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BBC TwoNewsnight
Last Updated: Friday, 12 May 2006, 09:45 GMT 10:45 UK
Hands off that paintbrush

By Peter Barron
Newsnight editor

  • The Newsnight studio
    Those of you who also get your news from BBC outlets other than Newsnight will have noticed the new studio designs unveiled this week.

    That was phase one. Newsnight, along with our stablemates Newsround and Working Lunch, will follow in the next couple of weeks, and you can see the progress of our studio build day by day on the website.

    View the studio images

    Our new studio will be bigger and will have a different visual design, but the basic concept of a so-called "fixed and flexible" set, which cleverly avoids the need endlessly to rig and de-rig completely different furniture, will be the same.

    The head of TV news has suggested - I think flippantly - an interactive facility whereby viewers could vote on Newsnight's final colour scheme
    We've already had loads of e-mails from viewers about what they would and wouldn't like to see in the new design - many of which we've heeded - but it's not too late to let us know what's hot and what's not from what you've seen of the BBC's new sets so far.

    Send your comments

    The head of TV news has even suggested - I think flippantly - an interactive facility whereby viewers could vote on Newsnight's final colour scheme, but the head of TV presentation countered that as long as running orders remain in the hands of editors paint brushes will stay with the designers. So, safe for a few more weeks then.

    Grounded for good

    Talking of paint jobs, it's with sadness that I report that the smart livery of our helicopter Newsnight 1 took to the air for the last time this week, as Michael Crick hopped to Hull and Norwich in search of voter reaction to scandal-prone ministers in the run up to the local elections.

    View our photo tribute to the legendary Newsnight 1...

    When we used the helicopter during last year's General Election, questions were raised about the cost. We argued then, and maintain, that sending a helicopter on a day trip actually works out cheaper than alternative ways of reflecting the political story in constituencies up and down the country, involving overnight hotel bills, field edits and satellite feeds.

    But this week the real, additional cost of getting airborne was in fact zero pence. We'd block booked a number of flying hours for the General Election campaign and recently discovered we had just a few credits left. But in this cost - and carbon - conscious age it's time to move on. Michael's next mode of transport, for the World Cup finals in Germany, will be a boring and fuel efficient VW.

    Waste not want not

    Which brings me to our Ethical Man, Justin Rowlatt.

    Such are his credentials these days as a high ethical liver that this week he managed to obtain both an exclusive interview with that ultimate ethical man, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and a VIP invitation to the launch of the Big Ask, event of the green elite including the likes of Radiohead's Thom Yorke and Blue/Green David Cameron.

    Justin Rowlatt

    Sadly, Justin's footage from the latter event wasn't deemed sufficiently newsworthy to make it into Newsnight's running order, but ever the conservationist, he begged some spare editing time to offer an exclusive, web-only ethical treat you can watch online.

    The Big Read All About It

    And if you're still feeling disappointment about not being able to interact with our colour scheme, here's something that's black, white and read all over.

    In conjunction with the British Library, Newsnight is - over the next couple of weeks - asking viewers to vote for your favourite newspaper front page of the last 100 years. We've spent the last few days trying to whittle down the hundreds of memorable front pages on show in a forthcoming major exhibition to a shortlist of just ten. We failed. So next week we'll invite you to vote on the 11 greatest front pages of the last century.

    I blame Freddie Starr.


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