ITV News at Ten
|ITV News at Ten|
ITV News opening sequence
|Also known as||News at 10
News at Ten
|Presented by||Mark Austin
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|Editor(s)||Geoff Hill 
Bernard Cole (deceased)
London, England, UK
|Running time||30 minutes (approx.)|
|Original channel||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|
|Related shows||Good Morning Britain,
ITV News at 1:30,
ITV News at 6:30,
ITV News weekend bulletins,
The ITV News at Ten (also known as News at Ten) is the flagship news programme on British television network ITV, produced by ITN and founded by news editor Geoffrey Cox in 1967. It was originally planned as a thirteen-week project in July 1967 because senior figures at ITV refused to believe that a permanent 30-minute evening news programme would be welcomed by viewers. However, the bulletin proved to be very popular with audiences and it remained a fixture of the ITV schedule.
News at Ten rose to popularity for the in-depth nature of its news reporting, and the presence of context and analysis, something that had lacked in ITN's shorter news updates. News at Ten also popularised some of the most well-known faces in television news, among them Alastair Burnet, Sandy Gall, Reginald Bosanquet, Anna Ford, Alastair Stewart and Trevor McDonald. When the programme was initially axed by ITV in March 1999 to make way for entertainment programming, there was a public outcry. The bulletin made a short-lived return in 2001, before being replaced with a 22:30 bulletin in 2004. It took a further four years for News at Ten to be properly reinstated to the ITV schedule, in January 2008. The present newscasters are Mark Austin and Julie Etchingham.
1967 to 1999: the original run
ITN had been providing regular news updates to ITV since September 1955, with the main programme being a 14-minute effort titled Late Night News, which was broadcast at any time during the evening. Since his arrival at ITN in 1956, editor Geoffrey Cox had argued consistently to the regulatory body - the Independent Television Authority - that the organisation should have the right to produce at least one news bulletin of substantial length. The 14-minute bulletin, Cox argued, was not long enough to adequately cover news stories or indeed provide much-needed factual analysis and context. A 30-minute evening programme was proposed, but ITV was firmly against the idea, not wanting a full-length news programme to eat into its primetime schedule of entertainment. However, in early 1967, the ITA granted ITN's wish. A reluctant ITV agreed to go ahead, but persuaded ITN and the ITA to give the programme a 13-week trial, such was their confidence in the success of the new programme.
The programme was scheduled for a Monday-to-Friday 22:00 slot, and News at Ten began broadcasting on 3 July 1967 under the editorship of Cox. The newscasting team comprised Alastair Burnet and Andrew Gardner as the main presenters, with reporter/newscasters Reginald Bosanquet and George Ffitch also in the studio. The aim of the new programme was to "remove the spin and bring facts and the news as it really was". However, it was not plain-sailing to begin with, the programme having launched on a slow-news day. The simple "lack of news" meant that the first week of News at Ten bulletins went badly, and ITV's opinion went unchanged. However, over the course of the next few weeks, the bulletin managed to increase its viewership to a regular seven million a night, and ITV was forced to keep the programme. It became a popular bulletin particularly with those arriving home in the late evening, and provided in-depth reports of the stories of the day.
It is believed that News at Ten was one of the first news programmes to create the 'reporter package' that remains a staple of the news industry today. Also, the programme is notable for introducing a presenting team of two newscasters rather than one: the two newscasters would take turns to read news stories, allowing any late breaking news to be handed to the presenter not in-vision. Another of News at Ten's most distinctive features from its start was the use of the chimes of Big Ben (commonly referred to as "the bongs"), with a succinct news headline being read between each "bong" in the opening sequence. Alastair Burnet became the newscaster most associated with News at Ten during its first couple of decades, and his "courtly manner and deferential interview style" became one of the hallmarks of the programme.
News at Ten built up a reputation for extensive foreign coverage. Foreign correspondent Sandy Gall, who had been the first ITN journalist to cover the Vietnam War when it began in 1965, returned there on several occasions to produce reports for News at Ten until 1975, when Saigon fell and Gall ended up being forcibly removed from the country. Michael Nicholson reported on the Soweto Uprising of 1976 for the programme and later went on to cover the Falklands War in 1982, after which he was awarded the South Atlantic Medal for his work. In addition to the large amounts of foreign reporting, many editions of the programme were presented from locations around the world depending on which story was breaking. The development of satellite technology aided this practice greatly, allowing News at Ten to broadcast, among other events, the Queen's visit to the Great Wall of China in 1986. Alastair Burnet presented News at Ten from the United States during several presidential elections, including the 1984 conventions of the Republican and Democratic parties. Alastair Stewart presented the programme live from the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, and went on to present the programme live from locations such as Saudi Arabia and the liberated Kuwait City during the Gulf War in 1991.
The familiarity of the News at Ten team helped the programme to become one of the most well-known in Britain, and it consistently received higher audience figures than the BBC's flagship Nine O'Clock News. In 1978, Anna Ford became News at Ten's first female newscaster, joining a raft of already familiar faces including Burnet, Bosanquet and Sandy Gall. Ford was later followed in the 1980s by the likes of Selina Scott, Carol Barnes, Pamela Armstrong and Julia Somerville, while Alastair Stewart and Trevor McDonald also became regular newscasters towards the end of the decade. However, News at Ten was also criticised in the media on several occasions. Burnet, the programme's main presenter and by now its associate editor, drew criticism for apparently being out of touch with audiences by the late 1980s, and creating a News at Ten that was somewhat old-fashioned. In addition, it was suggested that the programme had lost the "personal touch" that it had originally developed. Nonetheless, the programme continued to enjoy high audience figures during the 1980s and maintained a solid audience during the 1990s.
Burnet retired from ITN in 1991. The following year, plans were made for News at Ten to relaunch, in part to address the problems and criticism the programme had attracted over the last few years. In order to regain something of that lost "personal touch", the programme decided to dispense with two presenters in favour of one regular newscaster. Trevor McDonald won the role, and subsequently became one of the most popular and well-known newscasters in Britain. Julia Somerville, John Suchet and Dermot Murnaghan were among those who also presented News at Ten when McDonald was absent. In addition to the move to one newscaster, a brand new studio filled with video monitors was created, and a new arrangement of the familiar theme tune was recorded. This incarnation of News at Ten launched in November 1992, and lasted until March 1999.
1999 to 2004: axing and the News at When? era
After much debate and controversy, the ITC regulatory body allowed News at Ten to be axed in March 1999, to allow the uninterrupted broadcast of dramas and films on ITV. The axing of News at Ten coincided with an overhaul of news on ITV, with the ITN brand scaled back in favour of a new ITV News on-screen image. The flagship ITN news programme was now the 30-minute ITV Evening News, broadcast at 18:30 and presented by Trevor McDonald. Also introduced was the 20-minute ITV Nightly News, broadcast at 23:00. A one-minute news summary was briefly placed at 22:00. However, by 2000, viewing figures for ITV News had decreased by 14%. The ITC stepped in to try to resolve the problem, and ruled that the loss of News at Ten had proven detrimental to ITV's ratings. ITV agreed with the ITC's ruling that the programme should return, although only on the condition that it run at 22:00 for a minimum of three nights a week, and at shorter length. It was at this point that Director-General of the BBC Greg Dyke announced that the long-running BBC Nine O'Clock News would move to 22:00 to provide a head-to-head clash with ITN. Though much publicity surrounded this move, the BBC Ten O'Clock News did not instantly make a negative impact on the ratings of the now-reinstated ITV News at Ten, once again presented by McDonald. The ITV Nightly News was dropped, with the ITV Evening News remaining at 18:30 and rebranded with two newscasters, Dermot Murnaghan and Mary Nightingale.
Like the ITV Nightly News before it, the ITV News at Ten was only a 20-minute bulletin, with the final ten minutes consisting of ITV regional news. Another unusual aspect of the revived programme - and ultimately the downfall for this second incarnation - was its scheduling. It only ran for three nights a week, with the Friday edition broadcast at 23:00 as the ITV Weekend News. Viewers gradually switched to the BBC's offering for the simple reason that the BBC bulletin started, as the original run of News at Ten had done, at precisely 22:00. The BBC bulletin was also fixed in the BBC One schedule six nights a week. On the nights that the ITV News at Ten was scheduled to begin at 22:00, it only very rarely did air at that precise time. On numerous occasions, the bulletin was delayed in order to broadcast entertainment programming. This uncertainty led to the bulletin being dubbed News at When? by some of its critics.
It was announced late in 2003 that the bulletin would be axed once more in the light of the Carlton's and Granada's mergeing into ITV plc. On 2 February 2004, the ITV News at 10.30 was introduced, again presented by McDonald, who later retired from ITN on 15 December 2005. The bulletin was latterly re-launched and presented by newscaster Mark Austin.
2008 to present: reinstatement to ITV schedules
ITV plc chairman Michael Grade, on Wednesday 31 October 2007, confirmed plans to reintroduce News at Ten, announcing that the bulletin would be restored to its traditional slot in early 2008. News at Ten returned on 14 January 2008, broadcasting Monday to Thursday, with an allied programme called The Late News airing on Fridays at 11pm. In addition, the double-headed presentation associated with News at Ten during its first two decades was introduced. The revived programme saw the temporary return of Trevor McDonald, presenting with Julie Etchingham, who joined the organisation from Sky News. Mark Austin alternated with McDonald to present News at Ten with Etchingham.
It was confirmed on 30 October 2008 that McDonald was to depart from News at Ten the next month, leaving "on a high note" after presenting the programme's US election coverage from Washington. McDonald continued to be a part of the ITV schedules, fronting documentaries and taking part in special editions of the Tonight programme. Mark Austin took over from McDonald as News at Ten's main male newscaster in November 2008. Austin remained in the same role for the ITV News at 6:30 until August 2009, when he was replaced on that programme by Alastair Stewart as part of a move to give each news programme its own distinct presenter teams.
On 25 February 2009, ITV announced that News at Ten would begin to air on Friday nights from 13 March (replacing the 23:00 The Late News bulletin), in order to give the programme a "consistent home at the heart of the schedule". It was also suggested that the bulletin would now be airing five nights instead of four due to a rise in ratings and the success of the pairing of the programme's newscasters.
Ratings remained steady for the programme since its 2008 return, settling at 2.5 million though often rising to over 3 million viewers. News at Ten was watched by 3.8m on the relaunch date in 2008, compared to the BBC's 4.9m. On 27 February 2008, News at Ten received 4.3m; the BBC News at 10 was delayed by 40 minutes due to an FA Cup replay, gaining 3.6m. On 2 February 2009, due to severe weather conditions which saw heavy snow in Britain, television news bulletins across the terrestrial channels saw an increase in ratings; News at Ten gained 4.8m viewers. The week of 25–29 May 2009 saw News at Ten gaining a huge increase in ratings, on the back of the Britain's Got Talent semi-final programmes which aired that week; on 26 May, News at Ten received 6.1m in comparison to 4.1m for the BBC News at 10, but a ten-minute delay on 27 May (due to ITV football coverage) resulted in 2.4m. 28 May saw News at Ten gaining its highest audience figures since 2003, with a 6.4m strong audience tuning in; the BBC News at 10 received just less than half of that figure - 3.6m.
News at Ten was realigned to the ITV News identity on 2 November 2009 (becoming the ITV News at Ten), to provide consistency in the branding of news programmes on the channel. The revamp saw the temporary removal of the famous image of the Big Ben clock tower from ITV News opening sequences; ITV executives felt, after "months of deliberation", that the imagery of the landmark promoted London-centricity to viewers outside the capital. The "bongs" remained in the headline sequence.
On 14 January 2013, ITV News was rebranded. The rebrand, which tied into a wider relaunch of all ITV services that month, saw the return of the famous Big Ben striking 22:00 to the opening sequence of News at Ten.
On 25 June 2015, ITV announced plans for an autumn relaunch of News at Ten. The relaunch sees a return to the single newscaster format of the 1990s, with political editor Tom Bradby becoming the programme's main host. Julie Etchingham and Rageh Omaar were announced as the programme's relief newscasters.
Theme music and opening sequence
From 1967 up to 1992, News at Ten's opening and closing music 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 for the programme's November revamp. Since April 1995, The Awakening has been utilised in various different arrangements as the theme for all ITV News programming, as arranged by Hewson.
The history of the News at Ten music is contained within the official 1999 book released by ITN, which incorrectly refers to the title music as Arabesque, the name of the suite of music 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 original title sequence from the 1967 launch featured a brief ITN frontcap that cut to a wide studio shot featuring the two newscasters, with a News at 10 caption at the bottom of the screen. It was not until 1969 when the most memorable title sequence was introduced: a slow night-time pan across the Houses of Parliament, followed by a sharp zoom into the Big Ben clockface showing the time of 22:00, and the words "NEWS", "at" and "TEN" all wiping on screen. The sequence was filmed and edited to fit exactly with the strident beats of The Awakening. This was followed by the clock chimes - the "bongs" - with each headline being read out between them. This basic concept remained in use until 1992, with variations on the sequence in the intervening years: computer technology allowed for more sophisticated montages of London landmarks before the sharp zoom into the clockface over the years, and in 1988, live-action shots were dispensed with in favour of a new computer-generated title sequence. The sequence featured an energetic swoop from outer space through London, stopping at the Big Ben clockface.
In 1992, when the programme relaunched and a new arrangement of the theme was introduced, the title sequence featured night-time camera shots of Big Ben with the time at 22:00, fading to a pan of the ITN newsroom, with the headline "bongs" following. In later revisions of the sequence, the newsroom pan was dropped in favour of a pan of the News at Ten studio (which originally followed the headline sequence). From 1999 to 2001 and again from 2009 to the present, News at Ten has utilised its own distinct version of the same title sequence as other ITV News programmes. Between January 2008 and November 2009, the programme utilised an updated version of the 1988 to 1992 computer-generated London flyover sequence.
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, 2011 and 2015.
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- Obituary report for Geoffrey Cox, News At Ten, 2 April 2008
- 'Rees, Norman, Gardner, Andrew, Nicholas, David, Purvis, Stewart (5 March 1999). Turning back the clock' report, News at Ten (Television). London, England: ITN.
- "ITN - Independent Television News". The Ident Zone (MHP). 11 May 2009. Retrieved 11 May 2009.
- "News at Ten: Forty Years Off and On". ATV News & Soap Zone. 25 October 2007. Archived from the original on 23 November 2007. Retrieved 25 October 2007.
- "Sir Alastair Burnet". The Telegraph. 2012. Retrieved 28 December 2012.
- "News at When". Transdiffusion Broadcasting System. 2002. Retrieved 23 October 2007.
- Tryhorn, Chris (7 December 2007). "News at Ten returns to ITV". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 7 December 2007.
- "News at Ten". ITV. 2 January 2008. Retrieved 2 January 2008.
- 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 (25 February 2009). "News at Ten goes five-nights-a-week". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 26 February 2009.
- 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.
- "Tom Bradby to become main presenter of ITV's News at Ten". The Guardian (London). 23 June 2015. Retrieved 23 June 2015.
- "Johnny Pearson". The Daily Telegraph (London). 3 May 2011. Retrieved 27 November 2011.
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