Murder in Samarkand – Now a Major TV Series 213

The Independent has an article about the new FCO sponsored Mitchell and Webb “comedy”, which was made with FCO co-operation and is openly an attempt to bolster its image – and to make light of, and acceptable, the disgraceful British alliance with the dictator of Uzbekistan.  The argument that this series is based on – and is an attempt to counter the effect of – Murder in Samarkand – is overwhelming.

Not least because the producers of  Ambassadors, Big Talk, attempted to buy the rights to Murder in Samarkand.  They invited me to, and I attended, a meeting in their offices and they had several copies of Murder in Samarkand in their office.  They also had access to the original unpublished (and much longer) manuscript of the book, under its original title Should Not Be Known.   For them to pretend their “Tazbekistan” comedy is unrelated does not just make them lying bastards, it is ludicrous.

I did get solicitors to write both to Big Talk and to the BBC, but unfortunately the lawyers wanted money amounting to tens of thousands to apply for a copyright injunction, and I just don’t have it.

The Independent article takes the opportunity to recycle ten year old slurs against me by the FCO, without mentioning that they were disproven.

I wonder if one of my talented commenters could design an online “poster” for Murder in Samarkand, showing the book, Mitchell and Webb or the Ambassadors logo, and the slogan “Murder in Samarkand – Now a Major TV Series”.  Then we can get it everywhere we can on the web, and the bastards can try and sue me!  That would turn the tables nicely.

The other extraordinary thing in the Independent article is the contention that New Labour had an ethical foreign policy, as though the tabloid humiliation and marginalisation of Robin Cook- and the dodgy dossier and invasion of Iraq –  had never happened.


213 thoughts on “Murder in Samarkand – Now a Major TV Series

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  • Solon

    @ Anon at 1:21pm – thank you for educating John Goss in how the British legal system actually works. It would be gracious of him to acknowledge it.

    And to Mary, who calls lawyers “parasites” – would that include Gareth Peirce, who, I believe, is also a lawyer? No, I thought not – which demonstrates the silliness of such blanket statements.

  • Jives

    Interesting observing the hasbara here brazenly turning into a modern day Stasi.

    And look what happened to them and their inhumane files…

  • Komodo

    Aren’t right-on, lefty, lovvie comics who launched their careers in the Cambridge Footlights and were propelled further by their fellow-alumni wonderful!


  • Gary

    I really wish someone would produce a series based on the actual book, as much of the content correlates with my own experiences of the country. Unfortunately, I dont think our semi independent media would be allowed show it.

  • reliably


    Having been in that world for many years, I can tell you that it should not cost near that much to have a lawyer write a letter to the various production entities. This sort of thing happens all the time, with claims ranging from airtight to delusional. If you had meetings with the company, and they reviewed your material, you would have a strong case.

    I wouldn’t give up on this. Do you have someone who can give you a referral for an entertainment attorney?

  • MC

    Quick question, what is hasbara?

    Like Komodo, I read the synopsis that indicates the series will poke fun at the way the FCO drums up trade. Perhaps that is the bit that was written and filmed when the FCO PR people were out to lunch?

    Although a small amount of satire is a flimsy defence for ripping off Mr Murray’s book.

  • Mary

    This is an emetic. I thought it was a wind up at firat. A ‘roast’ is comedic.

    A psychopaths’ gathering in NY. Complete with Yiddish songs apparently

    Waterboarding Is A Big Joke At Cheney Roast*
    A sentimental evening at the Plaza for Cheney, Rumsfeld, Mukasey, and Lieberman. “Really tasteless,” says a guest.
    October 8, 2013

    *Roast (comedy) Wikipedia
    A roast is an event, almost exclusively in the United States, in which an individual is subjected to a public presentation of comedic insults, praise, outlandish true and untrue stories, and heartwarming tributes. The implication being that the roastee is able to take the jokes in good humor and not as serious criticism or insult, and it is seen by some as a great honor to be roasted. The individual is surrounded by friends, fans, and well-wishers, who can receive some of the same treatment as well during the course of the evening. The party and presentation itself are both referred to as a “roast.” The host of the event is called the “roastmaster.” Anyone who is honored in such a way is said to have been “roasted.”

  • MJ

    I agree with Komodo. See what it’s like first. If it bombs you may not want to take too much credit.

  • Yezhov

    @ Jives

    “Interesting observing the hasbara here brazenly turning into a modern day Stasi.”

    And please don’t forget to mention the NKVD, the Gestapo, the Securitate and Shin Beth.

    Seriously, though, I have no doubt that you are on file where it counts.

  • Exexpat


    Its not all employees at the BBC… I know some lovely talented and decent people who work like dogs there for much less pay than they can get elsewhere. They have survived cut after cut and one I know is off work for stress….

    Its the Senior Management criminals and fraudsters like purnell who are the cancer there…

    Anyway after speaking to my friends they reckon the BBC as a broadcaster might not exist in a decade or so…. its more likely to have to become just a content producer for the likes of google, apple and other tech corps may control the medium. If you think – whats the point of channels now?

  • Jon

    MC, “hasbara” is presented here in depth:

    I think the word can be useful, but it rather gets bandied about here a lot, and often against people who just disagree with a particular view about the Middle-East conflict, rather than exclusively against people who are proven to be deliberately propagandising for Israel.

  • Nextus

    From the 6-minute preview, it looks like a very well-made and promising series:

    First-look behind-the-scenes video for BBC Two’s Ambassadors, starring Mitchell and Webb

    First impressions are pretty good. It may even be sympathetic to the ambassador’s moral quandaries. Clearly it was inspired by Craig’s book, though whether that counts as plagiarism I leave to the legal sharks. The imagery will certainly provide a vivid boost to the imagination when re-reading Murder in Samarkand. It will be interesting to see how many anecdotes are lifted straight from the book. Perhaps we should have a prize for the reader who can offer the most page references for scenarios that crop up throughout the series.

  • Ben Franklin -Machine Gun Preacher (unleaded version)

    I’m surprised there aren’t lawyers who will represent you on a contingency basis, Craig.

    You would have a strong case, I think.

  • fedup

    often against people who just disagree with a particular view about the Middle-East conflict, rather than exclusively against people who are proven to be deliberately propagandising for Israel.

    Yeah there is always elements of good to be found in everyone included in Colonel James Steele. The same chap who set up the the interrogation units in Iraq, and was subject of Searching for Steele.

    It depends on the outlook and the disposition; one man’s enhanced interrogation, is another man’s weatherboarding. The constant barrage of targeted abuse getting classed as a different point of fucking view is a differing view in itself.

  • Mary

    Agree there Indigo. Sickening. Not content with screwing UK students for their £9,000 pa tuition fees, those universities tie up with a torturing dictator like Karimov, the object of which is presumably to make more money.

    ‘The University of Westminster – has set up a campus in Uzbekistan and at least five others – Cambridge, Bath, the University of East Anglia, the London College of Fashion and London Metropolitan University – have established partnerships with colleges in the country.’

    Two members of the board of trustees of the British Council are noteworthy.

    Simon Fraser – Permanent Under Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office

    and Baroness Prashar, on the Chilcot Iraq Inquiry whose report is further delayed.

  • John Goss

    Anon at 1.21 p.m. The judge directs the jury. They were probably all masons too! If you had been awake you would have noticed a previous comment which related to the blogpost. I was responding, as well you know, to a comment ensuing from that made by Wikispooks, as well you know. Why don’t you try to follow the theme? Can’t keep up I suppose. You, and the other shower of shills, are not interested in justice. You try to make a legal point to justify the acquittal of four policemen who beat up a man who has committed no crime and has been kept in custody for ten years without being convicted of any crime. You should hang your head in shame, if you can get it out of the shillmaster’s arse.

  • resident dissident


    On a serious level I’m not sure that British Universities setting up academic links with Uzbekistan necessarily amounts to endorsement of Karimov and they can often act as a platform for developing alternative views. From memory I think that Craig in his book mentions contact with one of the universities on such a scheme and also involvement in student exchange schemes so I’m not sure that he would have such black and white views either.

  • TO

    I’ll be interested to watch the actual show. The synopsis and previews I’ve seen of the show so far sound interesting. I haven’t so far got the impression they’re particularly whitewashing or pretending away problems in the countries their place is modeled on. They are probably not going nearly as in-depth as a more serious show might, but they do seem to bring up some of the moral problems (pushing for a helicopter contract vs ignoring human rights abuses), and some of the humour seems to be of ‘isn’t this twisted’ kind rather than the light-hearted ‘isn’t this fun’ kind, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it inspired at least a few viewers to learn more.

    If you want to educate people about that part of the world, this might actually help, or be something you can use to get people’s attention.

  • Solon

    @ John Goss

    From the churlish, vulgar and intemperate tone of your post at 8:23pm you’re obviously not at all grateful to Anon for giving you some free lessons about British justice.

    I’ll give you another one: the judge may direct the jury, but the jury doesn’t have to follow. This is logic itself, since if the judge’s directions were binding, what would be the point of having a jury?

    Now you can call me a mason as well.

    You write to Anon: “You try to make a legal point to justify the acquittal of four policemen”. Yes, he does – the legal point (and the justification, for that matter, is called acquittal by a jury. But hey, what’s due legal process when it produces a result John “Stalin” Goss doesn’t agree with…..?

  • Indigo


    Thanks for the links; their CVs make interesting reading.

    @Resident Dissident

    Call me old-fashioned (or seriously naive if you like) but, in my book, education that ignores ethics … isn’t. The finest statement that I know of that made this perfectly clear is the following:

    I have no knowledge of Craig’s views on the subject but they would have no bearing no mine. And, as far as alternative views in Uzbekistan go, I doubt very much if Karimov would be at all welcoming of such influences.

  • fedup

    A Node you little tinker, is that your handy work?

    That is good too, only the suits should not be white, if you would agree?!

    Jives you made me smile.

  • A Node


    No, it’s nothing to do with me. I just found it there.
    I thought the white suits were kinda diplomatish.

  • DoNNyDarKo

    OT but still BBC this evening.
    They did a piece about Libya.
    It has taken Britain 2 years and 200 million pounds of bombing to find out that they have destroyed the country of Libya.Europeans can’t set foot in Benghazi and every single thing that Gaddafi said would happen has.It’s gone tribal, become divided and ungovernable.The flow of oil has stopped !!!
    They even managed to paper over his death saying he died after being wounded in a gun battle.
    Lest we forget, he was bombed and strafed by the French Air force , then wounded and captured was murdered at point blank range before being sodomized by some blunt instrument.
    Meanwhile his pearl and birthplace , the beautiful city of Sirte, was flattened by the RAF.
    Dead men don’t tell tales. Wonder what else he was right about ?

  • Martin

    Here are some I made earlier:

    Knocked them up solely for conventional promotional purposes but provided it’s okay with CM anyone wanting to make a poster is welcome to use or adapt any of the images in the folder linked above.

    Would happily do so myself but I’m abroad and have only my cellphone no Photoshop…

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