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BBC News Fix

  • BBC News Presenter Count 2015: BBC News at Ten and Newsnight

    If you’re a regular viewer of the BBC News at Ten or Newsnight then you will be aware of the dramatic introductions. Well no intensely over-the-top the-earth-is-dying musical score, here, but I will jazz up this piece by looking back at 2014 just to throw the whole of time and space into flux. Sorry, Doctor Who.

    Last year on Ten: Edwards claimed eternal glory (God this is dramatic, think Harry Potter and the Triwizard Tournament) with 122, followed by Raworth and Bruce who tied as deputies (once upon a time) with 48. Chakrabarti came in third having made 35 stabs at fronting the flagship show for BBC News (no pressure, sister, but I have your scorecard in the report below) and Myrie and Husain (my picks for Six co-hosts) slid in fourth on 26. What we witnessed in 2015 for this count is about as transformative as David Cameron’s smugness in parliament ie. there was change and not all of it was good. But then again, who allowed me to speculate that a Tory government is bad for the country? Hmmm…

    Here’s the all-important count:

    (1) Huw Edwards – 137

    (2) Reeta Chakrabarti – 61

    (3) Clive Myrie – 60

    (4) Sophie Raworth – 42

    (5) Mishal Husain – 29

    (6) Fiona Bruce – 26

    (7) Jane Hill – 18

    (8) Simon McCoy – 9

    (9) Ben Brown – 6

    (10) Nicholas Owen – 3

    Congrats, Huw. Moving on to what was, in my opinion, clear injustice, Nick Clegg… oh hang on, wait, no sorry this isn’t Sunday Politics Live with Sian What’s-Up Williams.

    Chakrabarti and Myrie have been in a tight race all season as to who could pinch second place, as if it was something to be proud of (ha, laughs to self) but… seriously, I would know, because I was on duty counting these figures for the Ten! It was such a close race but on the last night of the year Chakrabarti won out as the official Ten deputy 2015. A nation went crying into their cupboards or at least I did – I was worried a war would start. Ironic, that.

    Myrie has to be the best anchor for the Ten other than Edwards, which is an opinion I’ve crafted from watching the Papers’ top guy’s style more than anything. Myrie is great live on the scene, too, but what establishes him as a real contender for replacing Edwards in the twenty-third century is his ability to deliver the late-night news with the seriousness and integrity Edwards is renowned for. But it feels different, too, because Myrie is different, in his wit and charm and then instant dramatic tone when it comes to the Duff-Duff Sequence at the top of the hour. Red or Black/The Cube/Tom Bradby: try harder.

    The Ten count has been fascinating to watch. Raworth and Bruce finish off so much lower than they once were. Maybe the time for change is now. Husain gains a little more than usual during the week, nowadays, but it’s also worth pointing out how less Hill, Brown and Owen are given this bulletin. I miss Hill, I think she deserves the Ten every Friday, to be honest.

    The future if I haven’t made myself clear: don’t let Chakrabarti near-double her count again, get Myrie to replace Edwards by 2020, and make Hill the deputy. Maybe it’s time for Bruce and even Raworth to fade from the picture of normality and, in my dreams, get Husain back on television as their replacement. Though saying that, looking ahead to 2016, it will be interesting to see if George Alagiah presents the Ten again…

    Onto Newsnight, the first year in Davis’ hands has been something of a success (I say it like that to excuse myself from making a joke about how the guy adorably resembles… Kermit? One of the muppets?) He’s made an impression in this count, for certain, but what I question is whether he’s tough enough to take over Jeremy Paxman for the next eon? Does he have the aggressiveness? Will I stop asking questions? My thoughts follow the count:

    (1) Evan Davis – 123

    (2) Kirsty Wark – 61

    (3) Emily Maitlis – 54

    (4) Laura Kuenssberg – 12

    James O’Brien – 12

    (5) Robert Peston – 1

    Katie Russell – 1

    Last year on Newsnight: the year of metamorphosis (fact: the biggest word I’ve written across all these counts) witnessed Wark win with 65 after Paxo left, making way for Davis’ initial score of 34 whilst Kuenssberg triumphed on 40 for second and Maitlis earned 35 for third. O’Brien and Peston made their debuts, Peston’s appearance surely giving Eddie Mair a tiny reason to look up from reading the Financial Times at eleven o’clock in the evening.

    When Paxman left I’d argue that Newsnight needed a combative interviewer up its sleeve (if it had a sleeve after scandalous… scandals which left them cold with no sleeve). Recent appointment Laura Kuenssberg attempted that role to only mixed results – viewers complained she cut her interviewees off mid-sentence, pushing too hard. Well fact: that’s how I approach my role on this website. Emily Maitlis, still on the hosting roster along with Kirsty Wark, would remain perhaps the firmest voice in the line-up.

    My review of Davis’ first year: the guy promises if not a complete departure then at least a divergence from the wholly adversarial, even gladiatorial style of political interview that so defined Paxman’s time at the helm. It’s “evan”’ed out in the end, even if I preferred Maitlis for the gig full-time. The future is looking bright, but more O’Brien, please. It's also worth noting that the presenting circle for Newsnight was considerably less this year than it was for 2014. Maybe's that's a blessing in disguise but it does seem to limit the show's prospects.

    This weekend when I return to my post full-time (ie. Saturday and Sunday) I’ll be writing up my final analyses of the count for the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 and… the hugest count of them all… for the BBC News Channel. I shall tease the fall-out from 2015 in three words: shocking, game-changing, groovy. Can’t wait.

    Tom Scudamore,

    BNF’s weekend resident

    NB: Err, so for... anticipation purposes, the Today and BBC News Channel counts won't go up till Sunday 31 January. Oh, the suspense is killing us all.

    1 Comment

    • 1. Jan 23 2016 8:12PM by .

      Peston has presented newsnight before 2015.

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