Talk about Newsnight


1968: "The Doors" mistaken for political extremists

  • Paul Mason
  • 28 May 08, 08:39 AM

doors_203152.jpgThe anti-Vietnam war demonstration of March 1968 was a turning point in post-war politics: it turned violent right in front of the world's media; the police were shown throwing punches into the faces of already arrested students, and in general losing control. The police files from that event are considered too sensitive to release. But Newsnight has obtained, under Freedom of Information, a stack of police files relating to the much bigger anti-war demonstration of October that year. Watch tonight: they tell a story of rising panic in the establishment: the creation of Britain's first bomb squad; an intelligence feedback loop between Special Branchand the press that ramped up the tension; and, farcically, the rock group The Doors being mistaken for a group of foreign revolutionaries...

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Blogging - a new era

  • Newsnight
  • 18 Apr 08, 05:49 PM

blog203.jpgAs many of you who've used the BBC's blogs will know, it has for some months been a deeply frustrating experience, not just for you but for us too.

The point of blogging about our programmes is to have a swift and informal conversation with our viewers. That's impossible if it takes hours to get your comment or our response through.

I'm relieved to say that as of yesterday we have a new system which should be much more robust and which I hope will usher in a new era of blogging for Newsnight.

One change is that in order to comment you'll need to register by filling in a simple form.
Once signed up, you'll be able to comment on any BBC blog using the same login.

Many of you have already commented on how it's working and one or two have suggested it's designed to introduce more censorship.

That's certainly not our intention. The aim is to encourage much more open discussion about the programme and much more interaction with the programme-makers. I'm sure it isn't perfect and that you'll let us know how it could be improved.

Thanks very much to all those contributors - the Bob Goodalls, Barrie Singletons, Mistress76UKs and many others - who have persevered through all the blog problems. Apologies for all the Error 502s, and welcome to the new era.

Blog fix imminent

  • Newsnight
  • 16 Apr 08, 04:32 PM

Blog closed temporarilyFrom 1800 this evening (UK time), we'll be doing some essential maintenance to the blog. As a result of this, you won't be able to leave any comments on our blog posts from that time until Thursday morning and the comments function on all old posts will close. We apologise for any inconvenience.

The work will fix the very frustrating problems we've encountered for some time now with the whole comments system.

From Thursday a new system will be in place - this will mean you will need to complete a simple registration form in order to post a comment on the blog. Once signed up, you will be able to comment on all BBC blogs using the same login. There will be more details in the morning. In the meantime - if you wish to comment on the programme you can email us via

Blog problems - a solution is nigh

  • Newsnight
  • 10 Apr 08, 11:40 AM

blog502error.jpgAnyone who regularly reads the Newsnight blog will know that we have suffered from a series of technical problems for some time now. Comments disappear, the dreaded 502 'not available' message appears, and multiple copies of comments get submitted in error. (More on the problems here.)

Well, to much relief (not least here at Newsnight), a solution is about to be unveiled.

In the very near future the comments system that causes all the problems is being replaced by a BBC-wide system.

Under the new system, anyone wishing to leave a comment will need to sign in - a relatively swift and painless affair that comes with the added bonus of enabling you to leave your thoughts on blogs and message boards across all BBC websites.

Finally, we hope to revamp and relaunch the whole Newsnight blog shortly, with more bloggers, more variety, and the odd bit of video thrown in. But one step at a time...

We'll update you on the changes next week.

Gabriela Montero - improvising your suggestions live

  • Newsnight
  • 14 Feb 08, 03:48 PM

Gabriela MonteroClassical improvisation was a serious art for masters such as Beethoven and Liszt, and Venezuelan pianist Gabriela Montero is fast proving it is not a lost art.

Montero can take whatever suggestions she is given and turn them into fully formed compositions, drawing on jazz, tango and even blues.

For Newsnight, she has set herself a challenge: on Tuesday's programme Gabriela will perform an improvised live piece based on your suggestions.

In the past she has improvised around classical works from Vivaldi, crossed Bizet with Scott Joplin and played Bach in the style of Italian pianist Busoni. Her repertoire also includes more eclectic inspirations - the Archers theme tune, Gloria Gaynor's I Will Survive, Christmas carols and even football chants have been woven into pieces. She is also happy to use abstract themes - weather, moods, seasons - as leitmotifs. Listen to Gabriela’s take on Vivaldi’s Summer and Winter (courtesy of EMI Classics)

Below are the suggestions you sent for Gabriela to improvise around - but which one will we choose? Watch Newsnight on Tuesday to find out...

Newsnight wins out over nookie

  • Stephen Smith
  • 13 Nov 07, 07:11 PM

It would be easy to be wounded. The BBC's flagship late-night round-up has been slightingly compared to other things that red-blooded Brits might care to devote themselves to as the long evenings draw in.

corrie_203100.jpgYes, as hard as it may be for regular viewers to credit, Newsnight has been cast as some kind of milk-and-water alternative to a bit of how's-your-father.

And we've been on the receiving end of this calumny not once but twice!

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What's the future of the BBC?

  • Newsnight
  • 17 Oct 07, 11:17 AM

thompson203100.jpgOn Wednesday BBC director general Mark Thompson submits plans for the corporation's future to the governing body, the BBC Trust.

Staff will hear of his proposals on Thursday - but it is rumoured they will include up to 2,800 jobs cuts as Thompson attempts to deal with a £2bn budget shortfall caused by a smaller than hoped-for licence fee settlement.

BBC News and factual TV - which makes programmes such as Planet Earth - are expected to bear the brunt of the cuts. The corporation may even sell Television Centre, its landmark west London studio complex.

What do these changes mean for the future of the BBC? Has it become too big - does its influence across television, radio and online need to be curbed? Or is there a risk that more staff cuts, especially in news and documentaries, may damage the BBC's central purpose - public service broadcasting?

The James MacTaggart Memorial Lecture

  • Jeremy Paxman
  • 24 Aug 07, 07:30 PM

Never mind the scandals: what’s it all for?

paxo203.jpgOh dear. What a terrible trade we work in. Blue Peter is bent. Five is a faker. Richard and Judy’s competitions give a glorious new meaning to their slogan ‘You say, we pay.’ (They did, to the tune of hundreds of thousands of pounds.) Big Brother gets castigated for being an exploitative freak show. (Sorry, what’s the story there, then?) The ITV press office misrepresents a documentary. Channel Four’s Born Survivor Bear Grylls turns out to need Room Service. Even Children in Need, and Comic Relief, turn out to be guilty of something worse than insufferable smugness. The Prime Minister is mad at us. Even the Queen is cross. And that great Alpha Male, Gordon Ramsay can’t even catch his own fucking fish.

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Newsnight solves Hendrix Welsh national anthem mystery

  • Newsnight
  • 28 Feb 07, 10:49 AM

Tonight on the eve of St David's Day Newsnight will reveal the identity of the mystery guitarist.

On January 2 2007 we broadcast a distorted version of the Welsh anthem played in the style of Jimi Hendrix's Star Spangled Banner. Apparently the tape had been discovered in an abandoned recording studio. One of the other artists on the tape was a Welsh friend of Jimi Hendrix called Viv Williams. Tantalisingly they had been seen together in a pub next to the studio the week before Hendrix died. Could this be Jimi's lost last recording or perhaps Viv Williams paying homage to his friend? Newsnight viewers were sceptical.


Some claimed that the whole episode was a hoax and that the real guitarist would turn out to be the late Tich Gwilym or any of the Welsh bands who have been known to play distorted versions of "Mae'n Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau". We have found the real Viv Williams and can reveal what happened the night the track was recorded.

In the meantime here's a list of likely candidates - who do you think it was?

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Welsh Haze

  • Newsnight
  • 3 Jan 07, 04:57 PM

Tich GwilymSo if it wasn't Jimi Hendrix jammin' the Welsh national anthem who was it?

Yesterday you were all very sceptical that the man hailed by many as the greatest rock guitarist ever to have lifted a plectrum was behind this - a kind of Electric Ladyland of My Fathers if you will.

Many suggested
that it is actually by Wales' own guitar legend Tich Gwilym (pictured), who died in a house fire in 2005. Others strenuously refute this - not least our own Jones - producer Meirion.

So is it Tich? Does anyone out there know?

Are women funny?

  • Newsnight
  • 14 Dec 06, 11:06 AM

Ruby Wax takes on Christopher HitchensOn Wednesday's programme comedienne Ruby Wax took on writer Christopher Hitchens over his thesis in Vanity Fair that women are not as funny as men.

There are caveats to Hitchens' theory - that larger women, Jewish women and lesbians can be funny - but on the whole he suggests men are naturally more funny as women have the serious business of childbirth and childcare to occupy them, while men use humour to attract them.

You can watch the whole debate here - with Jeremy playing referee - and give your thoughts on the subject below.

In search of Chuck Berry

  • Stephen Smith
  • 11 Oct 06, 05:06 PM

chuck_duck203300.jpgTo many, he's the king of rock 'n' roll. He's also its first outlaw.

Chuck Berry, the original hip gunslinger of the guitar, turns 80 next week (18 October) and axe-fancying Newsnight supremo Peter Barron sent me to St Louis, Missouri, in search of the great man. But Chuck's reputation goes before him and we knew we wouldn't get him on a plate. He is possibly the least biddable man in showbusiness - no mean distinction. Allow me to direct you to the excellent Berry rockumentary, Hail, Hail Rock 'n' Roll, in which the guitarist has a full-scale stand-up row with Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones over how to set an amp. It's not often that Keef makes you feel protective towards him but he has your sympathy here, as he patiently explains to his hero that turning the thrashed Marshall stack up to 11 is all well and good for putting Chuck in the moment but won't be so pleasing on the ear of posterity.

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