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BBC TwoNewsnight
Last Updated: Friday, 12 May 2006, 11:40 GMT 12:40 UK
I'll let you be in my dream if I can be in yours

By Peter Barron
Newsnight editor


    Most people have their own private dream. Mine would be to play the guitar brilliantly, or even messily but magnificently, in front of a vast appreciative crowd.

    Peter Barron dreams of playing guitar
    Dream on - has Peter REALLY played guitar on the latest Newsnight theme arrangement?
    It's been a bit of a dream week. The great thing about doing Newsnight is that there's plenty of scope for showcasing things you personally love, in the hope that like-minded Newsnight viewers will love it too.

    So when our guest producer Lucy - born I think in the 80s - e-mailed me saying "something called the New York Dolls are in town, any interest?" I shot back immediately, and a little embarrassingly: oh yeah - Jet Boy stole my baby.

    I'm acutely aware that many Newsnight regulars will have hated our piece about the cross-dressing, drug-depleted New York Dolls. Their playing was certainly messily magnificent rather than brilliant, and their morals unquestionable. When asked if he - like David Bowie - was bi-sexual, singer David Johansen famously said: "No, I'm tri-sexual, I'll try anything".

    But when Steve Smith met the two surviving members of the band this week and offered to get a round in he was surprised to be asked for a cup of hot water. These days the New York Dolls carry their own tea bags.

    The New York Dolls

    The point of this is that over the last 26 years I reckon I've been as fanatical a viewer of Newsnight as any of you, and I love the New York Dolls, so is it an unreasonable assumption that at least some of you will feel the same?

    And if you don't, that's fine. You'll have gone to bed - I know that from the audience figures - but perhaps won't when we next do a piece about Joan Didion or Daniel Barenboim. And if our excellent programme editors want to push their particular prejudice for butterfly collecting or Clarice Cliff that's fine too. As a Doll aficionado I can hardly complain.

    She also dreams

    I can reveal that our political editor Martha Kearney also carries a flame for the New York Dolls, but I suspect her real dream in 1974 was to be huddled in her hi-boys next to Dave Lee Travis as he introduced Kenny or the Rubettes on Top of the Pops.

    Top of the Pops logo
    Top of the Pops proved too strong an attraction for Newsnight's staff
    On Thursday her dream came true as the BBC's DG Mark Thompson put out an emergency call for staff to make their way to the Top of the Pops studio to form the audience, as a licensing problem meant the BBC would be breaking the law by inviting members of the public.

    Martha didn't need any further encouragement, and I trust she enjoyed the Beautiful South, among others.

    Am I dreaming?

    As our own studio rebuild continues, I've been spending time in the recording studio with the composer of the Newsnight theme tune George Fenton, who has been remixing and re-recording the music ready for our relaunch.

    Heeding the many pleas from viewers George has barely changed the title theme, simply remixing it and adding a few touches to breathe fresh life into an enduring classic, but there will be some surprises later on in the programme. And as the final recording session drew to a close late at night and after a good dinner, George handed me a black Stratocaster and said "Okay, you're going to play on the next bit".

    After five or so takes and a little bit of eye-rolling about my sense of timing we got a good one, and although it may not be high in the mix it does make it to the final edit.

    Or am I dreaming this?


    Peter - mate - we LOVED the Dolls report. The New York Dolls are a rarely seen gem of the rock cannon - and Johansen is always good value. Newsnight is at its best adding depth and context to stories, and when putting faces - and minds - to the under-reported areas of history. Why should your music coverage be any different? Jolly good show. More of the same please - your next generation of regular viewers demand it!
    Michelle Olley, Camden Town

    Bring back Jeremy's weather forecast; all is forgiven!
    James Dowden, Birmingham

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