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 30 years of Newsround


After fourteen years, John gradually began to hand over presenting duties, firstly to Roger Finn and Helen Rollason (see 1987).

This was one of Roger’s first bulletins - minutes after the space shuttle Challenger exploded.

He writes: "The Challenger explosion was not quite my first time in the Newsround chair - it was more like my sixth or so. Even so, you can see from the look on my face that I was plumbing new depths of stark fear.

"The news broke about fifteen minutes before we were on air, and an important principle was established: if a major news story broke during Children's programmes then Newsround would break it.

"On this occasion I remember Julia Somerville coming into the studio and some sort of 'conversation' going on between Children's and News. Children's won and we did the newsflash."

Roger left in 1991 to become the environment correspondent for BBC South.

Also this year, John was the first Western TV journalist to visit the newly-created Wolong breeding centre for giant pandas in China.

The special programme, Pandas in Peril, made the cover of the Radio Times.

The programme also unveiled its first major new look since it started, featuring “Bouncing Block” graphics and a remix of the original Johnny One Note.

And on 8 September, the show finally aired on Fridays. At long last, the programme was on air five days a week, 52 weeks a year (only breaking for Christmas and bank holidays).

To round off a busy year, John hosted a studio debate, It’s Not Just Zammo, examining the issues of drug abuse after a Grange Hill storyline sparked national controversy.
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