Title branding as of 2019
|Genre||News and current affairs|
|Created by||BBC News|
|Presented by||Lead Presenter:|
|Theme music composer||George Fenton|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|Production location(s)||Studio B, Broadcasting House, London|
|Running time||45 minutes|
|Original network||BBC Two|
BBC World News
|Picture format||576i (16:9 SDTV)|
|Original release||28 January 1980 –|
|Related shows||Any Answers?|
The Big Questions
Newsnight (or BBC Newsnight) is a news and current affairs programme, that provides "in-depth investigation and analysis of the stories behind the day's headlines." It broadcasts on weekdays, usually at 10:30 pm on BBC Two, and is also available on BBC iPlayer.
Newsnight began on 28 January 1980 at 10.45pm, although a 15 min news bulletin using the same title had run on BBC Two for a 13-month period from 1975 to 1976. Its launch was delayed by four months by the Association of Broadcasting Staff, at the time the main BBC trade union. Newsnight was the first programme to be made by means of a direct collaboration between BBC News, then at Television Centre, and the current affairs department, based a short distance away at the now defunct Lime Grove Studios. Staff feared job cuts. The newscast also served as a replacement for the current affairs programme Tonight.
Former presenters include Peter Snow, a regular for 17 years, Donald MacCormick, Charles Wheeler, Adam Raphael and John Tusa, later boss of the BBC World Service. In the early days each edition had an 'auxiliary presenter', a phenomenon pejoratively known at the time as the "Newsnight's wife syndrome". Usually a woman, it was her job to read the news headlines and to introduce minor items. Olivia O'Leary in 1985 became the first principal female presenter; the programme has had a single presenter since 1987. Newsnight is now wholly managed by BBC News.
Until 1988, the start time of Newsnight was flexible, so BBC Two could screen a movie at 9:30pm to dovetail with the conclusion of the main news on BBC One. The fixed time slot of 10:30pm was established in the face of fierce objections from the then managing director of BBC TV, Bill Cotton, otherwise in charge of all scheduling decisions. The very announcement was made without him even being informed. The affair sparked a widely reported row within the corporation. One protagonist said it would "destroy the BBC". Newsnight moved to new facilities at Broadcasting House on 15 October 2012.
Between 1999 and 2014 on BBC Two Scotland the offshoot, Newsnight Scotland, presented by Gordon Brewer, replaced the final twenty minutes of the UK programme from Monday to Friday. From May 2014, Newsnight is again shown in full in Scotland, but delayed by half an hour to accommodate Newsnight Scotland's replacement, Scotland 2014.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Newsnight reverted to a 10:45pm start time from 30 March 2020. This was due to Newsnight temporarily sharing a studio with BBC News at Ten during the pandemic to cut footfall in Broadcasting House and allow turnover in the studio, with News at Ten not finishing until 10:35. Further, during the pandemic, editions presented by Kirsty Wark have been presented from BBC Scotland's Pacific Quay headquarters in Glasgow. It is expected that Newsnight will return to the normal scheduling when social distancing rules have been eased.
Jeremy Paxman interviews Michael Howard MP
In May 1997, Jeremy Paxman pressed former Home Secretary Michael Howard about a meeting with head of the Prison Service Derek Lewis about the possible dismissal of the governor of Parkhurst Prison. Faced with what he considered evasive answers, Paxman put the same question– "Did you threaten to overrule him?" (i.e. Lewis)– twelve times in succession.
This has become the programme's best known interview. Later, during a twentieth anniversary edition of Newsnight, Paxman told Howard that he'd simply been trying desperately to string out the interview because the next item in the running order had failed to materialise. In 2004, Paxman raised the subject again with Howard, by then leader of the Conservative Party to get a final answer.[failed verification] This time, Howard laughed it off, saying that he had not threatened to overrule the head of the Prison Service. During Paxman's final show in June 2014, Howard briefly appeared in the studio once more, with Paxman simply asking "Did you?", to which Howard replied "No Jeremy, I didn't, but feel free to ask another 11 times."
Emily Maitlis interviews Prince Andrew, Duke of York
In November 2019, Emily Maitlis interviewed Prince Andrew, Duke of York about his relationship with convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, who was found dead in August whilst awaiting trial. The interview was months in the making and Maitlis got the sign-off only 48 hours before.
In the interview, the Duke of York denied having sex with Virginia Roberts Guiffre in March 2001, as she had accused, because he had been at home with his daughters, having taken his elder daughter Beatrice, to a party at Pizza Express in Woking. The Duke said that he had "no recollection of ever meeting" Roberts Guiffre and that he had "absolutely no memory" of a photograph taken of him with Roberts Guiffre at Ghislaine Maxwell's house. He said he had investigations carried out to establish whether the photograph was faked, but they had been inconclusive.
Andrew's responses in the interview received negative reactions from both the media and the public. Maitlis won the Network Presenter of the Year award at the RTS Television Journalism Awards in 2020, while the interview was awarded as the Interview of the Year and the Scoop of the Year.
Accusations of bias
In April 2001, the BBC's governors ruled that Newsnight's coverage of Peter Mandelson's resignation over the Hinduja affair had been politically biased. The governors criticised the programme for only featuring Labour Party supporters on the panel discussing the issue, and no opposition politicians appeared at any stage of the 45-minute episode. The broadcast attracted an outcry in the media with one critic describing it as a whitewash worthy of a "one-party state".
In May 2020, Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis broke the BBC's rules on impartiality, by declaring as a fact at the start of the programme that Dominic Cummings had broken the coronavirus lockdown rules, despite this being a matter of opinion on which different people will disagree.
Coverage of sexual abuse scandals
In the weeks after the ITV documentary Exposure: The Other Side of Jimmy Savile was broadcast on 3 October 2012, allegations were made that a Newsnight investigation into Savile by reporter Liz MacKean and producer Meirion Jones in December 2011 had been dropped shortly before transmission because it conflicted with tribute programmes prepared after Savile's death. The BBC appointed Nick Pollard, a former Sky News executive, to examine why the investigation was dropped. On 23 October, the Director-General of the BBC, George Entwistle, appeared before the Parliamentary Culture, Media and Sport Committee, and stated that it had been a "catastrophic mistake" to cancel the Newsnight broadcast.
Newsnight broadcast on 2 November 2012 a report falsely accusing (but not naming) a prominent Conservative, Lord McAlpine of child abuse. The veracity of this story collapsed after The Guardian reported a case of mistaken identity on 8 November and the victim retracted the allegation after belatedly being shown a photograph of McAlpine in an item broadcast on the following day. The production team had not contacted McAlpine about the allegations. An apology about the story was made on 9 November during that evening's broadcast of the programme. In an official statement, the BBC announced all ongoing Newsnight investigations were being suspended. The Director of BBC Scotland, Ken MacQuarrie, investigated the circumstances around the programme. His findings were published on 12 November, and stated that:
The editorial leadership of the team was under very considerable pressure....[T]here was ambiguity around who was taking the ultimate editorial responsibility for the Newsnight report, particularly in the days leading up to the day of transmission.... During the editorial decision-making process, some of the basic journalistic checks were not completed.... There was a different understanding by the key parties about where the responsibility lay for the final editorial sign off for the story on the day.
The BBC announced that Karen O'Connor would take on the role of Acting Editor of Newsnight.
The Pollard report was published on 19 December 2012. It concluded that the decision to drop the original Newsnight report on the allegations against Savile in December 2011 was "flawed", but that it had not been done to protect the Savile tribute programmes. However, it criticised George Entwistle for apparently failing to read emails warning him of Savile's "dark side", and that, after the allegations against Savile eventually became public, the BBC fell into a "level of chaos and confusion [that] was even greater than was apparent at the time". The BBC announced that Newsnight editor Peter Rippon and deputy editor Liz Gibbons would be replaced.
From 2000 until December 2009, on Friday evenings Newsnight gave way at 11:00pm to Newsnight Review, a 35-minute consumer survey of the week's artistic and cultural highlights. Mark Lawson was the programme's main presenter in its Late Review incarnation, which began life as a strand of The Late Show. He continued to chair the panel of guest reviewers when it reincarnated as Newsnight Review in 2000, up until December 2005. The programme was presented by Kirsty Wark, Martha Kearney, John Wilson, Tim Marlow, Kwame Kwei-Armah and Hardeep Singh Kohli. Regular reviewers included Mark Kermode, Tom Paulin, Ekow Eshun and Germaine Greer.
As part of the BBC's commitment to moving programmes out of London, Newsnight Review finished on 18 December 2009 with a special hour-long edition. The programme was replaced by The Review Show, produced from Glasgow, which started on 22 January 2010. It had the same producer as Newsnight Review and was still presented by Kirsty Wark and Martha Kearney.
Traditionally, there is a short stock market update at the end of each edition. In 2005, Newsnight's then editor, Peter Barron, replaced it with a 30-second weather report, arguing that the market data was available on the internet and that a weather report would be more useful. The change provoked a flurry of complaints.
Paxman on one occasion adopted a sarcastic tone and announced: "So finally and controversially, tomorrow's weather forecast. It's a veritable smorgasbord. Sun, rain, thunder, hail, snow, cold, wind. Almost worth going to work." On other occasions: "It's April, what do you expect?" and, "Take an umbrella with you tomorrow." He claimed, nonetheless, that he was happy presenting the weather. Gavin Esler also joined in, announcing: "As for the spring, you can forget about that until further notice." The programme conducted a telephone poll. Michael Fish, a former weather forecaster, was seen arguing in favour of the weather report, while Norman Lamont, a former Chancellor of the Exchequer, argued for the market update. 62% of viewers voted in favour of the markets, and the update duly returned on Monday 18 April 2005.
Other stunts include: for a week at the end of January 2006, Newsnight played over its closing credits the so-called Radio 4 UK Theme which was facing the axe; the edition of 24 April 2006 played out to the signature tune of the soon-to-be-axed BBC sports programme, Grandstand.
Between January and June 2006 the programme included Gordaq, a spoof stock market index measuring the political performance of Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown. The index started at 100 and moved up or down depending on Brown's political situation, finishing at 101 on 30 June 2006.
In an early day motion of 3 November 2016, as a celebration of the "Brexit" vote for UK withdrawal from the European Union, right-wing Conservative Party MP Andrew Rosindell argued for a return to the broadcasting of "God Save the Queen" at the end of BBC One transmissions each day. The practice was dropped in 1997 (ostensibly due to BBC One adopting 24-hour broadcasting by simulcasting BBC News 24 overnight, rendering closedown obsolete). That evening, Newsnight ended its broadcast with host of that night Kirsty Wark saying that they were "incredibly happy to oblige" Rosindell's request, before playing out to the video of the Sex Pistols' punk song of the same name, much to Rosindell's discontent.
International edition and other media
Newsnight is available in the UK on BBC iPlayer for up to thirty days after broadcast. A weekly digest version of Newsnight is screened on BBC World News, focusing on "the best of the week's films and discussions."
BBC America axed its US version of Newsnight as part of a series of changes that included dropping its daily three-hour block of international news.
Current presenters, editors, and correspondents
|Emily Maitlis||Lead Presenter|
|Katie Razzall||Relief Presenters|
Editors and Correspondents
|Deborah Cohen||UK & Health Editor|
|Lewis Goodall||Policy Editor|
|Gabriel Gatehouse||International Editor|
|David Grossman||US Correspondent|
|Katie Razzall||UK Editor|
|Stephen Smith||Culture Correspondent|
|Helen Thomas||Business Editor|
|Mark Urban||Diplomatic Editor|
|Nicholas Watt||Political Editor|
Past presenters and reporters
- Peter Snow, 1980–97
- John Tusa, 1980–86
- David Sells, 1980–2006
- Peter Hobday, 1980–83
- Will Hutton, 1983–88
- Jenni Murray, 1984–86
- Olivia O'Leary, 1985–86
- Adam Raphael, 1987–88
- Gordon Brewer, 1993–99 (subsequently hosted Newsnight Scotland)
- Steve Scott
- Martha Kearney (Presenter and Political Editor), 1994–2010
- Sarah Montague, 1998–2001
- James Cox
- Donald MacCormick
- Eddie Mair (guest presenter)
- Jon Sopel (guest presenter)
- Francine Stock
- Sue Cameron
- Allegra Stratton (Political Editor)
- Charles Wheeler
- Jeremy Vine, 1999–2002
- Michael Crick (Political Editor)
- Paul Mason (Economics Editor)
- Gavin Esler, 2003–2014
- Jeremy Paxman, 1989–2014
- Evan Davis, 2014–2018
- James O'Brien
- Susan Watts (Science Editor)
- Nimrod Kamer (Buzz and Youth Correspondent)
- Laura Kuenssberg (Presenter and Chief Correspondent), 2014–2015
- Kavita Puri
- George Carey (1980–81)
- Ron Neil (1981–82)
- David Lloyd (1982–83)
- David Dickinson (1983–85)
- Richard Tait (1985–87)
- John Morrison (1987–90)
- Tim Gardam (1990–93)
- Peter Horrocks (1994–97)
- Sian Kevill (1998–2001)
- George Entwistle (2001–04)
- Peter Barron (2004–08)
- Peter Rippon (2008–12)
- Ian Katz (2013–2017)
- Esmé Wren (2018–)
- "Newsnight presenters".
- "Esmé Wren announced as new editor for BBC Newsnight".
- "Newsnight provides "in-depth investigation and analysis of the stories behind the day's headlines"". BBC.
- "Newsnight available on BBC iPlayer". BBC.
- Andrew Billen "Flagship sails on", New Statesman, 7 February 2000
- "A history of Newsnight", BBC News, 28 May 2009
- Chris Horrie and Steve Clarke 'Fuzzy Monsters: Fear and Loathing at the BBC' (1994)
- "Paxman versus Howard". BBC News.
- Paxman's explanation was that "by the time I'd asked the question five or six times... it was clear... that you [Howard] weren't going to answer it... at which point a voice came in my ear and said "The next piece of tape isn't cut, you'd better carry on with this for a while" and I'm afraid I couldn't think of anything else to ask you."
- "Jeremy Paxman takes on Michael Howard one last time". BBC News. Retrieved 27 July 2017.
- Jeremy Paxman hosts his final Newsnight, BBC News, 18 June 2014
- Maitlis, Emily (19 December 2019). "Emily Maitlis: 'Prince Andrew was unleashed. He wanted to tell me everything'". The Guardian. Retrieved 20 February 2020.
- "Prince Andrew denies sex with 17-year-old because he was 'at Pizza Express' on night in question". The Independent. 16 November 2019. Retrieved 17 November 2019.
- "Prince Andrew denies sex with 17-year-old: 'I went to Pizza Express that day'". Sky News. 16 November 2019. Retrieved 17 November 2019.
- "Prince Andrew says he has "no recollection" of meeting Epstein accuser" – via www.youtube.com.
- "Prince 'categorically' denies sex claims". 16 November 2019 – via www.bbc.co.uk.
- Adam, Karla (17 November 2019). "Prince Andrew's Epstein interview roundly panned: 'nuclear explosion level bad'". The Washington Post. Retrieved 17 November 2019.
- Lewis, Aimee (17 November 2019). "Prince Andrew sparks near-universal condemnation with TV interview". CNN. Retrieved 17 November 2019.
- "Winners of RTS Television Journalism Awards 2020 announced". Retrieved 27 February 2020.
- "BBC admits Labour bias on Newsnight broadcast". The Daily Telegraph.
- "BBC Guilty of Bias over Mandelson". Questia.
- Mason, Rowena (16 October 2012). "BBC's Jimmy Savile probe to be led by Harold Shipman inquiry judge". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 16 October 2012.
- Prince, Rosa (23 October 2012). "Jimmy Savile: George Entwistle heckled by BBC reporters after brutal grilling from MPs". The Telegraph. London. Retrieved 23 October 2012.
- David Leigh, et al "'Mistaken identity' led to top Tory abuse claim", The Guardian, 8 November 2012
- "BBC apologises for Newsnight child abuse report". BBC News.
- Dan Sabbagh, et al "BBC in turmoil as Newsnight's Tory abuse story falls apart", The Guardian, 9 November 2012
- "Apology in response to Steve Messham's statement", BBC Media Centre, 9 November 2012
- BBC News, Ken MacQuarrie report: Summary of findings, 12 November 2012. Retrieved 15 November 2012
- Halliday, Josh (19 December 2012). "Pollard report: George Entwistle 'did not read emails' about Jimmy Savile". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 19 December 2012.
- Sabbagh, Dan; Plunkett, John (19 December 2012). "Pollard inquiry: BBC 'incapable' of dealing with Jimmy Savile affair". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 19 December 2012.
- "A decade of Newsnight Review". Newsnight Review. BBC News. 18 January 2010. Retrieved 22 January 2010.
- "Friday 18 December: The year in Review". Newsnight Review. BBC News. 17 December 2009. Retrieved 22 January 2010.
- "Weather or markets? You decide". BBC News.
- Hughes, Laura (3 November 2016). "Tory MP calls for BBC 1 to mark Brexit with national anthem at the end of each day". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 3 November 2016.
- Robb, Simon (4 November 2016). "BBC just trolled a conservative MP brilliantly with God Save the Queen". Metro. Retrieved 4 November 2016.
- "Newsnight on BBC iPlayer". BBC.
- "BBC World News version of Newsnight". BBC.
- "Newsnight". YouTube.
- "KCET version of Newsnight". KCET.
- "Emily Maitlis announced as new lead presenter for Newsnight".
- "Newsnight presenters".
- "Newsnight 2020 relief presenters".
- https://twitter.com/lewis_goodall. Missing or empty
- "Gabriel Gatehouse: Newsnight International Editor". Twitter.
- "David Grossman: Newsnight US Correspondent". Twitter.
- "Katie Razzall: Newsnight UK Editor". Twitter.
- "Stephen Smith: Newsnight Culture Correspondent". Twitter.
- "Helen Thomas: Newsnight Business Editor". Twitter.
- "Mark Urban: Newsnight Diplomatic Editor". Twitter.
- "Nicholas Watt: Newsnight Political Editor". Twitter.
- "Gdansk strikes". BBC.
- "Falklands War". BBC.
- "INLA investigation". BBC.
- "Hiroshima and Nagasaki film". BBC.
- "US bombing of Libya". BBC.
- "Fall of the Berlin Wall". BBC.
- "Kurdish refugees". BBC.
- "Paxman versus Howard". BBC.
- "Child abuse investigation". BBC.
- "Newsnight's 9/11 coverage". BBC.
- "Newsnight editor Peter Barron to join Google in communications role". The Guardian.
- "Peter Rippon appointed to BBC News archive role". BBC.
- "Newsnight editor Ian Katz quits BBC for top Channel 4 role". The Guardian.
- "Esmé Wren named as new BBC Newsnight editor". BBC.
- Newsnight 25 BBC mini-site to mark Newsnight's 25th anniversary in 2005
- Newsnight at 20: the awkward squad, Broadcast, 28 January 2000