BBC

Sports Headline and UK Weather are two new services, being added to the existing News Multiscreen Service on BBCi on Freeview from the end of February.

Pete Clifton, Head of News Interactive, commented: “This is a fantastic development for our Freeview audience, giving them access to up-to-the minute sports news and UK weather to accompany the existing news service.

“This is a very important platform for us, and I am delighted we can now offer even more choice on it.”

Rahul Chakkara, Controller BBCi, commented: “BBCi is the market leader of all interactive digital TV services and has rapidly become a core part of the digital audiences viewing.

“In December total platform reach across DSat, DTT and DCable was 14.5million, an increase of five million year on year.”

January saw the launch of film review service BBCi Movies which offers viewers the information about films on the latest UK releases, as well as a UK cinema listing service, plus information on all films showing across all BBC Television channels.

There are also quizzes, ratings and comments from the public.

Rocker Pete Doherty has been banned from BBC children’s TV as producers don’t believe he is a good role model for kids. The frontman for Babyshambles, he is no longer allowed to appear on any kids TV shows.

Read more.

BBC on YouTube

The BBC (including BBC Worldwide) are about to sign agreements with Google to allow BBC content to be distributed online on Google Video and YouTube. If this goes through we can expect to see channels on YouTube with clips of BBC shows.

Read more.

Jay Hunt, Controller, BBC Daytime, is expanding the schedule’s drama offering for 2007 with three new high-quality single dramas for BBC One which continue BBC Daytime’s recent tradition of attracting big-name talent to its drama output.

These new programmes build on the success of the critically-acclaimed and award-winning Afternoon Plays, a fifth series of which airs on BBC One later this month.

Later this year the occasional Director’s Debut series returns with Cutting It star Sarah Parish as a first-time director of a play produced for BBC One by BBC Birmingham.

Baby Boom (working title) is the poignant story of two couples who find that starting a family is more complicated than they first thought…

A documentary accompanying charting Parish’s enthralling journey as she switches roles is being made by independent production company Maverick.

Meanwhile, Leopardrama has been commissioned to dramatise Andy McNab’s stunning action thriller The Grey Man.

Starring Olivia Colman (That Mitchell & Webb Look, Green Wing), Daisy Donovan (Daisy Does America), Billy Murray (EastEnders) and Daniel Ryan (The Government Inspector) and directed by Declan O’Dwyer (Robin Hood) it tells the story of a man driven to an extreme course of action as he attempts to escape the humdrum of his respectable but boring life.

The Grey Man was originally a Quick Read written by McNab as part of the BBC’s RAW (Reading and Writing Campaign) and will be shown on World Book Day, 1 March.

And Bloodlines is a powerful contemporary drama from independent Resource Base about family secrets, the search for identity and the relationship between nature and nurture.

Written by Malcolm Campbell, and produced by Hilary Durman of Bafta-winning Southampton-based indie Resource Base, Bloodlines is commissioned by BBC Daytime in collaboration with BBC Learning.

Jay Hunt said: “I am delighted we are expanding the range of our drama in daytime with a series of compelling one-off plays.

“With Doctors and the afternoon plays, these new dramas make BBC One daytime the place for strong original writing and performance.”

Panorama – on BBC One tonight at 8.30pm – has found evidence that the man named as Britain’s most successful test-tube baby doctor has been offering unnecessary and unproven therapies to women seeking fertility treatment, potentially risking their health by offering unproven treatments.

Mr Mohamed Taranissi, whose wealth is calculated by Sunday Times Rich List researchers to be £38million, has produced 2,300 babies in the past seven years for clients who regard him as a miracle maker.

But, although he is renowned for his personal dedication to his patients, his critics question the reliability of some of his statistics and some of his controversial treatments.

Mr Taranissi, who is interviewed in the programme, says he is a victim of red tape and angrily rejects allegations against him.

He is currently the subject of an investigation by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) whose spokeswoman tells Panorama: “We’ve had unique problems in the regulation of these clinics. We have struggled to gain the information that we’ve wanted … we have struggled to gain access to carry out even routine inspections … we’ve been challenged at every step of the way.”

Panorama used undercover patients and secret cameras to investigate the private baby business.

The footage was then shown to some of Britain’s top fertility experts who were unaware of where it was filmed.

It revealed:

Mohamed Taranissi’s Assisted Reproduction and Gynaecology Centre (ARGC) clinic in London offering a 26-year-old undercover reporter IVF treatment which could cost her up to £13,000 in some circumstances despite neither her, nor her partner, having any history of fertility problems.

The same clinic offering a treatment involving a blood transfusion of a concentrated mix of human antibodies. Treatment described by fertility expert Professor Lord Robert Winston as having “no basis, no justification”. Another expert, Dr Ashley Moffett, says: “We have no idea what they [the antibodies] will do to the baby.”

Following a blood test on the reporter Mr Taranissi’s clinician says that the “antibodies were found to be high”, and suggests that she enrols for immune therapies. But one of Panorama’s experts who sees the results describes them as completely normal.

The undercover reporter is told she needs blood tests involving 18 phials of blood being taken from her arm at a cost of £780. But Panorama’s experts dismissed the test as valueless – “peripheral blood from your arm has no correlation at all with what’s going on inside the uterus” (Professor Lesley Regan).

Panorama has discovered that many of Mr Taranissi’s older and harder to treat patients have actually been treated at another clinic he owns which has a much lower success rate than that of his main clinic.

And the programme has uncovered evidence showing that Mr Taranissi has also been defying the HFEA’s regulations and risking a jail term by continuing to carry out IVF treatments at this second clinic which no longer has a licence.

Watching the secret filming Professor Robert Winston comments: “… Frankly it makes you weep for the medical profession, because it is too embarrassing to watch. In my view it is quite shocking.”

Despite neither her, nor her partner, showing any history of fertility problems the reporter is offered costly IVF treatment.

A doctor at Mr Taranissi’s clinic advises her: “If it is IVF it is £4,000, so on this you need to add the blood tests.”

The ‘patient’ asks how much they are and is told: “They would go up to £1,000, £1,500.” Before the doctor adds that this is: “Per cycle and on top of that you have to add your medication, the drugs, that is another £1,500.”

On average, couples needing IVF can go through up to four cycles, which could equate to £21,000 at Taranissi’s clinic.

A second undercover patient with a similar medical status is correctly told she does not require treatment.

Professor Fauser said: “This is a 26-year-old woman trying to get pregnant for 11 or 12 months. You know, already issues like IVF and IUI were mentioned and in a condition like this they shouldn’t be mentioned at all. These treatments, you know, are way … should be way out of the discussion at that stage.”

Professor Lieberman said: “This 26-year-old has been led along a garden path of a whole lot of events which are totally unnecessary at this stage.”

The reporter is also given misleading advice – she’s told at Mr Taranissi’s clinic: “There is another procedure in which we look at the lining of the womb, cleanse the lining of the womb before we do the transfer and that costs £1,000.”

Responding to the advice offered, expert, Professor Bart Fauser, said: “These are all just magic words … completely meaningless…”

When Mr Taranissi was asked by reporter Kate Silverton whether he thought that the information given to the patient was misleading, he said: “I don’t think it is misleading because if you look again at the medical literature … I mean, it is … a known fact and there are actually scientific papers that have looked at that.

“It is something that could be associated with improved implantation … This can actually clean things inside the cavity or the tubes sometimes might be blocked and this can just flush them out.”

When the results of the immune blood tests return, Mr Taranissi’s clinician says: “Some of these antibodies were found to be high,” and the clinic suggests the 26-year-old ‘patient’ enrol for full IVF treatment involving a transfusion of antibodies and a course of steroids.

But on seeing the test results Dr Ashley Moffett, expert on Immunology in Pregnancy at Cambridge University, said: “Actually I did see the results, and they were all completely normal. So that it’s … having seen that these results are completely normal it is even more strange that he should actually say, this doctor, that she needs to go ahead with treatment.”

If the ‘patient’ did go ahead with this treatment, the full cost of the IVF cycle could come to around £10,000.

The treatment is available in two other clinics in the UK and some in the United States but some of the programme’s experts described it as untested and potentially dangerous.

Dr Ashley Moffett said: “These are antibodies prepared from thousands of people and the batches have a lot of antibodies that could actually react with cells of the baby’s. And these antibodies will cross the placenta. We have no idea what they will do to the baby.”

Professor Bart Fauser said: “One way or the other practices like this should be stopped in a civilised country. For me there’s no question about it. This is insane really, and this cannot be defended by any reasonable argument. I’m shocked. Unbelievable.”

Mrs Geeta Nargund, Consultant in Reproductive Medicine at St George’s Hospital, said: “… it’s very sad indeed for this vulnerable woman to be in that situation where she’s being given this twisted information and, on top of that, a huge cost.”

Using the Freedom of Information Act Panorama has obtained figures showing how Mr Taranissi treats some older patients at his second clinic, the Reproductive Genetics Institute (RGI).

The birth rates at the RGI were consistently much lower than the ARGC.

Mr Taranissi says this is because they require specific treatments and not because it helps boost his success rate at his main clinic, a suspicion being investigated by the regulator.

When interviewed about Taranissi’s track record for compliance with the HFE Act and the HFEA code of practice, Angela McNabb, CEO of the HFEA, said: “The vast majority of clinics in the UK comply well with the standards that are set out. That hasn’t been the case with this centre.

“In fact, we’ve struggled to gain a good co-operative working relationship where we can resolve some of the issues that we have. And we’ve been challenged at every step of the way.”

Panorama has also discovered that Mr Taranissi has continued giving treatments to patients at his second clinic, the RGI – even though its license was not renewed at the end of 2005 due to a lack of required data, and despite it being a criminal offence to operate in an unlicensed clinic.

In an interview for the programme Mr Taranissi told Panorama that he continued operating his second clinic without a licence because he had: “… hundreds of patients going through cycles, and stuff like that … it was almost impossible for me to turn the patients away. There was no way I could have stopped…”

Before adding: “… I’m the one who is sticking his neck out for that and I don’t understand why should I be stopped from working because of paperwork.”

Mr Taranissi was asked if he was concerned about the potential health risks of the antibody transfusion.

He said: “We are worried but potentially anything that you do or drug can be seen in ten years or 20 years as having unknown problems. If we want to think like this.”

Mr Taranissi went on to say that “all the potential issues are explained in black and white” to patients.

Following the death of much-loved Welsh newspaper cartoonist Gren Jones, BBC Wales will be screening Gren: How To Be A Welshman on BBC Two Wales/2W on Tuesday, 9 January at 7pm.

First shown in 2004, this On Show special will give viewers an insight into Gren’s ability to touch readers with his wit, style and commentary on daily life, and celebrates his very special take on Wales and the Welsh.

With contributions from just a few of his thousands of fans, including Neil Kinnock, Max Boyce, Roy Noble and Gareth Edwards, Gren: How To Be A Welshman will tell his life story.

From the young boy who drew caricatures of neighbours and local people from his native Hengoed in his hymn book to the creator of the fictitious village of Aberflyarff and Nigel and Neville the message-bearing sheep, Gren’s special talent made him hugely popular in his beloved Valleys and beyond the Welsh borders.

Over the course of his 35 year career, his daily cartoons in the South Wales Echo became a Welsh institution and he was awarded an MBE for service to newspapers before officially retiring in 1999.

However Gren, who died on Thursday, 4 January at the age of 72, continued to work from home producing the cartoons that have entertained generations each day.

With contributions from avid fans and collectors of the daily cartoons, the On Show takes a look at the success of the cartoons in a country that loves nothing more than laughing at its own idiosyncrasies.

Tomorrow's World

BBC News is to bring back Tomorrow’s World across all its platforms to help audiences understand new technology and how it will change their lives.

While the programme itself will not return, elements of the title sequence and the logo of the much-loved BBC series will be used to brand the BBC’s reporting of the world of new technology across TV, radio and online.

The much respected Maggie Philbin, who was a reporter and presenter on Tomorrow’s World for eight years in the Eighties, will be on hand to offer analysis and extra detail.

Maggie will make her first appearance on Breakfast (BBC One and BBC News 24) on Monday.

The association with Tomorrow’s World is part of a commitment across BBC News to help audiences make sense of the technologies that will change our lives.

Tomorrow’s World’s reputation for correct predictions and good storytelling can help make it less daunting and more relevant for those fearful of change while staying at the cutting edge of new developments.

Peter Horrocks, BBC Head of Television News, said: “Technological change and its impact on all our lives is one of the big stories of the moment.

“Tomorrow’s World was a much-loved programme with a strong and enduring reputation for engaging journalism.

“Bringing the brand back across all our platforms will allow us to use that reputation to help people who might find the pace of change bewildering and also to reflect the excitement felt by many of our audiences about new technology.”

Maggie Philbin added: “It’s great to be involved in Tomorrow’s World again. Bringing the brand back in this way across TV radio and online fits perfectly with technological change.

“This will be a great new way of telling this exciting story.”

The BBC today announced Gabby Logan will be joining the corporation in the New Year to present its new sports news programme, due to launch on BBC One by the summer of 2007.

A former Commonwealth Games gymnast, Logan, who has previously worked at Sky and most recently at ITV, will also have a role as a member of BBC Radio Five Live’s presenting team.

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