Talk about Newsnight

Newsnight Insider

Confessions of a Newsnight insider

  • Newsnight
  • 2 Jan 08, 01:10 PM

A great theme, by George

The thunderous drum roll at the beginning of the Newsnight theme tune is a call to arms. Or rather, a call to ears and eyeballs - yours.

george_fenton.jpgIt demands your attention, and - together with an arresting headline - provides some dramatic punctuation that makes it clear this isn’t a continuation of the Graham Norton Show.

The music was written by George Fenton, a man whose distinguished musical range spans movies like Gandhi, The Madness of King George and Groundhog Day.

He also had a bit part years ago in Emmerdale Farm. (Where did it all go wrong?!)

Lime groove

The original version of the Newsnight theme was recorded at Lime Grove’s television music studio, a few roads away from us in London’s verdant Shepherd’s Bush. It was remixed in the mid-90s to, erm, sex it up a bit: turning the electric guitar up to 11, giving it more stereo oomph for the coming digital age.

(Rock’n’roll mythology has it that our esteemed Editor, Peter, played guitar on a further remix last year.)
The French horns carry the tune in an innovative musical line-up that few composers outside of the Beach Boys’ in-house genius Brian Wilson would get away with. (Wilson combines a French horn with a harmonica in the intro to God Only Knows.)

In a quirky twist of television fate, the music studio where the Newsnight theme was remixed is now home to CBeebies and CBBC, the BBC’s offerings for younger viewers. But Newsnight’s youthful connections don’t stop there.

Studio swap

The studio that Newsnight comes from nightly was once home to kids’ weekend jollities such as Multi-Coloured Swap Shop, Saturday Superstore and Going Live. Imagine it: our Emily purveying serious journalism only inches away from where Keith Chegwin used to giggle his guts off!

emily203x300.jpgSometimes when I traipse the long corridor back from the studio to the office after Newsnight has finished, I fancy I can hear the ghostly pleas of Noel Edmonds demanding a chance to break free of Swap Shop and present a grown-ups’ quiz show featuring an inaudible banker.

Or maybe it’s Fenton’s masterpiece still ringing in my ears.

The tension of the timpani roll at the beginning and the brooding Newsnight theme that follows imply a world in turmoil. But the musical resolution with the horns riding high at the end says, it might be a dark world out there but Emily’s done her level best to help you make sense of it.

Don’t have nightmares...

Comments  Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 02:36 PM on 02 Jan 2008,
  • Adrienne wrote:

Whoever's advising you to sex-up/dumb-down Newsnight appears to be giving you bad advice. If you follow focus groups/surveys, and the population is insidiously dumbing down, following the data will just hasten your demise. You'll lose credibility and render yourself vulnerable to even more predators eager to use you as a vehicle to distribute their propaganda, as Policy Exchange and one or two others tried to do recently.

  • 2.
  • At 03:07 PM on 02 Jan 2008,
  • Jeanette Eccles NW London wrote:

The original version of the Newsnight theme was recorded at Lime Grove’s television music studio, a few roads away from us in London’s verdant Shepherd’s Bush

Just to clarify Insider

In 1992 Lime Grove studios were closed.
Lime Grove studios were subsequently demolished and the site was turned over to residential housing.

  • 3.
  • At 04:30 PM on 02 Jan 2008,
  • csharp wrote:

if the bbc blog software was music what kind would it be? it would have to be a tune that didn't work and no one liked. Like the national anthem? or the metal music the americans play loud to terrorist suspects?

any chance to move the blog to wordpress like the intelligent people did on world service? I bet they have taste in music too?

  • 4.
  • At 05:12 PM on 02 Jan 2008,
  • Terry CLARK wrote:

I have been watching Newsnight since day one, and (at the senile age of 73, well in 23 days time), I am unable to recall the original version to the Newsnight theme. But, is it, I ask myself, the fact that for the last five years I have resided permanently in Provence, France, that perhaps I have consumed far too much of the locally made Pastis, not the factory made rubbish for Marseille. Just keep up the very informative work the presenters are so good at.

In fact I cannot recall when it actually started. My late wife, would have been able to give me the date instantly. I do miss her her telling me perhaps you have drunk too much for one night!

Terry Clark

Well according to Wikipedia, "Newsnight has been running since 30 January 1980." That's nearly 28 years!!!! Is there going to be a party on Newsnight to celebrate? Could we have some clips of the show from then gradually progressing to now? I don' think there's anything on yet. And hats off to Peter too for playing the latest Newsnight theme tune! Oh and to think that the Newsnight studios once graced Gordon the Gopher. ;-)

  • 6.
  • At 12:05 PM on 03 Jan 2008,
  • Jeanette Eccles NW London wrote:

Yes but now Gordon lives in number 10 and never visits Newsnight

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