BBC News Fix

  • BBC News Presenter Count 2016: January – June: Newsnight

    To tell you the truth, as a writer at heart, I’ve read back a lot of my stuff on here and come to the conclusion that I may well have gone out of my way a little too much to provide some meaningful comment on the Counts we’ve posted this last year. Thing is, it’s an important, if the not most vital part of what BNF is providing as a service. Us four editors share duties of the archiving, what we consider to be prominent in our role on the site. The write-up, the evaluation, of the figures we collate I’ve taken under my wing because, as someone who likes to share his opinion and write as a personable character/voice, just a mere mathematical analysis – for me as an intelligent guy – doesn’t suffice if we editors have spent so long amounting such specific data.

    So that’s my defence. For over-treading lines and reviewing, not just observing, the bunch of numbers I’ve put up on here this afternoon. As I like to say in the “Today’s Editor” box on the weekends at BNF, “Tom Scudamore is here again, comfortable in the two-day a week gig.” Cos I am. But things will be changing again soon, I promise. Us editors are rustling up a new way behind the scenes to do all this and, yes, that may mean I retire from writing these epic pieces for a little while. The future is gonna be a little different, let’s just say, but the old way is becoming a little stale however refreshing the BBC newsreader rotas are.

    Fitting I’m writing this on my last post for a little while. You may not hear from me in writing form till… next summer? That’ll be a very different time. A lot can happen in a year, y’know. If anything, I love BNF, I love what we do and it’s entertaining for me to be ringmaster/the voice of it all and write this up and say “hey, here’s what is fascinating.” On reflection, before I write the final number analysis of what is a very short Newsnight column of figures, you may have spotted my fancies for Alpa Patel, Mishal Husain, etc. and my extensive reviews of Victoria Derbyshire’s show (haha she was flirted with in a live EU debate that was awful) and Outside Source, the breakout show of this year. It’s been a pleasure, for better or for worse, to admit that I am a human being with opinions. And yeah, that’s me admitting I don’t care what you think about what I think. BNF is a shallow enterprise but all the better for doing it professionally and with rigour. An achievement this last year: signing a new editor, going into my seventh year knowing there’s some sorta future to all this. The fact things are undoubtedly gonna change like they have on Breakfast and Newsnight here, at BNF, spell a whole new set of ideas that, yes, still meet with our original agenda.

    The game can feel long and rough at times but I still enjoy sitting on the weekend rooftop watching Jack and Harry play the game five days a week. Sometimes it can be amazing seeing how much these rotas change. Sometimes it feels like a boring job. Sometimes it reads like an unmitigated disaster. Yeah, I said it.

    (1) Evan Davis – 72

    (2) Emily Maitlis – 27

    Kirsty Wark – 27

    (3) James O’Brien – 9

    Newsnight is a different show nowadays, let’s face it. When I started here it was Paxo playing coy and snarly like he still is on University Challenge, with Gavin Esler quite the opposite on a Friday. Now look where they are. Now look at who we have and still have. Evan Davis has completely reformed the show and, for me, that’s brilliant. Gone are the days of tough and tumble – the troubled times of Gordon Brown, consistent inquiries into Iraq… sure, Newsnight went into a dark phase, a hollow hour which got several producers in trouble and, well, was a cock-up for the BBC. Now it is a swinging trial of Euro-sceptics, questioning of backbenchers and tribute to the indie arts community, an eclectic agenda thanks to Davis’ unflinching wit. It feels like the news version of Later with Jools Holland.

    I admire Paxo for calling it a day. I also admire the entertaining, good-sporting nature of Davis accepting with his 72 nights this year that it wasn’t going to be plain sailing. Time heals wounds and Newsnight has certainly come back strong in the year-long rise of Evan at the helm. He took his time in that chair getting comfy but I’ve warmed to him just like I fell in love with Emily Maitlis…’s style. Remember, Laura Kuenssberg was hosting this show last year! No need for the vulnerability to show anymore. Everyone is happy. May Evan’s days continue for a good decade in this beautiful half-hour that… yes, goes wrong from time to time. It’s live, y’know.

    I think from these mere figures I miss Newsnight’s experimentalism in that transitional time the programme witnessed. Seriously, it was a buffoonery party seeing all the different hosts take a stab at the gig. Maitlis and Wark are enjoying their shared deputising role, a kind 27 nights each, it seems, and everything is rosy if you’re James O’Brien getting some work every couple of weeks. Essentially, and I’ve been building up to these final remarks all day, Newsnight is floating just like BNF. Swiftly into the oblivion. For better or for worse. We’ve seen a number of people come and go, but, by the sheer comfort of the statistics, why change it all up if everything is OK? Well… it is the BBC.

    To infinite and beyond.

    Tom Scudamore,

    Hero of the statistics,

    BNF’s proudest weekend dude ever

    PS. I will be on weekends for the foreseeable future. Everything really is rosy right now for us editors. Count on a change in the editor’s timetable come February 2017…


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