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Last Updated: Friday, 9 July, 2004, 15:32 GMT 16:32 UK
BBC Television News: Your memories
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The BBC's first television news bulletin was broadcast 50 years ago.

The 7.30pm bulletin on 5 July, 1954 was presented by Richard Baker from Alexandra Palace in London.

Currently, up to 40 million people in the UK see some of BBC News' output each week and more than 50 million people view it across the globe on BBC World.

What are your memories of BBC television news? Which presenters or stories are particularly memorable? What does the future hold for television news?

This debate has now closed. Thank you for your comments.


Your comments:

ASK BBC DIRECTOR OF NEWS
Richard Sambrook, Director of News, answered your questions.

I am currently staying in Germany in a place that only has access to CNN (or German channels) and the past two and a half weeks without the BBC News at 10 have been hell! No BBC channel has endless commercial breaks and the same outdated reports played continuously. Congratulations BBC and I raise my German beer glass to another 50 years of BBC News!
Chris Blore, Billericay, Essex, UK

Part of the fabric of our democracy. Almost part of our unwritten constitution. Annoying at times, but indispensable. Hard to imagine how it could continue in this way with another form of funding.
Ian, Bradford, UK

You should see how excited and happy my son gets hearing the BBC music till the counter drops to 00!..
Raju Ramaswamy, Chennai, India

Sadly, the opening titles using the Alexander Palace transmitter mast look more impressive than the current opening sequence for BBC News that resemble an ear! Why do you have to keep tampering with things? The previous sequence depicting the world map and major cities around the world was much better and made sense. The existing one just looks silly and doesn't do BBC News justice.
Tim Ward, Aberystwyth, Wales

We don't really need the services of a presenter (however amiable) to do our thinking for us
Andrew Mantle, South London

I remember fondly the days - not too long ago - when correspondents addressed us, the viewers, directly, with informative pieces which made us (and them) think. When Kate Adie or Martin Bell said something directed at you, you listened and felt involved. Now it's rapidly being overtaken by ghastly given-name chats between correspondent and presenter, which we are afforded the privilege of witnessing with awe, like a bunch of zombies each with the brain cell count of a gnat. I know talking heads can be boring, but top class TV journalists aren't, and we don't really need the services of a presenter (however amiable) to do our thinking for us.
Andrew Mantle, South London, UK

My memories of the BBC are first from the 60s when I came to this country aged 13 years. The News has always being one of my favoured viewing. Richard Baker, Peter Woods are in my memory. The BBC changed with women news presenters such as Angela Rippon, Jan Leeming and of course Moira Stuart, the first Black presenter of the News in Britain. The coverage that most impressed me was that of the Vietnam War. The BBC has changed. It has, in my view, become less establishment and more populist in its news reporting. The Miner's Strike of the 80s was a good example. At least, it is not a state dominated news organisation. BBC News 24 is one of my favourite channels. I hope you keep on improving your coverage of the news by being objective and less establishment. Thanks for the memories.
Gordon Mcmanus, London

Whatever it represented in the past - the BBC news is now little more than a campaigning platform for the opinions of its staff. Objective? No. Accurate? Sometimes. Biased? Certainly. It should stop pretending to be even-handed and acknowledge the difference between news stories and opinion stories. Thank God for satellite TV offering alternatives to the BBC opinions dressed up as facts.
Martyn, Oxford, UK

I wouldn't want to live in a world without contrasting views and as such BBC and a few others do a fine job of representing and informing us. Thank you.
Daniel, USA

50 years of fiddling us out of our hard earned cash under the pretence of a licence.... oh how I look forward to another 50 years of it. Not!
Joseph, UK

Happy birthday BBC. The world is a better place because of you.
Nigel Darwent, Trinidad and Tobago

I was born during the Turkish invasion of Cyprus in 1974. My father always told me while Cypriot television was broadcasting gymnastics (due to the Greek coup d'etat) it was the BBC that actually was the only source of what was happening and showing that the invasion was taking place.
Alex Tapaccos, London, UK

I remember watching BBC news with my parents in the early 80's when I was 5 or 6 years old and seeing the reports on the Falklands War. Even at that young age I remember being scared that we were at war and I believe that combined with regular viewing of John Craven's Newsround started my lifelong interest in news and current affairs. Thank you BBC for making me such a well-informed person.
Anna, London

Looking at the picture of Angela Rippon reminded me of the occasion when her earring dropped off while she was reading the news. It created quite a stir in the following day's newspapers!
Richard Terry, Bedford, UK

I remember Mr Dougal and Mr Baker, the best newsreaders of the day, and upholders of a standard only the BBC present. BBC World is good, BBC News 24 outshines Sky and Fox, only wish that BBC News 24 was available outside the UK. Thank you for BBC Online.
Malcolm Tulett, Adelaide, Australia

I watch the BBC every evening when not travelling thanks to Public Television. Many thanks for the straightforward news even when it makes me more than a little uncomfortable. I also use the internet to get BBC news as often as possible.
Skip Nelson, Frederick, Maryland, USA

Whatever one's memory's of the BBC since 1954 the simple truth is, it is the best news service anywhere in the known universe.
Jack, South Africa

BBC World News in English made me a professor Of English here in BRA Bihar University. I have been listening to BBC radio since 1967 in English, Hindi and Bengali. My father was an avowed BBC news fan. We liked Mark Tully and Renu Agal. Though I have not ever visited the UK yet it seems that I have my morning ride on the Thames and evening in Hampstead or Stratford. I love and value BBC for its richness. Often I suggest my students to listen to the BBC for the improvement of spoken English as well as general awareness. Perhaps BBC is next to father and mother in life.
Professor Samiran Paul, Muzaffarpur, Bihar

The reporting is far superior
Ian, UK
The BBC news may be slower off the mark than Sky for getting news stories out, but the reporting is far superior and worth the wait.
Ian, UK

I will never forget the day after Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990 when Nick Witchell had Tariq Aziz (then Iraqi Ambassador to Paris) in a live interview. Witchell tore Aziz to pieces for what must have felt like an eternity: definitely right up in the top three live interviews of the 1990s with Paxman's massacre of Michael Howard over Derek Lewis' prison scandal.
Olly Scott, London

My earliest memory of BBC News was during the first Gulf War, when I was very young, and being very bored watching the News with my parents - repeating "I'm bored" again and again. They told me one more "I'm bored" and I'd be sent to bed. A reporter came on the screen, with the caption "On board". Having just started learning to read, I slowly read out the words... and got sent to bed.
Gareth Stranks, Oxford, UK

I travel the world, I make sure that the hotels I stay in have BBC World, and my work friends do the same. You simply can't trust anyone else. To the next 50 years.
Simon, Cape Town

I can't remember any noteworthy news stories coming from BBC TV but... I still remember vividly as a small lad listening to the heart rending radio accounts coming from the BBC on the aftermath of the atom bomb dropped in Hiroshima.
Alan, Warsaw, Poland

My parents bought their first TV for the coronation. It was a large, polished wooden box with a tiny screen. The entire family arrived, in their Sunday best even though it wasn't Sunday. Polished shoes, watch chains in the waistcoats etc. The women in hats. I played on the floor with my train set and took no interest. Sixteen years later I watched the moon landing. There was another small boy intent with his Lego on the carpet and oblivious to the man who took that "giant step for mankind."
John Lawrence, Southampton, UK

As long as the BBC was still broadcasting, the world hadn't ended
Mattur, UK

The BBC's 9/11 coverage is burnt into my brain. BBC2 abruptly switching to News24, to report a plane had crashed into the WTC. Then, live, the second plane coming into view, unnoticed by the presenters - I was screaming at the TV "there's another plane, there's another plane". I'll never forget that day. The shock and confusion of the presenters was palpable, but they kept going. In a way, the coverage helped keep me calm. As long as the BBC was still broadcasting, the world hadn't ended.
Mattur, UK

It seems that quite a lot of fuss is being made this 50th anniversary - not that I disagree with that - but why are the programmes about it being shown only on week day afternoons? Not enough ratings potential?
Jorg, Yeoford, UK

Two things stick in mind. Saturday evening, watching Peter Sissons come back on after finishing the evening news to announce that the Queen Mother had died and that fateful Tuesday, when I came home from school to hear of the disaster that was 9/11 - the presenters brought us everything we wanted and needed to know.
Jordan Dias, London, UK

Typical BBC, slapping itself on the back in a self-congratulatory manner every time at the first chance it gets.
Ken Kelsaw, UK

I remember the original moon landings, and the Munich Olympic assassinations but the one that I remember most is the Iranian embassy siege. Seeing the SAS go in live was pretty amazing, even if it did interrupt the snooker.
Douglas Reid, London

I don't blame the BBC for the change, but it is regrettable
Danny, UK

I just loved children's newsreel! I also admired the way that just news and not opinions were reported on the main news, pity we can't return to that. I don't blame the BBC for the change, but it is regrettable.
Danny, UK

I was introduced to BBC by my husband, Festus A. Adetula after we got married in 1972. I grew so attached to BBC news that my friends and colleagues usually requested me for an update. Now I have a digital radio in my office, where I catch up with news updates as well as some discussions. But unfortunately the guy who got me interested died last year.
Oyebola Adetula, Addis Ababa

President Gorbachev in a press conference after a failed coup. When asked by a reporter (in front of the world's media) had he been aware of what had been happening he replied "Yes, through the BBC" ... enough said!
Steve O Grady, Alicante, Spain.

My strongest memories are of the early 80s (when I was about 6). I remember the storming of the Iranian embassy and the reports of ships being sunk in the Falklands as being really important events, even if I didn't understand the significance at the time. Sadly, 24 hour news and a more tabloid approach has desensitised us to these events. Even another 9/11 is unlikely to really move us.
Peter, Nottingham, UK

Churchill's death and funeral in 1965. As a four year old I didn't know who he was (or even what death was), but it registered because I'd never seen grown-ups so sad before.
Roger, Cambridge, UK

I have so many memories of BBC News, being admittedly a bit of a news junkie! Those memories include the calm and professional Jennie Bond announcing live on air the death of her colleague, Jill Dando, who had just been brutally murdered two hours previously. I remember the then Defence Correspondent in 1981, Christopher Wain, being taking ill live on the Nine O'clock News, and unable to read a bulletin to camera. It was instead read out by the superb John Humphreys.
James Martin, Dubai, UAE

Pictures of Bulganin and Khruschev visiting Britain in the summer of 1956. Followed that autumn by Suez and Hungary.
Michael Gorman, Guildford, Surrey, UK

Although most will not agree with this view, I thought it was remarkable how the BBC reported on itself during the Hutton Report and even attacked itself on Panorama. I think it shows that no matter what the circumstances, we'll always have unbiased, objective news coverage from the BBC.
Justin, Bristol, England

The nightly brutal reports on the Vietnam War which seemed to be going on forever, with no end in sight. The frequent references to North Vietnamese guerrillas and as a child wondering how they trained apes in jungle combat. Courageous journalists on camera often nervously ducking or glimpsing around as bullets and shells burst close by. The Falklands War and how everything in the house came to a tense standstill for the regular reports from an announcer who seemed better suited to funeral directing. The all-day reporting following the sinking of the ferry, the Herald of Free Enterprise.
Sheila, UK

Congratulations! I'm in the 'States, and don't get to see too much of BBC's television news output, apart from times when I'm on your website. But from what I have seen and heard, BBC has to rank as the world's top broadcast journalism organisation. I hope that over the next 50 years, every television and radio news organisation in the world will rise to the same high level of quality that the BBC has established.
Joseph Gallant, Norwood, Massachusetts, USA

These were simpler times
Mark M Newdick, US/ UK
I remember particularly the Merthyr Tydfil disaster and Harold Wilson telling me of the pound in my pocket. The first programme I saw on BBC was David Coleman hosting Grandstand way back in the early/mid-1960s when we got our first TV. And the first colour program I saw was High Chapperal on BBC2 - 1969, I think. These were simpler times!
Mark M Newdick, US/UK

I remember, when I still a tadpole, that the News was broadcast without pictures. Instead, a fancy clock on a black background was shown. Apparently, the powers that were opined that people would concentrate more on the message without the distraction of pictures. Congratulations on your 50th! I much appreciate receiving BBC World by cable here in the Frozen North.
Stephen Bird, Järvenpää Finland

Whilst the BBC gives the best news coverage in the world, I remember a time when the BBC was, to all intents and purposes, untouchable. The BBC used this position wisely and without bias and the government wouldn't dare interfere. Sadly it's the other way round now, with the BBC scared to interfere in government affairs. Come on BBC, keep probing!
Evan, UK/Dubai

Bring back just telling us what was happening without snazzy graphics
John R Smith, UK
BBC News used to be the best in the world; facts, facts and more facts. No opinions no distractions. The last 10 years has seen it slide into tabloid journalism. Bring back just telling us what was happening without snazzy graphics, reporters interviewing each other instead of real people and headlines with no definite articles.
John R Smith, UK

The fabulous Jennie Bond, on her car phone to Peter Sissons minutes after he had announced to the nation the death of the Queen Mother, reassuring us all that she had now turned her car around and was heading back into London. In no time at all, there she was, immaculate in her black suit and with her 'fresh from the salon' hair. I used to wonder whether she kept a wig with her at all times for just those emergencies. What a trooper!
Susie, New York City

The BBC News slogan used to be, "Nation shall speak peace unto nation". I remember thinking then, as I think now, If only..".
Christina, Barry, Wales, UK

Michael Fish said that there was going to be no hurricane
Roger, UK
Michael Fish famously declared on national television in October 1987 that there was going to be no hurricane, the day before the worst storms since 1703!
Roger, UK

My best memory was when the BBC was a great national institution, of which we could all be proud, and it's news presentation could actually be trusted as being impartial and meaning something. Then along came Blair and Campbell who have now so utterly debased it that it's "news" is just Downing Street spin.
David, Crewe

The first moon landing!
Dick Winchester, Insch, Aberdeenshire

I wake up with BBC News and sleep with BBC News. My favourites include The BBC's World Affairs Editor, John Simpson, Hard Talk's Mr. Sebastian and the current Iraq correspondent. I can afford to miss the most favourite TV programme for BBC News.
Suraj Chhetri, Kathmandu, Nepal

Go make us a newspaper to go with it and I'll be happy
C Hamilton, Crawley, Sussex
When you have sky, and compare BBC news24 to all the other news channels on there, You can appreciate what we pay the licence fee for. And I like the way the BBC don't filter out stories that should be in the news, even if the news is about the BBC itself. Now go make us a newspaper to go with it and I'll be happy.
C Hamilton, Crawley, Sussex

Flickery black-and-white pictures at teatime on a 405-line TV in the Scottish Borders - the programmes broke up completely if a car drove past half a mile away! "John Craven's Newsround" was part of my childhood along with Robert Dougall, nightly reports of pit-strikes and the horrors of the '3-day-week'. All part of my growing-up in the 1970's.
David Moran, Nr Aberdeen, Scotland

I only discovered BBC News, when BBC World News began airing on PBS in the States in 1998, this after ITN cancelled its world news programme with Daljit Dhaliwal. I continue to watch BBC News, for its professionalism, and fair and balanced world perspective, although there are those who suggest the BBC has a bias. Hats off to the Beeb on hittin' the big five-o!
M Habte, Los Angeles, California

I remember the 1997 election victory of Labour very well. The campaigners were all gathered at Labour's headquarters, then the Prime Minister walked in to cheering, and "Things can only get better" played in the background. Plus there was the usual commentary from Peter Snow with his 'Swingometer'. Great stuff!
Joe Carpenter, British Library, London

I'm only old enough to remember seeing bits of the Mexico Olympics (1968), Neil Armstrong, the Beatles splitting up, and a few other things that the BBC covered at the back-end of the 1960s. Everything that was important in the world since then I pretty much heard on the Beeb. Even now living in the USA, I still check the BBC website for my news first thing in the morning along with my coffee. I'm just carrying-on where my parents left off...
Ian, Brit in USA

My first real memory of BBC news has to be the 'Star Wars' programme. I have vague recollections of the Cold War (but being very young thinking that 'cold' meant all the fighting was in winter). What will always stick in my head though is coming home from work and seeing the footage of the World Trade Centre ablaze on 9/11.
Doug McKerracher, Swindon, UK

Michael Buerk's report from the famine in Ethiopia
Sarah Allen, Somerset, UK
Michael Buerk's report from the famine in Ethiopia that prompted Bob Geldof to organise LiveAid - the start of the involvement of 'The People' in fundraising on a massive scale. And then the TV coverage of LiveAid itself. In our family we still play 'Do They Know It's Christmas? Feed the World' every year as we're decorating our Christmas tree, and count ourselves lucky to live in this country.
Sarah Allen, Somerset, UK

I might be only 25 so cannot remember a huge amount about BBC News comparatively (although apparently when I was very little I used to love Jan Leeming!) but what I do like about the BBC over other news services is that it is not sensationalist or tabloid style unlike some satellite or cable TV news services. The BBC just give you the facts and keeps you informed of what is going on the world honestly and clearly which is how news should be delivered. I also enjoy the BBC London 'local' news as it informs Londoners about issues that matter to us in our great city!
Christopher Malpas, London, UK

Guaranteed to quicken the hearts of teenage male viewers
Nigel Pond, Brit living in the USA
Female news readers: Angela Rippon, Anna Ford, Selena Scott -- guaranteed to quicken the hearts of teenage male viewers and their fathers. More recently Sophie Raworth, Fiona Bruce and Natasha Kaplinksy...
Nigel Pond, Brit living in the USA

Here's one the BBC will want to forget: acting as Thatcher's propagandists with the report on the struggle at Orgreave during the miners' strike; but it did admit it's mistake, which is why I still have faith in Aunty.
Rico, Sheffield, England

The only BBC news report from over a decade ago that sticks in my mind was when that oil tanker ran aground off Shetland. Before that, Oil Spillages had been things that other countries have, not the UK. It brought us a bit of a reality check.
Lloyd Evans, Brighton, UK

Nick Witchell sat on a protestor who had entered the studio
J McCulloch, N Ireland
Sue Lawley carrying on reading the news whilst colleague Nick Witchell sat on a protestor who had entered the studio - what professionalism!
J McCulloch, N Ireland

I remember the news in the old days being rather less tabloid in style than it is today. Now we seem to get much less meaningful background information and much more opinion from correspondents, usually standing in front of some place vaguely connected with the story but completely unnecessary for the report. I hope the future will see a move back to the standards of the old days with more facts and less opinion and sensationalism.
Stephen, Newcastle, UK

Listening to the Radio as a child and hearing the breaking story of President Kennedy's assassination; Watching live the fall of the Berlin Wall; the pictures of the famine in Ethiopia that led directly to "Band-aid"; Paxman getting stuck into Michael Howard.... Quite simply the finest, clearest and most accurate news coverage available.
John, England

About three years ago, I was returning from a year living in the US. A BBC report on Ethnic Cleansing in Kosovo was played on the return flight. It was a relief after six months of smart bomb tracking cartoon-esque news coverage, that played out like a Police-Camera-Action war special. The BBC on the other hand had brutal honesty and poignant analysis of both the political and human situation that reduced me to tears.
H Marks, London

Nationwide.... (sigh) happy days. Come on now, you know you can still sing the theme tune.
Melanie, London, UK

It has to be 9/11. It bought a new dawn for TV news. It meant 24 hours of living in someone else's shoes.
Martin, UK





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