This summer John Lloyd and I set about re-editing Not The Nine O'Clock News, the allegedly satirical programme that we co-produced in the early Eighties, and which inertia, ineptitude, copyright quagmires and a hideous fear of what we'd find if we reopened the coffin have kept off your screens and out of the video shops these past 13 years.

Over two months the original 26 programmes shrank to eight. (Blissful benefit of hindsight). Out went Ayatollah Khomeini's love life and the Idi Amin cannibal jokes, along with Harold Wilson's memoirs, Sir Keith Joseph's extraterrestrial travels, and a host of trade union leaders whose names were then as familiar in the tabloids as soap stars' are today. Pamela Stephenson no longer gets her kit off for American Express.

I still laughed at "hope is fading for the six sailors trapped in Britt Ekland's bedroom", though in 1995 Britt's place would probably be taken by Julian Clary. "We regret to announce that Bernard Manning, the comedian who was told by his doctors to lose 5st or die, has today lost 5st", is as timely now as it was in 1982.

The BBC, formerly a major manufacturer, is now - like everyone else - retreating in panic into the service sector. Symbolically, the windowless, cable-draped cellars of Television Centre, where pink-eyed videotape engineers once slaved to edit the original shows, has now been transformed into a glass-roofed, carpeted atrium (Holiday Inn foyer, circa 1987) and belongs to something called Programme Sales and Acquisitions. To re-edit Not the Nine O'Clock News we were dispatched to the sybaritic luxury of an outside facilities house in Chelsea Harbour, food sent in from Mr Chow.

Now there's downsizing for you.

I know about the smart new interior design at TV Centre (a cert for Best Parquet Floor In A Lavishly Refurbished Lift at next year's Bafta awards, by the by) because I was back there directing an episode of The Lenny Henry Show. Any freelance using a BBC facility is now, of course, a customer; and throughout the recording I was zealously pursued by a pleasant young man desperate that I complete his Customer Survey Questionnaire. How had I found the ambience in the studio gallery? Would I describe the camera work as outstanding/ good/indifferent - all the usual crap.

I presume today's Corporate Man produces just such a questionnaire at the end of a date - did his partner find his choice of restaurant imaginative/apt/presumptuous? His conversation stimulating/ informative/numbingly dull? In what ways could his sexual suggestions have been made more explicit?

Variety is king, halt the homogenisation of the High Street, death to the multiples - absolutely. But just as I sometimes wonder how recently people who call Edinburgh the Athens of the North have visited the Greek capital, so I have my doubts as to how many defenders of our Traditional Corner Shops actually patronise the places. These days, in my experience, they are synonymous with rotten vegetables, lukewarm chill cabinets and porn videos. They smell of cat. They sell fags to 12-year-olds, glue to all-comers and obliterate the sell-by dates on their yoghurt pots. Service is surly and prices high. They are to convenience shopping what Aberdeen Steak Houses are to gourmet food, and Hallmark Card shops to high art.

I would like - very quietly - to take this opportunity to congratulate Sir John Drummond on his bold directive to Last Night Promenaders - the audience is, after all, only there for the benefit of the musicians. With luck, Sir John's New Respect will spread to Carling Premiership grounds (crowd noise at the Gallowgate end of St James's Park can be a desperate distraction to the players); to the House of Commons; and to the studios of London Weekend during the recording of Blind Date.

You can certainly learn a lot from listening to the pre-dawn farming programmes on Radio 4. News of the booming, but illegal, trade in seals' penises woke me more suddenly than I intended the other morning.

But among the fatstock prices and fluctuating headage payments, a slow but persistent alarm bell has been sounding for the past year, concerning organophosphates, or OPs - compounds that are widely used in sheep dips and some crop sprays. There seems to be little doubt now that OPs can devastate the health of those who work with them. The blame, according to the manufacturers that supply this vast and lucrative market, lies with the users. Oh yes, Man's Head Dents Falling Brick. Here we go again.

Here are four reasons for refusing to allow the Brighton bomber Patrick McGee, now in his 12th year in prison, leave to attend his father's funeral:

1. Deterrent. The well-known "Jaysus, if I get caught, I'll miss the da's funeral" factor.

2. Redemption. The Brighton victims will rise from their graves, the lame will walk again if we make sure that convicted bombers don't attend parental interments.

3. Timing. We're in the season of mists, mellow fruitfulness and party conferences, when soft winds bend the boughs and the shires rustle to the sounds of Tory right-wingers rounding up the usual suspects - scroungers, foreigners, the idle poor, those already enjoying Her Majesty's pleasure - to throw to their constituency lions.

4. Petty vindictiveness. Otherwise known as Feelgood Factor Mark 2.

If the ceasefire is broken, it won't be by the bomb or the bullet, but by an unplanned riot, and the response to that riot, and the response to that response, and so on. In this context the Home Office's decision concerning McGee, which offends the humanitarian sensibilities of many decent people in the nationalist community and elsewhere in Ireland, is what Patrick Mayhew would call "not terribly useful" and the rest of us call contemptible.

Emma Watson has become the latest target of the 4Chan nude hacking scandal
peopleThreats follows actress' speech on feminism and equality at the UN
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
Life and Style
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Geena Davis, founder and chair of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
John Terry, Frank Lampard
footballChelsea captain sends signed shirt to fan whose mum had died
Arts and Entertainment
Rita Ora will replace Kylie Minogue as a judge on The Voice 2015
Life and Style
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
Tennis player Andy Murray's mum Judy has been paired with Anton du Beke for Strictly Come Dancing. 'I'm absolutely delighted,' she said.
tvJudy Murray 'struggling' to let Anton Du Beke take control on Strictly
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Graduate Pricing Analyst - 6 months / 1 year analytical experience

£20000 - £25000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Project Manager (retail, upgrades, rollouts)

£40000 - £45000 Per Annum + benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Project...

Hourly Paid Teachers

£20 - £25 per hour: Randstad Education Cheshire: randstad education are curren...

Technical Project Manager - Software and Infrastructure - Government Experience

£400 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Central Lon...

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits