Friday, December 5, 2008

Tonight on Newsnight and Newsnight Review

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An independent review is to be held into the contact social services had with the family of Shannon Matthews before she disappeared. Kirklees Council said the review would investigate the dealings of all agencies. It's emerged that a critical psychological report was made five years ago on Shannon's mother, who was convicted yesterday of kidnapping her. The safeguarding and protection of children is at the heart of social work, but with high profile cases - such as Shannon Matthews, Baby P and the rapist who impregnated his daughters 19 times - the role of social work and the coordination between social workers, teachers and health service workers is yet again under intense scrutiny. We'll be discussing whether we put social workers under intolerable pressure, whether the system is failing, and whether some practitioners are simply not up to the job.

"A further illustration of the misrule of Zimbabwe's rogue government" was how the Foreign Secretary David Miliband today described the crisis in Zimbabwe. The outbreak of cholera there - and the declaration of a national health emergency - has led to renewed calls for Robert Mugabe to step down. Zimbabwe's medical and water treatment systems have all but disappeared and an easily preventable disease is turning into an epidemic. David Miliband's statement followed Condoleezza Rice who said it was well past time for Mugabe to leave office. We are bidding for a ministerial interview on how the international community can best help Zimbabwe, and whether we are impotent to influence political change there.

Some mortgage lenders say they won't be passing on the interest rate cut in full, including Halifax and Nationwide. Gordon Brown says he is speaking to banks to convince them to reflect the one percent reduction in all of their mortgages. Abbey and Alliance & Leicester are among the lenders who say their standard variable rates are still under review. Alex Ritson will have the latest on this story. He'll also have further evidence of the downturn with half a million jobs lost in the US last month, the biggest monthly rise in unemployment for 34 years.

Join us tonight at 22.30, don't forget to scroll down for details of tonight's Newsnight Review.

newsnight review
Tonight on Review I'll be joined by guests Germaine Greer, Ian McMillan and Johann Hari and we'll kick off with the great big, epic adventure that is Baz Luhrmann's vision Australia.

Already described as an Australian Gone with The Wind, it stars Nicole Kidman as the aristocratic English snip, who comes to Australia to find out what her husband is doing with his remote cattle ranch (and his sex life), and Hugh Jackman as the handsome wild drover who comes to her rescue. But there's everything here from the Japanese bombing of Darwin, to the cruel and inhuman treatment of "half caste" Aboriginal children known as the Stolen Generation. The star of this show is a "creamy" called Nullah, 13 year old Brandon Walters, who also narrates. Surprisingly, he gets last billing in the production notes.

We'll also be reviewing The Striped World, the first book of poetry by the young Australian poet, Emma Jones, who has already won the most prestigious Australian poetry prize for one poem in the collection about The Stolen Generation. Her verse evokes the landscape and history of Australia, and the power and pull of the sea.

Send in the Clowns, a song made famous by Judy Collins, Frank Sinatra and Barbra Streisand, is the most famous number from Stephen Sondheim's A Little Night Music. It is the musical chosen by Sir Trevor Nunn for his first production of Sondheim. It is based on Ingmar Bergman's film Smiles of a Summer Night and, at the centre of the plot, is Desiree, a beautiful Swedish actress approaching forty. She realises her parade of lovers offer an increasingly empty existence and it is time to prepare for her future with her child. Hannah Waddingham, fresh from Spamalot, takes the role and Maureen Lipman plays her wonderfully acid-tongued, old courtesan mother. The production is at the intimate Menier Chocolate Factory in London where you are so close you think you are with the players at their country house weekend.

Another kind of country house festivity awaits in the little horror movie The Children, reminiscent of The Omen, and Don't Look Now. It is a Christmas chiller from Tom Shankland in which two young middle-class families and a gaggle of children gather at a country home to celebrate a boozy, chaotic Christmas. But then the children are struck by a vomiting virus and start to turn on the parents... and I don't mean everyday naughtiness. I wonder if our panel were watching from behind their hands?

Do join us at 11pm and let us know what you think of the programme by clicking here.


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