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Last Updated: Friday, 6 January 2006, 12:28 GMT
Current Affairs
Flagship shows such as Panorama and File on Four are overseen by the TV and radio current affairs departments. Their output gives audiences an in-depth look at the news.

Dirty War photo
Drama-docs, like BBC1's Dirty Wars, are proving an effective form

Current Affairs programmes step outside the realm of daily, breaking news to reveal a more analytical, long-form and long-range view of the world around us.

The BBC officially defines Current Affairs as: "A programme which contains explanation and analysis of current events and issues, including material dealing with political or industrial controversy or with public policy. Also included are investigative programmes with contemporary significance."

To some extent, the term exemplifies many of the BBC's classic Current Affairs programmes such as Panorama, Question Time, File on Four and From Our Own Correspondent.

However, it does not entirely reflect the breadth and level of innovation that has happened over the past few years.

Hand in hand with a drive for original, distinctive and high quality journalism, the BBC has pioneered a variety of new formats to bring the genre alive to a wide section of the audience.

TV current affairs audiences
current affairs programme logos
Panorama: 2.8m
If: 1.9m
Working Lunch: 0.4m
Real Story: 2.9m

In addition, Current Affairs are not just broadcast on television and radio but can be found online and on interactive TV.

A sizeable share of the BBC's Current Affairs output is made in-house although many programmes are sourced from independent producers.


On television, a broad range of programmes is produced for BBC One, Two, Three and Four.

The department is run by George Entwistle.

BBC One is best known for the BBC's flagship investigative journalism strand Panorama and the weekly debate programme Question Time. The early evening investigation strand Real Story with Fiona Bruce is also popular with audiences.

BBC One hosts themed days which cover important topical issues. Previous event days have looked at the NHS, crime, asylum, the Iraq conflict and personal debt.

Output for BBC Two comprises a variety of domestic and internationally-focused documentaries and investigations, including the global affairs strand, This World, Peter Taylor's series Third World War - Al Qaeda, Michael Cockerell's political documentaries and Adam Curtis' series The Power of Nightmares.

Drama-documentary is proving to be an effective new form of Current Affairs.

George Entwistle fact file
George Entwistle
George joined the BBC in 1989 as a broadcast journalist trainee.
Key jobs at the BBC have included Deputy Editor of Tomorrow's World, Deputy Editor and then Editor of Newsnight.
In 2004 he was appointed Executive Editor of the Topical Arts Unit which included launching The Culture Show on BBC2.
George became Head of television Current Affairs in November 2005.

On BBC Two, the analytical series If uses drama to explore public policy issues facing us in the future and builds on earlier drama-documentaries Smallpox 2002 and The Day Britain Stopped. Drama-documentary is also being shown on BBC One, with films including Dirty War.

Many of these programmes are co-productions with the BBC's drama department.

BBC Two has pioneered global debate with programmes such as What the World Thinks of America and What the World Thinks of God.

Current Affairs also covers a handful of contemporary history programmes such as BBC One's Brighton Bomb and BBC Two's The Kennedy Assassination: Beyond Conspiracy.

BBC Two is home to the daily business and personal finance programme Working Lunch.

BBC Three broadcasts lively, hard-hitting investigations such as The Third Degree as well as broader current affairs issues such as Blair for a Day and Fantasy Retirement.

BBC Four deals with insightful profiles, debates and thought-provoking seasons.


Radio Current Affairs produces flagship, award-winning programmes on different networks including Radio 4, Radio 3, Five Live, The World Service, Radio 1 and I Xtra. 5.6 million people a week hear our programmes.

Radio current affairs audiences
radio audiences graphic
File on 4: 413,000
Money Box: 740,000
From Our Own Correspondent: 677,000
5Live reports: 173,000

It broadcasts over 450 hours of programmes a year from a staff base of some 80 people spread across Manchester and London. Its key purpose is to analyse, reveal and examine the world in depth so that people can make considered choices about their lives.

Radio Current Affairs breaks stories through investigations and other forms of original journalism and adds depth and context to the Daily News in a complementary way.

Many programmes are downloadable to i-pods from the web and many stories are broadcast online.

Familiar and long-running titles include File on 4, Analysis, Crossing Continents, Money Box, In Business, From Our Own Correspondent, The Five Live Report and The Reith Lectures.

The department is also responsible for a range of other programmes in different specialist areas such as Law In Action, More or Less, Inside Money, A World In Your Ear, Global Business, Brief Lives, Euronews, Talking Politics., Shoptalk, Nice Work and A Point of View.

Many special documentaries, debates and series are produced each year, such as Fergal Keane's Radio 4 interviews Taking a Stand, Edward Stourton's A Year in the Arab-Israeli Crisis, a series on Islam in Britain entitled Koran and Country and history programmes such as Why Did we Do. That and many others.

The Head of Radio Current affairs is Gwyneth Williams


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