• Mentorn International's hugely successful Worst Driver format has been bought by TV Globo in Brazil, and new series are currently in production in four more countries, taking to 17 the number of territories broadcasting original local versions of the format with nearly 300 episodes so far produced around the World, it has been announced.

    The Brazilian format is due to debut on 28th April under the title 'Ruim de Roda', (which is loosely translated as Bad at the Wheel). It is hosted by Luciano Huck as part of his high profile, long-running show Caldeirão do Huck.  Alongside Huck is Brazil's famous Stock Car Champion Cacá Bueno who introduces the Worst Driver challenges and the series is being shot on Brazil's former Formula One racetrack in Rio de Janeiro. Further episodes are scheduled for production.

    Mentorn International's Managing Director, David Leach, said: "We're delighted to partner with TV Globo to bring our format to Brazil. They have put a huge amount of production value into this version of Worst Driver - in an iconic venue with the sporting hero Cacá in the driving seat alongside the host of one of their most popular shows."

    "We're particularly pleased to have made this first license of our format in Latin America and we very much hope it will encourage channels in other Latin countries to come on board with their own versions."

    In addition to Brazil, production companies in Canada, Netherlands, Belgium and Finland have all gone into production in recent weeks with further series of the hit format.

    Proper Television Inc is producing Worst Driver series eight for Discovery Channel Canada, nine 60 minute programmes which will transmit in October. Skyhigh Television is producing a third series of eight hour-long episodes of Worst Driver for BNN Netherlands, and six hour-long episodes second series for VTM Belgium; while Nordisk Film TV has begun production of the first series of Worst Driver for MTV3 Finland.

    Mentorn International's Managing Director, David Leach, said: "Worst Driver is one of our most successful formats and there seems to be no limit to the number of bad drivers we can find around the world. We're delighted to have made breakthroughs in new territories in addition to returning series in many existing territories, it really is a juggernaut of a format."

    Worst Driver which was originally commissioned by Channel 5 in the UK is the ultimate entertainment format where family and friends nominate dodgy drivers desperate to improve their driving skills.

     

    Notes to Editors:

     

    Mentorn International is a long-established international distributor of TV programmes and formats for British and American companies including Mentorn Media, BBC, Pioneer Productions, Daybreak Pictures, Quicksilver, Fiction Factory, Folio, Ludus, A Smith & Co, Base Productions and Mentorn USA. Mentorn International distributes formats and programmes in the genres of reality, entertainment, comedy, factual entertainment, documentary, drama, science, history, lifestyle and popular factual.

    For further information please contact Louise Plank on +44 (0) 20 8995 3936 or lou@plankpr.com

  • BBC One's political debate programme, Question Time, is being hosted from Romford on Thursday, April 26th.

    David Dimbleby chairs the programme from East London which sees Employment Minister and MP for Epsom and Ewell Chris Grayling; Shadow Health Minister and Labour MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington Diane Abbott; MP for Bermondsey and Old Southwark and Deputy Leader of the Liberal Democrats Simon Hughes; MEP and UK Independence Party Leader Nigel Farage, and Guardian columnist Polly Toynbee, 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

  • The man leading the UK police hunt for Madeleine McCann has spoken for the first time about "solving it" and having the "best opportunity" yet to find the little girl who went missing from a Portuguese holiday apartment five years ago next week.

    Det Chief Insp Andy Redwood, speaking to BBC Panorama - Madeleine: The Last Hope? on BBC One, Wednesday 25 April at 7.30pm, says:

    "I am satisfied that the systems and processes that we are bringing to this set of circumstances will give us the best opportunity to find those investigative opportunities that we can then present to our colleagues in Portugal."

    DCI Redwood says that his team of 28 detectives and seven civilian support staff are handling a huge number of reports and documents from Portuguese police, UK police and private detectives.

    "Our initial estimates in terms of the amount of material we are facing is that it will be somewhere in the region of 40,000 pieces of information," he says.  "There is, ultimately, a process of us turning every single piece of paper over and interpreting and analysing what is contained within them."

    Asked by reporter Richard Bilton if the mystery of Madeleine McCann's disappearance could be solved simply by reappraising documentary evidence - "of a piece of paper that you've got downstairs" - DCI Redwood says: "Anything is possible, and clearly, within that material, the answer could lie.

    DCI Redwood is the senior investigator on Operation Grange, based at Belgravia Police Station, which was established last May when Prime Minister David Cameron responded to a plea from Madeleine's parents to hold a UK police review of the case. He asked the Home Office to use a special contingency fund to finance a review by a homicide team from the Metropolitan Police.

    So far, the review has cost taxpayers two million pounds. Officers have made two trips to Spain and visited Portugal four times, most recently last week. As Madeleine disappeared in Portugal, Portuguese police remain the lead agency and DCI Redwood and his team report to a team in Porto. But in one exchange in his interview with Panorama, he says that his team in Central London aims to solve the mystery.

    "We are here in terms of seeking to bring closure to the case. That would be the ultimate objective and is our ultimate objective."

    Richard Bilton: "What does that mean?"

    DCI Redwood: "Well closure means establishing what has happened to Madeleine McCann."

    RB: "Solving it?"

    DCI Redwood: "Yes, solving it, of course."

    He says that one big advantage that Operation Grange has is that for the first time it has access to all of the available evidence - and has it all in the one place.

    "We are drawing together information from three separate sources," says DCI Redwood. "The legal enforcement bodies within Portugal, the UK enforcement agencies of which the police are the main part, and also and unusually the private investigation world which as we know is an element that was used by Mr and Mrs McCann in the search for their daughter."

    Pressed on why he thinks this is unique, DCI Redwood answers: "Because at no time before have those three elements been drawn together in one place.  And so what we've done over the past number of months is to bring to one place all those pieces of the jigsaw."

    Panorama also interviews former Home Secretary Alan Johnson MP, who criticises the initial Portuguese investigation of the daughter of Kate and Gerry McCann.

    "It seems to be disgraceful," says Johnson. "It didn't seem to me that they had had the benefit of a proper police investigation into the disappearance of Madeleine."

    Johnson was the first Home Secretary to carry out a feasibility study into whether the Metropolitan Police could review the investigation. He met Madeleine's parents and says: "I was enormously sympathetic to their case.   All the stuff that appeared in certain tabloids suggesting they were the guilty party, you know it's very difficult under that kind of saturation coverage not to start believing in some of those theories.  But by the time they came in to see me I was absolutely clear that they were the victims in all this."

    Johnson calls on Prime Minister David Cameron to launch a 'charm offensive' on the Portuguese government, in the face of public opinion which is said to be against the McCanns.

    "Now a bit of diplomacy can ensure that you do get the co-operation you need from Portugal and we do get to the bottom of this."

    Panorama also interviews Goncalo Amaral, initially the lead investigator for the Portuguese Policia Judiciaria, who was removed the case after he made outspoken criticism of British involvement in the investigation. He admits to mistakes, saying:

    "It's a fact that our investigation had its faults and lost a lot of time, lots of time. And a lot of things didn't get followed up. And I'm just as much to blame for that as anyone else."

    Since leaving the police in 2008, Amaral has written a book and presented a DVD about Madeleine's disappearance, in which he makes allegations against her parents. He is now being sued by Kate and Gerry McCann.

    Isabel Duarte, the civil lawyer in Portugal who acts for the McCann family in their libel action against Amaral, says it's not a popular fight.

    "I feel alone because I don't feel support, not in public opinion. I have friends that don't want to talk to me about the case because everyone believes in Goncalo Amaral. Everyone believes that I am defending a father and mother that have killed their daughter and got rid of the corpse."

    Portuguese police were forced to admit that they were also conducting a review of the Madeleine McCann case as a result of Panorama's investigation.

    After discovering that Operation Grange was working in tandem with a Portuguese review, Panorama asked Portuguese MEP Ana Maria Gomes to make enquiries. She discovered that a review of the procedures followed in the investigation was taking place. It was being conducted by officers in Porto in Northern Portugal, well away from the Algarve, where Madeleine went missing and where original investigators are based. However, it has been kept under wraps in Portugal.

    Meanwhile DCI Redwood tells Panorama that despite Portuguese public opinion being against the parents of Madeleine, he is finding no hostility from the Portuguese review team and if the case is to be reopened, it's up to the Portuguese.

    "My engagement with the Portuguese is with the police officers sitting within the review team in Porto.  Those officers are engaged, they are open, they are working with us collaboratively and I've not encountered with them any of those views.

    "But ultimately, the decision around reopening is for them, it is a sovereign decision for the Portuguese authorities.  Obviously what we seek to do is to bring them the best quality information to assist them in making that decision."

    BBC Panorama - Madeleine: The Last Hope? is produced by Mentorn Media and will be shown on Wednesday 25 April at 7.30pm on BBC One.

  • During tonight's Question Time which came from Leeds, George Galloway and Tim Farron discussed where responsibility lay over the Abu Qatada deportation issue.

    George Galloway: It's clear from Yvette Cooper's sterling performance in the House of Common's today that not only is the Home Office not fit for purpose but Theresa May is not fit for the job of Home Secretary and she should be sacked or resign.

    David Dimbleby: Tim Farron - I saw Theresa May say she takes responsibility for the decision that's been taken does that mean she would resign if it turns out to have been the wrong decision?

    Tim Farron MP, President Liberal Democrats: I have no idea...

    David Dimbleby: Do you think she should?

    Tim Farron: ...but I take the view that there's been an Olympic-standard screw up here at some point - whether it's with the European Court, or it's Theresa May or with her officials.

    Question Time is on BBC ONE at 10.35pm and available after transmission on BBC iPlayer.

    For further information please contact Louise Plank on 07801 321 965.

  • David Dimbleby presents Question Time from Leeds tonight on BBC One.  On the panel is the Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper, the Conservative party Co-Chairman Sayeeda Warsi, Respect MP George Galloway, President of the Liberal Democrats Tim Farron and the Times columnist David Aaronovitch.

    Question Time in on BBC One at 10.35pm and after transmission is available to view on BBC iPlayer.

    For further information please contact Louise Plank on 07801 321 965.

     

  • BBC Three's fully interactive, live debate show, Free Speech, is being hosted from Doncaster on Wednesday, 4th April.

    Jake Humphrey chairs the programme from the South Yorkshire town which sees award-winning Hip Hop artist Sway; model and TV personality Nicola McLean; author, activist and Independent columnist Owen Jones, and author, journalist, and Associate Director of the Henry Jackson Society Douglas Murray, face questions from the audience and viewers at home.

    Stand-up comedian Michelle de Swarte will be in the studio speaking up for the web responses and online comments.

    Free Speech involves viewers from beginning to end: proposing stories they want on the agenda and showing whether they "like" or "dislike" the panellists and their opinions via the Power Bar. Responses and updates from the viewers will be displayed throughout the show and viewers can use hashtags to show their like or dislike of panellists as they speak in real time.

    The programme will be focusing on crime and prisons, as part of BBC Three's Criminal Britain Season, as well as looking into the use of the word 'chav'.

    It's your show, get involved via bbc.co.uk/freespeech; facebook.com/bbcfreespeech; @bbcfreespeech; #freespeech

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

    Notes to Editors

    Criminal Britain is a stimulating and hard-hitting season of programmes on BBC Three which looks at how crime affects the lives of young people today and brings to life the human stories behind the startling stats, from the perspectives of both the perpetrators and the victims.