On the Record (UK TV programme)

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On the Record was a weekly political television show aired by the BBC in the United Kingdom between 1988 and 2002. The programme was usually shown on a Sunday lunchtime on BBC One. It replaced the 1980s political series This Week, Next Week, which had been presented by David Dimbleby.

The programme was presented by Dimbleby's younger brother, Jonathan Dimbleby, from 1988 to 1993, and by John Humphrys from 1993 to 2002. A typical programme ran for one hour and began with a filmed piece about a major issue of the day before returning to the studio where the presenter would 'grill' a leading politician on the same issue. A long-standing segment of the show was a political sketch presented by John Cole.[1]

The programme's mascot was a crocodile, based on a British House of Commons gargoyle and the "Big Ben" Clock Tower, and fashioned from plastic, glue and leather. For the title sequence of the first five series the crocodile marched across the UK; from 1993 onwards, the crocodile marched around Europe. Both sequences were shot in stop-frame animation by 3 Peach Animation.[2]

During 2000, the then BBC Director General Greg Dyke ordered a review of political output from BBC, which was carried out by Fran Unsworth.[3] This led to a major overhaul of political output in 2002, which resulted in On the Record being axed and replaced with the Politics Show.[4] The final edition was aired on 15 December 2002.

The programme had two variations of the theme tune throughout its life, composed by George Fenton, the first was in 1988 that lasted until 1993, when it was revised to incorporate the late John Cole's own section within the programme with his own jingles as a tribute. John Cole (Journalist) dying in 2013. John Cole being the BBC's Political Editor.


  1. ^ "Remembering John Cole". BBC. Retrieved 21 Sep 2014.
  2. ^ "On the Record". BBC. Retrieved 5 May 2012.
  3. ^ Jason Deans (23 December 2004). "BBC appoints new head of newsgathering". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 13 December 2011.
  4. ^ Jason Deans and Claire Cozens (20 September 2002). "The BBC: A new manifesto for viewers". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 13 December 2011.

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