Have I Got ____ For ___ – The [Censored] Tapes

You probably know Have I Got News For You, the satirical news quiz that pits Ian Hislop, Paul Merton and celebrity guests against each other in a light-hearted battle of wit and irony. The following purports to be a transcript of the sections removed from an episode, when the guests included Jimmy Saville, and things got more than usually out of hand. It is entirely possible that it is a complete fabrication, and I make absolutely no claims as to the validity of the following – but even if it’s a complete fabrication, it is extremely funny.

Or rather, it was. Demon refused to let me publish the full version – what follows is edited, and approved by them. If you want to see the reasons why this is the only version I’m allowed to publish, here are the details.


Series 17, Show 7

Recorded 27/5/99 for transmission on 28/5/99
Guests: Sir James Saville OBE, Diane Abbott MP
Prog No: 06/HGT/SW76Q
Running time: 102'46'03 (Edited to 28'54)
Producer: Giles Pilbrow
Hat Trick 1999

Here are some extracts from an unedited Have I Got News For You rushes
tape. (The cut dialogue is isolated by square brackets and printed in
bold.)

Out-take 1: 02’45
Following a discussion about the England rugby boss taking cocaine:

MERTON
It wouldn’t be so bad if News Of The World, News International, if they actually paid any tax in this country – they haven’t paid any tax since about 1983. So that would be alright, you could say ‘Well, y’know, OK, they can have a go at the royals, they can have a go at anybody’. But they, y’know, they owe us billions of pounds in tax. You could have built hospitals with that. Or given it to me. (Audience applauds)

DEAYTON
I assume the applause was for the hospitals, not giving it to Paul. (Audience laughs)

[MERTON
There you go – that’s me reading Ian’s bits on the autocue. That’s post-modern for you. Hospitals? Yeah, like I give a fuck. (Huge audience laugh)

SAVILLE
The ______ of the ________ – what’s his name?

HISLOP
________.

SAVILLE
That’s right. Very nice man.

HISLOP
Mmm. ________________________________ (____ ______ _______ _____; Audience giggles)

DEAYTON
I feel the word ‘allegedly’ homing into view…

HISLOP
Yes. And I feel the phrase ‘________ __ _ ___ ___ ______’ homing into view. (Pause) Sorry, I’m just looking at our lawyer in the front row. (Waves at lawyer) Hello! (Audience laughs)

DEAYTON
Have you ever taken drugs, Jimmy?

SAVILLE
Well…

HISLOP
You can tell us. ________ and you are like that.
]

SAVILLE
I have a drugs record. (Uncertain pause)

HISLOP
Do you?

SAVILLE
Mm.

HISLOP
And do you play it a lot? (Audience laugh)

SAVILLE
212 marathons and I’ve never been tested once.

[HISLOP
Good god. You and ________ both.

SAVILLE
Ah, but he never ran the marathon…

HISLOP
Oh right…

MERTON
Yes he did. He used to go dressed as a ___ ___ ______. (Audience laughs)

HISLOP
Oh yes, I remember now…

MERTON
It made a change from a giant chicken, so he said. The judge gave him five years (Pause) I don’t know what I’m talking about. I’ve done 212 of these shows and I’ve never been tested once.

HISLOP
(To Saville) So they’ve never tested you?

SAVILLE
Yeah.
] And I say, what’s wrong with me, why can’t you test me? And he said ‘Because you come in last, so…’. (Audience laugh)


Out-take 2: 04’17
Following a discussion about Sun editor David Yelland’s decision to publish topless pictures of Sophie Rhys Jones:

SAVILLE
It’s well out of order.

HISLOP
Indeed. And it’s Mr Murdoch again.

SAVILLE
Yes. How would he like to see his, er, er, secret lover naked in someone else’s paper?

HISLOP
If anyone’s got any pictures, do drop them…in…

[MERTON
____ ___ ____.

DEAYTON
Well, you’ll have to share them with us next time, Paul…

MERTON
I will. It could be an entirely new game. ________________________

DEAYTON
Are you _______ __ _________ _______ _______ into question?

MERTON
Not at all. __________________

DEAYTON
We look forward to it.

MERTON
I don’t. ________________ (Smattering of audience applause)

DEAYTON
But The Sun have apologised, of course…
]


Out-take 3: 09’36
During the headline round:

DEAYTON
You used to be a wrestler didn’t you?

SAVILLE
I still am.

DEAYTON
Are you?

SAVILLE
___ ______ __ _____ ______ ______ __ ___ _______. (Audience laugh)

DEAYTON
Yeah, I’ve heard about that.

SAVILLE
What have you heard?

DEAYTON
I’ve…

MERTON
____________________________ (Huge audience laugh; Awkward pause)

SAVILLE
____________________________

MERTON
____________________________ (Audience laughs)

HISLOP
Weren’t you leaving money in phone boxes or something? (Saville glares at him) Or have I got completely the wrong end of the…

SAVILLE
(To Deayton, heavily) The question you asked was about wrestling.

DEAYTON
Yes. And then you mentioned ______ _______. I don’t know whe…

SAVILLE
Well I understood this was a comedy programme. I realise now how wrong I was. (Audience laugh)

DEAYTON
So were you a professional wrestler?

SAVILLE
Yes I was.

DEAYTON
(To audience) Glad we got that cleared up. (Pulls face; audience giggles)

HISLOP
______ __ _____ ______ _____ __ ___ _______…

SAVILLE
That’s right.

MERTON
_________________________ (Huge audience laugh)

DEAYTON
Erm…

HISLOP
You’re on top form tonight, Paul…

SAVILLE
(Strangely) I’m…this is not what I…

FLOOR MANAGER (OOV)
OK, do you…[inaudible section]…shall we, for pick-ups…

MERTON
I’m terribly sorry. I don’t know what came over me.

SAVILLE
_______________________ (Shocked audience laugh)

MERTON
Oh, it’s nice to see you joining in. We’d been waiting for you, _____________. (Audience appears to do double-take)

DEAYTON
I think we…d-d-you you want to apologise to our guest, Paul?

MERTON
Sorry, I do apologise. ________________________________ (Audience unrest)

HISLOP
Sorry, I’m just looking at our lawyer again. (Waves) Hello! (Audience laughs)

DEAYTON
Shall we get back on course with this, or sha…

SAVILLE
_______________________________________

MERTON
_______________________________________ (Audience laughs)

FLOOR MANAGER (OOV):
Come on…I’m getting an ear-bashing here. It’s…

MERTON
Oh they want to continue. Sorry, I’ll contain myself. Carry on…

DEAYTON
Right (Pause) You used to be a professional wrestler didn’t you? (Huge audience laugh)

SAVILLE
(Calmly) I did.
]

DEAYTON
You didn’t have a nickname or anything?

SAVILLE
Yes – ‘Loser’. (Audience laughs)


Out-take 4: 21’20Following a discussion about caravans:

DEAYTON
Last month, Roger Moore sold his luxury caravan in Malta. [Asked by the…

MERTON
I visited your caravan the other week, Jimmy.

SAVILLE
Did you really?

MERTON
Oh yes. ______________________________ (Audience laugh)

HISLOP
He just told you, it was twelve years ago…

SAVILLE
No, I lived in it for twelve years.

MERTON
_____________________________ (Audience laugh)

DEAYTON
Here we go again…I’ll be backstage if anyone wants me.

MERTON
_____________________________ (Audience laugh)

SAVILLE
_____________________________

HISLOP
Not even Sarah Cornley?

SAVILLE
She was an exception.

DEAYTON
Who’s Sarah Cornley?

SAVILLE
Sarah Cornley is…

HISLOP
About fifteen grand in damages, wasn’t she? (Uncertain audience laugh)

SAVILLE
That’s right.

HISLOP
_____________________________

SAVILLE
You’d be very wrong. (Pause) _______________________ (Audience unease)

MERTON
_____________________________

SAVILLE
Chrome-plated SC-700 sun-visors, these are. Sent to me by…

MERTON
_____________________________

HISLOP
(To lawyer again) Hello! (Audience laughs)

MERTON
_____________________________

DEAYTON
(Visibly out of character) Do you wanna stop, or…?

MERTON
_____________________________

SAVILLE
_____________________________

MERTON
_____________________________

FLOOR MANAGER
(OOV) …About five minutes, just to… (Phil Davey enters)

PHIL DAVEY
OK, well top that as they say. You’re looking troubled by that, aren’t you mate? I tell you, I came back from Amsterdam recently…

[RECORDING PLACED ON STAND-BY; CUTS BACK TO CLOSE-UP OF DEAYTON AWAITING HIS CUE]

DEAYTON
OK. Second time lucky. (Pause) Last month, Roger Moore sold his luxury caravan in Malta.
] Asked by the New York Times about his relaxed acting style…

How I managed to piss off Jimmy Saville…or possibly Paul Merton

Devil: My job is to ensure standards of television programmes continue to spiral downwards. Chat-shows, game-shows, soap-operas — anything I can do to guarantee their continual awfulness.
[SIGNS PAPER]
Condemned Soul: What was that?
Devil: Just commissioned another 25 years of Jim’ll Fix It.
Condemned Soul: Oh, good. I like Jimmy Saville – he’s very good with children.

TV Hell introduction, 31st August 1992

The significance of the above will become clear in due course. But first, let me take you on a journey, which began one Friday evening when the very site you are reading, ceased to exist. Permission denied, it said. This being my own site, it seemed a little strange, to say the least. But logging in, I found the following email had been sent to postmaster:

From: _____@demon.net
Cc: legalnotice@demon.net
Subject: www.trshcity.demon.co.uk…
Date: Thu, 28 Sep 2000

Please note: The contents of this email may be legally privileged. They should not be copied or disseminated within or outside Thus Plc without prior authorisation from Legal Services. The recipient of this email may reply to Legal Services but should not cc other addressees.
___________________________________________________
Dear sir,

We have received an allegation that you have material on your website
http://www.trshcity.demon.co.uk/ARTICLES/NEWSFORU.HTM
which our external solicitors believe to bear defamatory meaning and as such we have had to suspend access to your webpages.

The part in question is the transcript.

We cannot and do not make any judgement as to whether such material is defensible. However, the state of the law at the moment means that if we are put on notice that defamatory material is being published through our systems, Thus plc may be liable for damages, along with you, if it does not take action to prevent that material being published. Those damages could be substantial and we could both incur heavy legal expenses.

In addition, the current state of the law could leave Thus plc liable if it failed to take action and you disseminated any further material through our systems which was later found to be defamatory. While we do not necessarily agree with the current legal position we must accept it, and have therefore suspended access to your website.

Please reply to this email acknowledging that you understand the problem, that you have removed the material from your website and that you will not, in future, publish further material which could be considered defamatory of various (named) celebrities through Demon’s systems.

We attach below a suggested form of acknowledgement for your convenience.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF RECEIPT

I acknowledge receipt of your email and confirm that I understand your explanation of the legal situation regarding material which is considered defamatory.

I confirm that I have removed the material from my website. I will not publish such material in future using my Demon service, and will not publish further material which could be considered defamatory of the celebrities which have been named on the site.

I look forward to hearing from you.
_______________
Paralegal
Thus Plc

The piece in question was a transcript of alleged outtakes from an edition of Have I Got News For You featuring Paul Merton and Jimmy Saville. This had been sent to me by a friend, and I’d posted it on the site, simply because I’d thought it was funny. I even added a disclaimer saying that I had no idea whether it was accurate, but this was no defence in the eyes of Demon.

To get my web-site restored, I removed the piece, and sent the form they requested back, and in due course, www.trshcity.demon.co.uk returned to service. However, I remained a more than a little peeved that Demon would pull the site and, in effect, pronounce me guilty, not only until proven innocent, but without even giving me any chance to prove my innocence. I wrote, pointing this out. Their reply follows.

Currently the situation regarding defamation in the UK is such that ISPs are liable for content held on its servers as soon as it is put on notice of such content and failure to remove that material could end up with us being sued as well as you.

As an ISP, the Defamation Act requires us to act responsibly by (a) removing the material from our servers and (b) making sure that similar material cannot not be published in the future. This requires us, in your case (having received a complaint), to notify you of this situation and seek some kind of acknowledgement regarding future
material, and also to remove the material from our servers, which is achieved by temporarily suspending your web site.

We do not take these decisions lightly and refer all cases to external solicitors (at cost to us) for a decision about whether the material bears a defamatory meaning.

We do not wish to make any judgement as to whether the material in question is indeed defamatory. We are in no position to make this decision ourselves, this is up to a Court to decide.

You may have heard of the Godfrey -v- Demon Internet case where Demon Internet were taken court over defamatory material held on its servers.

> We would also like to have more information as to the precise nature of the
> alleged defamation. It is clearly wrong to claim that every single word
> in the transcript is defamatory, and without full details of the
> accusations being made against us, we are unable to accept that they are
> justified. We thus request details of the specific complaints received by
> you.

Our solicitors felt that most of the web page could be considered to bear defamatory meaning. Specifically, they felt that it was defamatory of Phil Hall, David Yelland, Jimmy Saville, Paul Merton and possibly Angus Deayton and Ian Hislop too.<

> With regard to the article, we would still like to publish it, and want to
> work with you in order to achieve this. We therefore offer the following
> possibilities for discussion, with the aim of hopefully reaching agreement
> on the matter.
>
> 1) The article already contains a disclaimer which states that we “make
> absolutely no claims as to the validity of the following”. This could be
> made more prominent and/or reworded.

I do not believe that this would make any difference if the material was found by a court to be defamatory. You should seek further legal advice regarding this.

> 2) If we are given details of the parts found offensive, they could be > removed from the piece.

We would suggest that you seek legal advice based on my comments above.

> 3) We can move the transcript from Demon to another server, and make the link on our site point to it there.

Unfortunately, this could also be considered defamatory as it still causes in effect, the publication of the defamatory material through your Demon service, even if it is hosted elsewhere.

But when looked into further, this seemed very debatable to me. The interconnectedness of the Net means that, if linking to a defamatory site is itself just as defamatory, then any one defamation renders virtually the entire Internet guilty! This is clearly nonsense, and indeed, Section 1(3) of the 1996 Defamation Act states that, “a person shall not be considered the author, editor or publisher of a statement if he is only involved…(e) as the operator of or provider of access to a communications system by means of which the statement is transmitted, or made available, by a person over whom he has no effective control.

As a result, in the case of Godfrey vs. Demon to which they referred, Justice Morland said “In my judgment the defendants were clearly not the publisher of the posting and incontrovertibly can avail themselves of Section 1(1)(a)”, relieving Demon of liability. As far as I could see, what caused Justice Morland to find against Demon, was their failure to take action after being notified of the alleged defamation. If the material in question hadn’t been held on their servers at all, it was hard to see how Demon could have been found liable for it.

So, while I could conceivably be sued, Demon would be perfectly safe. However, the chances of any suit were, I reckon, very slim: I doubt the people who read the piece here numbered more than a few hundred at most, as opposed to the millions who would find out about it during a court case. Far better just to send out some threatening letters, try and suppress it all quietly, and hope it goes away. In this light, it’s also interesting to note Demon’s unwillingness to tell me who had complained – I have a pretty good idea though, and I doubt very much it was Angus Deayton.

In this case, however, it backfired – their actions fired up my interest in a piece I’d otherwise have quickly forgotten about, and I started looking on the Net. First thing I found was, that if someone had been trying to suppress it, they’d been doing a pretty poor job. My very first search engine query, the very first page, and I was there, staring at the whole thing. Not just once, but five separate copies of it. They used to say that the Internet treats censorship as damage, and routes around it – I was beginning to understand the truth of that statement.

Picking around the sides of these, I did find a couple of interesting sites. One site said responsibility had been claimed by Some of the Corpses are Amusing, but I could find no actual evidence thereof. There was one piece in the Guardian about the transcript, citing un-named “sources” as saying it was a hoax – un-named equals no reliance in my book (the Guardian also had a very interesting interview with Saville). But there was absolutely no trace of, for example, Paul Merton saying, “it’s a hoax”, which would have nailed things shut, once and for all.

All the while, I continued, sporadically, to debate the possibilities with Demon, and work towards an edited version of the transcript. I can feel some sympathy for them, and I have to say they were friendly and polite, explaining the reasons for their qualms. But they were obviously erring strongly on the side of caution and even wanted material removed that was part of the broadcast! We finally came to an agreement, and the edited version may be found here. It’s not very funny though…

It’s hard to come to a compromise when they keep saying “Nyet”: if I’m not allowed to link to it, can I perhaps give people instructions on how they can find it? No, because of Hird v Wood in 1894 – the relevance of that in the Internet era is somewhat arguable. There was something deeply ironic about Demon defending the honour of TV presenters against totally unwarranted accusations of paedophilia, while their servers carried the likes of alt.binaries.pictures.erotica.children.

Almost as interesting as the veracity or otherwise of the transcript, is looking into who would be behind a hoax, if such it actually is. A leading suspect must be Chris Morris, of Brass Eye fame – he announced Saville’s death on his radio show once, and got into a bit of bother for it. I’ve no idea whether the resulting law-suit was ever settled, but it does at least give Morris a motive, and his surreally excessive style of comedy would fit the transcript.

But there are perhaps two other candidates: the people in the sketch at the top of this piece, which I stumbled across in my tape collection only a few months ago. Who were these reprobates, expressing such a clear dislike for Jimmy Saville, seven years before all this allegedly happened? None other than Angus Deayton and Paul Merton…

[Here is the Demon approved, expurgated version]

Summer Fun at the Multiplex

Well, everyone and their web-able mother are putting out previews of this summer’s movies. So why should we be any different? Here’s the TC guide to what we have to look forward to over the next four months (here in Phoenix, anyway – check local press for details, as they say). Be sure to check back at the end of August, when we’ll no doubt be terribly embarrassed by our selections. [And the links now go to the appropriate review. Christ, I can’t believe we were actually looking forward to Rollerball]

May

Sure thing: The Mummy Returns (May 4) – follow up to one of the most successful brainless popcorn consumption devices in recent years. Expect more of the same plus WWF’s The Rock (even if we knew he’d lose at Wrestlemania, since he’d be off doing promotion).

What we’re looking forward to: Shrek (May 18) – anything which takes pot-shots at Disney, with a villain strangely reminiscent of Michael Eisner, has to be worth seeing, even if Eddie Murphy’s sidekick schtick is not exactly breaking new ground.

Dodgy ground: A Knight’s Tale (May 11) – we’ve never been able to take medieval movies seriously since Holy Grail, and this looks pretentious as hell. And it has modern rock music behind the jousts! Sure it seemed like a good idea to someone.

Please bomb…please bomb: Pearl Harbor (May 25) – World War II didn’t star until 1942, after Ben Affleck sorted out his love-life. This desperately wants to be Titanic: a love story cunningly disguised behind an action-packed trailer. Let’s hope it doesn’t succeed.

June

Sure thing: A.I. Artifical Intelligence (June 29) – it’s Steven Spielberg. It’s got a kid in it. And not just any kid, the one from The Sixth Sense. Mind you, recently, for every Saving Private Ryan there’s been an Amistad or Lost World.

What we’re looking forward to: Tomb Raider (June 15) – you expected perhaps something else? Angelina Jolie running around for 90 minutes, firing guns. Yes, we know all about computer game movies. I just don’t care. Will be there on the Friday for this one. Maybe Saturday too.

Dodgy ground: Evolution (June 8) – a bunch of goofy scientists save the world. David Duchovny has shown no ability to carry a movie without an “X” in the title. A lot will rely on the special effects here, which is thin ice for big success.

Please bomb…please bomb: Swordfish (June 8) – two of the less interesting X-Men (Jackson and Berry) team up with Travolta. It’s been fun watching Travolta’s overpaid and overhyped career explode in his face since Battlefield Earth, so fingers crossed this continues the trend.

July

Sure thing: Planet of the Apes (July 27) – as soon as we heard Tim Burton was on board, it was so obvious, in a smack your own forehead way. No doubt, this will look fabulous – however, will they be able to replicate the fabulous ending of the original?

What we’re looking forward to: Final Fantasy (July 11) – see previous qualms about computer games, yet there were moments in FF7 which were genuinely moving. If they can capture that spirit, and with undeniably jaw-dropping CGI, this could be the genuine groundbreaker of summer. Outside shot: just saw a trailer for Cats and Dogs which pits live-action kitties and pooches against each other, somewhere between Austin Powers and Mission Impossible. It looked fabulously crass and funny. Whether it can sustain it for ninety minutes, rather than ninety seconds…

Dodgy ground: Scary Movie 2 (July 4) – an idea which was initially fabulous, was already seriously running out of steam by the end of the first film. How many recent horror hits have there been for it to parody? I sense a departure into general movie parody territory: anyone remember Mafia!?

Please bomb…please bomb: Jurassic Park III (July 20) – enough with the dinosaurs already! What was once new and impressive has become nothing more than another studio franchise. They’re extinct: get over it. Though I can see how CGI dinosaurs would be better than having to deal with Demi Moore.

August

Sure thing: Rush Hour 2 (August 3) – this time, they’re in Hong Kong, so expect a lot of Chris Tucker-out-of-water gags. Otherwise, expect the same as last time – aimiable comedy, in which Jackie never gets out of second gear – and we cruise to another $100 million gross.

What we’re looking forward to: Rollerball (August 17) – while remaking classic films is often a recipe for disaster (Get Carter), this has potential, and the subject matter is even more fitting in these days of media conglomerates. From the director of Die Hard? Might just work.

Dodgy ground: American Pie 2 (August 10) – seems like the gross-out sex comedy has had its day, going by the grosses for the likes of Saving Silverman and Tomcats. It may not just be the apple-pie that gets screwed here, more like a few movie careers.

Please bomb…please bomb: Ghosts of Mars (August 24) – Carpenter’s career has been running on fumes for years. Since They Live, he’s batting 0-for-5; it’s a miracle any studio will touch him. He’s planning Vampires 2. Will someone please stop the man before he hurts others?