11/09/2012 Newsnight


In-depth investigation and analysis of the stories behind the day's headlines with Jeremy Paxman.

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The examination system in England and Wales is supposed to be an


independent measure of what our young people have learned in school.


What credibility does it still have?


In Cardiff, the Welsh Education Minister says he wants GCSE exam


results regraded. The chair of the Education Select


Committee in London says he just wants to find out what's happened,


and meanwhile, the victims, or survivors of the exams, want to


know they have been treated fairly. The havoc causeded in Italy by


London banks, we reveal the way they sold almost incomprehensible


financial products to Italian local authorities, and sank them further


into debt. TRANSLATION: People need to wake up to what is going on or


nothing will change. Banks threaten to take their capital out of


countries if regulation comes in, but we need regulation, because


these banks are plundering society. Reader, I divorced him, is it time


the law was changed to limit the settlements when marriages fall


apart? It has been 50 years, but at last The Weirdstone of Brisingamen


of fantasy fiction is complete. What took the author, Robert Garner


so long. I had enough of the two main character, I loathed their


guts, because I had lived with them for eight years, and they hadn't


moved on and I had. The secondary school examination


system is a shambles, discuss. For various politicians and officials


invited to answer this question gave different answers today. The


Welsh Education Minister has ordered a regrading of the GCSE


papers, the English being the case in point. His counterpart in


England refuses to do so. The issues raised in fairness, about


the rising standards, the vested interest in teacher unions, the


regulation of the examination boards, about the nature of


Government in a devolved system, are of post-graduate level


complexity. I'm going in for my test now, it


will be my eighth time, I'm not going to say I'm going to pass, I'm


just going to say to myself I will try. Since Maureen shot to fame in


Driving School, the national pass rate for driving tests has rarely


changed, confidence in the system is high. Very different from GCSEs,


where it seems this year examers without telling students or


instructors, suddenly made the test harder to pass. Today the Education


Select Committee was trying to find out how and why. Basically you


should have had enough data and information to do this. You were


already alert to the problems. Some how, we still find ourselves


sitting here today. That must mean that you have failed somewhere to


do what you should do in order to anticipate it. That's the


allegation. I understand, the position is, as ever, a little bit


more complicated than it first appears. So the foundation teir


paper, of course it is an examination paper, an examination s


is, by their very nature, different. A GCSE is not a driving test, but


it is also testing basic skills, some would argue, the use of


language. The paper, which on the face of it seem pretty straight


forward, the marking has become complicated. Partly because of the


new exam, but also because Ofqual has demanded comparable results,


those that are on a par with previous years. It appears Ofqual


intervened this summer, telling examers where to draw the lines.


Ofqual's director of standards wrote to the Exam Board, worried


the proportion of pupils awarded a C grade, would be 8% higher than


predicted. They said it may require them to move grading boundaries


more than required. The Exam Board fought back with their own analysis.


They believed it to be compelling evidence that their award was fair.


They didn't believe a further revision of the grade boundaries


was justified. They did move their boundaries, though, as did the


other boards. Many thousands of students got D were their teachers


had predicted a C. We are, I think, in an uncomfortable position, in


fairness terms. To cut you off, we have limited time left. I'm sure


you are in an uncomfortable position, but this is about young


people who sat this exam last year, who might not have achieved the A


they received for future university prospects, or the C they needed in


order to go forward and change their next studies. So, you


actually acknowledge that it is not fair, some people got lucky, and it


was tough on the rest. I'm not saying it was tough on the rest. We


had a very careful look at June aid warding, June awarding of right.


Michael Gove has often said he wants exams to be tougher, Glenys


Stacey, whom he appointed, has denied any political interference.


In Wales everything's different, the Education Minister's ordered


GCSEs, set by the Welsh boards, to be regraded. Many in England sat


those tests too, nothing will change for them. The academic, most


critical of grade inflation, says this is dangerous deadlock. Most


people's intertation of what a GCSE grade tells you about a person,


whether they are qualified to go on to further study, or other things


that employers might interpret from those grades, are just not


consistent. You get one grade if you happen to live in England and a


different grade if you happen to live in Wales, even though you did


exactly the same exam, and it was marked the same way, and everything


else about it was the same. I just can't see it surviving that.


driving test has an absolute standard, there are no limits on


how many people can get through each year, using limits, through


comparable GCSE outcomes, is at the heart of the problems. Some say if


you want to limit achievement, raise the standard, don't limit how


many have passed. I'm sorry you have been unsuccessful. I will be


speaking to two students who took the GCSE English exam in a moment.


First, let as talk to the Welsh Education Minister, Leighton


Andrews. You have asked for a regrading. How many students do you


believe were unfairly treated? don't know the exact figures, but


we suspect it will reach into hundreds in Wales. So, in order to


make thatle kalation, you know where you suspect the boundary --


calculation, you know where you suspect the boundary was. We had a


thorough report from officials that looked at comparative performance,


year on year, in Wales. There has been less change in terms of the


exam specifications in Wales, than perhaps there has been in England.


We think the boundary was, will have to move, we suspect it will


result in a regrading, which will lift grades by, maybe, 2.5%,


compared to what we had. How should it move, from what to what? What we


are looking at, really, is the question of what levels the


different grades should be set at. There has been too much focus on


what happened in January and what happened in June. The real issue is


what's going on around what is known in regulatory jargon, as


comparable outcomes. The idea is, if you change exam specifications


in a year, there should not be significant shift in the overall


outcomes. Now, we don't believe that this year's results have seen


that happen in Wales. We believe we have had something rather different


from that. You know perfectly what is being said, it is that you are


demanding this regrading, because, particularly under your regime, but


for several years now, education in Wales has been getting worse and


worse and worse and that is shown up in international surveys. What


you're trying to do, is to massage the figures? You could argue that,


Jeremy, if I was asking for a regrading in every Sue subject, in


every GCSE. I'm focusing on one area where there is a problem. It


is widely acknowledged there is a problem in GCSE English language.


Michael Gove says the results are probably unfair. Head teachers


throughout England and Wales say they are unfair. The Northern


Ireland Education Minister has also asked for an inquiry into what has


happened in one part of the exam system there. I think there is


general recognition, there is a specific problem with relation to


English language. But you accept that there may be other subjects in


which it may be necessary, at some point, to demand a regrading?


in this year. We think these are exceptional circumstances, it is


not just us saying this. As I said, Michael Gove has said he thinks the


results may have been unfair. But we have got head teachers in the


state sector, we have head teachers in the private sector, all saying


there is a problem with English language this year.


If the outcome at the end of all of this is separate systems in England


and Wales is that a good or bad thing? There is a separate system


in Scotland, of course. The GCSE and A-levels are a three-country


system, Northern Ireland, England and Wales much the Northern Ireland


Education Minister, and I, have written jointly to Michael Gove,


expressing our concerns about the number of statements he has made


about GCSEs and A-levels. So, my question was, is it a


desirable outcome if the end point of all of this is separate systems


in England and Wales, the implication of your answer is, no,


not necessarily? We have a proper qualifications review under way in


Wales, which we start some months ago. That will report later this


autumn. It has taken evidence from a wide variety of people throughout


the United Kingdom, including the university sector. We are building


up an evidence base, we will look at what they say. Thank you. We are


joined now about two student who is find themselves either side of the


great schism, Dakota Clarke who sat a GCSE in January, and Jack Coates


who sat in the summer, and didn't. With them is the head of the


Education Select Committee. Tell me what happened, then? We had been on


task for our Cs, we had all worked very hard, we had put a lot of


effort in, and when we opened our piece of paper and we saw we had


got a D. Were you shocked? Very shocked and disappointed. You,


sounds a bit rude, you scraped a C, effectively? Yeah. Were you


pleased? I was very pleased. what do you think would have


happened had you had to sit, that was in January, had you had to sit


this summer, what would have happened? D. Probably and D or an E.


You are a pretty lucky guy? Yes. you think you have been unfairly


treated? Definitely. What has been the effect of not getting the C you


wanted? I'm now set back a year, I have to go back to college just to


retake my English so I can get my apprenticeship. You were going to


get an apprenticeship, dependant on getting a C in English. You didn't


get it, so you have to wait a year and retake the exam and get it then,


we hope. That is a serious consequence, isn't it? Yeah.


anyone explained to you, your teachers, about what might have


happened? The teachers said I should have had a C as well. There


was 19 kids in our school that didn't get the Cs. Your teachers


might not have known, but they were wrong. What do you feel about the


exam system now? I think it is wrong they have changed them from


January to June, I think they should have starteded it from the


beginning of this year, then it would have been fair for all the


kids in year 11, last year. You are not disputing that they had a right


to change the standards? No, I don't think they had the right to


change it. You don't? No. But you have just said the argument was


about timing? Yes. What do you make of all of this, you are having this


big inquiry? It is a good thing to bring in those at the centre of it,


young people, working hard, feeling disappointed. Trying to get to the


bottom of it, a whole series of things has come together. The


design of this exam, all the English exams this year were new,


they were designed on this modual later basis, so you could take them


in the year rather than linear events. Certain amounts of marks


were allocated by the teachers to the pupils. Because of the nature


of it, teachers thought they knew where the grade boundaries were,


the exam bodies say there was a boosting of that marking,


overmarking, perhaps informed by teachers who thought they knew


where the boundary was. They were tending to offer higher marks. You


have all this complexity. And within a system that's described


that way, you have bigger variability than normal. Some


schools have done much, much better than expected, others have done a


lot worse, and no-one this morning, we had head teachers, the


professional bodies, and the regulator coming in, nobody could


explain why there is huge turbulence and vairyabs in the


system, which has -- variables in the system, which has left young


people, still in schools, suddenly out of favour. You said your


teachers predicted a C, I said to you it is possible the teachers


were wrong. Clearly they were wrong in many cases, because of the day


of reckoning? In the end they were wrong, they were right until it was


changed at the last minute. I see, you think the teachers were


predicting on the basis of what they knew, not on what happened? Is


that possible? Ofqual said typically schools overpredict. Last


year they thought that 77% of people would get an English GCSE C


or above. It is not unheard of. It is just the number of schools and


the extent to which they were out from their expectation seems to be


higher. There is work going on to try to understand that. Overall, if


you control who took the exam this year, they do this comparable


performance stuff. If you look at who took it, and previous


achievements, actually, Ofqual, say, people on average, did better this


year than last year. Throw that into the mix and it is complicated


to work out the result. Meanwhile, you have lot of confidence in the


general public and amongst schools, and young people wondering


whether...Do You have faith in the examination system? I would not


allow this very poorly-constructed exam, which, as it happens, was


instigated by the last Government. There was warnings about the MoD


later nature of it, and warnings about the controlled assessment of


it. They preed ahead of it anyone, when the then minister was pressed


repeatedly by the current schools minister, she said Ofqual will have


to deal with it. Ofqual and the young people find themselves in the


middle of a predictable car crash, and we're trying to find out what's


really gone on. Jack could be regraded if he was in Wales, yes or


no, should Michael Gove argue for regrading in England? We need a


better understanding, first, and secondly, I would caution the


minister in Wales and elsewhere. You do not do young people a


service by allowing the careless devaluation of the currency


overtime. That is neither a yes nor a no. Now the euro crisis chapter


73. Its causes had nothing to do with us, say faintly smug-sounding


Britains. Not so fast, the Italian legal system is pouring over claims


that local authorities there were sold financial products, by banks


based in London, which they didn't, couldn't have, understood.


Newsnight has discovered that whistleblowers within those banks,


who highlight what had they felt when mis-selling, were fired. Their


complaints that the FSA routinely ignored them. This is a tragedy of


operatic proportions, of London- based banks making massive profits


on inappropriate deals in Italy. With a cast of characters speaking


exclusively to Newsnight. We reveal the role the City of London has


played in pushing Italy to the brink. On the surface it was a


great deal. The Italians thought they would get money for free.


Whistleblowers are telling Newsnight about the culture of


greed in London banks, and an Italian hero speaking in his first


TV interview, bought the British banks without any intervention from


the regulator. TRANSLATION: I saw no intervention into banks. As the


euro zone limps from crisis to crisis, the consequences of this


scandal may be more than financial for all of Europe. We will have a


The home of opera, and gel lat toe, is turning sour, its debt levels


are as high as Greece, GDP is shrinking, and a bail out looms. It


may be straut that breaks the federal back. Apart from inventing


banking, the Italians invented opera, the most famous one is here


in Milan. It needed extensive renovations about ten years a it


was funded from London investment banks. There were very good deals


to be had, too good to be true, in fact.


Investment banks invented something far more creative and profitable


than opera, called, "derivatives", these perfectly formed financial


policies were a great way to borrow. Some of them sought less well


protected customers, being banned from selling to the British


customer. Here is how it worked, the region would issue a bond and


borrow money, which would be bought by the investment bank, who would,


in turn, sell it on to other banks. That is the easy bit. Banks offered


to manage the repayments of that bond, by selling a derivative,


called a swap. Built into the fine print was clause that is put tax-


payers on the hook for complicated failures by the banks in London.


The banks would say customers were aware. In one case an Italian


region had been unwittingly sold a swap, the fine print would mean


that it, not the bank, would have to pay out if Greece ever defaulted


on its debts. Something that has come to pass. It wasn't just Milan,


the financial engineering spread to every corner of Italy, even


universities and hospitals. On the surface it was great deal. The


Italians thought they would get money for free. They would get


advance money to be repaid in decades to come. They didn't have


the technical capacity to analyse those deals. Often times they


depended on expert and financial advisers, who were, in fact, paid


by the banks so. Their counterparts. Who had no incentive to protect the


interests of the Italian authorities. They ended up taking


on risks that are much higher than what was appropriate for them, and


taking risk that later on, you know, could lead to even bankruptcy.


irony is, that the federal Government in Rome actively


encouraged its cities and regions to borrow directly from London-


based investment banks. Idea was to get the borrowing figure for Rome


down, in order to join the euro. Between 1997 and 2007, borrowing


from regional Italian Governments, went from zero to 111 billion euros.


The banks didn't bet on the land specialist, Alfredo Robledo. In his


first television interview, he told how he realised his city was liable


for billions to London banks, and doggedly pursued them, despite


their secretive ways. TRANSLATION: Their behaviour wasn't honest or


transparent T allowed them to make profits that orderly would never


have been possible. Afterwards, they refused to show us their


records, or what they had earned. Politicianings across Europe need


to face this challenge, and people need to wake up to -- politicians


across Europe need to face up to this challenge and people need to


wake up or it won't change. Banks threaten to take capital out of


countries if regulation comes in, but we need regulation, these


companies are plundering society. Having, at first, ignored him, the


investment banks, UBS, Deutsche Bank, and JP Morgan, changed tack,


when Robledo's team raided offices and locked staff out of buildings


they were working in. After two years of stone walling, they paid


Milan a settlement of half a billion euro, and Tory up the


contracts without -- tore up the contracts without affirming guilt.


If Milan, the most wealthy part of the country, can have these land


mines in the small print. What about the poorest part of Italy,


like kal labia and Sicily. -- Calabria and Sicily. Parts here are


like a different country, just a few metres in the main road in


Palermo, people sell their belongings, in a makeshift market


to get a few extra euros. Sicily borrowed 2.5 billion euros from


Nomura, using a risky swap to manage the repayments. Now these


derivatives have helped bankrupt the region, which needed a 400


million euro bail out in July. Unemployment in places like this is


can reach as high as 90%. The vast majority of people are dependant on


the region and the city and the state for their living. But all are


broke. It isn't helped by the fact that they unwittingly signed


contracts with London-based banks, which put tax-payers and citizens


on the hook for hundreds of millions of euros. Five miles and a


world away from the slums, the new Mayor of Palermo says he's cleaning


up after a decade of corruption, including some deals followed with


foreign banks. We are speaking of the same banks, who are responsible


for the world international crisis. They destroyed with street crime


many of the financial systems in the world. One of these street


crimes was in Sicily. The mayor doesn't hold back with criticism


over one previous officials. One is in jail for his ties with the Cosa


Nostra. He also had ties to offshore bank accounts, and


millions in "facilitation fees" were paid by Nomura bank.


Supposedly to make Italy sign these lucrative contracts. Politicians


and middlemen and bankers, could, in Italy, according to mayor


Orlando, have far-reaching consequences. If we don't counter


with a real strong activity, with a great intervention of the national


Government, there is a risk we will have a social revolt, and the civil


# Why didn't anyone do something in the face of what appears to go


obvious mis-selling. Some people did put their heads above the


parapet, one senior banker told Hes are also informed the FSA,


after he was forced out of his job. But the bank and employment


tribunal refused to rk him as a -- recognise him as a whistleblower,


which would have been recognised under UK law. Despite the laws to


protect whistleblowers, Newsnight has revealed a startling fact, not


saiingle bank has been published for forcing out individuals for


highlighting concerns within his or her bank. The FSA has form, this


man, John, also blew the whistle on a London investment bank on a


different matter, he too was fired. Speaking exclusively to Newsnight,


he was portrayed as a malcontent by his bank for highing problems with


them. You got hired for blowing the whistle, what kind of modus opprand


da do banks have with a whistleblower? Nobody wants to


admit they didn't do their job, an unholy alliance will kick in, want


to go bad mouth the whistleblower as a poor perform former.


John wrote to the FSA and the watchdog wrote back saying they


wouldn't act on the information and saying never contact again. The FSA


say inaction has been the central theme of the financial crisis, many


accuse it of being too close to banks a watchdog who slumbered,


instead of barking or biting. TRANSLATION: The role of the FSA


has been very much in the spotlight, I think the banks, if they were


able to, would reduce the FSA's powers. In terms of the


surveillance of the FSA of London banks, I saw no evidence of them.


The FSA conceded that no bank had been ever sanctioned for firing a


whistleblower, and they couldn't comment on individual cases.


Back in Italy, the banks at the centre of the derivative story face


civil and criminal action against them from several cities and


regions. Some of these regions have stopped repaying the banks until


the cases are settled. All the banks approached by Newsnight


refused to answer any of our questions, many didn't wish to


comment in light of on going criminal proceedings. All deny


wrongdoing. There can be few more painful


experiences than divorce and the acceptance of failure. The American


actor Robin Williams once remarked that the word comes from the Latin


for "to rip out a man's genitals through his wallet". But who is


entitled to expect from it? What are they entitled to it. The body


who is supposed to keep the law up- to-date is wondering whether there


might not be better ways of dealing with the financial aspects of the


end of a marriage. There was a time when the happy


couple said "till death do us part" on their wedding day and meant it.


The stigma of divorce ensured there was little option. But the number


of divorces really began to rise in the early 1970, and by the mid-


1990s, a third of couples were untying the knot before their 15th


anniversary. The latest figures show there were 120,000 divorces in


2010. It is only recently the divorce


settlements of the superrich and stars making the headlines. Former


spouses have a legal responsibility to each other's financial needs. It


is not clear what on earth that means. The Law Commission for


England and Wales compares divorce judges to, a bus driver who has


been told how to drive the bus, but has not been told where to go, nor


why he's to go there. The commission proposes three main


options for reform. Compensating people until they reach the kind of


standard of living they would have been enjoyed had they not made the


career and childcare decisions The commission says it doesn't like


the Scottish system, where support after divorce only lasts for three


years. To discuss the whys and where fors


of divorce law, I'm joined by Baroness Ruth Deech, chair of the


bar standards board, and Jeremy Levison a practising divorce lawyer,


who has acted in many high-profile divorce cases. What has gone wrong?


I have been writing about this for 35 years, the message has finally


got through. The current law is unfair, unjust, uncertain,


expensive, and causes enormous bitterness. It has no principled


basis to it at all. Ever since divorce was changed to be, in


theory, without fault, and men and women are equal, tough ask yourself


why should one support the other when it has broken down. Every time


I have lectured on this, I have had hundreds of letters from members of


the public, pouring out their hearts, and protesting on how their


life savings have been taken away and the bitterness that has


accompanied what is a very easy divorce law. Is it unfair to one


gender rather than another? theory the law is equal, but the


courts bend over backwards to favour women, to such an extent


that arguably it undermines women's independence in the world of work.


Because the judges, they are trying to be helpful, they see women as


housewifes who have sacrificed an awful lot, and couldn't possibly --


housewives who have sacrificed an awful lot and couldn't fend for


themselves. When you look at the proposal, I suppose you are against


them because it is bad for business? I don't think they are of


any great relevance at all in the context of what we are talking


about. I thought I might start by reading you two-and-a-half very


short passages from this report, which extends to 131 pages. "this


project is not a full review of this area of the law. Our task now,


in addition to our work on marital property agreements" the Law


Commission has been looking at prenups in the venacular for some


time now. "it is therefore to consider needs in the law and


financially generally, and to consider also of the status of the


non-mat moanal property". Is there much more? "whether there is


widespread dissatisfaction with outcomes is unclear." So the report


itself, quoting from it, really, already, raises doubts as to


whether we have a problem to deal with. You wouldn't deny we have


become the divorce tourism capital of the world? I would deny that. We


have of a divorce law that in its present form, more or less. Is it


true? Women come here because they know they will get much, much more


here than elsewhere. By and large, until very recently, they have been


able to rip up the prenups. What is going on is really bad. People are


very unhappy. My main fear now is the Law Commission will shy away


from it. Governments don't like to touch this, because it brings up


all the moral arguments. They are making very heavy weather of it, we


could easily move to the Scottish model, quickly, which isn't bad at


all. Main thing is to avoid expense, there is lots of cases where the


assets are worth, say, �1 million, half of that is spent on legal fees.


The formula in the report today is working it out on the Internet and


get an idea of what you might get. Saving fees. Putting people out of


business? Too bad. The Government might like it, because Legal Aid is


being removed, and the courts will be clogged up with self-


representing litigants if we don't sort the law out.


That is not what the report is doing, it is very, very narrowly


based. It suggests there might possibly be a formula to calculate


how needs can be assessed on an on going basis. It is worth trying,


isn't it? The problem with any formula is if has tried before and


failed. It doesn't work. Take Germany, for example, they codified


their law, they thought 100% in the civil code. They then had to


provide exception after exception, now they rely on case law to sort


out the gaps. In Canada it work, in America it has been proposed and


all over continent nepbl Europe, they have a straight forward --


continental Europe, it they have a straight forward way of dividing


assets. It wouldn't matter if you had a brilliant lawyer like Mr


Levison here, or a less brilliant lawyer, it wouldn't depend on that,


it would be a straight forward form la, saying you were married for X


number of years. That is one of the -- formula, saying you were married


for X number of years. I would love if he was on my said, point is you


would get certainty, you wouldn't wait tens of thousands fighting


over assets that aren't worth that much. This report isn't dealing


with assets, but on going needs. For the most part it is dealing


with maintenance requirements, after a divorce breaks down. Why


should a woman who divorces someone be supported for the rest of her


natural life in figures of hundreds of thousands or millions of pounds?


The present law, it says in section 25 of the 1973 act, it says a wife


is entitled to receive maintenance for as long as she needs it. Until


she can adjust to having her maintenance removed from her,


without suffering undue hardship. Within the whole thrust of the


divorce law it is fairness, that can take a million different forms


and circumstances. It is as argued by lawyers like? No, let me read


you another small bit. No, don't, please. The report says itself, we


cannot guarantee that the provision of a formula would work in practice.


It says that. But it is the average woman who goes to work, will wonder


why, as in one case, after three years of a childless marriage, a


woman walks away with �5 million, or Heather Mills McCartney �28


million, after very few years, another lady left her marriage with


�48 million. The average woman doesn't earn that in a lifetime. If


you marry banker you are quids in for the rest of your life. If you


marry a poor man, you get next to nothing.


We have all heard of writers block, but a 50-year hiatus is something


else, the third part of the Weirdstone, trilogy, has just been


published. The first part was in 1960, JK Rowling hadn't been born.


The author is described by another children's writer as better an


Toilken. -- better than Toilken.


Caspeo. A flame hissed upwards filling the room with light, shape


shifter opened the book and began to read. What's she up to, said


Susan, it's giving me goose flesh. I remember as a child scrambling up


the slopes, and thinking, why don't I live in an interesting place,


nothing ever happens here. I read a lot of books and I like


fantasy. I thought this was just normality. As I grew older I


realised it was not normality. It was very strange, and I was so


amazed by this place, that I inherited it. Newsnight tracked


writer Robert Garner down to a secluded corner of the Cheshire


countryside, where archaeologists are digging up part of an 18th


century barn, right beside his house.


In Garner's books too, what is ancient and underground is never


far away. Wizards, dwarves, tunnels under hills, children with magical


bracelets. Grimia unhooked a pouch from his brace belt, and from it


drew her bracelet, the drops hidden beneath a milky veil. The Morigan


took the bracelet and placed it in the middle of the circle on the


floor. She pulled the curtains over the windows and dors, and went to


stand -- doors, and went to standby the brazier, who couldn't push back


the darkness. The medieval buildings behind us, and the one


that's been excavated, they are only the newcomers. Because the


site has been occupied since the end of the last Ice Age. Which is


10,000 years of people sitting on top of that little hill.


I said it was secluded here, but Garner's storyed home, is


overlooked by the telescope, of which, more later.


Robert Garner is a writer of fantasy, but like Hardy, Orly Lee,


he's also a writer of place. A very specific place, Alderley Edge, and


that place alone. It is what I knew when I was growing up. It is where


I learned what grass was, what rocks were. The trees in of tree.


Wilmslow is over there that is out of bounds, you have never felt


compelled to write the great Wilmslow novel? It is only half an


hour away and I loathe it. I always have. They are God folk with tea


shops and nice hedges? I knew it before then. What have you got


against Wilmslow? It is not here! In the rock above, up there, there


is a face, and that is the face of the which is standard of the legend


of alderlee. It was carved by my great -- Alderly, it was carved by


my great, great, great, great grandfather. That is almost as


fantastical as your story? It is more fantastic, it is true. Is your


story true, is the wizard true? but not in the little sense, would


you never photograph him. believe in him, if that is the


phrase I want? He's there. Robert Garner has continued to


write, including for television. This was an adaptation of his book,


The Owl Service. Which didn't exactly lack for backstory. Keeping


the house for him are Nancy and her son, Gwn, and the gardener, Huw


Halfbacon. She as furious when she finds that she has discovered a


dinner service hidden in the roof of the house. Alison has traceded


the pattern and rearranged it to make paper owls. She grows obsessed


by the need to make them. Now, 50 years on, there have been


fresh sightings of the characters in Garner's first children's book,


Colin and his sister. Alan, good toe talk to you this way. It is


very good to speak and listen to you this way, it means I don't have


to look at you. Bless you for that, a lot of people feel that way. Why


have you put these whispering dishes into your new novel. They


work on the same principle as the radio telescope does, collecting


information from the gam galaxies. The character who works here -- the


galaxies. The character who works here in the novel, is an


astrophysicist rb, who may or may not be going mad when you are using


them. It is very close to a sigh otic voice inside the head. -- a


psyche cotic voice inside the head. In Boneland a woman is reading a


story about a witch to a child in a doctor's surgery. Young man, do not


go into the witch's house, and whatever you do, do not go upstairs,


you must not go upstairs. The receptionist came from her desk,


Professor Worchesterfield. You must not geo. Professor whister field, I


have been upstairs, they are not hens' legs, they are not the legs


of hens. They are not gallos domesticus. "the man is funny, he


makes me laugh. Why has Ganna left it so long to complete -- Garner


left it so long to complete the trilogy. I had enough of the two


main character, I loathed their guts, I lived with them for eight


years, and they hadn't moved on, and I had.


The thought of spending any more time with them, I couldn't abide.


Also, I had more ideas in my head. So it wasn't a publishers phone


call, I suspect you wouldn't respond too kindly to that? I say


in all humility, publishers should learn not to make phone call. I


can't do it if it isn't there. If it is there, I can't stop it.


You only have to wait until tomorrow for Newsnight when Kirsty


will be here, until then, good Good evening, we had a bit of


sunshine today. But for tomorrow a bit of change, a lot more cloud


around. Some early brightness to the south and eastk but cloudier


skies arriving for the afternoon -- easily, but cloudier skies arriving


in the afternoon. Brighter across the North West England, still the


risk of showers, plenty of showers for the Midlands, East Anglia and


the south-east corner rb temperatures are 13 degrees, a cool


afternoon. The south west corner, slightly milder, 16, with some


brightness for the afternoon. Not a completely dry picture, with a


scattering of showers, and a similar story across Wales. We are


keeping the cool and blustery north-westerly breeze across much


of the country. Noticable for Northern Ireland, despite it being


fine and dry with sunny spells. Temperatures on the north coast 13.


In Scotland, the occasional brightness and showers scattered


across the north-east corner. That should increase in brightness as we


go through the afternoon. Edinburgh seeing something brighter, but more


cloud around through the day on Thursday. The winds strengthening


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