BBC News

Continuing our look back over 60 years of BBC News television presentation.

On 10th May 1999 BBC News presentation moved into a new era. Created by Lambie-Nairn, who designed it to be a much warmer, accessible approach, the cold blue set and strident orchestral music was out, and in came cream-and-red set and titles, and a curious new 'drums-and-beeps' theme tune, composed by David Lowe.

For the first time, regional headlines were incorporated into the opening sequence - first on the Six, then later on the other daily bulletins.

Virtual reality was proved to be a passing fad, with a 'real' set introduced, although the newsroom backdrop was merely a projection screen. (Incidentally, the section to the left of the centre pillar was in fact a time-delayed 'reflection' of the right hand side, in order to make the newsroom look bigger than it really is!)

By the time of this relaunch, the news programmes had moved out of the old news studio N2, and into N6, located in the newly-built news centre in Stage VI at Television Centre. There were some presenter changes too - the Six went single-headed with Huw Edwards, with Fiona Bruce as relief presenter, while Anna Ford moved to the One and Peter Sissons and Michael Buerk continued to share the Nine. However there was to be no place for Martyn Lewis.

Although it was not apparent at first, the 1999 revamp would prove to be the most significant yet, as it was not just a new look to the BBC1 national bulletins, but over the course of the next two years, the entireity of the BBC's news output, from regional news to BBC News 24, BBC World to Breakfast and even S4C's Newyddion would all relaunch using the same common themes.

On 2nd October 2000, all of the domestic BBC News output switched to 16:9, which meant the titles could now be seen in their full widescreen glory. But an even more fundamental change was announced at the same time - while ITV was dithering about with the timing of its late bulletin, the BBC seized their chance and confirmed that the Nine O'Clock News would move to 10.00 in just two weeks' time.

The graphic design team must have had to work overtime in order to get the '9' in the opening titles changed to a '10' - but they managed it on time, and on 16th October 2000 the BBC's first Ten O'Clock News took to the air.

During the early-mid 2000s the presentation of BBC News bulletins went through several cosmetic changes over a relatively short space of time, whilst continuing to keep to the general themes introduced in 1999. Firstly, in December 2001, the set was modified with some red panels stuck onto the walls and a new desk.

Then in January 2003 a completely new set was introduced, this time with a backdrop showing a newsroom that doesn't exist at all! There was also a presenter reshuffle - with Michael Buerk retiring from regular newsreading, and Peter Sissons moving to News 24, the Ten needed a new anchor - and Huw Edwards was to be it. So taking his place on the Six was Sophie Raworth and George Alagiah, as the pendulum swung back towards double-headed presentation. Pictorial insets to illustrate the story were no more, replaced by text-only story 'slugs'.

The 1999 cream-and-red introduction no longer fitted with the red-and-silver set, but still it remained, despite the indication of a possible new logo shown on the screens either side of the desk.

It took over a year for the titles to be updated, in February 2004, although to regular BBC News 24 viewers they weren't too much of a surprise! Daytime summaries around this time, meanwhile, were introduced with this rather strange graphic, resembling a fried egg.

2nd May 2006, and BBC News was given jazzed-up titles and a new, more spacious studio set, in order that it could now be shared by Breakfast. By now, the main BBC1 bulletins had also begun to be aired on BBC News 24.

The BBC graphic designers were a busy bunch, and came up with yet another revamped title sequence which debuted on 22nd January 2007. The new titles were now all but identical to those seen on News 24.

In order to make it even harder to avoid the news, in December 2007 a brief update was introduced on BBC1 at 8.00 each evening, inspired by BBC3's 60 Seconds. It included national and international news, presented here by Ellie Crisell doing a late shift after Newsround, followed by your regional news presenter, who stood on the opposite side of the screen. This bulletin remained until 2018.

Daytime summaries retained a more traditional format - Sophie Raworth is seen here in 2007 with the floor manager dashing out of view!

BBC News seemed to have gone through umpteen relaunches in the previous few years, but despite this, on 21st April 2008 it went through yet another. And just like the 2006 update, this update was driven by the need to cut costs. The news bulletins on BBC1, the BBC News channel and all regional news programmes reverted to using music, titles and graphics that shared a common theme, much as they did with the relaunch that was rolled out around 1999/2000. And just like that relaunch, the 2008 look was designed by Lambie-Nairn.

The One and Ten O'Clock News and weekend bulletins now shared the refurbished studio N6 with the BBC News channel; although the existing bank of screens remained, the backdrop shown on them changed from a skyline to another fake newsroom. The Six O'Clock News, meanwhile, remained in the larger TC7, also used by Breakfast, Working Lunch, Newsround and Newsnight. The sets in both studios were virtually identical, however, the only obvious difference being the circular desk in TC7.

With the imminent closure of BBC Television Centre, the Six O'Clock News on 15th March 2013 became the very last BBC programme of all to come from TC7. (See a clip at the BBC News website).

The following Monday all national BBC News output moved to its new home at New Broadcasting House in central London. Both the BBC1 bulletins and the BBC News channel use Studio E, placed in the heart of the busy newsroom. The 2008 title sequence remained, albeit slightly modified and halved in length, with the remainder of the opening sequence taking viewers on quick tour of the newsroom and Studio E.

The most recent change to BBC News presentation involved the adoption of the BBC's own typeface, Reith, which was introduced to all national and regional BBC News graphics on 15th July 2019. Despite this, the 2008 title sequence still remained in use!

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Our YouTube channel includes a playlist of clips of BBC News title sequences.


BBC News official site
BBC News Wikipedia entry