BBC celebrates 50 years of television news reporting

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The Independent Online

"Here is an illustrated summary of the news." Broadcasting history was made 50 years ago today when Richard Baker's voice introduced Britain's first television news broadcast.

"Here is an illustrated summary of the news." Broadcasting history was made 50 years ago today when Richard Baker's voice introduced Britain's first television news broadcast.

The 50th anniversary of the event will be celebrated by the BBC today with a party thrown for veteran and current presenters. Three programmes charting the history of BBC television news will also be broadcast today, tomorrow and Wednesday at 2.30pm.

Ever since such understated beginnings, British television news teams have been reporting on the seismic events of recent history. The assassination of US president John Kennedy on 22 November 1963; Neil Armstrong becoming the first man to walk on the moon on 20 July 1969 and the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 - the television images have often become part of the iconography of the times.

The BBC's first news broadcast, which lasted 22 minutes, included John Snagge reporting on the truce talks in Indo-China. Reports on French security measures in Tunisia, the resumption of the Petrov inquiry into Russian espionage in Australia and the end of rationing also featured in the broadcast.

Initially it was more like radio with pictures, and it was a year before a BBC newsreader appeared on screen. It was the arrival of commercial television in 1955 that changed the long-standing BBC tradition of announcer-read national news and the first commercial television news bulletin was launched that same year. The newly established ITN (Independent Television News) imported the American idea of "newscasters", who did not simply read the news but were also news reporters and commentators. Regional news programmes reached television screens two years later.

Nan Winton became the nation's first female newsreader in 1960, blazing a trail for women television journalists such as Katie Derham and Fiona Bruce.

News programming has constantly evolved and developed since its inception. BBC television's Nine O'Clock News was launched with Robert Dougall on 14 September 1970 and continued for 30 years until it was moved to the 10pm slot in 2000. Angela Rippon was its first woman presenter, with later anchormen including John Humphrys and John Simpson.

John Craven's Newsround became the first regular news bulletin for children in 1972. On 17 January 1983, Breakfast Time became Britain's first early-morning television news programme, presented by Frank Bough and Selina Scott. Now called Breakfast, the programme is presented by Dermot Murnaghan and Natasha Kaplinsky.

BBC1's Six O'Clock News first appeared in September 1984 and the One O' Clock News followed two years later. In 1989, the first television coverage from inside the House of Commons was shown.

The era of 24-hour news channels in the UK began in February 1989 when Sky News went on air with a news team of just six people. Two years later, the BBC launched its own non-stop news service, originally called World Service Television aimed at an international television audience. In 1997, it launched the 24-hour home news channel, BBC News 24.

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