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18:13 GMT, Friday, 2 January 2009

The Panorama decades

Panorama has been on air every year since 1953.

Below is a brief description of the topics Panorama has covered in each decade including a memorable clip from a Panorama film of that era.

THE 1950s

BBC Television management's desire to have a regular, informative "window on the world" first brought Panorama to our screens in November 1953.

Generally considered a shambles, the first programme was immediately pulled off air for an overhaul.

The revamped programme soon began to hit its stride though and became a permanent fixture in the BBC's schedules, with programmes on a wide range of events and issues, including the hydrogen bomb, the Suez crisis, the Hungarian uprising and those 1950s perennials - race and immigration.

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THE 1960s

In the early 1960s Panorama documented at length the complex passage of African decolonisation and also the alarming escalation of the Cold War. The Cold War was, in many ways, characterised by the building of the Berlin Wall in 1961 - an iconic symbol that was visited several times by the team.

In the UK, the decade saw the old establishment's grip on power begin to loosen.

New freedoms were ushered in and Panorama's films on the changing face of the UK illustrated this, but in this decade it was to the wider world that Panorama turned time after time, with reports on unrest in the Middle East, Vietnam, the civil rights movement and the space race.

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THE 1970s

Protected by its relatively large budget, the 1970s saw Panorama flourishing in this decade of strife.

Conflict in Northern Ireland, the fall-out from the oil crisis and continuing industrial conflict between the government and unions were recurring domestic themes.

Panorama also continued to look overseas with reports on the drawn-out ending of the Vietnam War, Britain's involvement in the European Economic Community, Cold War espionage and the growth of international terrorist groups like the Red Army Faction.

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THE 1980s

The arrival of Margaret Thatcher as prime minister and within two years, the election of Ronald Reagan as US president, helped to usher in the decade of the free-market economy.

Panorama chronicled this decade of change with domestic films on Mrs Thatcher's reforming economic and social policies, the Falklands War and of course the Miners' Strike.

The programme also continued to chart the ongoing problems in the Middle East. 1982 saw the Israeli invasion of Lebanon and the Iran-Iraq war spanned almost the whole decade.

As environmental causes moved to centre stage, Panorama also addressed US covert operations in Central America in depth.

Arguably the biggest international stories came at the decade's end - the fall of the Berlin Wall and the beginning of the collapse of Communism in Europe.

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THE 1990s

The seismic events of the late 1980s continued to have repercussions into the 1990s; the reunification of Germany, the break-up of the Soviet Union and the Balkan wars were all topics Panorama covered at length.

The release of Nelson Mandela, the ending of South African apartheid and the horrors of the Rwandan genocide marked the highs and lows in Africa.

The decade also saw the arrival of the internet in millions of homes and workplaces.

At home, anti-European Union wrangles and recession helped remove the Conservative Party from government after 18 years, as Tony Blair and New Labour swept to power in a landslide victory.

The IRA ceasefire leading to the signing of the Good Friday Agreement brought embryonic peace to Northern Ireland and marked an end to 30-plus years of reporting on the Troubles by Panorama.

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THE 2000s

Panorama's sixth decade on air saw the world a very different place.

The rapid economic growth of China and India and the increased demand on natural resources skewed the old world order.

Debt relief for Africa and the unassailable growth of the internet were supposed-good news stories that Panorama was able to investigate with customary vigour.

The attacks of 9/11 on New York and Washington further changed the course of the decade.

The subsequent US-led war on terror saw lengthy conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq and burned phrases like Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib onto the international conscience, as the shadow of Islamist militancy continues its spread across the globe.

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