ITV News at Ten

ITV News at Ten
ITV News at Ten
ITV News at Ten opening sequence
Format National and international news
Presented by Mark Austin
Julie Etchingham
Country of origin United Kingdom
Producer(s) ITN
Running time 30 minutes
Original channel ITV (ITV1/STV/UTV)
Original run Original run
3 July 1967 (1967-07-03)[1]–5 March 1999 (1999-03-05)
Second incarnation
22 January 2001 (2001-01-22)–30 January 2004 (2004-01-30)
Third incarnation
14 January 2008 (2008-01-14) – present
External links

The ITV News at Ten (also known as News at Ten) is the flagship news programme on British television network ITV, produced by ITN and founded by news editor Geoffrey Cox in 1967.[2] It was originally planned as a thirteen week project in July 1967[1] because senior figures at ITV refused to believe that a permanent 30-minute late night news bulletin would be welcomed by viewers.[3] However, the bulletin proved to be very popular with audiences and it remained a fixture of the ITV schedule.

News at Ten popularised some of the most well-known faces in television news, among them Alastair Burnet, Sandy Gall, Reginald Bosanquet, Alastair Stewart, Carol Barnes and Trevor McDonald, and the familiarity of the close-knit team of reporters and newscasters at ITN meant that when it was initially axed by ITV in March 1999, to make way for entertainment programming, there was a public outcry. The bulletin made a short-lived return in 2001, before being replaced with a 22:30 bulletin in 2004. News at Ten was properly reinstated to the ITV schedule in January 2008, initially for four nights a week before returning to its original Monday-to-Friday slot in March 2009. The current newscasters are Mark Austin and Julie Etchingham.



1967 to 1999: the original run

A still from an early News at Ten opening sequence from late 1967

ITN had been providing regular news updates to ITV since September 1955, with the main programme being a 14-minute effort titled Late Night News, which was broadcast at any time during the evening.[4] Since his arrival at ITN in 1956, editor Geoffrey Cox had argued consistently to the regulatory body, the Independent Television Authority, that the company should have the right to produce at least one news bulletin of substantial length; the 14-minute bulletin, he insisted, was not long enough to adequately cover news stories. In early 1967 the wish was finally granted, and a reluctant ITV agreed to go ahead - but persuaded ITN and the ITA to give the programme a 13-week trial, expecting the experiment to be a failure.[5]

The aim of the extended programme was to "remove the spin and bringing facts and the news as it really was".[5] News at Ten began broadcasting on 3 July 1967[1] under the leadership of Cox and a newscasting team including Alastair Burnet, Andrew Gardner and Reginald Bosanquet. It was not plain-sailing to begin with; the simple "lack of news" meant that the first week of News at Ten bulletins went badly, and ITV wanted to axe the programme.[5] However, in time, the bulletin managed to increase its viewership to a regular seven million a night, and ITV were forced to keep the programme. It became a popular bulletin particularly with those arriving home in the late evening, and provided in-depth reports of the stories of the day. It is believed that News at Ten was one of the first news programmes to create the 'reporter package', which saw for the first time reporters recording their commentary with the film later edited to fit their speech.[5]

Throughout the 1970s and well into the 1980s, News at Ten managed to encompass a regular team of famous and well-known newscasters including Alastair Burnet, Sandy Gall, Reginald Bosanquet, Anna Ford, Selina Scott, Carol Barnes, Pamela Armstrong, Alastair Stewart, and Trevor McDonald. This familiarity and popularity meant that News at Ten became one of the most recognisable and well-known news programmes in Britain; it consistently received higher audience figures than the BBC's late evening Nine O'Clock News.

News at Ten's logo, as used between 1992 and 1999
Trevor McDonald presenting News at Ten, 1996

Chief News at Ten presenter Alastair Burnet retired from ITN in 1991, at which point plans were made for News at Ten to relaunch. For the first time, the theme music - a piece of library music composed by Johnny Pearson entitled The Awakening - was re-recorded and re-arranged, by composer Dave Hewson, this time in a higher key. A new studio was made for the programme, and the change was made from two newscasters to one. Alastair Stewart and Julia Somerville were among those being considered to anchor the bulletin, but their ITN colleague Trevor McDonald won the role, and subsequently became one of the most popular and well-known newscasters in Britain. McDonald presented News at Ten from November 1992 until March 1999.

2001 to 2004: the second incarnation

After much debate and controversy, News at Ten was axed in March 1999 to allow the uninterrupted broadcast of dramas and films on the ITV network. The ITN flagship news programme role replacing News at Ten (and in turn the 17:40 Early Evening News) was the 18:30 ITV Evening News, which was now presented by Trevor McDonald; also introduced was a late-night ITV Nightly News programme at 23:00 (a one-minute news summary in the former News at Ten slot bridged the lengthy gap between the 18:30 and the 23:00 news programmes). However, viewing figures for ITN bulletins on ITV had decreased by a significant amount by 2000, and the Independent Television Commission stepped in. The ITC, taking into account the programming ITV had put in the former News at Ten slot (as well as the public anger at the move of the bulletin), ordered that ITV reinstated the late evening news in its original slot. ITV agreed, on the condition that it would run at 10pm for a minimum of three nights a week, and at shorter length. It was at this point that Director-General of the BBC Greg Dyke announced that the long-running BBC Nine O'Clock News would move to 22:00 to provide a head-to-head clash with ITN. Though much publicity surrounded this move, the BBC Ten O'Clock News (or, since April 2008, the BBC News at Ten) did not manage to topple ITN's audience; the BBC received 5m with their new bulletin, whilst ITV's 22:00 return in January 2001 received 8m.

The ITV Nightly News had only been 20 minutes long and this remained the case for the ITV News at Ten. Unusually, the regional news remained at 23:20 for some time although it was later amalgamated with News at Ten, causing the news segment to become 30 minutes. Another unusual aspect of the revived programme - and ultimately the downfall for this second incarnation - was its scheduling. It only ran from Monday to Thursday, with the Friday edition remaining at 23:00 as the ITV Weekend News. Viewers gradually switched to the BBC's offering for the simple reason that the BBC bulletin started, as the old ITN News at Ten had done, at precisely 22:00. ITV on the other hand did not, despite the reinstated News at Ten being billed as starting at 22:00. Often the ITV News at Ten was delayed for 15 to 30 minutes to allow for other programming such as films, drama or football. This uncertainty, as well as starting times that ranged from 21:58 to 22:15 led the programme to be dubbed News at When? by some of its critics.[6]

It was announced late in 2003 that the ITV News at Ten would be axed for a second time due to poor ratings against the BBC Ten O'Clock News programme. On 2 February 2004, the ITV News at 10.30 was introduced, again anchored by McDonald, who retired from ITN on 15 December 2005. The bulletin was latterly re-launched and anchored by Mark Austin.

2008 to 2009: the third incarnation

ITV plc chairman Michael Grade, on Wednesday 31 October 2007, confirmed plans to reintroduce News at Ten, announcing that the bulletin would be restored to its traditional slot in early 2008. News at Ten returned on 14 January 2008, broadcasting Monday to Thursday, with The Late News airing on Fridays at 11pm. In addition, ITN re-introduced the double-headed presentation associated with News at Ten during its first two decades; the revived programme saw the temporary return of Trevor McDonald, presenting with Julie Etchingham, who joined the organisation from Sky News. Mark Austin alternated with McDonald to present News at Ten with Etchingham.[7][8]

It was confirmed on 30 October 2008 that McDonald was to depart from News at Ten the next month, leaving "on a high note" after presenting the programme's US election coverage from Washington.[9] McDonald continued to be a part of the ITV schedules, fronting documentaries and taking part in special editions of the Tonight programme. Mark Austin took over from McDonald in November 2008, continuing to co-present the ITV Evening News for some time.

On 25 February 2009, ITV announced that News at Ten would begin to air on Friday nights from 13 March (replacing the 23:00 The Late News bulletin), in order to give the programme a "consistent home at the heart of the schedule". It was also suggested that the bulletin would now be airing five nights instead of four due to a rise in ratings and the success of the pairing of the programme's newscasters.[10]

Ratings have been steady for the programme since its 2008 return, settling at 2.5 million though often rising to over 3 million viewers. News at Ten was watched by 3.8m on the relaunch date in 2008, compared to the BBC's 4.9m, though ITV insisted that they were pleased with the figures. On 27 February 2008, News at Ten received 4.3m; the BBC News at 10 was delayed by 40 minutes due to an FA Cup replay, gaining 3.6m.[11] On 2 February 2009, due to severe weather conditions which saw heavy snow in Britain, television news bulletins across the terrestrial channels saw an increase in ratings; News at Ten gained 4.8m viewers. The week of 25 - 29 May 2009 saw News at Ten gaining a huge increase in ratings, on the back of the Britain's Got Talent semi-final programmes which aired that week; on 26 May, News at Ten received 6.1m in comparison to 4.1m for the BBC News at 10, but a ten-minute delay on 27 May (due to ITV football coverage) resulted in 2.4m. 28 May saw News at Ten gaining its highest audience figures since 2003, with a 6.4m strong audience tuning in; the BBC News at 10 received just less than half of that figure - 3.6m.[12]

In August 2009, it was announced that after 16 years co-hosting London Tonight, Alastair Stewart was to leave the regional magazine programme to become main co-anchor of the ITV News at 6:30. Mark Austin, up until that point the main newscaster of both the 18:30 and 22:00 bulletins, was formally installed as the main male newscaster for News at Ten - ITV's main news bulletin - but continued to present the ITV News at 6:30 on occasion.[13]

2009 to present: removal of 'Big Ben' branding

On 22 October 2009, it was jointly announced by ITN and ITV that ITV News would be rebranded from 2 November. At the heart of the revamp was the removal of the famous image of the Big Ben clock tower from the opening sequence of News at Ten; ITV executives felt, after "months of deliberation", that the imagery of the landmark promoted London-centricity to viewers outside the capital.[14] Elements of the clockface remain in the studio backdrop, title sequence and graphics, and the famous bongs have also been retained in the headline sequence. The revamp, which saw the end of individual branding for News at Ten and a realignment with the other bulletins on ITV (becoming the ITV News at Ten), included a newly-designed rectangular set, new music and graphics, and a new colour scheme of black and gold to complement the ITV image and branding. The ITV News revamp has been developed by ITN, ITV and design agency Bruce Dunlop & Associates.

Recognition for the bulletin has been steady since the November realignment, but ratings have decreased slightly.

Theme music and opening sequence

From January 2008 to November 2009, News at Ten used a different title sequence and music from other ITV News programmes. The theme music was a re-recording of an excerpt from The Awakening, a piece of library music composed by Johnny Pearson. Since 1995, The Awakening, in various arrangements, has been used as the theme for all ITV News programmes. A longer version of the music was used during the opening credit sequence (involving a cyclone) at the start of the film Journey Back to Oz. It was also used for some of the action sequences for the film Five Bloody Graves, and as the theme tune for the fictional political discussion programme Capital Beat on the Warner Bros. Television show The West Wing. The 2008 News at Ten theme package, composed by Dave Hewson, was based on various musical arrangements used for the bulletin between 1967 and 1999. Since 1992, Hewson has composed all theme packages for ITN's ITV bulletins (the first project Hewson worked on for ITN was News at Ten), most of them based on Pearson's The Awakening music.

The history of the News at Ten music is displayed in the official 1999 book released by ITN, which incorrectly refers to the title music as Arabesque instead of the correct The Awakening:

The tune is called Arabesque and was written by Johnny Pearson, who went on to write many other television theme tunes. The decision to use it was taken only at the last minute and after the first week it was nearly dropped. Viewers were complaining it was too harsh. A composer from Disney was called in during the first week to write a new theme tune. But an ITN sound mixer called Alfie Wilson wanted to stick with the old tune. He took the original recording of Arabesque to a nearby music studio and got it remixed—smoothing out some of the strident tones of the original. By the second Monday of News at Ten there was still no decision on which piece of music to use. Just before the programme started, editor Geoffrey Cox said, "Let’s go with what we’ve got for the time being." Alfie played his remixed version on air and that’s the one that was played five nights a week until a new arrangement of Arabesque was created for the revamp in 1992.

News at Ten: A Celebration, 1999

News at Ten's opening sequence consisted of a chime of Big Ben (commonly referred to as a "bong") and a newscaster reading out a headline about the main news story of the day; this was followed by the title sequence—a computer-generated travel across night-time London, passing London landmarks such as the Canary Wharf and the London Eye, before zooming in on the "Big Ben" clockface on the Westminster Clock Tower showing the time of 22:00; between further chimes, headlines were read out by each newscaster; following the headlines, a camera panned across the studio, passing a VR "glass screen" with the News at Ten logo emblazoned on it and swooping past the newscasters at the desk. (The jib camera pan across the studio at the start of ITV News bulletins were pre-recorded 10 to 15 minutes before transmission. This was because it is an especially difficult shot to achieve and cannot be done if other studio cameras are already in place.)

The current title sequence, used on all ITV News bulletins, features a camera pan past five clear glass panels, each featuring a picture related to the news of the day. The title music retains orchestral features but also incorporates a modern drum backing. The famous elements of The Awakening remain in the new music.


On 26 April 2009, News at Ten won a BAFTA in the category News Coverage at the BAFTA Television Awards 2009, for their coverage of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. The bulletin was up against its ITN rival Channel 4 News and the twice-nominated Sky News.

In September 2009, after the success of its BAFTA win, News at Ten won the News Coverage award at the International Emmy awards ceremony.

In December 2009, the ITV News at Ten won an award for Best National Television Programme at the Plain English Awards, and on 6 June 2010, the programme won the News Coverage BAFTA for the second year running for their coverage of the 2010 Haiti earthquake.

In February 2011, the programme won News Programme of the Year at the RTS Television Journalism Awards.


Main newscasters

Years Newscaster Other roles
2008–present Mark Austin
2008–present Julie Etchingham Tonight presenter

Relief newscasters

Years Newscaster Other roles
2011–present Andrea Benfield Wales Tonight newscaster
2009–present Nina Hossain London Tonight newscaster
2011–2012 Natasha Kaplinsky
2008–present James Mates Senior Correspondent
2008–present Mary Nightingale ITV News at 6:30 newscaster
2009–present Alastair Stewart ITV News at 1:30 and ITV News at 6:30 newscaster

Former newscasters

Years Newscaster Role Other roles
1967–1974; 1976–1991 Alastair Burnet Main newscaster ITN royal commentator
1967–1977 Andrew Gardner Main newscaster
1967 George Ffitch Main newscaster
1967–1977 Reginald Bosanquet Relief newscaster
1967–1977 Gordon Honeycombe Relief newscaster
1972–1992 Sandy Gall Relief newscaster
1977–1980 Anna Ford Main newscaster
1986–2005; 2008 Trevor McDonald Main newscaster
1970–1987 Leonard Parkin Relief newscaster News at One newscaster
1980–1986 Martyn Lewis Relief newscaster
1980–1982 Selina Scott Relief newscaster
1984–1987 Pamela Armstrong Relief newscaster
1985–2004 John Suchet Relief newscaster
1985–1992 Carol Barnes Relief newscaster
1990–1999 Julia Somerville Relief newscaster
1992–2001 Dermot Murnaghan Relief newscaster Lunchtime News and ITV Nightly News newscaster
2001–2002 Kirsty Young Relief newscaster
2008–2010 Katie Derham Relief newscaster ITV News at 1:30 and London Tonight newscaster
2010 Romilly Weeks Relief newscaster News Correspondent


  1. ^ a b c "News at Ten "will return to ITV1"". BBC News. 23 October 2007. Retrieved 5 May 2010. 
  2. ^ Obituary report for Geoffrey Cox, News At Ten, 2 April 2008
  3. ^ 'Turning back the clock' report, News At Ten, 5 March 1999
  4. ^ "ITN - Independent Television News". The Ident Zone (MHP). 11 May 2009. Retrieved 11 May 2009. 
  5. ^ a b c d "News at Ten: Forty Years Off and On". ATV News & Soap Zone. 25 October 2007. Archived from the original on 23 November 2007. Retrieved 25 October 2007. 
  6. ^ "News at When". Transdiffusion Broadcasting System. 2002. Retrieved 23 October 2007. 
  7. ^ Tryhorn, Chris (7 December 2007). "News at Ten returns to ITV". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 December 2007. 
  8. ^ "News at Ten". ITV. 2 January 2008. Retrieved 2 January 2008. 
  9. ^ Conlan, Tara (30 October 2008). "Sir Trevor McDonald to leave News at Ten next month". The Guardian. Retrieved 31 October 2008. 
  10. ^ Holmwood, Leigh (25 February 2009). "News at Ten goes five-nights-a-week". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 February 2009. 
  11. ^ Holmwood, Leigh (29 February 2008). "News at Ten's bongs beat the BBC". The Guardian. Retrieved 31 August 2008. 
  12. ^ Holmwood, Leigh (29 May 2009). "Britain's Got Talent boosts News at Ten". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 May 2009. 
  13. ^ Plunkett, John (19 August 2009). "More Mark Austin on News at Ten". MediaGuardian. Retrieved 10 October 2010. 
  14. ^ Robinson, James (22 October 2009). "ITV to drop Big Ben from News at Ten titles". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 May 2010. 

External links

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