PRODUCTION AND POST As BBC News celebrates an anniversary, Philip Stevens looks at the past and present operation
his is a start on something we regard as extremely significant for the future.” Those were the words of then BBC director general, Sir Ian Jacob, on the occasion of the first television news bulletin on 5th July 1954. And there is little doubt he was right – and as the BBC celebrates the 65th anniversary of that 20-minute programme it provides an opportunity to review just how television news has evolved. Previously, news had been shown on the BBC by means of its daily Television Newsreel programme. But this relied solely on film of events which had happened days earlier – more like ‘olds’ rather than ‘news’ – in the format of established cinema newsreels. There was no newsreader, commentary being provided by means of a voiceover. According to Jacob the introduction of television news had created “significant difficulties”. He said, “News is not at all an easy thing to do on television. A good many of the main news items are not easily made visual - therefore we have the problem of giving news with the same standards that the corporation has built up in sound.” One has to wonder what he would make of today’s news programmes with its huge diversity of technology to help bring news alive. THOSE EARLY DAYS Paul Royall, the current editor of the BBC’s News at Six and Ten picks up the story: “Richard Baker was the first newsreader and he explained to viewers that this was an ‘Illustrated summary of the news... followed by the latest film of events and happenings at home and abroad’. And that is exactly what happened. That first bulletin was really a programme of two halves. In the first section, a series of stills, maps and photographs appeared with the newsreader out of vision. The film sequences appeared in the second half.” It was a year later before viewers first saw a newsreader in vision. “That was Kenneth Kendall, another of those early famous faces on BBC TV. And we had to wait another five years after that,
PICTURED ABOVE: Huw Edwards in the main news studio within the rebuilt Broadcasting House
HERE IS T 46 | TVBEUROPE JULY/AUGUST 2019
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