Channel 5 News (Channel 5, 1997-present)
I didn’t plan to do many pieces about news presentation, because most people don’t find it interesting really. But I think that the story behind this one is worth featuring. When Channel 5 launched in 1997, they had to have a commitment to providing shows in various genres, such as soaps, comedy, and so on. This included also having to provide a news service, and they aimed to make this something a little different.
This would be provided by ITN, who also produced the news for ITV and Channel 4. There would not be a traditional studio as such, but shows would be hosted from various parts of the rather bright newsroom. It might seem rather ridiculous now, but this really was a pioneering idea at the time, and most viewers hadn’t seen anything like it on TV before. Suddenly, being sat at a desk to present the news came across as rather old-fashioned.
As well as the main half-hour show in primetime, which along with the news also included features, interviews, sport, weather, and so on, along with a chance for viewers to contribute, another innovation was to provide brief updates throughout the day, sometimes during films, or between shows, as we much anticipated another edition of The Jack Docherty Show.
Hosts included Kirsty Young, who had already hosted the news in Scotland, and would now become known to a national audience (some have said that Young is arguably the only person to have become famous after appearing on Channel 5), and Rob Butler, who hosted most of the updates. Indeed, I remember one critic at the time who noted that he seemed to host the updates at all times of the day, to the point that they wondered if he ever had any sleep.
And along with this, there was also 5 News Early, an attempt at a breakfast show in a GMTV style, featuring even more news, sport, and everything inbetween to start the day. Unfortunately for them, because GMTV already existed and had a huge amount of viewers, this didn’t do that well in the ratings, and it wasn’t long before this ended and children’s shows filled the slot.
I do remember watching Channel 5 News a lot in the early days, it really did come across as something different, and a fresh take on an established idea. In the years since the launch, there have been several different studios and many more hosts, and for a while the producers were Sky, before returning back to ITN, still making sure to this day that only the most freshly-hatched news will do.