BNF

BBC News Fix

  • 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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