• Nigel Farage, UKIP MEP, sprang to the defence of nominated Conservative peer Howard Flight's controversial comments on benefits. "I think there's some merit in what he said," Farage told a Question Time audience in Maidstone.

    "For goodness sake let's have a debate about it and let's not condemn him for having views we should be discussing."

    But Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke MP said Flight had chosen a "particularly absurd way of expressing his views.

    "Next time I meet him I will ask him: 'What exactly were you trying to say Howard when you came out with this particularly daft remark?'"

  • BBC One's political debate programme, Question Time, is being hosted from Maidstone this evening.

    David Dimbleby chairs the programme which sees Home Secretary Theresa May; Shadow Communities Secretary Caroline Flint; Former UK Special Envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles; Author and Broadcaster Clive James; and the neoconservative writer and Director of the Centre for Social Cohesion, Douglas Murray, face questions from the audience.

    To apply for a seat in a future audience you can register your question at www.bbc.co.uk /questiontime or call the audience line on 01299 829 299.

    For further information please contact Louise Plank on 020 8995 3936 or lou@plankpr.com

     

  • On BBC THREE's Young Voters' Question Time, Simon Hughes MP, Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats, was asked if he was "leaning towards voting against this tuition fee increase". He replied: "The starting point is I am someone who's against student tuition fees. I have always been seeking to negotiate with Vince (Cable) and David (Willetts) and their colleagues to get the best deal possible."

    "We are deliberating, we've had meetings last week and this week, we've got several more before the vote (probably before Christmas) and we are deliberating as to whether we will abstain or vote against. I would like to vote against."

    Answering an audience question about whether Nick Clegg had been right to issue a pledge opposing student tuition fees, Hughes said in future "we will be more careful" about issuing pledges.

    NUS leader Aaron Porter said of Lib Dem MPs honouring the anti-tuition pledge: "All 57 signed the pledge and nothing less than that is acceptable."

    But Coalition Universities Minister David Willetts MP, a Conservative, said of tuition fee rises: "I think it's the right thing to do and we are not proposing to review the policy."

  • Mentorn's For Neda Film was honoured last night with a double award at The Foreign Press Association Awards. Antony Thomas, the film's director was nominated and won the Best TV Feature/Documentary award for For Neda, alongside Saeed Kamali Dehghan, the film's co-producer.

    For Neda, a Mentorn Media produced documentary, follows the story of Neda Agha Soltan, who on June 20th 2009, was shot in the heart by a sniper, and lay bleeding to death in a back street of the Iranian capital, Tehran.

    In making the film multi-award winning director, Antony Thomas, travelled from California to the Turkish/Iranian border and within Europe to find people who knew Neda personally or were close to the events of June and July 2009.

    The FPA said about choosing For Neda and Thomas and Kamali Dehghan as the winners: "The judges felt strongly that the winner of the TV Feature/documentary of Year was one of the most powerful accounts of life in contemporary Iran, which not only managed to explain the whole state of Iranian society through one terrible incident but also was an important, compelling and well-told story.  They said that the making of this film demonstrated extraordinary courage and determination.  An outstanding and powerful piece of journalism."

    The film was originally shown on HBO in the US and is due for transmission in 2011 on More 4.

    Antony Thomas said: "I really feel that this is an award for bravery. Particularly for Saeed for putting his life in danger to make the film; but above all for Neda's family, who resisted all attempts to silence them and for striving to keep Neda's name alive."

    Thomas and Kamali Dehghan were also honoured with the accolade of Journalist of the Year (Winner of Winners)

    The ceremony took place at The Sheraton Park Lane Hotel in London where the awards were presented by the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson and the event was hosted by Sandi Toksvig.

    Neil Grant, Mentorn's Executive Producer said: "We at Mentorn are immensely proud to have been associated with such a wonderful and inspiring piece of journalism and documentary work. The significant impact the film has had in changing the debate globally is a testament top Antony and Saeed's work."

  • Richard Bacon chairs a debate with Aaron Porter, NUS President, Universities Minister David Willets MP, Tessa Jowell MP, Simon Hughes MP, Douglas Murray, Director of the Centre for Social Cohesion and Irish comedian Ed Byrne.

    Young Voters' Question Time will discuss the hot political topics of the week including immediate reactions to the issue that has become one of the most divisive since the coalition government came to power.

    It has decided to raise tuition fees despite a majority of Liberal Democrat MPs making a pre-election pledge to vote against any increase.

    Universities Minister David Willets is driving the coalition government tuition fees policy. NUS President Aaron Porter was forced to condemn some of those who took part in the November 10 protests against tuition fees when the Conservative Party HQ in London was overrun. Shadow Cabinet minister Tessa Jowell was a member of the Labour government that introduced tuition fees. Deputy Liberal Democrat leader Simon Hughes signed pre-election pledge to vote against any rise in tuition fees.

    Douglas Murray is director of the right wing think tank, Centre for Social Cohesion. His view is that the cap on tuition fees is not sustainable. Comedian Ed Byrne feels that politicians have always have let down students.

    The debate takes place in London, with a studio audience of around 150 young people.

    Students plan to stage a day of demonstrations in major cities including London, Birmingham and Manchester.

    Young Voters' Question Time, 8pm, Wednesday 24 November, BBC Three

     

  • More 4 has secured the rights to transmit the powerful documentary, For Neda, produced by Mentorn Media, it was announced today (THURS).

    Originally transmitted on HBO in the US to mark the first anniversary of young Iranian woman Neda Agha Soltan's death, the documentary was made by acclaimed film-maker Antony Thomas, and follows the story of Neda Agha Soltan, who on June 20th 2009, was shot in the heart by a sniper, and lay bleeding to death in a back street of the Iranian capital, Tehran.

    Within hours of her death, Neda's dying moments, captured on different cell phones, were appearing on computer screens across the world.

    Antony Thomas's documentary tells for the first time Neda's personal story and attempts to find out who this young woman was, how she become such a powerful symbol to millions and what she was fighting for. In making the film multi-award winning director, Antony Thomas, travelled from California to the Turkish/Iranian border and within Europe to find people who knew Neda personally or were close to the events of June and July 2009.

    The documentary became the most successful viral programme of all time. Because of its importance, and prior to its US broadcast, HBO gave permission for its pre-release in Iran via the Voice of America's Persian News Network where it was shown multiple times, and on various websites in English, Arabic, and Farsi.

    Commissioning Editor Anna Miralis has secured the rights to the documentary for More 4 as part of the True Stories strand. It will transmit  in Spring/Summer next year. Anna said: "For Neda is an exceptional portrait of a young woman, who left her family home on the afternoon of June 20th 2009, knowing she was risking her life in the cause of freedom. Antony Thomas' film has received global acclaim and I'm proud that More 4 will be able to share the powerful story in the UK."

    Mentorn Media Executive Producer, Neil Grant, said: "This film is of huge global, political importance and insight. Neda has captured the hearts of people all over the world and we're delighted that Channel 4 will now give British viewers the opportunity to see the documentary that has had such an international impact and been instrumental in furthering debate about the political situation in Iran."

    The only way to get to the personal heart of the story was to work inside Iran -- at a time when foreign film-makers are forbidden entry, and Iranians themselves risk arrest and long term imprisonment if caught filming without official approval.

    Director, Antony Thomas said: "Thanks to the exceptional bravery of Neda's family and Saeed Kamali Dehegan, a young undercover Iranian journalist, Neda's spirit lives on in this documentary. For the first time Neda's father, mother, sister and younger brother speak out and they hold nothing back - intimate recollections, videos of Neda, her private diaries and letters, even the banned books she was reading at the time of her death.

    "As well as providing important new insights into Iran's rigged election and its aftermath, we hope For Neda gives a powerful sense of what it means to be a woman, living under the laws of the Islamic Republic of Iran."

    Note to Editors

    For Neda was originally broadcast on 14th June, repeated on the anniversary of Neda's death. In the UK BAFTA held a screening, Amnesty International, Frontline Club all held scfreenings while it received its European premier at the Sunny Side Documentary Festival on June 22nd 2010.

    True Stories broadcasts at 10pm on Tuesday nights on More4.

    Reviews of the film in America:

    Wall Street Journal:

    "The power of Antony Thomas's documentary has all to do with its focus: the rage of a modern people-educated, ambitious, accomplished and now consigned to life under a regime whose enforcement of Islamic law governs every aspect of life. Surrounding Neda's story is that larger one, related with unforgettable eloquence, much of it by commentators-Iranian writers and activists. They point out, particularly, the iron constraints and inequality that have become the lot of Iranian women since the arrival of the Islamic revolution."

    For further information please contact Louise Plank on behalf of Mentorn Media 020 8995 3936 or lou@plankpr.com

     

     

     

  • BBC One's political debate programme, Question Time, is being hosted from Swansea this evening.

    David Dimbleby chairs the programme which sees Chris Grayling MP, Carwyn Jones AM, Kirsty Williams AM, Nerys Evans AM, Lionel Barber and Kelvin MacKenzie face questions from the audience.

     

    To apply for a seat in the audience you can register your question at www.bbc.co.uk/questiontime or call the audience line on 01299 829 299.

     

    For further information please contact Louise Plank on 020 8995 3936 or lou@plankpr.com

     

     

     

  • Emma Morgan is joining Mentorn Media as Head of Development and Executive Producer.

    Joining Mentorn Media at the beginning of December, Emma will be responsible for looking at formats and documentary ideas across all broadcasters as well as Executive Producer on some of her own commissions.

    Emma has been at Twofour for nearly eight years and has been the Head of Development at Twofour for the last year and a half helping to win a wide range of new commissions.   She has developed many series and singles including High Street Heroes with Jo Malone for BBC 1, The Art on You Wall with Sue Perkins for BBC 2, Hidden Heroes for Channel 4, and Save Our Seaside with Duncan Bannatyne for Virgin 1.

    In addition Emma has Executive Produced many of her commissions including, The Art on Your Wall with Sue Perkins for BBC2, Fat Teens in Love and Saving Ed Mitchell for ITV 1, the RTS-winning Why Men Wear Frocks with Grayson Perry and winner of three RTS awards - Crip on a Trip for Channel 4 and Too Much Too Young a fast turnaround for Sky One following the sudden death of Heath Ledger.

    Mentorn Media Chief Executive, John Willis, said: "Emma has a great track record working with a wide range of broadcasters developing some strong format ideas and documentaries. We look forward to her joining Mentorn to lead our first class development team. Her creativity and energy will be a great asset for us."

    Emma Morgan said: "Mentorn has a great reputation and is responsible for talked about series and landmark documentaries. I'm looking forward to working with the team there and hope to continue delivering great content."

    Before joining Twofour, Emma worked for Independent Image producing Kilroy; LWT Arts and Features where she worked with Melvyn Bragg and Optomen where she secured access to the Fulfords for the extraordinary F***ing Fulfords for Channel 4's Cutting Edge.

    For more information please contact Louise Plank on 020 8995 3936 or lou@plankpr.com

     

     

  • BBC One's political debate programme, Question Time, is being hosted from London this evening.

     

    David Dimbleby chairs the programme which sees Home Secretary Theresa May; Shadow Communities Secretary Caroline Flint; Former UK Special Envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles; Author and Broadcaster Clive James; and the neoconservative writer and Director of the Centre for Social Cohesion, Douglas Murray, face questions from the audience.

     

    To apply for a seat in a future audience you can register your question at www.bbc.co.uk /questiontime or call the audience line on 01299 829 299.

    For further information please contact Louise Plank on 020 8995 3936 or lou@plankpr.com

  • Foreign Office Minister Jeremy Browne was called a racist by a heckler in the BBC One Question Time audience.

    It came during a debate on the BBC One programme over the defence treaties which have been signed by the UK and French governments.

    He said British soldiers would not need to speak French, wear onions round their necks or striped T-shirts following the move.

    An audience member shouted: "ooh racist" at the MP after his comments.

    The Liberal Democrat minister had said: "We're not merging our Army with France. Our soldiers won't be required to speak French or wear onions round their necks or stripey t-shirts, or ride bicycles.

    "Don't believe everything you read in the newspapers."

     

  • On Question Time tonight when he was asked if prisoners should be allowed to vote, David Davis MP shared his views, saying:

    "No is the simple answer. They committed a crime. When you go to prison you give up a number of your civil rights, the most obvious one your liberty but also other ones as well. I have to say there are many times when I can applaud the actions of the European Court of Human Rights but this is not one of them. This is actually none of their business. They said in the judgement that one of the reasons they made this decision was because there had been no debate in Parliament. Well maybe they didn't to back to 1867. Maybe they didn't realise there was a democracy here then but that's when it was debated and we made a decision.

    "Now frankly if I was in Governement today I would be taking a rather tougher line than they have done. I would offer parliament three options. And say here you are, you can either give prisoners the vote which is what the ECHR want, or you can give some prisoners the vote - those only sent down for six months or a year or something like that, or you can do to disagree with ECHR and then let's see the ECHR overturn the decision of a democatraic body like Parliament. That's what I would do."

    For further information please contact Louise Plank on 07801 321 965 or lou@plankpr.com

  • On the Question Time panel on Thursday 4th November will be the Foreign Office Minister Jeremy Browne, Conservative MP David Davis and Labour MP Jack Straw.

    The panel will also include director of Liberty Shami Chakrabarti and broadcaster Jon Gaunt.

    David Dimbleby hosts the BBC's flagship political debate programme from Sheffield.

    Question Time will be on BBC One at 2235 BST on Thursday 4 November and available on BBC iPlayer after transmission.


    For further information please contact Louise Plank on 020 8995 3936 or lou@plankpr.com