The Battle of Saville & Merton (Part One)

Bursting a Meme Bubble: [thanks for linkmachinego for almost everything I am about to write]. In the UK, we have a topical comedy program called “Have I Got News For You”. The show consists of two teams, one headed up each week by Ian Hislop, editor of Private Eye, and one headed up by misanthropic comedian Paul Merton. There is an additional celebrity or politician on each team. The show is supervised by Angus Deayton.

Due to the topical nature of the show, and the acerbic wits of a few of the participants in the show (and the fact that Ian Hislop knows altogether too much stuff that goes on behind the scenes in British politics), the show has been savaged a number of times by law suits and claims of defamation of character. It is also, generally, extraordinarily funny.

A few weeks / months ago, an e-mail purporting to be an unedited transcript of one of the shows appeared on the net. It supposedly reported the dialogue that took place between the regulars on the show and Sir Jimmy Saville, a radio DJ with a slightly dubious reputation, who was a guest this week. The e-mail was scandalous in the extreme – incredibly funny (to the point of being scary), and utterly savage. [Read it here or here, but be warned – this is not for the kids].

Anyway. Such a document is clearly legally dubious at best, and since there is no evidence attached to the e-mail, it would seem logical to try to assume that it is entirely spurious as well. (In which case, of course, you would be talking vast potential libel damages.) But the strange thing about this particular meme is that most people who received the letter in question (including me – and I consider to be extremely cynical about chain e-mail) thought it to be at least plausible.

Now the truth of the matter is harder to discern, although through linkmachinego it seems that there are now several other documents on the web which purport to have something to say on the piece. This document, for one, claims responsibility for the writing of the piece in question for one, and claims that it was a parody of a certain journalist rather than an attack on Saville or HIGNFY.

I’m looking for more evidence on the matter in question at the moment. If any of you know of any reputable sites that discuss this matter, I would be really interested in hearing about them: