News

BBC South East

At the start of the 21st century, the BBC's South East Review resulted in the region being split into three. BBC London News was the new programme for London and the home counties, while South East Today launched from Tunbridge Wells to cover Kent and East Sussex. Oxfordshire, meanwhile, was added to the neighbouring South region. The aim was to give a more relevant news service to some parts of the region.


BBC London News (1 Oct 2001-date)

BBC London News, the regional news programme for London and the surrounding region, launched on 1st October 2001 - around a year later than originally anticipated. In fact, its gestation period had been so long, it was renamed before it even took to the air! Originally to be titled London Live, in line with the capital's BBC radio station, the programme had a standard English regional 'flying map' title sequence produced, and would have used a conventional BBC News-style set.


In the event, however, they decided to go rather more radical. Look - no desk, no chairs, no studio! BBC London News was initially presented by Emily Maitlis, from two levels of BBC London's Marylebone High Street newsroom, and everyone had to stand up, including interviewees.

The programme launched as part of a much-vanted tri-media project encompassing the television programme, the radio station BBC London 94.9, and the website. All three were confusingly branded as 'LDN' - but despite popular belief, this was merely the logo, not the name of the programme, and the phrase 'LDN' was never spoken.


The 'LDN' nonsense was thankfully ditched in March 2004 when the branding was changed to the more sensible 'BBC London'. The view of the newsroom was now largely obscured by a massive new screen and some frosted glass.

Over the next few years, elements of furniture were gradually introduced - including in 2007 a chair for the presenter! By this time, Riz Lateef had taken over as the programme's lead presenter.


On 21st April 2008 BBC London found its own tri-media branding overruled by the bigger beast of BBC News, which saw a new title sequence following a standardised look used across all English regions.

The following year, BBC London News moved out of Marylebone High Street and into a studio at Broadcasting House, with a tiny, shoebox-like set, seen here with Asad Ahmad presenting.

With this studio destined to become home to The One Show, in 2013 the programme moved once again. This time the destination was Studio A, BBC News's virtual reality studio where anything is possible - so they made it look like a news studio! From now on, the presenter would read the news sitting at a desk - just like they used to do in the old days!

The programme's new permanent home, Studio D, was finally ready in June 2014, where the London skyline is used as the backdrop.

In July 2019, as part of the roll-out across BBC News of the corporation's own font, Reith, the programme title was changed to match the on-screen branding, and would now be known simply as BBC London.

Despite the name, BBC London continues to be received by viewers over a considerable portion of the South East outside the capital, from Luton to Crawley, and Reading to Southend. What the BBC actually now consider to be the 'South East', however, is a somewhat smaller area...


South East Today (3 Sep 2001-date)

Nearly a month before the start of BBC London News, on 3rd September 2001 viewers in Kent and East Sussex, along with those in the eastern fringes of Surrey and West Sussex, received their own dedicated news programme, presented from the new region's base in Tunbridge Wells, also home to BBC Radio Kent.


South East Today's main launch presenter was a familiar one to long-time viewers in the region - Laurie Mayer, who used to present South East at Six all those years ago! Seen in these images, however are Natalie Graham and Giles Dilnot.


Laurie departed after less than a year, and his place was taken by Beverley Thompson, who co-presented initially with Giles Dilnot, and then with former Meridian presenter Geoff Clark. An updated title sequence was introduced in September 2003, bringing it into line with similiar sequences seen in the other English regions. Then in April 2004, the programme received a more extensive revamp, with a new set which closely mimiced the national BBC News set.


New opening titles were introduced in September 2007 - but they weren't to last long, due to the introduction of a standardised design for all English regional news in April 2008.

In 2009, Beverley and Geoff were replaced by the younger pairing of Polly Evans and Rob Smith.

At digital switchover in March 2012, the programme gained a small expansion of its coverage area, as the Whitehawk Hill transmitter serving Brighton and Hove was switched from South Today to carry South East Today - though both programmes had already laid claim to the city.

In 2017 Polly Evans moved to a behind-the-scenes role, before departing altogether in 2019, while Rob Smith left the programme in 2020.

With regional news across England having switched to single-headed presentation as a cost-cutting exercise, South East Today's main presenter is now Natalie Graham.

The title sequence was updated in July 2019, using the same standard template used for all English regional news programmes.


South Today/BBC Oxford News (16 Oct 2000-date)

The final part of the South East jigsaw, consisting of Oxfordshire and small parts of surrounding counties, was the first to leave the region. On 16th October 2000, the area found itself joining the South Today region, albeit with its own 10-minute opt-out at the start of the 6.30 programme, and its own 10.25 late bulletin.


The Oxford opt-out was presented initially from South Today's base in Southampton (as seen here in the third image with Stuart Norval), but moved to the city itself in 2004. Seen here in the fourth image is a temporary set-up which was apparently located in BBC Radio Oxford's reception area.


In 2005, a permanent studio was completed. It is seen here with Geraldine Peers presenting, following the introduction of an updated title sequence and logo around 2007.


The programme's title changed to BBC Oxford News in April 2008, only to revert to South Today in October 2012.

In 2011, the Oxford opt-out found itself facing the axe (along with similar services in Cambridge and the Channel Islands) as part of a series of cost-cutting measures. It survived, although in April 2013, a full 30-minute edition that aired on Fridays, was scaled back to the same 10-15 minute length as other weekdays.

The graphics were updated in July 2019 in line with all other English regional news programmes. Geraldine Peers remains the programme's main presenter.


BBC London & South East (Mar-Sep 2020)

Back to the old days! The daytime news bulletins for the London and South East regions were combined on a temporary basis from March to September 2020, and again on some occasions in 2021.

The result was that some parts of the BBC London region received a more relevant news service than they usually do!

Using the on-screen title BBC London & South East, the bulletins were presented from the South East Today studio at Tunbridge Wells. The main evening and late night editions remained separate.


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Links

BBC London News official site
BBC South East Today official site
BBC South Today - Oxford official site
BBC London & South East official site
Nationwide at BBC Programmes
South East at Six at BBC Programmes
London Plus at BBC Programmes
Nationwide Wikipedia entry
Sixty Minutes Wikipedia entry
London Plus Wikipedia entry
Newsroom South East Wikipedia entry
BBC London News Wikipedia entry
BBC South East Today Wikipedia entry
BBC South Today - Oxford Wikipedia entry
BBC London & South East Wikipedia entry