Reporting Scotland studio gets a new look

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Media captionBuilding and testing the revamped BBC Reporting Scotland studio in about 40 seconds

BBC Scotland's news programmes are getting a new look after a major investment in the studio.

The new set where presenters sit is the largest and most technically advanced ever used for Reporting Scotland.

Producers say this will make the programme look more attractive and make it easier to use graphics to help tell stories.

It took three weeks to build and test the set, which will be seen for the first time at 18:30 on Monday.

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Media captionBBC Scotland correspondent Jamie McIvor looks at the revamped Studio C

The new Studio C layout is roughly twice the size of the old one which has been in use since BBC Scotland moved to Pacific Quay in 2007.

After seven years of constant use it was starting to show its age so producers took the opportunity to invest in a state-of-the-art set-up.

Image caption The new studio set up is larger and more flexible

The large, diverse set will be used for all the main BBC Scotland news, current affairs and sports programmes.

Changes to lighting, coloured panels, graphics and camera shots can make the studio look quite different for each programme.

So Newsnight, Sunday Politics and Sportscene can still retain their distinctive identities - yet they should also look like they are part of one "family" of programmes.

Reporting Scotland editor Andrew Browne said: "The important thing will always be the journalism.

"But the studio presentation has got to look as good as possible to do the journalism full justice.

"The studio, the set and the graphics all play a part in shaping how our viewers perceive Reporting Scotland."

Image caption The new studio was built in three weeks

He added: "The new, larger studio looks far more contemporary and dynamic and will help us find more ways of telling our stories. For instance to help us make the most of graphics and powerful visual images.

"It also gives us more flexibility to bring reporters and occasionally guests into the studio."

Reporting Scotland is the most-watched news programme in Scotland - the main edition at 6.30pm often attracts between 500,000 and 600,000 viewers.

Some days, it gets the highest viewing figures of any programme on BBC1 Scotland.

Director Norman Boyle paid tribute to the way technical and production staff had worked to get the new studio ready in just three weeks.

He said: "This isn't simply about placing furniture in a studio or a building project.

"Once a set is constructed we have to make it work. For instance, we have to work out how to light it properly, exactly where to place the different cameras, exactly where the presenters sit. That takes a lot of time and effort."

Image caption The production team have been making tweaks and adjustments

He added: "We've spent a week trying out the new set, making tweaks and adjustments.

"The team have done several weeks work in just three while they've also kept the programme on the air as normal."

For specialists - my main job is covering education and local government - our job is not just to report the news. It is to provide context and explain and simplify difficult issues so we can help our viewers understand the stories that affect their lives.

The new set will give us even more of an opportunity to make the most of these sequences. It will be a good challenge for both correspondents and graphic designers.

Image caption The iconic image of the Clyde waterfront remains

Although the new set is a big departure for the programme, it will not look completely unfamiliar. The iconic image of the Clyde waterfront remains. It's described as an evolutionary change rather than a revolutionary one.

Since Reporting Scotland began in 1968 with Mary Marquis, its look has gradually evolved as technology and tastes have changed. The days when a news programme could simply be presented by one of two people sitting between a desk and an inoffensive background are long gone.

In the early days, the high costs and labour intensive nature of television often meant so-called "regional" programmes in Scotland and the other nations and regions of the UK did not have the resources needed to look quite as good as network programmes.

No conscious efforts were made to make Reporting Scotland or other "regional" news programmes match the look of the network news.

Nowadays, so-called "branding" is an important part of news programmes on all channels.

The graphics, music and studio sets used for Reporting Scotland since the late 90s have deliberately tried to complement those used for the main BBC1 network news programmes from London.

One aim is to help ensure that viewers clearly recognise which programme they are watching and clearly recognise the BBC News.

But there was a controversial period in the middle of the last decade when the studio desk and chairs were completely ditched and the whole of the programme was presented standing up.

The new set has chairs and a desk although producers say they will not feature in every single link - just as network presenters now read some links standing up.