ITV News at Ten
|News at Ten|
ITV News opening sequence
|Also known as||News at Ten
|Presented by||Tom Bradby|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|Editor(s)||Alex Chandler 
(Programme Editor, ITV News at Ten)
Geoff Hill 
(Editor, ITV Network News)
London, England, UK
|Running time||30 minutes (approx.)|
|Original network||ITV, STV, UTV|
|Picture format||1080i (HDTV 16:9)|
|Original release||First incarnation
3 July 1967–5 March 1999
22 January 2001 –30 January 2004
14 January 2008 – present
|Preceded by||ITV News at 10.30|
News at Ten is the flagship evening news programme on British television network ITV, produced by ITN and founded by news editor Geoffrey Cox in July 1967. The bulletin was the first permanent 30-minute news broadcast in the United Kingdom, and although initially scheduled for only thirteen weeks due to fears that its length would turn viewers off, the bulletin proved to be highly popular with audiences and became a fixture of the ITV schedule.
News at Ten rose to popularity for its winning combination of in-depth, analytical news coverage and populist stories. It simultaneously helped popularise newscasters such as Alastair Burnet, Andrew Gardner, Reginald Bosanquet, Sandy Gall, Anna Ford, Alastair Stewart and Trevor McDonald into well-known television personalities. When the bulletin was axed in 1999 to allow for uninterrupted entertainment programming, there was a public outcry. It returned briefly in 2001 before being replaced by a 10:30pm bulletin in 2004. It wasn't until January 2008 that News at Ten was permanently reinstated to the ITV schedule. The programme's current newscaster is Tom Bradby, with Julie Etchingham and Rageh Omaar deputising.
1967 to 1999: the original run
ITN had been ITV's news provider since the channel's launch in September 1955. News updates from ITN tended to run 14 minutes in length at most, with no fixed broadcast time. From his arrival in 1956, ITN editor Geoffrey Cox had consistently argued to the Independent Television Authority that ITN should be providing at least one news bulletin of substantial length, in order to cover and analyse major news stories more closely. ITV argued against the idea of a 30-minute evening bulletin, insisting a news programme of such length would eat into its primetime entertainment schedule and turn viewers away from the channel, but the ITA granted Cox's wish in 1967. ITV reluctantly agreed to give the proposed bulletin, a Monday-to-Friday programme fixed at 10pm, a 13-week trial run to test its success.
News at Ten began broadcasting on 3 July 1967 under the editorship of Cox, who stipulated that the aim of the new programme was to "remove the spin and bring facts and the news as it really was". ITV's stance was seemingly confirmed early; the programme had little news to cover in its first few editions, having launched in the middle of summer during a slow news week. However, a reversal of fortunes quickly took place after an 'action story' from ITN reporter Alan Hart on the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders re-entering Crater, which ran for a then-unheard of length of 5 minutes. A series of similar in-depth reports eventually helped to give News at Ten a regular viewership of seven million a night, forcing ITV to keep the programme. By 1969, News at Ten had become the first news bulletin in Britain to enter the top 20 most watched programmes of the week.
The arrival of the new 30-minute programme allowed ITN to give a more in-depth and detailed treatment of serious news for the first time on British television, as well as coverage of populist stories and issues that would attract the viewing audience. The programme built on these concepts by introducing reporter packages, not the norm then but now a staple of television news, and a team of two newscasters taking turns to read stories instead of a sole presenter: a two-man team would inject personality into television news, as well as allow breaking news to be handed to the newscaster not in-vision. The original newscasting team included Alastair Burnet, Andrew Gardner, Reginald Bosanquet, George Ffitch and Leonard Parkin. News at Ten also employed several other distinctive features which proved popular with viewers: the use of Big Ben's chimes (or "bongs") to separate the news headlines being read in the opening sequence; and the "...And Finally" report, a quirky and often humorous end piece designed to send the viewing audience to bed "on a high note" after 30 minutes of hard news coverage.
News at Ten developed a solid reputation for its extensive coverage of international news stories. Foreign correspondent Sandy Gall, the first ITN journalist to cover the start of the Vietnam War in 1965, returned there on several occasions to produce reports for News at Ten, until he was forcibly removed from the country following the Fall of Saigon in 1975. Michael Nicholson reported in-depth on the 1976 Soweto uprising for News at Ten and later went on to cover the Falklands War in 1982, after which he was awarded the South Atlantic Medal for his work. News at Ten, by now the UK's most popular news programme, ultimately forced the BBC to follow ITN's lead and extend its own programming to match, although Lord Annan declared in his 1977 Committee into the Future of Broadcasting: "We subscribe to the generally held view that ITN has the edge over BBC News".
In the absence of Alastair Burnet (who left ITN in 1972 to pursue a career in print journalism), News at Ten paired Andrew Gardner and Reginald Bosanquet to create one of the programme's most well liked newscasting duos. In 1978, Anna Ford became the bulletin's first female newscaster, and Alastair Burnet rejoined the programme in the same year. For more than a decade onwards, Burnet was the newscaster most associated with News at Ten, his "serious persona", "sepulchral tones" and "deferential interviewing style" becoming respected hallmarks of the programme. By the late 1980s, Burnet - now a member of the ITN board of directors and News at Ten's associate editor - began to draw criticism that he was losing the personal touch with his audience, allowing News at Ten to settle into a "stodgy" and "old-fashioned" complacency. Nonetheless, the programme continued to maintain a solid high audience during the 1980s and well into the next decade.
The development of satellite technology in the 1980s allowed News at Ten to broadcast live from several locations around the world, including the Great Wall of China during a visit from the Queen in 1986. Alastair Burnet presented News at Ten from the United States during several presidential campaigns, as well as the 1984 conventions of the Republican and Democratic parties. Alastair Stewart presented News at Ten live from Saudi Arabia, the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and the liberated Kuwait City during the 1991 Gulf War.
Burnet retired from ITN in 1991 after several clashes with the ITV companies over the future of the news organisation. In November 1992, News at Ten was given its first major relaunch, in part to address the criticism it had attracted over the last few years. In a bid to regain the personal touch that had been lost, the programme dispensed with the dual-presentation team in favour of a sole newscaster, Trevor McDonald, who subsequently became one of the most well-known newscasters in the UK. Julia Somerville, John Suchet and Dermot Murnaghan each presented News at Ten when McDonald was absent. The bulletin carried this format until March 1999.
Despite News at Ten's continued stature and popularity, ITV announced its intention to axe the bulletin in 1993, proposing two new peak-time bulletins at 6:30pm and 11pm. ITV justified the move as a measure to stem the decline in television viewing audiences and to allow the uninterrupted broadcast of movies, dramas and other entertainment programmes, but the plans were met with widespread criticism from viewers, several Members of Parliament, the then-Prime Minister John Major and the National Heritage Committee. The Independent Television Commission ruled that ITV had not established a solid case for the removal of News at Ten, pointing to BBC News having experienced a larger viewing decline than ITN, but were restructuring the contents of their news programmes rather than move them to different timeslots. The proposals were eventually withdrawn after the ITC threatened ITV with legal action.
1999 to 2004: axing and the News at When? era
In September 1998, following intense lobbying from the ITV companies, the ITC finally reviewed plans for a new weekday primetime ITV schedule that saw the removal of News at Ten (and the 5:40pm Early Evening News) and new 6:30pm and 11pm news bulletins. The ITC undertook extensive audience research which found that the public preferred News at Ten to stay by a proportion of 5 to 3, but nonetheless granted ITV permission to axe News at Ten for a one-year trial period. The programme's demise in March 1999 coincided with an overhaul of news on ITV, which continued to be produced by ITN but now branded on screen as ITV News: Trevor McDonald presented the new flagship ITV Evening News at 6:30pm; a one-minute news summary was broadcast at 10pm; followed by the 20-minute ITV Nightly News at 11pm. But these changes ultimately resulted in an 13.9% decline in overall viewing figures for ITV News.
In 2000, the ITC ordered ITV to reinstate News at Ten to stem the ratings decline. The BBC then decided to cash in on the move by shifting its own long-running Nine O'Clock News to 10pm. McDonald returned to front the new ITV News at Ten in 2001, with a dual-presenting team of Dermot Murnaghan and Mary Nightingale replacing McDonald on the ITV Evening News. However, the haphazard scheduling of the revived 10pm bulletin ultimately led to its downfall: while the BBC's Ten O'Clock News was fixed at 10pm for six nights a week, the ITV News at Ten was broadcast for only three nights a week, allowing entertainment programmes to be broadcast past 10pm for the rest of the week. In addition, the programme was often delayed by overrunning entertainment programmes on the nights that it was scheduled for 10pm. This inconsistency led to the bulletin being unceremoniously dubbed News at When?.
In 2003, ITV received approval from the ITC to axe the programme and replace it with the ITV News at 10:30, fixed at that time every weeknight. McDonald presented this bulletin from its launch on 2 February 2004 until his retirement on 15 December 2005. Mark Austin became the programme's main host from January 2006.
2008 to present: reinstatement to ITV schedules
In October 2007, ITV chairman Michael Grade announced the return of News at Ten, following comments he made in March that the original removal of the programme was "a shocking mistake [that] damaged ITV more than anything else". The bulletin returned on 14 January 2008, broadcast from Monday to Thursday at 10pm, with an 11pm bulletin titled The Late News airing on Friday evenings. The revived News at Ten saw the reintroduction of the dual-newscaster team, pairing new presenter Julie Etchingham with Trevor McDonald who had temporarily come out of retirement. Etchingham and Mark Austin presented The Late News. In March 2009, The Late News was dropped in order for News at Ten to return to its traditional Monday-to-Friday 10pm slot, giving the programme a "consistent home at the heart of the schedule".
McDonald finally retired from News at Ten in October 2008 after hosting the programme's special US election coverage from Washington and was replaced by Mark Austin in November. Austin presented the ITV News at 6:30 simultaneously until he was replaced on that programme by Alastair Stewart.
News at Ten has struggled to regain its high viewing figures following several years out of the 10pm timeslot, its 2008 return watched by 3.8 million viewers in comparison to 4.9m for the BBC. However, the bulletin has on occasion beaten the BBC News at 10 in the ratings: an overrunning football match on BBC One helped deliver ITV 4.3m at 10pm; severe weather conditions on 2 February 2009 saw terrestrial TV news bulletins receive a boost in ratings and News at Ten was watched by 4.8m; and a week of special Britain's Got Talent semi-final programmes in May 2009 saw News at Ten beat the BBC with figures of 6.1m (26 May) and 6.4m (28 May), the latter being the programme's highest audience figure since 2003.
In November 2009, the famous Big Ben clock tower was removed after concerns it alienated viewers outside London, but was ultimately reinstated to News at Ten's opening sequence following a further ITV relaunch in January 2013.
In October 2015, as part of a move to enhance the reputation of ITV's news and current affairs output, News at Ten was relaunched. The bulletin's new format places more emphasis on analysis, context and a more "conversational" presentation style under new presenter Tom Bradby, former ITV News political editor. In November, it was reported that tension had developed between senior figures at the BBC and ITV following comments made about the viewing figures for both 10pm news bulletins: prior to the News at Ten relaunch, Bradby commented on the powerful nature of BBC News during an interview with The Telegraph, saying that the scheduling of BBC One's 10pm news against ITV's News at Ten was not in the public interest and that the corporation should "mount a strategic retreat". On 2 November, the Daily Mail Online reported that News at Ten had added 500,000 viewers within three weeks of its relaunch, after which the BBC's Huw Edwards posted on Facebook that ITV should end its "creative handling of audience figures". A senior ITV News executive then reported to The Guardian that the BBC's attitude "is such [that] they are trying to smash and crush us" and that the corporation's "arrogance has got to such a level."
Theme music and opening sequence
From 1967 to 1992, News at Ten's opening and closing themes were excerpts from The Awakening, a piece of library music composed by Johnny Pearson. In 1992, composer Dave Hewson was appointed to produce a new arrangement of The Awakening. Since April 1995, Hewson has produced several rearrangements of the famous theme for all ITV News programmes.
The history of the News at Ten music was featured in an official TV tie-in book, which incorrectly refers to the title music as Arabesque: of which The Awakening is the last piece:
|“||The tune is called Arabesque and was written by Johnny Pearson, who went on to write many other television theme tunes. The decision to use it was taken only at the last minute and after the first week it was nearly dropped. Viewers were complaining it was too harsh. A composer from Disney was called in during the first week to write a new theme tune. But an ITN sound mixer called Alfie Wilson wanted to stick with the old tune. He took the original recording of Arabesque to a nearby music studio and got it remixed—smoothing out some of the strident tones of the original. By the second Monday of News at Ten there was still no decision on which piece of music to use. Just before the programme started, editor Geoffrey Cox said, "Let’s go with what we’ve got for the time being." Alfie played his remixed version on air and that’s the one that was played five nights a week until a new arrangement of Arabesque was created for the revamp in 1992.||”|
— News at Ten: A Celebration, 1999
The most memorable series of News at Ten title sequences launched in 1969: a camera pan across the Houses of Parliament and up the Westminster Clock Tower, followed by a sharp zoom into the tower clockface and the programme name appearing on screen in time to the strident beats of The Awakening, and then the headline "bongs" played directly afterwards. Further refreshes of the opening sequence continued to use this basic concept for several years afterwards, even after the introduction of computer-generated titles in 1988 which tweaked the idea to incorporate a virtual flyover nighttime London. As part of the programme's 1992 revamp, the familiar sequence was replaced by simple camera shots of the clock tower and ITN's headquarters. In 2008, News at Ten reworked its 1988 flyover sequence for its relaunch. Between 2001-2004 and 2009-present, News at Ten used the same opening titles as other ITV News bulletins.
News at Ten won its first award from the National Viewers and Listeners Association in August 1968. The programme has been honoured over the years by the prestigious RTS Television Journalism Awards, including the News - International coverage award in 1997 and the coveted News Programme of the Year in 1998, 2010 and 2014.
- Tom Bradby (2015–present)
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- "News at Ten". ITV. 2 January 2008. Retrieved 2 January 2008.
- Holmwood, Leigh (25 February 2009). "News at Ten goes five-nights-a-week". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 26 February 2009.
- Conlan, Tara (30 October 2008). "Sir Trevor McDonald to leave News at Ten next month". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 31 October 2008.
- Plunkett, John (19 August 2009). "More Mark Austin on News at Ten". London: MediaGuardian. Retrieved 10 October 2010.
- Holmwood, Leigh (29 February 2008). "News at Ten's bongs beat the BBC". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 31 August 2008.
- Holmwood, Leigh (29 May 2009). "Britain's Got Talent boosts News at Ten". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 29 May 2009.
- Robinson, James (22 October 2009). "ITV to drop Big Ben from News at Ten titles". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 5 May 2010.
- "ITV outlines vision for news". Broadcast (London). 15 October 2015. Retrieved 6 November 2015.
- "News at Ten's new host Tom Bradby: Everyone thinks BBC News is too powerful". The Telegraph (London). 24 October 2015. Retrieved 6 November 2015.
- "ITV executives criticise "arrogant" BBC as News at Ten row escalates". The Guardian (London). 4 November 2015. Retrieved 6 November 2015.
- "Tom Bradby helps ITV News at Ten gain half a million viewers in three weeks". Daily Mail Online (London). 2 November 2015. Retrieved 6 November 2015.
- "Johnny Pearson". The Daily Telegraph (London). 3 May 2011. Retrieved 27 November 2011.
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