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Page last updated at 07:03 GMT, Thursday, 31 December 2009
Today: Thursday 31st December

PLEASE NOTE: We are unable to offer transcripts for our programme interviews. Today is broadcast live and the running order is subject to change.

Today's programme is guest edited by the novelist PD James and some of the items in this running order are longer versions of those broadcast on the programme.


The US's most senior military commander in the middle east General Petraeus says he is 90% certain that released hostage Peter Moore and his four colleagues were held in Iran after their Iraq kidnapping. Security Correspondent Frank Gardner discusses the speculation surrounding the release.


One of the ideas guest editor PD James wanted to investigate was the notion of national identity and patriotism. Historian David Starkey explained our patriotic past to PD James in the National Portrait Gallery in London.

The business news with Nick Cosgrove.


Our guest editor PD James has chosen some of her favourite poems to play during the programme. One of those chosen is Philip Larkin's The Explosion which is read by the poet himself.


In January 1986, Margaret Thatcher's defence secretary Michael Heseltine stormed out of a meeting at Number 10 and announced his resignation to a television camera as he went. But the details of the meeting, which was about Westland Helicopter Company, are still shrouded in secrecy. For the last five years the BBC's Freedom of Information expert Martin Rosenbaum has been trying, unsuccessfully, to make the minutes of the meeting public under Freedom of Information. He discusses how the Information Commissioner has ruled that the government must now release them.

The Sports news with Arlo White.


Just how dangerous is Yemen? It's where the Nigerian who allegedly tried to blow up a plane on Christmas day was trained and almost half of those still held in Guantanamo Bay are Yemeni. Michael Portillo discusses what he found after travelling to Yemen last month for his BBC Two programme Closing Guantanamo.

The paper review.


PD James thinks people are less articulate now than they used to be. She left Cambridge girls' school in 1936 when she was 16, an age at which children sat the Leaving Certificate exam. Correspondent Sanchia Berg took exam papers in English from that time to a modern Cambridge comprehensive, Parkside, to see what the pupils made of them.

Thought for the day with Kevin Franz, lead mental healthcare chaplain for Greater Glasgow and Clyde.


Why is TV crime drama so popular? PD James is famous for her crime novels, a number of which have been successfully adapted for TV. She was keen to explore why we love it. Former Metropolitan Police Commissioner Sir Ian Blair and the best selling crime writer Lynda La Plante, discuss why viewers never seem to tire of watching fictional police detectives at work.


Iran organised the kidnapping of British hostage Peter Moore in Iraq, released after two-and-a-half years, it is claimed. The Prime Minister's Special Envoy on Human Rights, Anne Clwyd, discusses how much the Iranian government may have known about the hostage's whereabouts.


Guest editor PD James was a governor of the BBC from 1988 to 1993. For her programme she interviewed the corporation's director general Mark Thompson, pressing him on the future of the corporation and the high levels of executive pay.

Sports news with Arlo White.


Iran has been blamed for masterminding the capture in Baghdad of a British man who spent more than two years as a hostage. Diplomatic correspondent Bridget Kendall reports on the fallout from Peter Moore's release.


Guest editor PD James shares what she sees as considerable public anxieties about aspects of the criminal justice system. These include cases of dangerous criminals released to offend again, the difficulty of deporting foreign criminals and the effectiveness of the sentencing available to the courts after a conviction for murder. She discusses these concerns with the Secretary of State for Justice, Jack Straw.

The business news with Nick Cosgrove.


Earlier in the programme we heard from the historian David Starkey and our guest editor PD James on the role of monarchy in fostering a common identity in Britain. But PD James was also interested in discussing whether patriotism is something that could or should be fostered in schools. The Prime Minister has led calls for a greater sense of Britishness. The more culturally diverse the country becomes, the greater the calls for some shared values to be spelt out. PD James and Evan went to the National Portrait Gallery with historian David Starkey to ponder on patriotism, and discuss it with Sunder Katwala, General Secretary of the Fabian Society.


Guest editor PD James reflects on her time editing the Today programme.



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