BBC News Fix

  • BBC News Presenter Count 2016: January - June: BBC News Channel

    Now time for the News Channel count for the first six months of 2016. Over 60 different people made appearances of the channel during this period so for all you presenter geeks out there - take a look at one of the longest lists we’ve ever made!

    (1) Martine Croxall - 106

    (2) Jane Hill - 92

    (3) Ben Brown - 88

    (4) Clive Myrie - 85

    (5) Annita McVeigh - 84

    (6) Simon McCoy - 79

    (7) Maxine Mawhinney - 48

    (8) Julian Worricker - 43

    (9) Gavin Esler - 42

    (10) Joanna Gosling - 35

    (11) Christian Fraser - 30

    (12) Rachel Schofield - 26

    (13) Nicholas Owen - 22 / Rebecca Jones - 22

    (14) Chris Rogers - 21

    (15) Shaun Ley - 20

    (16) Emily Maitlis - 9 / Huw Edwards - 9 / Gavin Grey - 9

    (17) Sophie Long - 7

    (18) David Dimbleby - 5 / Michelle Fleury - 5

    (19) Adam Parsons - 4

    (20) Tim Willcox - 3 / Mishal Husain - 3 / Reeta Chakrabarti - 3 / Carole Walker - 3

    (21) Karin Giannone - 2 / Ros Atkins - 2 / David Eades - 2 / Victoria Derbyshire - 2 / Laura Bicker - 2 / Nick Robinson - 2 / Laura Trevelyan - 2 / Stephen Nolan - 2

    (22) And the following on one appearance:

    Philippa Thomas / Norman Smith / Lucy Hockings / Geeta Guru-Murthy / Stephen Sackur / Tina Daheley / Andrew Neil / Ben Thompson / Noel Thompson / Glenn Campbell / Robert Hall / Catherine Carpenter / Evan Davis / Alpa Patel / Alice Baxter / Jeremy Vine / Sophie Raworth / Eleanor Garnier / Colin Hazelden / Anne Davies / Harry Gration / Daniela Relph / Tara Mills / Roger Johnson / Annabel Tiffin

    To take a minute to take it all in. Perhaps several … So at the top of the leaderboard we have the lovely Martine Croxall. I was quite surprised by this as doing the AM shift as I rarely have to put her in our archive myself. However, seeing as the short bit she does after the News at Ten counts as a separate shift then her unusually high position begins to make sense. Jane Hill (my favourite NC presenter) has also done pretty well this year earning herself the second place position on 92 appearances. Jane has presented a lot this year from Westminster following the aftermath of the Brexit result that few had predicted.

    The political fallout does have international implications which is why elements of the result where simulcast with BBC World News but this period of British politics has shown us the importance of the need to keep the domestic and international news channels separate. There have been suggestions that the two channels could merge but the decision to leave the European Union has highlighted the need that the two channels must continue as separate channels which their own specific audiences. Important events domestically such as the resignation of so many Shadow Cabinet ministers is not really important to international viewers but would be of interest to viewers in the UK.

    Ben Brown and Simon McCoy still perform strongly but now have to share the afternoon shift a bit which means that they are required to present slightly less often. Ben has also started to present the odd shift at the weekend. Simon has increasingly become the go-to presenter for the News at Five as well meaning that he has presented generic news bulletins slightly fewer times.

    Maxine, Julian and Gavin are following the leading pack. Maxine did a smashing job presenting solo on the day Theresa May was appointed leader. Her experience is often undervalued and underused. If you have a moment, I do recommend watching on YouTube a TED talk she does about time.

    It is a little disappointing to see that Emily Maitlis and Sophie Long have made only a few appearances this year. We always enjoy Emily’s company in the afternoon but she has spent much of the year in America reporting on the US election for Newsnight. Sophie Long has now taken up the role of news correspondent and now, unfortunately, only rarely presents.

    Reeta Chakrabarti made a few random appearances on the news channel. Given that Kate Silverton has sort of returned, I expected to see less of Reeta but that does not seem to be the case. She presents the national bulletins but I wish we could see more of her personality. I thought Reeta would have made a great Deputy Political Editor (the role going to John Pienaar) seeing as she spent over a decade covering politics. Her work during the election debates with the worm providing instant reaction to comments made me think her nickname should be The Queen of the Wormometer. Carole Walker has only made a small number of appearances so far this year but a authority and experience as a political correspondent has been highly valued more than ever this year.

    Stephen Nolan from 5 Live and BBC Northern Ireland earned a position in this year’s count after hosting two debates, one with Tara Mills. Several other regional news presenters make the count after several evening shows being simulcast on the news channel. Eleanor Garnier makes one appearance from Westminster - one to watch for the future I think. Ben Thompson also made a surprise one-off presenting the news back in May after just about managing to get his whole body on camera. Worth noting that Stephen Sackur made one appearance from Brussels as he happened to be in the city during the time the city came under attack on the 22nd March.

    After a very busy six months, the BBC News Channel has continued to perform well, deliver major breaking news and provide valuable analysis of the day’s events. One of the biggest changes we saw to the channel this year was the decision to repeat Newsnight at 2315 which is nothing more than a cost cutting exercise. The BBC says that the way we watch the news is changing and that younger viewers may which to watch Newsnight at the later timeslot. However, this argument simply doesn’t make sense as Newsnight can be watched immediately after its finished on BBC iPlayer. A disappointing decision but just another change to the daily schedule. The news channel is almost completely unrecognisable from what is was just five years ago. (But still does a smashing job… anything has got to better than Kay Burley!)

    Jack Axford



  • BBC News Presenter Count 2015: BBC News Channel

    Thanks to Tom for providing us with his insightful and entertaining analysis of the presenter count at this halfway point in the year. It’s time now to take a look at the counts for the BBC News Channel but before we look at the 2016 count, let’s remind ourselves of how things stood at the end of 2015. Brace yourselves … it’s quite long.

    (1) Ben Brown – 187

    (2) Annita McVeigh – 178

    (3) Simon McCoy – 177

    (4) Martine Croxall – 150

    (5) Jane Hill – 123

    (6) Chris Rogers – 115

    (7) Julian Worricker – 100

    (8) Joanna Gosling – 95

    (9) Tim Willcox – 84

    (10) Gavin Esler – 78

    (11) Maxine Mawhinney – 76

    (12) Rebecca Jones – 68

    (13) Christian Fraser – 67

    (14) Nicholas Owen – 50

    (15) Chris Eakin – 59

    (16) Sophie Long – 47

    (17) Rachel Schofield – 42

    (18) Carole Walker – 37

    Emily Maitlis – 37

    (19) Gavin Grey – 34

    (20) Shaun Ley – 23

    (21) Lyse Doucet – 13

    (22) Adam Parsons 12

    (23) Philippa Thomas – 9

    (24) Huw Edwards – 7

    Karin Giannone – 7

    (25) Ros Atkins – 6

    Norman Smith – 6

    (26) David Eades – 5

    (27) Lucy Hockings – 4

    Jon Kay – 4

    David Dimbleby – 4

    (28) Jo Coburn – 3

    Matthew Price – 3

    Geeta Guru-Murphy – 3

    (29) Babita Sharma – 2

    Daniela Ritorto – 2

    Stephen Sackur – 2

    Vicki Young – 2

    Chris Smith – 2

    Tina Daheley – 2

    Nicholas Witchell – 2

    Jon Brain – 2

    Andrew Neil – 2

    (30) Adnan Nawaz – 1

    Aaron Heslehurst – 1

    Mishal Husain – 1

    Peter Dobbie – 1

    Ross Hawkins – 1

    Glenn Campbell – 1

    Noel Thompson – 1

    Robert Hall – 1

    Sabet Choudhury – 1

    Alex Lovell – 1

    James Longman – 1

    I hope your still with us. I whopping 55 people presenting on the news channel at some point over 2015 however many were crediting for presenting on location or for hosting general election debates which were broadcast on the NC which in turn denying us of our human right to receive rolling news 24 hours a day.

    Ben Brown stands impressively at the top spot with 187 appearances. Many of these were from location and do inflate his score somewhat. The usual suspects follow. The likes of McVeigh, McCoy, Croxall and Hill providing the continuity the channel needs. Chris Rogers also performs quite well. This comes as a surprise as I barely remember him on at all.

    What’s most interesting over the past year is the slow decline of Tim Willcox. Yes … remember him? The man who seemed to present on the news channel for hours on end every day. There wasn’t a day that would go by when we would see him. Tim still scores 84 appearances which is better than most but the majority of these come from presenting out and about - something which he also does far less frequently. Willcox was criticised in 2015 after poorly phrasing a question back in January after the attacks in Paris where he said: “Palestinians suffer hugely at Jewish hands”. Willcox does still present a great deal on BBC World News but I feel his presence and experience on the news channel is missed greatly. (by me anyway)

    2015 was also the year Chris Eakin left the channel to pursue other avenues. Eakin was one the channel’s launch presenters so his loss was significant. He was the BBC’s go to man for flooding. But now I suppose he can give the raincoat and Wellington boots a well deserved rest. We also miss the cameras at Broadcasting House moving in shot as he passed over to the BBC One bulletins. As one Chris left, another one entered. Chris(tian) Fraser cemented himself as a regular on the channel in 2015 with 67 appearances.

    The big political beats that are David Dimbleby, Huw Edwards and Andrew Neil also clocked up 4, 7 and 2 appearances respectively over the 2015 election and budgets. 2015 was the last time Dimbleby will host a general election special. Huw will take over from 2020 but elections will just never be the same without the Dimblebot.

    Towards the bottom we have various presenters from World News who graced our screens during major breaking news events. We also have a few unusual oddities to delve deeper into. Glenn Campbell from BBC Scotland made one appearance as well as Noel Thompson from Northern Islands hosting special debates building up the the general election last year. Chris Smith and Tina Daheley from Radio 1’s Newsbeat also hosted a special debate aimed at young people in the patronising way the BBC likes to attract “the youth” into political debate. We seen a bit of Tina Daheley on Breakfast the last few weeks. Not exactly my coup of tea but I suppose I just prefer to watch the usual faces. She’s already improved a lot since her first appearance. I wonder how she copes when she fills in for Victoria Derbyshire next week.

    Jack Axford



  • 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…



  • BBC News Presenter Count 2016: January – June: BBC News at Ten

    My writing quality is declining and my humour is wearing thin. That’s what you get, Scudamore, that’s the price you pay for writing this all in a day before August comes. I can’t write in August. Too much summer to enjoy. Besides, we have the Olympics coming up and God only knows how that’ll affect us at BNF. Probably not as hectic as the way the 2012 Games just messed with everything. If you were not sporty you may have well have moved to Scotland for two weeks. Now people are but forever. That’s what Brexit cost all of us. Happiness. Havana. My, it’s been a long day.

    Huw Edwards. I was harsh on him in my analysis of his other big deal that he barely shows up for. There has to be reasoning behind it and I’m probably not giving him a fair trial. Besides, it’s given a dozen other BBC NC newsreaders the chance to shine and, hey, having read up on it they’ve all joined the Beeb full-time! Hooray for them! Summer is definitely here. I’m writing in a dark room, forcing myself through these depressing figures and you can read it in my pessimistic, dry voice. I will, however, still shed light on my personal fancies and choices for the future of BBC newsreading , if anyone gives a damn.

    Have I thanked Jack Axford for this, yet? He was the one doing the counting for all the shows minus the dreaded News Channel eternity count. We left that to Harry, and I didn’t even write any analysis for that in January for last year’s. Jack will sort it. He always does. If you think we all have this office to do this business, we don’t. We should get one, though. And a Bat-mobile.

    The Ten has been a consistent fascinating watch scoresheet-wise for the last however many years. Alagiah and Maitlis and Hill used to chime in regularly and now... Things have moved on. What you gotta know about this business is simple: Everything moves around Huw Edwards. He’s still there and, on the Ten, he’s brilliant. Here’s the figures to prove it:

    (1) Huw Edwards – 74

    (2) Clive Myrie – 24

    (3) Fiona Bruce – 21

    Reeta Chakrabarti – 21

    (4) Sophie Raworth – 19

    (5) Mishal Husain – 14

    (6) Kate Silverton – 11

    (7) Ben Brown – 3

    (8) Jane Hill – 1

    Nicholas Owen – 1

    Emily Maitlis – 1

    Simon McCoy – 1

    Jon Sopel – 1

    A few things to get off my unhairy chest. The Ten is what has changed the most in my books during the eternity I’ve been at BNF, and that’s fascinating. Second, I talked about Myrie earlier being a big hitter on the Six as if he was but, actually, he isn’t, it’s The Ten where he’s making his name. Seriously, I’m making bets now that he’ll take over once Huw decides to leave. Huw, however, is still big in the game and he’ll be fronting depressing election nights from 2020 till 2040 me thinks. Bold claims but I’m making them, minus the betting cos I have no idea how to do that. Number-wise Edwards’ 74 impresses me and makes me forgive him for only making up half that total on the Five. It must be tough to be Huw. Bruce is still bouncing away, democratically sharing this gig in third with Reeta who splashed last year but, like Raworth on the Six, is simmering like that apple brew dish I made yesterday. Alagiah has disappeared – fair, frankly, bless him. More Husain please – you know me if you know why. She’s amazing on Today but is underused everywhere. As for the rest, Silverton could do a few more Saturday shifts and, actually, the Sunday shift needs to be shared less cos that’s why it’s all messy down the bottom of the table.

    And as much as I love Jon Sopel, I have no idea where he came from earning that 1 appearance.

    The future: It has to be Myrie’s time, with someone like Husain or Reeta on Fridays. For now, The Ten continues comfortably, like a dark horse in the night, galloping away into a forest… I’m going to write a poem. So long.

    Tom Scudamore,

    Working his ass off on a Sunday



  • BBC News Presenter Count 2016: January – June: World News Today

    Being the weekend news guy at BNF has its benefits, I suppose. I mean, think about it, I get a lot less loosy-goosy newsreader scheduling on my end, partly thanks and no-thanks to the commitment show by Esler, Mawhinney and Croxall that we never got when it used to be McVeigh, Owen, Myrie and, with sad nostalgia, Eakin. I don’t know when we actually began taking note of the half-hour slice of WNT, but I think this half-time Count shows some promise for some juicier stats by Xmastime. Have I begun thinking about that time of year? Well, it’ll be here before you know it.

    BBC World News is a tricky, prickly thornbush of hulabaloo. Several newsreaders coming through right now, a lot of young ‘uns trained and then just popping up meaning my colleagues and I have to Google their identities. Either way, the main anchor for the half-hour we cover is right up my street. Charming, easy watching. Ah… Alpa Patel… Ahem. Better get on with my job, here.

    (1) Alpa Patel – 37

    (2) Chris Rogers – 8

    (3) Alice Baxter – 7

    (4) Tim Willcox – 6

    (5) Kasia Madera – 3

    (6) Geeta Guru-Murphy – 2

    (7) Ben Bland – 1

    James Coomarasamy – 1

    Christian Fraser – 1

    Rajini Vaidyanathan – 1

    Maryam Moshiri – 1

    Laura Bicker – 1

    Katty Kay – 1

    Karin Giannone – 1

    Reged Ahmad – 1

    I don’t really wish for this leaderboard to expand any deeper, cos its already pretty overstuffed at this point in the year. Clearly BBC World News’ weekend policy is what used to happen on the main NC: Anyone can host. Due to the amount of terror this show has had to report this last year, some appearances from Katty Kay, Laura Bicker etc won’t hurt. Surprise choices: Bland, Guru-Murphy, Moshiri (although I’d like to see more of her), Giannone and Reged Ahmad, who I’ve seen a lot of when editing quite recently. Seriously, considering this is a very short part of the NC scheduling but fairly a large part of World News shift entitlement, the division over deputies is again going against my wish for the producers to find a proper person to sit in for Patel.

    Here, either my analysis brain is getting tired or I’m just disinterested in a bunch of pop-ups when we have Patel owning it and my heart in the main top spot, with Rogers just under with Baxter (hooray, excellent choice) right behind. Willcox, again, is owning it here, in fourth place but I feel he’s somewhat been eliminated from the desk ever since the scandalous stuff that happened between him and Sophie Long. But I’m not one for gossip or unprofessional expression, right? Right? As for my policy on pop-ups on this programme, its exactly my treatment towards pop-ups online: Not interested, just noting their appearance.

    May WNT continue to be… exhausting work for me. May the list shorten next year, and may Patel stay in this spot forever. These are my kids, on my weekends, so… why am I being such a terrible parent at Sports Day?

    Tom Scudamore,

    BNF’s trustee guy who has been here forever



  • BBC News Presenter Count 2016: January – June: Outside Source

    I won’t lie to you. Why would I? Outside Source is fascinating. This is a news-hour forging a new, digital style of live video news. I didn’t rate it last time we spoke. Now, it intrigues me and, dare I say it, I like it. BBC World News gifts the News Channel once a night an innovative programme trying to integrate the complexities of online media into the broadcast. Genius. Outside Source is built to open up the BBC news machine for all to see, thriving in a breaking news situation and set up to combine the best the BBC has to offer with the best from social media and other sources to give added context to stories. Here’s an advert from a poet. You may think I’m bias or working for OS.

    The advantage of the I’m A Celebrity-inspired screen is it shows developments better. Things that come in text form come in a more visual manner for the viewer (for me that means: Wehey, visual stuff), as opposed to traditional formats where a copy of text is read out like old-school boring HIGNFY minus Charlie Brooker’s sarcasm. Believe it or not, Outside Source started as a radio show in 2013. Ha, and now it has more to offer visually than… hmm, searching for similes, here. Oh, the superlatives have befuddled me. Nevertheless, Outside Source really is the news equivalent of baring it all. Like… on I’m A Celebrity? Video reports, raw footage, live feeds, internal briefing notes, news wires, agency stills, social media, correspondent deployments, the works. It’s in real-time and, yes, what you see is real too. If dear old Ross presses the wrong button, the wrong thing comes up. Such fun.

    You get to see the editorial processes behind the often-complained-about storytelling that is traditionally kept out of sight and if a story feels bemusing, intractable, heart-breaking or boring, Ros can say so, just like you and I do every day when we consume the news with no mics to be seen. Hahaha Teresa May as PM, Michael Gove as a candidate, Boris… Sadly, they never went that far. Some journalists believe the way we consume the news has been so fundamentally changed by the Internet that, inevitably, TV’s time will pass. It's certainly true that the 50-year domination of the classic TV news format makes it understandably hard to walk away from its language, structures and sets. Look at the brilliant ratings of the Ten O’Clock News and there’s another very good reason not to. And different is definitely not a guarantee of better. But there are risks here. An increasing number of people don’t make TV a regular part of their news diet because it feels out of sync with what’s happening when they turn on their phone or their PC. Now the BBC are catering for them, and everyone else, avoiding stubbornness and embracing change. Here’s that all important Count:

    (1) Ros Atkins – 70

    (2) Nuala McGovern – 11

    (3) Karin Giannone – 10

    (4) Philippa Thomas – 5

    Christian Fraser – 5

    (5) Michelle Fleury – 1

    Simple stats, not much to analyse, I’m afraid. Atkins is clearly enjoying this gig, and his exclusivity and dedication is the kinda work I’d like from Huw on the Five. This essentially could be the leaderboard shape for that very hour of news, if BBC producers cut back on all the randomness and, like OS, the Five was less concerned with outside broadcasts and more technological and interactive insight. McGovern has really stepped up, now sharing the post of deputy with Giannone and yep, there’s Thomas and Fraser. More Fraser, please and, hey, why not Fleury in-studio in a couple of years? I’m content with this show, surprise, surprise, and finally estranged from the World News randomness I’m about to report, OS is certainly a relevant, much-needed and, in my books, valuable piece of TV that should stay in the NC schedules for a long while.

    Future: Bright and sunny, a few other hosts down the line, with a dose of the WNT team poking their heads in to see what all the fuss is about…

    Tom Scudamore,

    BNF’s sleepy summer-lover



  • BBC News Presenter Count 2016: January – June: BBC News at Six

    There once was a time where the Six was a dual-anchored prime-time piece of teley on BBC One. Then ITV stole the idea and here we are, all looking back at the Noughties as if we closed our eyes and BOOM, Donald Trump… Anyway, you get the point. There’s a strange, eerie feeling I get from reporting the later news shows when it comes to these Counts (big C). Why? Because they’re a part of us, an unknowing tradition, a seeping interest. Dad comes home at Six and aha, there’s George, my beloved George, stern-faced, back from a year-long absence due to health bless him, and there all my family stand in a line watching with despair the headlines and tutting. This is almost an everyday tradition in my house. Dad wants to see the headlines before my bro turns over for The Simpsons. Let’s just put it this way: it’s been a rough season, news-wise.

    The Six is, I think, the one newsreaders want at the BBC. You can’t go wrong whoever you are. That said, I think a few have on that show. Emily Maitlis once sat on a desk as if it was an advert for Newsnight advertising the Six and trust me, that’s the best simile I could use in just stating this fact. Anyway, Maitlis was too… stylish. Maybe Jane Hill, Sian Williams and, dare I say it, Billy Turnbull were, too. OK, so some don’t fit The Six. Luckily, producers haven’t had to find new blood for a long time. Other than a few hires who I gladly see in the Count below, Alagiah is back where he belongs and, yes, he’s committed as always. His colleagues come in, some having settled in really well into that main rotation, and here we are. Simple as. For once I’m pleased with the quality and status of a show on the BBC News Channel. Blimey, the cider must be kicking in… If only the One could share such glory.

    The Count below is perhaps predictable but there is one thing worthy of observance and I say thank goodness: there’s a smaller pool of talent in the roster. No barmy choices. It’s nice to have George back.

    (1) George Alagiah – 75

    (2) Fiona Bruce – 23

    (3) Reeta Chakrabarti – 21

    (4) Clive Myrie – 18

    Sophie Raworth – 18

    (5) Mishal Husain – 14

    (6) Kate Silverton – 13

    (7) Ben Brown – 3

    Huw Edwards – 3

    (8) Jane Hill – 1

    Simon McCoy – 1

    Nicholas Owen – 1

    Martine Croxall – 1

    I’ll go out on a limb and say this leaderboard couldn’t look nicer. OK, well… more Mishal Husain and yes it would look lovely as a summer’s day but… I mean to say these are all my favourite newsreaders and, minus Husain, they all are placed where they belong in this shuffle. Let’s get the rookies out the way: Croxall, Owen, McCoy, Hill – all on the Sunday, I presume, but Croxall is a nice cherry for this cake, I feel. A little more Brown, maybe? Silverton, hey ho, finally back in the rotation and, with time, this could be a nice fit for her if she climbs that premiership a little on the Saturday. Gee, being the Saturday boy for BNF, I wish I’d see more Silverton. Such a wasted talent, unless she’s had her time. Tis the problem, I think. You have your time with the BBC, you go and then there you have it, it’s tougher to get back in again.

    Of everyone, I think Myrie and Raworth sharing fourth place is what makes me happiest. Here are two people going in different directions – Myrie is rising and wanting The Ten so badly, Raworth has been no. 3 on here for ages and now she’s simmering while, yes, Reeta (all over the shop Reeta, not from Coronation Street, mind) climbs just behind Bruce in the second driving seat. This table is transforming. Who knows, I bet in two years it may look a little different. The Six, though, is comfortable and I’m glad Alagiah is right at the top with a nice figure of 75. That’s what you want on The Five, Huw.

    The future: I feel Myrie’s better on The Ten, but him taking Alagiah’s place one day here wouldn’t hurt. Frankly it’s anyone’s game. Not that I want the winds to change that quickly, though. I’ve argued before how I’d like to see Husain front the Six, maybe with Myrie, permanently. That would be good. Chakrabarti, I feel, just lacks the star quality Antiques’ Bruce, the NC’s Myrie, Alagiah, Edwards, Raworth and Today’s Husain have. Maybe with time. Unless I front the show, of course…

    Tom Scudamore,

    BNF’s thoughtful bugger



  • BBC News Presenter Count 2016: January – June: BBC News at Five

    I’ve expressed my concern in previous entries about the lack of rolling news pzazz on the BBC News Channel before 5pm. A morning overstuffed with human interest that makes the BBC’s journalism jewel look submissive to ITV and Channel 4 viewing highs once 9am hits. The One bulletin, too, has suffered a growing disinterest from its producers and, in my humble opinion, is overdue a shake-up. I’ve admitted however that I, a mere critic, have no idea how to go about answering these problems.

    The thing is, for years now the focus on upping the standards of evening news across the BBC has paid its dividends and, by and large, I’d say the breaking coverage of Brexit’s implications, the PM transition and the tragic terrorism attacks this last half-year have been reported thoroughly and professionally by the BBC’s evening staff. Perhaps that’s the problem. Everyone post 5pm is brilliant at what they do.

    The Five O’Clock hour, especially, is earning a lot of attention by news channels where it was clearly felt in 2006 that Huw Edwards, prime Ten anchor for a decade, should share his style with a live audience who would tune in for, what has been this past spring especially, the hour where things happen.

    The BBC News Channel’s handover to Huw on most days is dramatic, just like BBC Breakfast’s old segway into the morning’s coverage at 8.30am. Now we have press conferences and, y’know, commentary that feels like an eternity from lovely Norman Smith on political shuffles… and then there’s often Simon McCoy and Jane Hill, the new charming anchor partnership, assuring us all that we will be OK in the hands of the wonders you see in the Count below. Over the years this programme has been of great interest to me. Five is like a tidal wave between an afternoon rather light and Georgey’s Six which gets things moving on to nighttime headlines. Five is the transition, the changing of the guard and, having thought about it a great deal today, I think anyone who sits in that chair, Huw or not, from 5-6pm deserves respect. This isn’t just an hour in the day. It’s the motorway for journalism. Afternoon becomes evening. On BBC1 The Weakest Link, now Pointless, take to the airwaves. Things matter and, for once, I feel these statistics show something significant…

    (1) Huw Edwards – 47

    (2) Gavin Esler – 28

    (3) Simon McCoy – 27

    (4) Ben Brown – 13

    (5) Clive Myrie – 10

    (6) Jane Hill – 6

    (7) Julian Worricker – 4

    (8) Christian Fraser – 3

    (9) Maxine Mawhinney – 2

    Martine Croxall – 2

    Michelle Fleury – 2

    (10) Emily Maitlis – 1

    Annita McVeigh – 1

    Ros Atkins – 1

    Steph Sackur – 1

    Laura Trevelyan – 1

    Judith Moritz – 1

    Just like the One, I feel frustrated by a lack of leadership in an hour that deserves it. Imagine there being a changing PM most days which, perhaps, isn’t a bad idea right now. Yep, you guessed it, Scudamore is… underwhelmed by Teresa May but hey ho. Edwards should love doing this shift. It may not be up his ally entirely – maybe he enjoys the quieter, more room for thought Ten that, yes, is prepared – but in a year that requires a news bulldog like him to report some history four days a week… his figure in the Count should be higher. Often Edwards doesn’t do the Five but does do the Ten. Maybe, after ten years, producers are trying to find a new lead in this hour, not that they have room for it. For this year, a lot of Fives have been hosted by one of the afternoon presenters, leaving for a half-hour at 4.30 and then here they are again. Esler’s score is respectable, I suppose, but the real intrigue comes that Simon McCoy sits in third, just as valuable as Esler (Friday guy) is to this show. Right now, having watched the afternoon duo change most days a week on the NC, it’s obvious there’s some conflict as to who’s anchoring what and how cosmic the whole enterprise is of newsreaders hopping from one job to the next. Ben Brown, Simon McCoy, Jane Hill – all top newsreaders who are crossing One, 2-5pm and Five and… well, just like the One, I feel there needs to be less teamwork and more commitment from an ace or winger (baseball terms for verification). Even Myrie is there, coming in and skipping his evening slot on the NC for Five exclusivity. Make a choice, BBC. If Huw is getting tired maybe it’s time to promote Brown or gorgeous Emily Maitlis to the ranks of having this show for themselves four days a week.

    Some stray observations: perhaps Brown made his mark more on location, but perhaps I’m getting my years crossed, just like wires. Timey wimey. I’m just lovestruck by all these beautiful newsreaders… also, doesn’t Myrie’s count deserve to be higher? He’s a top journalist, and you can read my thoughts on where he should be later in the day. On the other end, Worricker isn’t used nearly as much as he once was, and it seems good ol’ Nicholas Owen has finally been retired from this hour. McVeigh is slipping too, while Fraser and Mawhinney are making a climb once more into the top end of the leaderboard. And yes, for anyone of the curious eye, Martine Croxall is there because Leicester City came top of the Premier League. Wehey! Surprise choices, finally, from the World clan: Sackur, Atkins, Fleury, Moritz – really?! I miss Lyse Doucet.

    Tom’s tip for the future: Again, I stress that if Edwards isn’t up to the job my choice for this slot would be Ben Brown and Emily Maitlis sharing the duties on alternate weeks. Both have the personality and are wasted in their respective fields as NC hoppy and Newsnight lady of the occasion. For pure comedy purposes, Sopel and Maitlis should share this hour?! Realistically: this could be McCoy’s old-guard-retirement show in a decade…

    Tom Scudamore,

    BNF’s lazy uni student



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