Open main menu

Newsnight is a current affairs programme, that provides "in-depth investigation and analysis of the stories behind the day's headlines." It broadcasts on weekdays, usually at 10:30 pm on BBC Two, and is also available on BBC iPlayer.[3][4]

Newsnight
BBC Newsnight.png
GenreNews
Current affairs
Created byBBC News
Presented byLead Presenter:
Emily Maitlis

Other Presenters:
Kirsty Wark
Emma Barnett[1]
Theme music composerGeorge Fenton
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original language(s)English
Production
Producer(s)BBC News
Production location(s)Studio B, Broadcasting House, London
Editor(s)Esmé Wren[2]
Running time45 minutes
Release
Original networkBBC Two
BBC News
Picture format576i (16:9 SDTV)
1080i (HDTV)
Original release28 January 1980 (1980-01-28) –
present
Chronology
Related showsAny Answers?
Any Questions?
The Big Questions
Dateline London
HARDtalk
Question Time
External links
Newsnight

Since March 2019, Emily Maitlis has served as the "lead presenter," with Kirsty Wark "undertaking an enhanced role," and Emma Barnett joining the presenting team.[5]

Contents

HistoryEdit

 
The original 1980 opening titles

Newsnight began on 28 January 1980 at 10.45pm, although a 15 min news bulletin using the same title had run on BBC2 for a 13 month period from 1975 - 1976. Its launch was delayed by four months by the Association of Broadcasting Staff, at the time the main BBC trade union.[6] Newsnight was the first programme to be made by means of a direct collaboration between BBC News, then at Television Centre, and the current affairs department, based a short distance away at the now defunct Lime Grove Studios. Staff feared job cuts. The newscast also served as a replacement for the current affairs programme Tonight.

Former presenters include Peter Snow, a regular for 17 years, Donald MacCormick, Charles Wheeler, Adam Raphael and John Tusa, later boss of the BBC World Service. In the early days each edition had an 'auxiliary presenter', a phenomenon pejoratively known at the time as the "Newsnight's wife syndrome".[6] Usually a woman, it was her job to read the news headlines and to introduce minor items. Olivia O'Leary in 1985 became the first principal female presenter; the programme has had a single presenter since 1987.[7] Newsnight is now wholly managed by BBC News.[7]

Until 1988, the start time of Newsnight was flexible, so BBC2 could screen a movie at 9:30pm to dovetail with the conclusion of the main news on BBC1. The fixed time slot of 10:30pm was established in the face of fierce objections from the then managing director of BBC TV, Bill Cotton, otherwise in charge of all scheduling decisions. The very announcement was made without him even being informed. The affair sparked a widely reported row within the corporation. One protagonist said it would "destroy the BBC".[8] Newsnight moved to new facilities at Broadcasting House on 15 October 2012.

Between 1999 and 2014 on BBC Two Scotland the offshoot, Newsnight Scotland, presented by Gordon Brewer, replaced the final twenty minutes of the UK programme from Monday to Friday. From May 2014, Newsnight is again shown in full in Scotland, but delayed by half an hour to accommodate Newsnight Scotland's replacement, Scotland 2014.

Newsnight's signature tune was composed by George Fenton. Various arrangements have been used over the years.

InterviewsEdit

On 13 May 1997, Jeremy Paxman pressed former Home Secretary Michael Howard about a meeting with head of the Prison Service Derek Lewis about the possible dismissal of the governor of Parkhurst Prison. Faced with what he considered evasive answers, Paxman put the same question– "Did you threaten to overrule him?" (i.e. Lewis)– twelve times in succession.[9]

This has become the programme's best known interview. Later, during a twentieth anniversary edition of Newsnight, Paxman told Howard that he'd simply been trying desperately to string out the interview because the next item in the running order had failed to materialise.[10] In 2004, Paxman raised the subject again with Howard, by then leader of the Conservative Party to get a final answer.[11][not in citation given] This time, Howard laughed it off, saying that he had not threatened to overrule the head of the Prison Service.[citation needed] During Paxman's final show on 18 June 2014, Howard briefly appeared in the studio once more, with Paxman simply asking "Did you?", to which Howard replied "No Jeremy, I didn't, but feel free to ask another 11 times."[12]

Accusations of biasEdit

In April 2001 the BBC's governors ruled that Newsnight's coverage of Peter Mandelson's resignation over the Hinduja affair had been politically biased. The governors criticised the programme for only featuring Labour Party supporters on the panel discussing the issue, and no opposition politicians appeared at any stage of the 45-minute episode. The broadcast attracted an outcry in the media with one critic describing it as a whitewash worthy of a "one-party state".[13][14][15]

Coverage of sexual abuse scandalsEdit

In the weeks after the ITV documentary Exposure: The Other Side of Jimmy Savile was broadcast on 3 October 2012, allegations were made that a Newsnight investigation into Savile by reporter Liz MacKean and producer Meirion Jones in December 2011 had been dropped shortly before transmission because it conflicted with tribute programmes prepared after Savile's death. The BBC appointed Nick Pollard, a former Sky News executive, to examine why the investigation was dropped.[16] On 23 October, the Director-General of the BBC, George Entwistle, appeared before the Parliamentary Culture, Media and Sport Committee, and stated that it had been a "catastrophic mistake" to cancel the Newsnight broadcast.[17]

Newsnight broadcast on 2 November 2012 a report falsely accusing (but not naming) a prominent Conservative, Lord McAlpine of child abuse. The veracity of this story collapsed after The Guardian reported a case of mistaken identity on 8 November[18] and the victim retracted the allegation after belatedly being shown a photograph of McAlpine in an item broadcast on the following day. The production team had not contacted McAlpine about the allegations.[19] An apology about the story was made on 9 November during that evening's broadcast of the programme.[20] In an official statement, the BBC announced all ongoing Newsnight investigations were being suspended.[21] The Director of BBC Scotland, Ken MacQuarrie, investigated the circumstances around the programme. His findings were published on 12 November, and stated that:[22]

The BBC announced that Karen O'Connor would take on the role of Acting Editor of Newsnight.[22]

The Pollard report was published on 19 December 2012. It concluded that the decision to drop the original Newsnight report on the allegations against Savile in December 2011 was "flawed", but that it had not been done to protect the Savile tribute programmes. However, it criticised George Entwistle for apparently failing to read emails warning him of Savile's "dark side",[23] and that, after the allegations against Savile eventually became public, the BBC fell into a "level of chaos and confusion [that] was even greater than was apparent at the time".[24] The BBC announced that Newsnight editor Peter Rippon and deputy editor Liz Gibbons would be replaced.[24]

Newsnight ReviewEdit

From 2000 until December 2009, on Friday evenings Newsnight gave way at 11:00pm to Newsnight Review, a 35-minute consumer survey of the week's artistic and cultural highlights. Mark Lawson was the programme's main presenter in its Late Review incarnation, which began life as a strand of The Late Show. He continued to chair the panel of guest reviewers when it reincarnated as Newsnight Review in 2000, up until December 2005. The programme was presented by Kirsty Wark, Martha Kearney, John Wilson, Tim Marlow, Kwame Kwei-Armah and Hardeep Singh Kohli. Regular reviewers included Mark Kermode, Tom Paulin, Ekow Eshun and Germaine Greer.

As part of the BBC's commitment to moving programmes out of London, Newsnight Review finished on 18 December 2009 with a special hour-long edition. The programme was replaced by The Review Show, produced from Glasgow, which started on 22 January 2010.[25][26] It had the same producer as Newsnight Review and was still presented by Kirsty Wark and Martha Kearney.

FrivolityEdit

Traditionally, there is a short stock market update at the end of each edition. In 2005, Newsnight's then editor, Peter Barron, replaced it with a 30-second weather report, arguing that the market data was available on the internet and that a weather report would be more useful. The change provoked a flurry of complaints.

Paxman on one occasion adopted a sarcastic tone and announced: "So finally and controversially, tomorrow's weather forecast. It's a veritable smorgasbord. Sun, rain, thunder, hail, snow, cold, wind. Almost worth going to work." On other occasions: "It's April, what do you expect?" and, "Take an umbrella with you tomorrow." He claimed, nonetheless, that he was happy presenting the weather. Gavin Esler also joined in, announcing: "As for the spring, you can forget about that until further notice."[27] The programme conducted a telephone poll. Michael Fish, a former weather forecaster, was seen arguing in favour of the weather report, while Norman Lamont, a former Chancellor of the Exchequer, argued for the market update. 62% of viewers voted in favour of the markets, and the update duly returned on Monday 18 April 2005.

Other stunts include: for a week at the end of January 2006, Newsnight played over its closing credits the so-called Radio 4 UK Theme which was facing the axe; the edition of 24 April 2006 played out to the signature tune of the soon-to-be-axed BBC sports programme, Grandstand.

Between January and June 2006 the programme included Gordaq, a spoof stock market index measuring the political performance of Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown. The index started at 100 and moved up or down depending on Brown's political situation, finishing at 101 on 30 June 2006.

In an early day motion of 3 November 2016, as a celebration of the "Brexit" vote for UK withdrawal from the European Union, right-wing Conservative Party MP Andrew Rosindell argued for a return to the broadcasting of "God Save the Queen" at the end of BBC One transmissions each day. The practice was dropped in 1997 (ostensibly due to BBC One adopting 24-hour broadcasting by simulcasting BBC News 24 overnight, rendering closedown obsolete).[28] That evening, Newsnight ended its broadcast with Kirsty Wark saying that they were happy to accede to Rosindell's request, before playing out to the video of the Sex Pistols' punk song of the same name, much to Rosindell's discontent.[29]

International edition and other mediaEdit

Newsnight is available in the UK on BBC iPlayer for up to thirty days after broadcast. A weekly digest version of Newsnight is screened on BBC World News, focusing on "the best of the week's films and discussions."[30][31]

Newsnight has a dedicated YouTube channel[32] on which excerpts of programmes can be found.

BBC America axed its US version of Newsnight as part of a series of changes that included dropping its daily three-hour block of international news.

KCET, an independent public television station in Los Angeles, broadcasts the weekly digest version.[33]

Current presenters, editors, and correspondentsEdit

PresentersEdit

Presenter Role
Emily Maitlis Lead Presenter[34]
Emma Barnett Presenters[35]
Kirsty Wark
Katie Razzall Relief Presenters
2019 editions[36]
Mark Urban

Editors and CorrespondentsEdit

Editor Role
Ben Chu Economics Editor[37]
Gabriel Gatehouse International Editor[38]
David Grossman Chief Correspondent[39]
Katie Razzall UK Editor[40]
Stephen Smith Culture Correspondent[41]
Helen Thomas Business Editor[42]
Mark Urban Diplomatic Editor[43]
Nicholas Watt Political Editor[44]

Past presenters and reportersEdit

Newsnight editorsEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Newsnight presenters".
  2. ^ "Wren announced as editor for Newsnight".
  3. ^ "Newsnight provides "in-depth investigation and analysis of the stories behind the day's headlines"".
  4. ^ "Newsnight available on BBC iPlayer".
  5. ^ "Emily Maitlis announced as new lead presenter for Newsnight".
  6. ^ a b Andrew Billen "Flagship sails on", New Statesman, 7 February 2000
  7. ^ a b "A history of Newsnight", BBC News, 28 May 2009
  8. ^ Chris Horrie and Steve Clarke 'Fuzzy Monsters: Fear and Loathing at the BBC' (1994)
  9. ^ Horrocks, Peter (21 January 2005). "Paxman versus Howard". BBC News.
  10. ^ Paxman's explanation was that "by the time I'd asked the question five or six times... it was clear... that you [Howard] weren't going to answer it... at which point a voice came in my ear and said "The next piece of tape isn't cut, you'd better carry on with this for a while" and I'm afraid I couldn't think of anything else to ask you."
  11. ^ "Jeremy Paxman takes on Michael Howard one last time". BBC News. Retrieved 27 July 2017.
  12. ^ Jeremy Paxman hosts his final Newsnight, BBC News, 18 June 2014
  13. ^ Born, Matt (25 April 2001). "BBC admits Labour bias on Newsnight broadcast". The Daily Telegraph. London.
  14. ^ Glover, Stephen (6 May 2010). "For days the BBC has been banging the drum for the Lib Dems. But then we should never underestimate their hatred of the Tories". Daily Mail. London.
  15. ^ "BBC Guilty of Bias over Mandelson". 25 April 2001. Retrieved 18 June 2016.
  16. ^ Mason, Rowena (16 October 2012). "BBC's Jimmy Savile probe to be led by Harold Shipman inquiry judge". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 16 October 2012.
  17. ^ Prince, Rosa (23 October 2012). "Jimmy Savile: George Entwistle heckled by BBC reporters after brutal grilling from MPs". The Telegraph. London. Retrieved 23 October 2012.
  18. ^ David Leigh, et al "'Mistaken identity' led to top Tory abuse claim", The Guardian, 8 November 2012
  19. ^ "BBC apologises for Newsnight child abuse report". BBC News. 10 November 2012.
  20. ^ Dan Sabbagh, et al "BBC in turmoil as Newsnight's Tory abuse story falls apart", The Guardian, 9 November 2012
  21. ^ "Apology in response to Steve Messham's statement", BBC Media Centre, 9 November 2012
  22. ^ a b BBC News, Ken MacQuarrie report: Summary of findings, 12 November 2012. Retrieved 15 November 2012
  23. ^ Halliday, Josh (19 December 2012). "Pollard report: George Entwistle 'did not read emails' about Jimmy Savile". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 19 December 2012.
  24. ^ a b Sabbagh, Dan; Plunkett, John (19 December 2012). "Pollard inquiry: BBC 'incapable' of dealing with Jimmy Savile affair". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 19 December 2012.
  25. ^ "A decade of Newsnight Review". Newsnight Review. BBC News. 18 January 2010. Retrieved 22 January 2010.
  26. ^ "Friday 18 December: The year in Review". Newsnight Review. BBC News. 17 December 2009. Retrieved 22 January 2010.
  27. ^ Barron, Peter (11 April 2005). "Weather or markets? You decide". BBC News. Retrieved 7 April 2010.
  28. ^ Hughes, Laura (3 November 2016). "Tory MP calls for BBC 1 to mark Brexit with national anthem at the end of each day". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 3 November 2016.
  29. ^ Robb, Simon (4 November 2016). "BBC just trolled a conservative MP brilliantly with God Save the Queen". Metro. Retrieved 4 November 2016.
  30. ^ "Newsnight on BBC iPlayer".
  31. ^ "BBC World News version of Newsnight".
  32. ^ "Newsnight".
  33. ^ "KCET version of Newsnight".
  34. ^ "Emily Maitlis Announced as New Lead Presenter for Newsnight".
  35. ^ "Newsnight Presenters".
  36. ^ "Newsnight 2019 relief presenters".
  37. ^ "Ben Chu: Newsnight Economics Editor".
  38. ^ "Gabriel Gatehouse: Newsnight International Editor".
  39. ^ "David Grossman: Newsnight Chief Correspondent".
  40. ^ "Katie Razzall: Newsnight UK Editor".
  41. ^ "Stephen Smith: Newsnight Culture Correspondent".
  42. ^ "Helen Thomas: Newsnight Business Editor".
  43. ^ "Mark Urban: Newsnight Diplomatic Editor".
  44. ^ "Nicholas Watt: Newsnight Political Editor".
  45. ^ "Gdansk strikes". 21 January 2005. Retrieved 18 June 2016 – via bbc.co.uk.
  46. ^ "Falklands War". 21 January 2005. Retrieved 18 June 2016 – via bbc.co.uk.
  47. ^ "INLA investigation". 21 January 2005. Retrieved 18 June 2016 – via bbc.co.uk.
  48. ^ "Hiroshima and Nagasaki film". 21 January 2005. Retrieved 18 June 2016 – via bbc.co.uk.
  49. ^ "US bombing of Libya". 21 January 2005. Retrieved 18 June 2016 – via bbc.co.uk.
  50. ^ "Fall of the Berlin Wall". 21 January 2005. Retrieved 18 June 2016 – via bbc.co.uk.
  51. ^ "Kurdish refugees". 21 January 2005. Retrieved 18 June 2016 – via bbc.co.uk.
  52. ^ "Paxman versus Howard". 21 January 2005. Retrieved 18 June 2016 – via bbc.co.uk.
  53. ^ "Child abuse investigation". 21 January 2005. Retrieved 18 June 2016 – via bbc.co.uk.
  54. ^ "Newsnight's 9/11 coverage". 21 January 2005. Retrieved 18 June 2016 – via bbc.co.uk.
  55. ^ "Newsnight editor Peter Barron to join Google in communications role".
  56. ^ "Peter Rippon appointed to BBC News archive role".
  57. ^ "Newsnight editor Ian Katz quits BBC for top Channel 4 role".
  58. ^ "Esmé Wren named as new BBC Newsnight editor".

FootnotesEdit

External linksEdit