BBC news unveils its secret weapon - beige

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The Independent Online
AFTER TWO years of audience research, pounds 1m of new money, a beauty parade of newsreaders and a political outcry in Scotland, the BBC's secret weapon for its news programmes emerged yesterday as the colour beige.

From next Monday the One O'clock, Six O'clock and Nine O'clock News will come from a studio the BBC describes as a "warmer" alternative to the `austere" blue it has been using since 1993.

Huw Edwards, 37, who has presented breakfast and lunch-time bulletins since 1994, will anchor the Six O'clock News with a team of dedicated young reporters. The new set is a response to research that found viewers were being turned off by the BBC's aloof news shows.

"We know they appreciate our journalism," said Richard Clemmow, head of news programmes. "But they feel the coat of arms and glassy look of the current news sends out a slightly austere image." The final Six O'clock News from the blue virtual newsroom will be presented by Martyn Lewis on Friday, his farewell broadcast for the BBC.

At 9pm the news will be presented by Michael Buerk and Peter Sissons. Anna Ford will present the One O'clock News.

The new set will also allow the BBC to vary the way it presents stories. More guests can be fitted around a new double-circle desk, and specialist reporters will present graphics packages on a video wall in the studio. For the first time newsreaders will be able to see reporters on the live links. Before they stared at a blank wall.

"It is a functional set that will allow people to interact with each other," said Mark Popescu, editor of the Six o' Clock News. "It will allow a more conversational feel than the very formal set we have now."

The new Six will incorporate headlines and opt-outs from the English regions and Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales in an attempt to placate Scottish viewers and journalists who campaigned for a separate Scottish national and international news programme.

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