goodly proportion of the same listeners.

    For those lucky few of us who CAN listen to R4 all day, by evening we've heard the news nearly a dozen times, clips of and quotes from the same interviews as well, and could sometimes recite the PM running order correctly before Eddie can get the words out!

    Personally, I enjoy PM's take on one of the done-to-death-but-we-daren't-not-do-it stories when you find a clever angle, or best of all when you tease out of it rather more depth and complexity than other programmes.

    Perfect example: the solicitor's justification of the proposed release of his murderer client in the UK, on the grounds that a) he's lived all his life here, knows nobody in Italy, and can't speak Italian; b) even if his victim's widow passed him in the street, they wouldn't recognise each other.

    Everyone else had focused, quite understandably, on the feelings of the victim's family (with whom we all sympathise) and the relative merits of deportation (which triggers strong feelings in many people).

    PM did something different, less obvious, and in my view better.


  24. At 12:11 PM on 24 Aug 2007, admin annie wrote:

    it has to be said, following on from Fifi's comment: so often news stories aren't particularly visual. TV news attempts to make it so, which is why we end up with so many reporters hanging around outside eg the Home Office or Westminster or the end of Downng Street or even under that revolving triangular sign that says New Scotland Yard doing a piece to camera which they could perfectly well deliver in a warm studio with proper lighting and a chair to sit on. This is one of the reasons I prefer my news to come on the radio, no-one there is trying to tart it up with a - usually totally meaningless - picture.

  25. At 12:31 PM on 24 Aug 2007, Vyle Hernia wrote:

    Well, I prefer a rotating sign to a "Bed" of musack.

  26. At 01:16 PM on 24 Aug 2007, admin annie wrote:

    rotating - that's the word I should have used, then I wouldn't have had to worry about typing revolting instead of revolving.

  27. At 05:07 PM on 24 Aug 2007, Dr Hackenbush wrote:

    (20) - If you don’t know, you shouldn’t; if you do know, you should.

  28. At 05:41 PM on 24 Aug 2007, Mr T Cornish wrote:

    With - Street gangs, Gun crime, and the ever increasing availability of cheap booze , not to mention so called recreational drugs on the one hand

    And our service men and women being stretched beyond reason in Afghanistan and Iraq on the other -

    I keep wondering returning to the idea of re-Introducing National Service.

    For those who are set on being loats - then give them one option two or three years service in the battle zone - they they can proove how hard and tough they really are.

  29. At 11:01 PM on 24 Aug 2007, UptheTrossachs wrote:

    Dr. Hackenbush (11)
    I thought I was the only one looking forward to a piece on the dangers of cooking stir-fry on cliff-tops. I'm sure Keith Floyd's done it before....

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