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Guest Editors - Lord Tebbit


Norman TebbitTuesday Editor, Lord Tebbit
Over the Xmas period the Today Programme decided to carry out an experiment. Could new faces inject some new and refreshing insight?

Lord Tebbit's prog.
Editor in action.

Editor in action...

The Conservative Party

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morning meeting

The morning meeting.
US soldier

What's the future of the army?
wheelchair access

Not always easy to get about.
view of studio

Editor's view of the programme.

'Today and I'

Whoever conceived the idea of inviting five disparate outsiders to become insiders not just watching the BBC at work, but joining with the regular staff to help produce the Today Programme was a brave man or woman. I was suprised to be invited to be a guest editor but had no hesitation in accepting, nor regrets at having done so.

My guardian, (or minder) Richard Knight, suggested I should aim for five packages to be interweaved with the more immediate news and comment items that make up a typical Today Programme.

I decided not to try to radicalise Today into a right wing Euro sceptic programme, but to try to understand both how it is put together and the people who produce it.

I think my packages all suffered from my lack of experience in briefing reporters, guests and presenters on just what I wanted to come out of each item. Creating these packages is quite different to being a participant in them, but I think I learned a good deal in a short time.

However, for me the best part of the exercise was meeting so many of the team which puts the programme together. I found them bright, interesting, humorous, suprisingly young and mostly female. Despite being clearly Guardian, not Telegraph readers, I thought them pretty open minded, agreeable company and I enjoyed working with them.

What was the worst of it? As you would expect, getting up at 4.30am. And the best? Jim Naughtie's greeting "Oh that is should have come to this. Me working for you!" I hope the Today team found something of value in the experiment too.

Hear some of his commissions...

Listen to Disabled Access:
Are government departments are going to be in compliance with their own legislation on wheelchair access. Lord Tebbit has doubtsabout this. He commissioned Todayreporter, Mike Williams toexplore said buildings with the help of a disabled reporter...

Listen to Defence Tactics:
Should we divert defence spending from "high-tech wonderplanes" and divert it instead into better human intelligence and, for example, better language training for troops who are destined to police post-conflict regions, like Iraq. Alistair Leithead package from Basra looking at how language barriers and poor human intelligence can make life difficult for soldiers on the ground... Into the defence disucssion to include General Patrick Cordingley, former commander of the Desert Rats in the 1991 Gulf War and Air Chief Marshal Sir Michael Graydon, former Chief of the Air Staff.

Listen to Corrupt Foreign Politicians:
A few weeks ago Monsieur Leotard justified putting his hand in the till by saying that "everyone does it". Lord Tebbit thinks this highlights a fundamental difference between British and Continental politicians: Brits generally don't break the law, Continental MPs do so all the time. Frederick Forsyth agrees and articulates the Tebbit view in a short essay. <this could not run because of time contraints but is on the website> This went out in the form of a discussion between Gisela Stuart MP and Marc Roche, London correspondent for Le Monde.

Listen to Corporte Christianity:
Over the Christmas season, as ever, one hears a lot of moaning from Christians that this celebration of the birth of Christ has, in fact, become a festival of commercial greed. But are Christians looking at this the wrong way? Could the Church in fact do with a little commercialisation itself? Bishop of Southwark,Tom Butler, says you can't really compare the Churchto a big commercial enterprise.Graham Harding is a founder director of The Value Engineers - a marketing consultancy. He will say that the church should incorporate marketing principles to attract more church goers.

Listen to Gender Controversy:
Just before Christmas the Lords debated the 'gender recognition bill', the purpose of which is to recognise the changed gender of transsexuals. This would include changing birth certificates if you've lived as the opposite sex for two years. Lord Professor Chan thinks the bill raises lots of problems and is not sufficient as it stands: you are born with a certain sex genetically, and if you are choosing something as drastic as changing your birth certificate you must be convinced you are of the opposite sex - ie you should have an operation. Followed by Lord Filkin.

Listen to Lord Tebbit's thoughts:
Lord Tebbit talks about her experience of editing the Today Programme.

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