24/07/2013 Newsnight


In-depth investigation and analysis of the stories behind the day's headlines. With Gavin Esler.

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makes fun of. It is not Bernard Manning, it is not mustard, it is


the ordinary people, the guy who changed the head gasket on my car


the other week, he overcharged me, but that's fine.


Good evening, here is the news, the good news, Andy Murray, the Ashes,


a royal baby and a bit of sunshine. Tomorrow what are predicted to be


better growth figures than first feared. Like the sun coming out at


last, good second quarter GDP should cheer most of us up. The


only problem is rather like the summer weather there may be


thunderstorms ahead. Paul Mason has been trying to assess how strong


the recovery might be, and whether, as the Government puts it, the


economy is being rebalanced towards exports, industrial production and


long-term investment, or are we repeating some of the mistakes of


the past. Breakfast in Soho, London, at this cafe they know all about


economic recovery. It is a pop-up business, using space in a late-


night bar to serve English breakfast by day, on most days


there is a queue. This is normally a bar, and I open at 10.00 and


finish at 4.00, they start working at 4.00. What is the effect of


doing that? It is using a space where they are already paying rent


and bills whether they are open or closed. We are optimising on the


space and making more money and it is great marketing for the business.


It is a new clientele that we are attracting. And how is it doing?It


is doing really well. We are Number Ten on Trip Visor out of 11,500


restaurants in London. To you it look like carbohydrates, to


economists this is great use of space, two firms, one space and


more jobs. You are hiring? That is the bar hiring. One thing with


hiring, which is amazing, you have got a lot more choice. So many


people are looking for work. But you are getting a huge range of


qualifications, a lot well overqualified because they are


supplementing income with a second job. So London is buzzing, but two


or three hours away from here the upturn doesn't look so sure. You


can have breakfast, dinner and tea amid three very different economic


stories. Which is what I'm about to do. This map shows the growth in


Britain's regions and nations since 2007. The average is 6%, and the


south-east and south-west, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, all


grew by about that much. The underperformers were the north-east,


North West, West Midlands, Yorkshire and Humber, and the East


Midlands, that was below 3%. But London is in a different class,


clocking up 12% growth, double the average. The recovery was supposed


to be led by industry, and exports. But in Birmingham, where I'm headed


now, they know all too well how weak that's been. BSA machine tools


was once an iconic British giant, now it is down to 35 production


workers. They are highly-skilled, but look closely and the age


profile tells the story, apprentices, brand-new, the


majority of the skilled work force over 60 and very few people


inbetween. The boss, who remembers the factory in its hey day, tells


me, over a working lunch, it is the shortage of skilled people that is


holding back growth. Clearly if I haven't got the skills, then I'm


not able to grow. In this area, in particular, the skills issue is


major, we have got a skills gap where new apprentices coming


through, probably won't get there before the older work force moves


on. The other big issue is, of course, finance. This firm weaned


itself off bank credit by cutting costs, delaying payments, now they


are ready to grow again. But access to finance is becoming critical.


enabled us to extract ourselves from the bank in terms of working


capital. That's fine. A lot of companies have done that over time


and are reticent to go back to the banks. The problem is we are


looking to export, when you export you can't extract yourself from the


bank. You need other facilities like documentary credits, letters


of credit, downpayment guarantees and so on. So you can't get away


from them all together. Even that can be difficult when you're


exporting, and exporting of course is very important to us. And it is


stuff like this that worries economists, the fact that we are


facing capacity constraints, even with much of the economy just


ticking over. What I have just seen there in Birmingham is a great


example of what they call the output gap and the lack of it. That


is when the economy starts to grow the worry is that there isn't


enough spare capacity. That is ability to grow. And so even in


quite promising circumstances what you get is a low growth recovery.


The further away you get from London the more you start seeing


the kind of excess capacity that we don't really want to have. He


canles in Salford contains some of the most deprived streets in


Britain. Many of its shops are closed. The unemployed advice


centre, though, does a brisk trade, and the man who runs is pessimistic


about the kind of growth we are getting. Salford is a branch


economy. When companies close down or reduce, they chop the branches


off first and Salford was chopped off a number of years ago. The


branches aren't growing back yet. Right, right.


Poverty on this scale creates its own demand, but not the kind you


would ideally want to have. We are employing 13 people to improve the


health of the people at the bottom. Which is very bad in a place like


this? Horrendous.Why? Too many alcohol outlets, no cinemas,


nothing in this area but 77 outlets here to buy or drink alcohol.


Within 1,000ms. 77 shops selling alcohol within 1km? Yes.The longer


I stayed here I began to wonder what kind of growth it would need


to lift this economy out of the world of loan sharks and cheap


booze. We have been on the streets five minutes and it is obviously


the level of deprivation, what kind of economic recovery would it take


to feel it here? It would be a massive thing, Paul. What you need


is you need to bring real industry, but you also need to bring and


train the generation that hasn't worked in skilled industry. It is


doable, but you need, it would be need to be done, in my view, over


probably five -to-ten years. Even if tomorrow we find growth on track


for 1% or more, the challenge is great. So it's been breakfast in


buzzing London, lunch at a factory where they can't grow because they


can't find enough skilled workers, and tea, as we call it, here in


Salford, where there's lots of compare capacity, people, closed


shops, but it is very hard to see how 1% growth so was things. These


we call structural problems in economics. There has always been


wealth in the south and grit here. But once these streets felt wealthy


too. Being here gives a whole new meaning to the term "rebalancing".


I'm joined by Bronwyn Curtis, former head of global research at


HSBC, and current vice chair of the society of business economists.


Dido Harding, CEO of TalkTalk, and the editor of City AM. Let's begin


with what is going right now, we don't normally start with this, if


the figures are he relatively good? You have growing businesses, I run


one. If you look in the papers this evening you will see several


businesses reporting growing active ein my sector, in the digital world.


But geographically perhaps not in some of the areas we are talking


about? Ironically my business is based in Salford. So I would


contend that there are growing high-tech businesses in the


Manchester area that we should be very proud of as a country, rather


than always looking to find the bad. What is interesting is maybe a year


ago some people were talking about, maybe there could be a triple-dip


recession, we didn't have a double- dip when the figures were revised,


have we turned a big corner or not? I don't think we have turned a big


corner. It is nice to see positive growth, and perhaps heading for 1%.


By this time in the cycle you would hope that it was 2% plus, if not


more. One of the things that is happening, of course, is interest


rates are really low. So the corporate sector, as we just talked


about, is in quite good shape, because they can borrow money


cheaply, and they can actually, you know, give something back to their


shareholders and so on. But of course they are not investing, what


we need to see is more investment coming through. So the economy is


still unbalanced, we're not seeing enough exports, but it is better


than it was, so we're just not at escape velocity. Any growth is


presumably good news? The problem is you can get the wrong kind of


growth. That is what we got during the double of the noughties. You


had very good GDP figure, every quarter was great, economists jump


frping up and down for joy, -- jumping up and down for joy. The


Chancellor, Gordon Brown, was jumping up and down, but it was a


mirage and it vanished and had to be lick quit quid date. It had been


to be the investments that went wrong. We are seeing the wrong kind


of growth, consumption, debt consumption, the Chancellor


promoting the housing market too much in my point of view. It is the


wrong kind of growth, not because of exports or investments, it is


because of consumption, Government consumption, private sector


consumption, it is because of leverage. What did you make of the


BSA story, it was very interesting, it was obvious from Paul's report


you do see some people who are older and some people who are


apprentices, and not many in the middle. That is the living skills


gap, isn't it, it is a problem? think the skills gap is a real


challenge for all businesses. But it is something that we should


tackle head-on and really invest in ourselves. I would argue the


biggest skills gap we have in the country is the digital skills gap.


There are 14 million people in this country that don't know how to use


the Internet. Seven million people who have never used the Internet.


Yet if we want to be an export-led economy the digital exporting trade


has to be our future. But that, some parts of that are perhaps


solvable quite quick ly, in terms of the apprenticeships, and those


fitting in under 60 and over 20, that will take a long time to sort


out? I'm ever the optimist, I run an entrepeneural business only


started in 2006, we have never known another world. It is possible


to start a company and grow it to be sizeable and I compete with


bigger companies than mine and be successful, we shouldn't be quite


so negative. If you look at what the growth -- Growth Commission and


what they talked about to get the qu. Economy growing, one was skills,


and investment. On the skills side you need basic skills and general


education, as well as vocational education. But I did think the


difference between, you know, the elderly sitting there and, elderly,


that sounds terribly, the older worker and the apprentice, and you


wonder why they haven't inbetween been bringing people through. What


happens to those apprentices once they are trained? Where do they go


off to? That is a very good question, I don't know if anyone


has a good answer, let me know if you have. What we will hear


tomorrow, almost certainly, is people saying look at all this good


news, it is not perfect, but it is a lot better than it was. But one


of the things we have been talking about for years lack of confidence.


Can you talk up the economy in a good way? Interestingly enough


consumer confidence has really bounced back over the last few


years, there is a lot of polls by YouGov and Ipsos MORI showing that.


Consumers are more confidence and the economy is doing better in that


sense. When you look at the nitty gritty and what is happening, the


big decisions, the big decisions are not being taken, you are not


seeing massive corporate investment in this country, why, because


returns on investment are too low, and planning rules are messed up.


You could create sustainable growth if you allowed the private sector


to build a new airport or more homes. It is all kinds of problems.


To our optimist, to many people it doesn't feel like a recovery, does


it, many, many of us have seen real wages shrinking? I run


fundamentally a consumer business, and consumers are considerably more


savvy than they were a decade ago. They are also poorer than they were


five years ago? And they are wiser about where to spend their money. I


think we should encourage them to gradually grow in confidence, there


is a reason why value for money businesses like mine and Primark


are the ones that are really growing, because sadly customers at


any income level are choosing value where they find it. How gra --


fragile is it, and the fragility is why the Bank of England has sent


pretty clear signals that interest rates are not going up soon?


need that, and you talked about the consumer and confidence bouncing


back, the biggest issue is real disposable income. In other words


the money we have in our pocket after inflation is not going up.


And that's the biggest risk in the second half of the year, that


people have been spending their savings and that you know as we are


going into the second half of the year, if they are still feeling


poor they will start cutting back again. I think if you can build on


the confidence and you know unemployment has gone down. You


know, we are growing so if you can get that going it can take off. We


are not there yet, the risk is we have to have low interest rates for


a very long time, which makes the structure in the economy even more


unbalanced. You were the most gloomy of everybody here, but this


is hardly, it is not a repeat of the past in the sense that there is


no sense of irrational he can subjugate regins? That is in one


sector, and that is -- exuburance? That is in the housing


market. The Government are now worried that will be the problem.


The other area is low interest rates, people are getting used to


the fact that money is cheap. It has been so long that it is getting


counter-productive. It is unsustainable. Rates will go up to


five or six%, and a lot of companies will -- 5-6% and a lot of


companies will feel that. You are not worried we will get into a


recession? I think maybe in two or three years time when rates go up


and companies aren't ready. Provided there is people like you


reminding us of that, there are not very many consumers getting and


taking advantage of low interest rates, everyone remembers what it


was like, they recognise they have to be sensele. That is a quantum


shift in the way the population has behaved.


Now rescuers are working tonight at the scene of a major train


derailment in a northern city of Spain. Up to 35 people could have


been killed. We are joined with the latest. What do we know happened


here? We believe the train derailed on the neighbourhood on the edge of


the regional capital up in the north of Spain at around about 9.00


local time. Clearly from the pictures there was a lot of damage,


a lot of smoke. One eyewitness account talked about hearing an


explosion, about seeing the carriages travel several metres off


the tracks after the derailment. We heard from the Spanish Government


that the Spanish Prime Minister who is from the area will travel to the


region early tomorrow. And just these pictures look absolutely


horrendous, just to be clear we think it was a derailment it is


only one train involved, that is what we are looking at? That's


right. A derailment, one train involved, some early reports, and


these are unconfirmed reports out of Spanish press talking about a


particular curve that the train was going round. Some concerns


apparently from local media being reported by local media from


engineers at the scene. But early reports suggest at least 35 people


have died. Some reports that actually the regional Government is


now appealing for blood donors to come forward. This was an Alvia


train, it is not the high-speed rail service, this country has an


impressive network of high-speed trains, but this was a different


train travelling on the same route up to the capital from the area


earlier tonight. The idea of curing a psychiatric


illness bypass ago jolt of electricity through the Brian -- by


passing a jolt of electricity through the brain has been thought


to be a thing of the past. But thousands of patients these days


are still being given ECT in a also-ditch attempt to treat


depression. Since it was last used doctors have argued over how and


why the treatment might work for some. A team in Aberdeen think they


are closer than ever to solving the problem. This film contains some


scenes that viewers might find upsetting. Born in the asylums of


the 20th century. A new breed of treatments meant to cure the most


seriously ill. Some of them fell out of favour as the old asylums


closed down. One though is quietly being used in hospitals up and down


the country. ECT started out as an experiment. Doctors noticed some


heavily distressed patients would suddenly improve after an epileptic


fit. Passing an electric current through the brain could trigger a


similar seizure, and they hoped, a similar response .5 years later it


is still one of the most controversial, most devisive


treatments in mental health. I have an advanced statement that says, my


colleagues all know this, if I'm ever severely depressed or psyche


cotic with depression, this is the treatment I would want for me.


convinced that in 10-15 years we will have put ECT in the same


rubbish bin as lobotomy, surprise baths and on and on. My mother was


absolutely totally against it. She thought it was barbaric, she had


seen a friend in the 50s have that treatment in the old psychiatric


hospital in Aberdeen and she really didn't want me to go on with it.


She thought I could snap out of it. John Wattie is one of a small but


growing number in Scotland, who agreed to have an experimental form


of electroconvulsive therapy. A regular top-up dose every month to


keep his severe depression in check. He has suffered from the illness


since a breakdown triggered by the collapse of his marriage and stress


at work. We had a nice house, a nice lifestyle and it was all


crumbling and falling away because of me, or because of her, but I


think it was probably because of my depression, just started to


overwhelm me. I just lost control, I became violent, I became, I just


you know ...hoi to describe it? I came, I didn't want to live, I


didn't want to commit suicide but I didn't want to live. Drugs and


therapy couldn't lift him out of the hole. John's doctor suggested


regular ECT under general anaesthetic, alongside a course of


anti-depressants, his next treatment is due soon and he's


letting us film the process. months coming up I find that I get


overwhelmed by emotions. I feel the depression coming back again. It


frightens me. It really does frighten me. So I know I need it


tomorrow, I know I need it. We saw John arrive and get himself on to a


trolley. I feel fine, but I know that I'm ready for my next ECT. I


know I feel a bit tearful with it and it is time to have a top-up.


The next step is to set up monitoring to make sure he's safe


during the treatment. I'm going it put on the EEG monitoring, you saw


electrodes being put on to measure his heart's activity, to check his


oxygen levels. I put on electrodes on his forehead and behind his ears


to measure his brain waves to get the sense of the quality of the


seizure and how long it lasted. The next step then was for the anise


thirst to start giving him the -- anaesthetist to give him the


medicines, and then a muscle relaxant to relax his muscles. Then


his lungs were hyper-inflated with oxygen so his oxygen levels was as


high as possible. At that point I was in a position to put the


electrodes on each side of his head, and initiate the seizure by passing


the electric current. Go! (beeping) you saw there that initially John


grimaceed, not because he was in pain, but because we were


stimulating the muscles around his face directly with the electricity.


Then after that we could see from the EEG that a seizure had been


produced. OK that's about 25 seconds on the EEG. That's good.


What we have just seen is still one of the most controversial


treatments, not just in psychiatry, but medicine itself. Passing an


electric current through the brain to trigger a seizure does seem to


be effective for many patients. But it is only now, 75 years after ECT


was first used that doctors are starting to find out why it might


work. The use of MRI scanners and neural image has changed how many


psychiatrists think about mental illness. One theory gaining grown


is hyper-connectivity, certain parts of the brain can become


overconnected or overloaded, that could be to blame for disorders


from depression to autism. In Aberdeen the research team scanned


the brains of nine people undergoing a full course of


treatment. We looked at severely depressed patients before treatment


and after successful treatment with ECT. What we did is we looked at


the connectivity within the brain. And before the treatment, when the


patient was severely depress the, you -- depressed, you can see all


the orange areas, we don't see that in healthy people. After successful


treatment with ECT, all the orange connectivity disappeared, and we


saw this relative low small area, shown in blue here, still connected.


That is actually quite normal. That is what we would expect to see in


healthy people. Are you ready? latest academic interest in ECT


come after decades of falling use. Its brutal depiction in One Flew


Over The Cuckoo's Nest, is the beginning of the end. The BBC's


White Heat, here set in 1973 shows a patient given ECT without


anaesthetic, something that wouldn't happen now. For around


4,000 people a year it is still the treatment of last resort. One in


three are so ill they are not capable of giving consent, two


thirds are women with an average age of 60. We had a holiday in


Egypt. It was February 1997, it would have been just a few months


before that ECT and it has wiped all memories of this holiday.


Crane was given two rounds of ECT in the late 190s, she blames the


second course for wiepg out years of her memory, and making her


forget even basic words or phrases. Immediately afterwards very bad


headaches. Then you think, I have just had the treatment, that's


perhaps to be expected. But, immediately, and I knew something


wasn't right. I had this instinct that something was wrong with my


mother but I couldn't remember that she had died. Then I had to say to


my husband, Chris, what is, what has happened to my mother. He had


to tell me that in fact she had died nearly two years earlier. That


was quite devastating. It is like going through bereavement all over


again. Getting the words wrong is a nuisance, it is annoying. It is


pretty... Now I have lost the word. It is frustrating. But to have lost


really basic important things in your life is just awful. Critics of


ECT say around a third of patients notice some sort of permanent


change like this, from memory loss to problems with speech, or basic


skills like counting money. The author of a scathing research paper


into the treatment says it is outdated, dangerous, and only


effective in the very short-term. What happens is it is a little bit


like a charging up a rundown car battery, to be crude, it is not


difficult to get artificial changes in the brain, you could do it with


cocaine. It is not difficult, that doesn't last, of course, and then


you find three, four weeks later the person is either back at the


same level of depression or, many studies show, even worse levels of


depression. Then of course some of those people think I felt really


good right after the ECT, give me another one. Then they get into


this endless cycle and it is perhaps a form of addiction. It is


not in any way addressing the as you of their depression. It is


systematically and gradually wiping out their memory and their


cognitive function at the same time. There are risks associated with any


kind of medical treatment for severe illnesses, it is important


to appreciate the folks getting ECT are suffering from an illness that


could kill them. It is a balance that has to be struck between good


effects and adverse effects? It doesn't make you uneasy to pass


an electric current through somebody who doesn't want it done?


It made me uneasy as a doctor that I couldn't do that for someone who


was clearly suffering and whose life was threatened and who I knew


I would be able to make better through the treatment.


Waking up from the anaesthetic John says he immediately feels better.


And any memory loss quickly passes. I feel as if my batteries have been


recharged, you know yesterday I kept telling you that I feel I'm


just about to fall into that deep hole again. I wasn't depressed, but


I felt that I was going to be. That's totally gone already, it is


totally gone. I feel happy, eager to get on with life again, and to


me it is a miracle treatment for me. Our understanding of the brain is


still in its infancy. Perhaps by discovering why ECT might work, new


treatments can be developed without the same brutal side-effects. Both


its supporters and critics hope that putting an electric current


through the most complex organ in the body will one day looks a dated


as those asylums and mad houses of times gone past.


For details of organisations which offer advice and support on


Let's discuss that report with a journalist who has written about


her on positive experiences with ECT, and Jane Harris who is from


ReThink Mental Illness. Should we re-think ECT, I had the One Flew


Over The Cuckoo's Nest idea? need to look at ECT being good for


some people, as we might look for chemotherapy which has severe side-


effects for curing cancer and some people might want to try it. Why


aren't we further ahead in mental health treatments, and not all


treatments are available for everybody at the moment. Were you


struck by the question of connectivity, ECT may be revealing


something very important, even if it is not the way of involving that


problem? Absolutely -- solving that problem. Absolutely, we are making


breakthroughs in neuroscience and we should invest much more. At the


moment the whole of mental health research gets 5% of the research


budget. Even though we know the World Health Organisation says


depression alone will be the leading cause of disability by 2020.


If we want to be competitive as a country, you were talking about the


economy earlier, we have to be a healthy society, we need much


better treatment for all the people unfortunate enough to suffer


depression. When you watch that film, it must have struck a lot of


chords for you? It is really interesting. Did you see it as the


last resort having tried other things? I had tried everything,


every pill under the sun, different types of therapy, CBT, mindfulness.


I felt absolutely rock bottom when I tried it t I didn't feel I could


feel any worse. It looks to an outsider it looks pretty horrible?


It doesn't matter what it looks like, what matters is what it is


like for you undergoing it, you are asleep. Most people don't realise.


You have a general anaesthetic, you don't convulse. You are asleep. And


quite often you wake up and feel better. You suffered from some


small side-effects didn't you? have comparatively minor side-


effects, I have some short-term memory loss and a slightly slower


brain function. But it is annoying, it is no more than that, it is not


nothing but it is not much worse than annoying. It is interesting


the comparison to chemotherapy, it is better than the disease? Yeah.


The comparison is, it is enormous. What did you make though, I know


some of the figures here are very difficult to get quite right, but


the idea that a third of patients feel quite serious side-effects, if


it was a drug that had a third of people saying this gives me serious


side-effects we probably wouldn't use it? I'm not sure that is true


in mental health. Unfortunately some of the drugs we use in mental


health go back to the 50s and beyond as well. People who psyche


anti-psychotic drugs if they have schizophrenia, you have men who


might lack Tate as a result of that, and people who shake -- lactate all


the time and others who might shake all the time. People need to know


all the risks where they can say that is the one I can cope with the


side-effects. People don't get the choice to decide because they are


considered too ill? And people don't get psychotherapy which


doesn't have side-effects. We have had a massive increase in the


number of psychologists for those with mild-to-moderate depression,


but for those with chronic and fits freenia there is less, that is a


scandal, that should the top of Jeremy Hunt's to-do-list and it


isn't. Just to ask you on the specific thing, you heard one of


the scientists in the piece saying, the trouble is, it is a bit like


cocaine. Do you see any analogy that it is something, it is a


treatment, not a cure and it becomes addictive? It is a funny


word toe use, "addictive", can you be addicted to feeling normal. You


feel so awful, it is hard to imagine what it is like to feel be


severely depressed, it is not a high it is normal again. Do you


think it is important to change the perception of this from the


stereotypes that we have seen? is very important. The stigma


around it, I'm sure it puts a lot of people off. I would urge anyone


who is thinking about it to find out what the facts are and not the


myths around ECT. The process itself is not that scary. There may


or may not be side-effects for each individual person.


Film premiers in Hollywood or Cannes are ten a penny. But today a


great blockbuster chose to premier in Norwich. The reason, the star


Alan Partridge told his fans, the film is his love letter to Norwich.


Fans of Partridge and his creator, Steve Coogan, will be impressed


with the loyalty to the city which made him famous, or the other way


around T prompted us to think about how loyal are we to the cities of


our roots and how irritated are we with criticism of beloved town.


That was soft drugs and cocaine enthusiasts Fleetwood Mac.


I was having a great conversation Norwich's most sun-tanned child,


passed that on to social services. He's in a new radio show in Norwich.


After a campaign on social media the film had its premier in the


city. The other reason I'm here is because of security. When you're on


the red carpet it is very easy for a sniper to take you out. But do


the Partridge team ever feel guilty about what they have done to Alan's


adoptive city. I like Norwich, I have an aunt who lives in Norwich,


we have nothing against Norwich, we thought it was funny that a


character like Alan came from Norwich. We couldn't think of any


other comedy character who came from Norwich. There was one Lord


Mayor of Norwich who said Alan has done more destruction to the image


of Alan than any group of terrorists could. But fortunately


the most recent Lord Mayor has welcomed the investment and tourism


that Alan will bring to the city. The writers put Partridge in


Norwich because it was tantalisingly out of reach of


London. There is always in these things some element of truth. Those


of us who know the city see the good side of that. But we are,


perhaps, some what removed from Metropolitan life, that brings with


it a whole host of rather attractive features in terms of way


of life for those living here, and speaking to everybody who lives in


the area they would endorse that view. It is weird if you visit this


country it all looks the same, if you get off at Bristol or Glasgow


itle all looks a bit the same. No offence to those cities. It is a


weird thing, Birmingham they stalk funny, Devon they are stupid,


Bristol nobody really knows, Cardiff it is not really a city.


All these stereotypes of what are essentially similar places. It just


gives us little markers in the featureless bland landscape of our


lives. AliG, is, of course a favourite son


of Staines in Surrey. His posse, you will we are, of the West


Staines Massive. He's not really from Staines at although, that is


Staines-upon-Thames to you. The town has felt it necessary to


emphasise its beautiful river associations. Take a look, Staines


is a green, leafy Thames side town, with a fantastic history, a


brilliant environment, fantastic strategic links for investment. It


is incredibly popular with international commuters. It has


great things going for it. You make it sound a bit like Monaco,


businessmen and king pins living here? They both have a Riviera-


style ambience in the summer, and I have no idea whether Monoco boasts


so many good pubs. How many of your problems down to Ali G? We wouldn't


have got so much press coverage changing the name to Staines-upon-


Thames if it wasn't for Ali G. He has done damage and he has got his


place in the town's history and I'm about the future. The history of


lino flooring might be different without the contribution of Staines,


apparently, but it makes no difference. There is a second


category of funny towns and it is ones with funny names, Staines is


one, Slough, my parents are from Bubbly Staunton, Bogor was the


funnyiest place in Britain because it contained the name "toilet" in


its name. Doncaster won't get them rolling in the aisles. Staines,


with the schoolboy humour of Ali G, Staines is the funnyiest place in


the world, I'm sure it has nothing to do with semen. Does the Alan


Partridge premier in the city make up for his teasing of the city?


After the slap in the face, the kiss to make it better? Let's have


a few words with the man who wrote the book Crap Towns, a compendium


of Britain's most derided and picked on places. He's in a studio


near his home near Norwich. I take it Norwich doesn't make it into the


book of crap towns? It is a very lovely town. You are only saying


that because you live there or it is lovely? I'm saying it because I


value my safety! I'm saying it because it is a great place. I


moved here out of choice, believe it or not. It is interesting, we


heard from the comedy writer why certain towns get picked upon.


Slough has been picked on since John Betchimen, is there a defining


characteristic that links the towns? If you look at any town long


enough you will find something wrong with it, that is why the book


Crap Towns, works so well. Places like Slough do bring up an image of


bord mold, roundabouts, there are d boredom, roundabouts, they bring up


patterns. You are being polite about Norwich, but when a town


features in your book you decide to put it in people won't be out


cheering in the streets, it is not like being in Who's Who? People


feel differently, it is nominations from people in the town and the


ones with the most votes get in. It is a chance for people to put the


opposite point of view. They get a lot of publicity when the town


comes out. They get a chance to put a good word in. Presumably part of


it is being able to have a laugh about yourself. We heard that


gentleman from Staines who was very amusing, and Alan Partridge, he


hasn't donor itch any harm, has he? That is right. - done Norwich any


harm has he? That is right. I think people do enjoy laughing at


themselves in Britain and it is funny. Is it quite often to do with


snobbery, have you any posh towns in the crap towns category? There


is probably more posh towns than urban deprivation does feature. But


posh towns and the unique problems that go with them feature more.


Chipping Norton is a big contender this time round. OK, we won't go


there. Thank you very much. That's it from us. We wanted to leave you


with one further reflection of our loyalty to our cities and towns and


their symbols. Liverpool have been playing a friendly in Melbourne


Australia, suddenly the 100,000- strong scenes might make you think


there is a special bond between the two great cities at the opposite


ends of the earth. # Walk on


# With hope in your heart # And you'll never walk


# Alone # You'll never walk


# Alone # Alone


Good evening to you the summer weather continues so we are still


in the midst of this warmish spell, humidity and moisture out there.


Showers and thunderstorms will be breaking out through parts of


northern England and northern England. Northern Ireland and


Scotland, these areas, the downpours could be heavy. Hail and


gusty winds as well. Temperatures, nothing spectacular, but it is this


humidity in the air that is basically the source of these big


storms. Towards the south of the country the weather will be better,


there will be more sunshine around, the temperatures will reach the


mid-20s, it has been a very long time since we have been only


forecasting around 34 degrees in the London area. Today we got up to


28 Celsius. For the south west of the country, a fresher, more


pleasant 20 degrees in Plymouth. An outside chance of a shower. If any


showers brew across Wales it is more likely across northern parts


of Wales. The same theme continues, northern parts of the country more


likely to catch the showers. Most scater, thunderstorms too, towards


the south warmer, dryer and brighter. Towards the end of the


In-depth investigation and analysis of the stories behind the day's headlines. With Gavin Esler.

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