Tonight (TV series)

Tonight (TV series)

Infobox Television
show_name = Tonight

caption = Previous titles
genre = News and Current affairs
picture_format =
runtime = 24 minutes (exc. adverts)
creator =
presenter =
network = ITV
country = UK
first_aired = April 7, 1999
last_aired = present
num_series =
num_episodes =
producer = ITV Productions
related =
imdb_id =

"Tonight" is the name of a British television newsmagazine, produced by Granada Television for the ITV network since 1999, when it replaced the long-running investigative series "World In Action". Currently airing twice-weekly, on Monday and Friday evenings at 8.00pm (STV, UTV and ITV1 Wales usually air the show at different times or different days, to make way for regional programming), the show runs the gamut from human interest-led current affairs to investigative journalism. "Tonight" has conducted interviews with a plethora of political and public figures, including George W. Bush, Tony Blair, Hillary Clinton and Madonna. From 1999-2007, the programme was known as "Tonight with Trevor McDonald".


The format of "Tonight" consists of a number of long-form news stories which present an angle on a major development, often following up on an investigation instigated by a national newspaper or news network. The stories are introduced from a set which has a heavily computerised backdrop.

Many topics centre on allegations of wrongdoing and corruption on the part of corporations, politicians, and other public officials. The show also features profiles. The profiles are occasionally of celebrities and offer a biography of the figure, followed by a sit-down interview. Rather than offering a simple publicity platform, a celebrity will often feature after a period of intense media scrutiny, such was the case when the model Naomi Campbell appeared after there were claims she had a substance abuse problem. Non-celebrity profiles usually feature a person who has accomplished an heroic action.

The programme's format differs significantly to newsmagazine "Panorama", which airs on the BBC, as it often remains focused upon a sensationalist and human interest-led agenda, rather than political or world affairs. Many of the topics are follow-ups to stories from tabloid newspapers, chosen for their level of public interest.

The show gained greater public attention for its high-profile interviews, such as with the parents of murdered schoolboy Damilola Taylor, the five suspects in the Steven Lawrence murder case and Trevor Rees-Jones, the sole survivor of the crash which killed Princess Diana.

Following the terrorist attacks in New York City on 11 September 2001, the show shifted its focused to more "heavyweight" topics such as the impending war and featured numerous reports from Afghanistan and Washington respectively, with Trevor McDonald interviewing US Secretary of State Colin Powell in December of the same year.

In an emotionally-charged and highly controversial episode, airing on 30 October 2001, Martin Bashir interviewed the television star Michael Barrymore for the first time about the events that led to a man dying in the swimming pool at his home. The entertainer said he felt remorse and responsibility, igniting a tabloid backlash. The edition was the most-watched in "Tonight's" history.

In recent years, the show's ratings have dropped dramatically, a result of airing against the perennially popular "EastEnders" on BBC One.

Currently, ITV News specials also air under the "Tonight" banner. These specials often have more of an investigative focus and air in primetime during a major development, such as after the terrorist attacks in London on 7 July 2005, a broadcast which saw scheduled ITV shows pre-empted.


While the show often features interviews with global newsmakers, "Tonight" often makes global headlines itself.

;"Living with Michael Jackson":A 3 February 2003 episode featuring Martin Bashir interviewing Michael Jackson led to the singer being charged for sexual molestation. An interview with Jackson was very special, for it had been extremely rare for Jackson to allow such access to his personal life, or indeed to talk so freely about his childhood. The special two-hour episode was heavily criticised, with numerous claims that the documentary had presented the singer in a unfavourable light. After the episode aired on U.S. network ABC, a follow-up "rebuttal" interview with Jackson was broadcast, featuring a surplus of material Bashir had omitted from his film.

;Charles Ingram :In the same year (21 April 2003), the magazine aired segments from the 2001 "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?" episode in which Major Charles Ingram was accused of cheating. It was the first time outside of court that the clips had aired and the edition was heavily promoted throughout the week, airing immediately after a highly-rated episode of "Coronation Street". Again, the programme was criticised for its bias, with Charles Ingram claiming in an interview with Diane Sawyer for US network ABC that "Tonight" refused to allow him to defend the allegations on air.

The above episodes attracted 15.32 and 16.1 million viewers respectively.

The Team


Sir Trevor McDonald presented links for the programme. During this time the programme was known as "Tonight with Trevor McDonald". He left in late 2007, with the return of the "News at Ten" on Monday, 14 January 2008 which McDonald co-presents.


The programme's correspondents and commentators have included:
* Martin Bashir
* Vanessa Collingridge
* Fiona Foster
* Martin Lewis
* Jonathan Maitland
* Michael Nicholson
* Melissa Porter
* Morland Sanders
* Quentin Wilson
* Ginny Buckley

Further reading

*cite journal |first= John|last= Corner|coauthors= Annette Hill|year= 2006|title= Value, Form and Viewing in Current Affairs Television: Tonight with Trevor McDonald |journal= Journal of British Cinema and Television|publisher= Edinburgh University Press|url= |volume= 3|issue= 1|pages= 34–46|doi= 10.3366/JBCTV.2006.3.1.34

External links

* [ BBC News: Millionaire's route to top prize]

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