Newsround Present 

1 April 2002 tbs.pm/1809

By the early 90s Newsround was still popular. The two presenters were Juliet Morris and Krishnan Guru-Murphy, and the title sequences – introduced in 1990 – showed a satellite flying about in space, eventually forming the new logo. For the first time in the programme’s history two headlines were featured at the start, usually the main story and the “and finally” story, and these were preceded by and intercut with the satellite scenes in space.

A new theme tune, with the introductory notes perhaps influenced by the original Newsround theme, also made its debut. The studio was once again minimalist, with grey pillars topped by red rings sitting aside the presenter, who’s desk had a clock built into the side. An “ON AIR” sign sat at the side of the studio, and a large screen sat behind the presenter – the first time that images hadn’t been projected using the CSO technique.

In 1992 Newsround launched The Press Pack – a club which viewers could join and send in their own news reports on issues that affected and interested them. The best reports were either screened on Newsround’s Ceefax pages, published in Fast Forward magazine (and later Radio Times) or even on the programme itself. Membership has now topped 100,000.

The look of the programme was still very sober and serious, but all this was to change in December 1993. A new title sequence and set was introduced, starting from the Review of the Year programme and being introduced on the programme itself in January 1994. The new title sequence was totally animated and featured cartoon drawings of animals, computer consoles, satellites (again!) and a globe.

Inserted into this was real life footage of a rocket and a computer game (Ecco the Dolphin – something which quickly became out of date) in small boxes that flew across the screen, and once again there were two headlines, also contained in the small boxes in the corners of the screen. A more upbeat theme tune, but still recognisable as news, was introduced. The logo however was retained, albeit in a cartoon format.

The new set was bigger than ever before, with a computer area on the left and a stool with a smaller desk in the centre with a large video wall behind it. For the first time the presenter moved around during the bulletin, starting from the computer desk on the left as the programme began, and moving over to the video wall to introduce the news items.

The final link was done back again from the computer area, as if to convey that the presenter compiled the programme from there and moved over to the seat to present the programme. And, for the first time, Newsround got a copyright and date at the end of the show. Previously the logo had simply been shown along with a shot of the “and finally” story. Now the Newsround logo flew out from the video wall.

Another innovation in the mid-nineties was the Newswrap. This was a short sequence of three stories which fitted into the “other news” category, accompanied by the undercut for the Newsround theme. Otherwise the programme stayed largely the same, but in October 1994 Juliet Morris and Krishnan Guru-Murphy departed for pastures new.

In a live broadcast from that year’s CBBC Big Bash at Birmingham, the new presenters were introduced. Julie Etchingham and Chris Rogers were to be the new duo, taking it in turns to perform the honours. Juliet Morris moved onto to other BBC projects such as Breakfast News and Krishnan Guru-Murphy is now one of the main presenters of Channel 4 News.

In 1997 Newsround celebrated its 25th anniversary with a special programme called Newsround’s Rock and Roll Years. This fifty minute broadcast highlighted the major events of Newsround’s life set to the music of the time, and this highly effective technique was accompanied by captions at the bottom of the screen, no narration at all and clips of the various Newsround title sequences over the years.

Unfortunately sound problems dogged some parts of the programme and an apology caption was even displayed at one point. One new innovation was the inclusion of small boxes at the side of the picture containing other relevant pictures. This was something that would feature heavily in the next relaunch.

On 1st September 1997 Newsround began a new era, different to anything that had come before. A dynamic new title sequence featuring a spinning globe with various objects such as leaves and microchips flying off it was accompanied by a superb new theme tune, which was upbeat and catchy whilst remaining distinctively newsy.

The new logo was simply as stylised “NR” with a globe at the side, although the programme name (now NEWSround) still featured at the start. The headlines were featured in flying TV screens that spun out from the spinning globe, and this idea was carried through to studio segments where a screen would appear next to a presenter with pictures from that story on it.

The studio itself was seemingly even bigger, with a seating area featuring spinning globe, giant NR letters and a “desk” area with computer and plasma screen built into the wall. The studio appeared to change virtually every day, and presenters introduced items usually by standing next to plasma screens displaying relevant information or perched on the “desk” – the influence of 5 News permeating other channels within six months of its launch. Caption bars featuring the names of interviewees were introduced for the first time.

The programme retained its commitment to serious news explained for children, although there appeared to be more entertainment stories than before. The Newswrap name was dropped, and simply was referred to as “in other news”.

However, gradually over time the main news stories of the day began to be relegated to this sequence rather than at the head of the programme, and it became common to see stories of more relevance to children, such as about education, mobile phones or Harry Potter leading the programme. Also in this period was Newsround 24, a short-lived weekly version of Newsround on the new BBC News 24.

In the summer of 1997, Kate Sanderson, a former reporter for HTV West, joined the programme. This three-presenter line-up continues to this day, with presenters now leaving one at a time rather than a whole team at once, as became common in the early 90s. Julie Etchingham departed for Breakfast News in January 1998, and was replaced by Lizo Mzimba later that year.

Chris Rogers meanwhile hung on until almost exactly a year later to go to Sky News, and later on in 1999 Matthew Price joined. Matthew was initially confined to the new “web desk” commenting on viewer’s emails, but eventually began presenting the programme.

On 30th November 1999, the presentation was slightly revised. The title sequence still featured the globe but without headlines – just an on screen day, date and month being read out and an announcement that “this is Newsround, live at five”.

The theme tune was revised to a much more inferior and less catchy version, and the headlines were now read out after the end of the title sequence. The studio set now consisted of only the “desk” area with the wall screen and mobile plasmas where needed. This seemingly pointless change was in fact in preparation for the BBC News changeover to widescreen, which eventually happened in October 2000. In January 2001 Newsround was moved from 5pm to 5:25pm, as part of continuing reforms of CBBC by new head of children’s programming, Nigel Pickard.

By now Newsround was much more entertainment-led with very few editions focussing on the main news being explained to children. In September 2001 Kate Sanderson departed from the programme after four years to concentrate on Watchdog and Breakfast, and was replaced a couple of months later by Becky Jago, a former weather presenter on Anglia Television.

In October 2001 Newsround Online was launched. For some four years the programme had had a supporting website, but the new site had a dedicated news section, constantly updated along with the rest of BBC News Online.

The biggest change in Newsround’s history came on 11 February 2002. With the launch of the new digital CBBC channel for 6-13 year olds, short Newsround bulletins were inserted into the daily XChange programmes at 7:30am, 8:00am, 8:30am, 12:30pm, 1:00pm and 1:30pm. The extra bulletins saw two new presenters join the team, Lizzie Greenwood and Adam Fleming.

Newsround remained at 5:25pm on BBC-1 and a new five minute programme called Newsround Lite was shown every night at 6:25pm on the CBBC channel. This covered the day’s entertainment stories, although it has to be said that this has not led to any change in the already entertainment dominated standard editions.

The new editions were accompanied by a new title sequence – still featuring Newsround at the start and NR at the end – featuring a flying globe again, with pulsating reverberations emitting from it. The new theme tune was a little disappointing but was piano dominated with a dance beat, and fitted in with the programme’s agenda. Programmes are now also accompanied by a pink bar at the bottom of the screen, which offers names of interviewees and extra story information.

So what now for Newsround, having reached its 30th anniversary? Now with a daytime and internet presence, it looks as if the only area not yet covered is weekends. But the programme must not lose sight of the original goal – to convey the day’s news to children – as it marches on through the 21st century.

The title sequence that marked the 1990s and the handover of Newround to a new, younger generation in Julliet Morris (now of Radio Five Live) and Krishnan Guru-Murphy (now of ITN’s Channel Four News).

A new, funkier title sequence for the programme, ending in a “cartoon” version of the previous logo. The new set – as brightly coloured as the title sequence – reflects the programme’s stated aim to keep news ‘relevant’ to young people.

Newswrap, a short sequence of three stories which fitted into the “other news” category, accompanied by the undercut for the Newsround theme.

A new look, and back up market for Newsround, sorry NEWSround, with a change in presenters to an even younger set.

Newsround on BBC News 24 – an idea that didn’t work.

Preparing for another new look – a model of the new set and the set itself.

No longer alone – Newsround on analogue welcomes a new set of presenters for Newsround on digital – a flagship programme on the new CBBC channel.

The newest look, marking the expansion of the programme on to the new CBBC channel, also in use on the ‘original’ programme. The green blob in the left-hand corner is the device the BBC uses to show CBBC programmes are no different to the competition. Odd, because ‘nr’ is very distinctive.

More Newsround than ever, including the short, entertainment-led Newsround Lite.

Newsround Lite, plus a link to the generic CBBC website. Newsround now has an internet presence of its own at bbc.co.uk

A Transdiffusion Presentation

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