Page Eight 45


Watch Page Eight, written and directed by David Hare, on BBC2 this Sunday at 9pm. It should be brilliant.

David has sent me a very kind message saying that some of the thinking behind Page Eight grew out of his work on Murder in Samarkand. That makes me proud. If it helps make the public think about these issues of humanity, that would be great. And I am certainly going to convince myself that a little corner of Bill Nighy is me…

If you have not yet listened to David Hare’s radio version of Murder in Samarkand, starring David Tennant as me (that is still surreal to type) click on the link top right.


45 thoughts on “Page Eight

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  • Suhayl Saadi

    I did like the way in which the ‘journalist’ with the FT was seen still to be on a salary from MI5. And the ‘coroner’ comment, yes, that was on the head.
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    What on earth was the role of the ‘Waitrose’ product placement poly bag.? Was it intended to be comedic? He’s carrying around wads of £60,000 in a see-thru’ poly bag, as though he were a junkie on the pavement? Is that an homage to some or other scene in the Pink Panther or some other classic? Who knows? But the witty allusions to 1960s spy dramas – in the end titles, etc. – was not that appropriate. 1960s spy flicks were all-round family entertainment, light, fantasy, comedic really. From the early 1970s, spy dramas got much harder, grittier, realism. This drama was more a ‘Day of the Jackal’, ‘Edge of Darkness’ kind of scenario, so these comedic bits seemed out of place, like a fond afterthought and if we’re saying, ‘This was all a bit of a joke’, then what was the point of it all? I liked the jazz, though. The driver finding a hard bop jazz station so quickly was bit of poetic license. You try finding such a station in the middle of the day!
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    Key messages of this drama:
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    1) The Old Boy Network is beneficent and avuncular. It’s just those Thatcherite harridans with hairstyle-to-match one needs to be wary of. ‘England’ (or ‘The United Kingdom’ is a beneficent enterprise poisoned by those nasty Yanks and a single villain, an ambitious PM.
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    2) Some journalists work for the security services and some are actually paid agents.
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    3) The security services may kill people/ have people killed and then get bent coroners to help cover it up.
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    4) Love, Waitrose and wads of money conquer all.
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    5) There’s that Mr Fiennes again! Oh, and that Mr Gambon!
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    6) If you’re going to hire someone to play a Scottish/Welsh prodigy (?Gareth Williams lookalike), first make sure they are convincing in the role.
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    7) Did the lead character have Parkinson’s Disease? I liked the stiff upper lip facies, actually, reminded me a little of George Smiley, very apt.
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    8) Senior politicians get rewarded for lying. Indeed.
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    9) Syrian women are good-looking.
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    10) The ‘beautiful, dark, mysterious stranger next door’ (every heterosexual man’s fantasy) seemed similar to that in ‘Rubicon’, though obviously dramas are written way before they are produced.
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    Interesting one. Thanks again for the recommendation.

  • mary

    Vronsky – Holst hated it. Are you sure? Nothing here.
    Tune

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    In 1921 Gustav Holst adapted the music from a section of Jupiter from his suite The Planets to create a setting for the poem. The music was extended slightly to fit the final two lines of the first verse. At the request of the publisher Curwen Holst made a version as a unison song with orchestra (Curwen also published Sir Hubert Parry’s unison song with orchestra, Jerusalem). This was probably first performed in 1921 and became a common element at Armistice memorial ceremonies, especially after it was published as a hymn in 1926.[1]Holst harmonised the tune to make it useable as a hymn, which was included in Songs of Praise[2] in 1926 with the same words, but the tune was then called Thaxted (named after the village where Holst lived for many years). The editor of the new (1926) edition of Songs of Praise was Holst’s close friend Ralph Vaughan Williams, which may have provided the stimulus for producing the hymn.
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    Imogen Holst recorded that “At the time when he was asked to set these words to music, Holst was so over-worked and over-weary that he felt relieved to discover they ‘fitted’ the tune from Jupiter”.[3]
    ~~~~

    I realize of course that the hymn was created to the background of the horror of the millions of bodies slain in WWI and was part of the ‘pro patria mori’ propaganda which is still being used today to good effect to recruit the killers.
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    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Vow_to_Thee,_My_Country

  • vronsky

    “Holst hated it. Are you sure? Nothing here.”

    Er – maybe I’m thinking of Elgar and ‘Land of Hope and Glory’, though I can’t find anything to support that vague memory either. Anyway, I hate them both – so very ‘Last Night of the Proms’ and all that emetic jingoism. Why don’t they just sing Horst Wessel and be done with it?

  • jay

    Re: The drama “Page Eight”.
    The main theme was of course, torture of ‘terror suspects’ by the Americans and their Actors versus the UK Government’s foreknowledge/complicity of the same. In many ways, this has represented actual events, as revealed by victims and courageous whistleblowers such as Craig Murray himself.
    “Page Eight”, is an easily digestable drama, le Carré it is not. For the viewer au fait with the History of the post 9/11 world, it revealed little and while reinforcing most of the Govenment lead memes.
    In this, I cannot admit to surprise or disappointment, it was the BEEB after all.
    The main message for the masses (sheep?) was that blame lay wholly with the Tony Blair esque character, Prime Minister Alec Beasley. Big boy done it and ran away.
    A cheap although watchable pysop.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    Yeah, apart from those occasional throwaway lines which were never dramatically followed-up, it shared the more or less same set of basic presumptions as, say, ‘Spooks’. The US spy drama, ‘Rubicon’ (which I would strongly recommend, btw) also penned by a respected playwright, actually pushed the boat out much further. Granted, that ‘Rubicon’ was a series, not a one-off. Nonetheless…

  • martin nichols

    Dear Craig,

    I watched the Page 8 thing with mounting anger because I was thinking of you and your story. Maybe I missed a lot of the subtlty in the piece because I know that David Hare is not an idiot. However, what is the f*cking point of piecing together another sexy HD-compatible spy thriller which rips off the known facts of your story to give Ms Weisz and Messers Gambon and Nighy another disposable thesp-fest? Christ. She does the beautiful hand-wringing and they do the remarkable British underplaying and NOTHING F*CKING CHANGES except they get EVEN RICHER and Hare gets another lot of plaudits from the broadsheets. He should write a play about being old and rich and yet still wanting to be young and radical but knowing that he isn’t. The piece honked from arsehole to breakfasttime.

    His dramatisation of “Samarkand” had me weeping with impotent rage. That’s the f*cking story, not this bollox.

    I am so sorry you didn’t get your honorary degree. Saying on your blog how it hurt you was noble and memorable. And inspiring and helpful, as you so often are. Bound to say, though, how can you not see what’s going on? Lorraine Kelly gets it and you don’t? Now why on earth might that be? Christ almighty, you must be a real c*nt Craig.

  • ingo

    I watched it on Iplayer yesterday and the similarities struck me from the moment niceties were exchanged over the long table.

    My missis loves Bill Nye and his sleazy sloping self, I can only agree, he’s got a certain swagger.
    Has David Hare had its inspirations from murder in samarkand, did your story put him on to it? its does certainly look like it.

  • Nebuchadnezzar

    What I liked about this film was the ways in which the government expressed its views, and to some extent how it came to them. First of all the Jacquie Smith clone (is that fair?) didn’t even bother to read the document properly and had missed the fairly obvious statement which proved our knowledge. Secondly the hate figure, the woman who kept trashing Nighy, telling him he was going to have to live out of dusbins, she expressed the passionate delusion which seemed to drive the Blairites – certainly Straw – that they couldn’t afford to go against the yanks. I agree with some of Suhayl’s points, but to some extent this drama helped me understand something which has often puzzled me – how could the govt be so stupid?
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    The compromise which Nighy made – a massive one – that he was going to save his girlfriend’s brother’s rep and give up his campaign against the govt, is, according to Craig’s book although rather wet, the kind of compromise a lot of people in govt seem to make, save their friend and to hell with the main game.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    Nebuchadnezzar, thaks. Yes, I think the Home Secretary character may have been a composite of Jacqui Smith and Hazel Blears.
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    “that they couldn’t afford to go against the yanks” Nebuchadnezzar.
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    Well, of course the UK has had that dynamic since 1956 (this ois what the ‘Special Relationship’ means; it is a little that that b/w a paedophile and his ‘Lolita’), but more intensely so under/since the Blair premiership. Truth is, most of the ‘New Labour’ kingpins were de facto US agents of influence in the UK, often ‘seeded’ products of a very deliberate strategy on the part of the USA. They sold their souls a long time ago and they became fervent evangelists for the cause of global capital and the military might which enforces its hegemony throughout the world. These seeds all look slightly different and bring forth flowers of variegated colour into the Hanging Gardens. But they all come, not from the field, but from the same, well-ordered garden centre.
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    Btw, how is life in Babylon these days? (!)

  • mary

    ‘most of the ‘New Labour’ kingpins were de facto US agents of influence in the UK, often ‘seeded’ products of a very deliberate strategy on the part of the USA.
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    See how many of them are chosen to be Fulbright scholars.

  • mary

    The Independent gave room to this Hasbara type effort on Tuesday in its letters column.
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    Naturally, the Israeli army is the baddie
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    David Hare is one of the country’s most talented playwrights. It was a pity therefore to see his latest BBC work, Page 8, exemplifies the most simplistic nostrums. The old man gets the young beautiful woman and Israel and her army act as the lurking background evil.
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    The fashionable use of Israel and her army as the easy fall-back baddie is lazy and boring, and displays a wilful avoidance of the violence, corruption and oppression so common in many countries. That the heroine is the daughter of a well-meaning Syrian activist fighting for justice against Israeli aggression would be laughable if it wasn’t so tragic, while so many Syrians are being slaughtered by their own leaders.
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    Joe Wolfson

    Borehamwood, Hertfordshire

  • mary

    Educative as ever Suhayl. I had not heard of Harkness and as for poor Denis Lehane –
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    Synopsis
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    Denis Lehane is an Irish award-winning journalist. In 1984, he refused to work undercover for the CIA and MI5 who, in revenge, spread rumours that he was insane, an alcoholic and a serial rapist who had tried to murder his two girlfriends. Certified insane in London and later in Dublin, he was put away in an asylum for life.
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    Some of those smear tactics are familiar to us on this blog.

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