BBC to turn identity card crisis into a drama

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The Independent Online

Our commercial TV channels haven't been afraid to put the boot into New Labour over the past few months. Channel 4 recently screened the damning (albeit fictional) film The Trial of Tony Blair whilst ITV will soon be lampooning John Prescott in the forthcoming Confessions of a Diary Secretary.

Now, the BBC has waded in by giving the green light to a hard-hitting drama series tackling the thorny issue of government ID cards.

The series, called The Last Enemy, will star upcoming Blood Diamonds actor David Harewood. Set sometime in the near future, the plot centres around grizzly murders carried out with the assistance of ID card theft.

"It's meant to be an apocalyptic drama," I'm told. "It's aiming to paint a pretty depressing picture of the country if ID cards get the nod. I think the idea is that it will be quite Orwellian."

Either way, the series will aims to cause a stir on the prickly issue, which which may have been the reason the BBC weren't keen to go into any details.

"The series will be broadcast in five parts which we hope will go out later this year sometime," says a spokesman for the programme. "ID cards do feature in the plot but it is too early to go into details I'm afraid.

"The script and casting is still being finalised as we speak."

Spooky! Dee looks to dark forces

Jack Dee enjoys a reputation as one of showbusiness's most cynical and hard-nosed sourpusses. But even he subscribes to the creepy dark arts of exorcism.

Dee was recently forced to bring in a medium as he and his wife Jane became convinced that their new home was haunted.

The couple apparently became spooked after they both shared a similar dream that their house was overrun by strange beasts.

"He swung this pendulum around and said they're everywhere and he started to banish these little beasties with his chant," he says. "But he didn't take any payment, he said it's just something I do."

Dee, who was recounting his experience on the forthcoming Radio 4 series Chain Reaction, claims the house has since been ghoul-free.

As for the exorcist, he apparently went on his way and returned to his office job.

"He was an accountant by day," adds Dee.

When Smith got the hump

Despite his regular stint on TV show Grumpy Old Men, grouchy comedian Arthur Smith still hasn't tired of tearing hefty chunks out of unsuspecting minor celebrities.

Currently top of Smith's "shit-list" is perma-tanned Vegas crooner Engelbert Humperdinck. "I hate him - I dislike the man," says Smith.

"I was meant to interview him for Loose Ends on Radio 4. He turned up with that bouffant hair, medallion, all crimped-up and self-important."

Smith, who made his comments during a recent performance in Cheltenham, might have fared better with the self-styled "King of Romance" had he been of the fairer sex.

"He thought he was being interviewed by Mariella Frostrup," he added. "He took one look at me and went home."

Skinny flint

If Victoria Beckham thought Britain's notorious gutter press were bad, just wait till she gets a load of the sniping hacks waiting for her across the pond.

There's been growing speculation of the past few weeks that when "Posh" and her husband might sign up to their new pal's Tom Cruise's Scientology cult once Becks completes his megabucks career move into teaching America how to play football.

Yesterday, one prominent New York gossip column poured cold water on the rumours, quoting "a friend of the couple" as saying: "Scientology is an expensive religion, and Victoria is too cheap to convert." Charming!

Blashers, the organ donor

Colonel James Blashford-Snell is gearing up for his next madcap adventure. This summer, the bonkers explorer will be making an intrepid journey to the Bolivian Amazas to deliver a Dorset-made organ to a church recently built in the area.

The idea echoes a similar trip he undertook back in 2000, when he presented a grand piano to a tribe in Guyana.

"Why the pedal organ? In the remote area of the Amazon jungle we are visiting, the village of Ojaki has no TV or electricity and the church is the centre of social activity. The pedal organ will revitalise the people," he says.

Blashers, by the way, is currently recruiting for the expedition. He's after a doctor, a nurse and, of course, an organ player.