BBC Television News celebrates 60 years

BBC Television News is 60 years old at 7.30pm on 5 July 2014.

Published: 4 July 2014
Over the last 60 years, we’ve produced first-class television journalism covering what matters from the communities where we live to the furthest corners of the Earth. We’ve come a long way from that initial 22-minute broadcast, from black and white to colour and HD and beyond.
— Mary Hockaday, Head of BBC Newsroom

Over the past six decades, BBC Television News has reported on all the landmark news stories and pivotal moments from the first man on the moon, Churchill’s resignation, the assassination of John F Kennedy and Watergate to famine in Ethiopia, Vietnam, the war in Iraq and the global financial crisis. It has been there for moments of great historical change such as the Fall of Communism and the end of apartheid, as well as huge news events including the Boxing Day tsunami, 9/11, 7/7, the 2012 Olympics and the deaths of Princess Diana, Margaret Thatcher and Nelson Mandela.

Head of the BBC Newsroom, Mary Hockaday, says: “Over the last 60 years, we’ve produced first-class television journalism covering what matters from the communities where we live to the furthest corners of the Earth. We’ve come a long way from that initial 22-minute broadcast, from black and white to colour and HD and beyond. As we look ahead to the next era we see how technology is transforming the way we gather and communicate the news, enabling us to engage with our audiences more than ever on many platforms. 

“Our mission now is to help shape the future of news, using the new digital technology alongside the power of television to ensure our coverage reaches everyone, wherever they are and however they want it. But one thing hasn’t changed – great journalists, powerful pictures and coverage of the stories which bring the nation together.” 

An impressive cast of presenters and reporters have become familiar faces on BBC Television News over the years including Richard Baker, Kenneth Kendall, Angela Rippon, Jan Leeming, Moira Stuart, Sue Lawley, Debbie Thrower, Robert Dougall, Michael Aspel, John Humphrys and Michael Buerk. 

The roll call continues up to the present date with Huw Edwards, Fiona Bruce, Sophie Raworth, George Alagiah, John Simpson, Robert Peston, Carrie Gracie, Nick Robinson, Nicholas Witchell, Jeremy Bowen and Kamal Ahmed to name but a few. 

The broadcasting landscape in 1954 consisted solely of BBC One, and programming started at varying times in the afternoon apart from the occasional special broadcast in the morning. 

The first ever Television News bulletin on 5 July 1954 transmitted at 7.30pm after the cricket and before The Royals – a visit to the Royal Agricultural Show, Windsor. The 22-minute programme started with an announcement by Richard Baker. Newsreader John Snagge then read the news starting with the first report on truce talks in Indo-China. Baker did not appear in vision as at that time presenters did not appear on screen. Kenneth Kendall was the first presenter to do so in 1955. 

Other items on the running order that day included: French security measures in Tunisia; the resumption of the Petrov Enquiry; and the end of rationing. The news agenda also featured items on Question Time in Parliament; a Princess Margaret visit to Lancashire; the departure of the Swedish King and Queen after a Royal visit; the United Nations Assembly President in London; and mine workers in conference at Blackpool. 

The Newsroom’s television output reaches more than 32 million UK adults every week and is responsible for output such as the BBC One bulletins, BBC News Channel, BBC World News and BBC Breakfast. Television News comes under the umbrella of BBC News – which is the largest broadcast news operation in the world and has more than 5,000 journalists serving audiences in the UK and globally on television, radio and online, and a network of journalists around the UK and bureaux across the world. The division consists of BBC News, English Regions and the BBC’s Global News divisions.

KR

Notes to Editors

About BBC News

  • BBC News reaches 81% of the UK each week across all platforms.
  • Overall, BBC TV News accounts for 73% of TV news consumption but produces just 25%.
  • The BBC regional 6.30pm news slot is the most watched UK bulletin.
  • The BBC News Channel is the most watched news channel, reaching over 9m adults weekly.
  • The BBC remains the news provider that the UK public trusts the most by far. The BBC remains by far the most trusted source of news in the UK, with 58% of the public picking the BBC as the one source they trust the most, far ahead of the next nearest (ITV on 11%). Source: Ipsos MORI for the BBC, UK adults 16+ who follow the news (1,864), Feb 2014
  • The BBC is seen as by far the most impartial source of news in the UK, with 50% of the public selecting BBC News as the one source they would turn to for impartial coverage, far ahead of the next nearest (ITV on 13%). Source: Ipsos MORI for the BBC, UK adults 16+ who follow the news (1,864), Feb 2014

History of BBC TV News - timeline

  • 1954 First nightly TV bulletin at 7.30pm on 5 July (Two images available)
  • 1955 Kenneth Kendall appears as the first newsreader in vision (Image available)
  • 1957 First regional news bulletins
  • 1960 First BBC female newsreader, Nan Winton (Image available)
  • 1968 Launch of Newsroom - first half-hour bulletin transmitting at 7.30pm on BBC Two. Within weeks became the first programme to switch from black and white to colour
  • 1969 News moves from Alexandra Palace to Television Centre (Image available)
  • 1970 Nine O'Clock News begins (Image available)
  • 1972 John Craven's Newsround - first regular news bulletin for children (Image available)
  • 1974 CEEFAX starts regular transmission (Two images available)
  • 1980 Launch of Newsnight
  • 1983 At 6.30am on 17 January, Breakfast Time became Britain's first early-morning TV news programme. (Image available)
  • 1984 Six O'Clock News begins (Image available)
  • 1989 First TV coverage of proceedings of House Of Commons
  • 1991 Launch of World Service TV news
  • 1997 Launch of News 24 (Image available)
  • 2000 Main news moves from 9 to 10 pm (Image available)
  • 2008 - BBC News branding was refreshed, including a new updated red globe symbol, which extended to the Nations and Regions and the BBC News website (Image available)
  • 2012 BBC Breakfast was broadcast for the first time from Salford, complete with a new red sofa and a new backdrop (Image available)
  • 2012 First programming moves from BBC Television Centre to New Broadcasting House (Two images available)
  • 2013 – TV News moves into New Broadcasting House and her Majesty the Queen officially opens the building (Two images available)
  • 2014 – BBC announces intention to define the fourth revolution in News - the age of interactivity - to enhance TV news coverage