September 1955 to July 1967
The original ITN logo, as used between 1955 and 1969
ITN was set up by the Independent Television Authority to provide a new type of news service for the upcoming commercial television service Independent Television (ITV). Both ITN and ITV were launched on 22 September 1955, and the news service immediately broke new ground by introducing in-vision newscasters and reporter packages (incidentally, the first roster of regular ITN newscasters and reporters included marathon runner Christopher Chataway, Robin Day, and Reginald Bosanquet). The unique, probing reporting style of Robin Day caused shock among politicians, finding themselves questioned continually for information – this had never been the case with the BBC. ITN also boasted the first British female newsreader, Barbara Mandell, in 1956. Into the 1960s, reporters such as George Ffitch, Alastair Burnet, Gordon Honeycombe, Huw Thomas and Sandy Gall emerged as aspiring newscasters, under the leadership of editor Geoffrey Cox.
The original ITN logo, featuring a large "T" flanked either side by "I" and "N" (all encased within an outlined circle), was used from 1955 up to 1970. The original ITN theme tune was an excerpt of Non-Stop, a piece of light music composed by
John Malcolm, used from 1955 up to 1982. As the years went on, full-length ITN news programmes were launched with their own theme music and particular branding (first News at Ten, then First Report, and finally News at 5.45), meaning that by its end, Non-Stop was only in use on generic news bulletins mainly at weekends.
July 1967 to January 1991
In 1967, ITN editor Geoffrey Cox suggested launching a half-hour news bulletin for ITV, every weeknight. ITV executives, however, were sceptical of that idea, because it was thought that viewers would not want a full 30 minutes of news every Monday to Friday (there had only been one half-hour news programme in Britain previously – BBC2's Newsroom, launched in 1964). However, the idea was approved on the condition it ran for a 13-week trial, and News at Ten was born on 3 July 1967. ITN's head newscasters – Alastair Burnet, Andrew Gardner, and George Ffitch – presented the first News at Ten, and the bulletin became so popular with viewers that it was kept in the schedules after its initial 13 weeks. The programme's titles used an excerpt of The Awakening, a piece of dramatic music composed by Johnny Pearson. The famous chimes of the Westminster Clock Tower – affectionately known as the bongs – separated each headline as it was read out. The early opening title sequences were simplistic; for the first two years, the ITN symbol faded into a wide studio shot showing the two newscasters at the desk, with the caption News at 10. Then, in 1970, a new title sequence was introduced: a slow pan of the Houses of Parliament was followed by a sharp zoom into the face of "Big Ben" showing the time of 22:00. The text "Independent Television News" was shown at the start of the sequence, followed by the individual words "NEWS", "at" and "TEN", which appeared in time to the title music. The sequence was amended a year later to feature the new ITN logo at the beginning. The logo, introduced in 1970, was a simple sans-serif outline of the phrase "ITN". The basic concept of the logo remains today.
A still from an early News at Ten
opening sequence from c. 1969.
On 16 October 1972, a twenty-minute lunchtime bulletin was introduced into the ITV schedule – First Report, which was hosted by Robert Kee and ran from 12:40 to 13:00. This was followed on 6 September 1976 by the introduction of a new evening bulletin, the News at 545, which ran from 17:45 to 18:00; Michael Nicholson and Leonard Parkin alternated in the newscaster chair. By this time, with three regular ITN bulletins throughout the day – and each having their own look and specially composed music – the original ITN Non-Stop theme music was only seen on generic summaries and weekend bulletins. In 1982, it was finally replaced with a synthesised alternative.
First Report was moved to 13:00 and retitled News at One in 1976; Leonard Parkin and Peter Sissons alternated in the presenter's chair. Michael Nicholson continued as main newscaster of the News at 545, with Martyn Lewis replacing Parkin as the relief presenter. In 1986, Nicholson left newscasting to return to war reporting and was replaced by Alastair Stewart. Leonard Parkin retired in 1987, and Peter Sissons became a main newscaster for ITN's Channel 4 News (before moving to the BBC in 1989) – it was at this point that the programme revamped. It was moved to 12:30, and appropriately became the News at 12:30. Julia Somerville joined ITN from the BBC's Nine O'Clock News to host the new programme, with John Suchet and Jon Snow acting as relief presenters. In 1988, the programme returned to its original slot and once again became the News at One; the presenting line-up remained unchanged. In 1989, Somerville left the programme to become a main presenter of News at Ten, leaving Suchet to become the main lunchtime newscaster – the programme was revamped once more. In 1991, the programme moved back to the 12:30 slot, but retained the studio setting. In 1993, graphics were relaunched to bring it in line with other ITN news bulletins.
News at 545 was replaced by the News at 540 in 1989 (following the introduction of the ITV National Weather forecast), and a new presenting team was formed comprising Carol Barnes, Nicholas Owen, Trevor McDonald, Fiona Armstrong, and Alastair Stewart. The programme lasted until March 1992 when it was renamed and relaunched, in line with other ITN bulletins.
News at Ten continued to rate as the most popular news programme on television. In 1988, the programme launched specially made opening titles featuring a computer generated travel through London, up the River Thames until the camera stops at the "Big Ben" clockface.
ITN's regular newscasting team in the 1980s included Alastair Burnet, Sandy Gall, Leonard Parkin, Alastair Stewart, Trevor McDonald, Julia Somerville, Carol Barnes, Fiona Armstrong, John Suchet, Nicholas Owen, and a host of well-known reporters and correspondents.
January 1991 to February 2004
In 1991, ITN moved into its new building at Gray's Inn Road, London (previously owned by The Sunday Times). From this year, ITN news programmes revamped and moved to be presented from the ITV newsroom, foremostly to show the impressive atrium in the newly purchased headquarters – with the exception of the lunchtime programme which continued with its own studio and music, but took on elements of the new revamp – such as the serif font style newly introduced for ITN bulletins. The News at 12:30 bulletin itself was renamed the Lunchtime News in 1992. The main lunchtime newscasters between 1992 and 1995 were Nicholas Owen and Carol Barnes. Dermot Murnaghan, Sonia Ruseler and Julia Somerville acted as relief newscasters until 1995, when Murnaghan and Somerville became the bulletin's regular newscasters.
News at 540 was renamed the Early Evening News on 2 March 1992 and presented from the ITV newsroom adjacent to the ITN atrium. John Suchet was the main newscaster for the Early Evening News, and relief presenters included Carol Barnes, Nicholas Owen and Dermot Murnaghan.
News at Ten underwent a revamp on 9 November 1992 after the departures of newscasters Alastair Burnet (in August 1991) and Sandy Gall (in early 1992, though he did remain at ITN filing special war reports for News at Ten). A new set was created for the programme, featuring television monitors, a large video screen, and a curved desk with "News at Ten" inscribed into it. Trevor McDonald became the sole newscaster of the programme. John Suchet, Dermot Murnaghan, and Julia Somerville were relief presenters for the bulletin. Initially, the new-look News at Ten was presented from the same studio as the Early Evening News, adjacent to the ITV newsroom.
In 1995, all ITN programmes relaunched with a unified look, using blue colours (the corporate colour of ITN at the time). A new set was created in the former Early Evening News studio, adjacent to the atrium and next to the ITV newsroom. The glass walls were coated in semi-transparent blue perspex; the left wall looked onto the lobby of ITN's building, whilst the right showed the busy atmosphere of the ITV newsroom. Different variations on the theme music distinguished the main bulletins. Design firm Lambie-Nairn devised the new look, which saw special arrangements of the famous News at Ten music being used for the other bulletins (as composed by Dave Hewson).
1999 saw the biggest and largest change to news bulletins on ITV. On 8 March 1999, all ITN programmes were rebranded under the name ITV News. Under the leadership of Granada chairman Charles Allen, the channel also controversially decided to axe the flagship News at Ten bulletin. Replacing the 22:00 bulletin (and in turn the old 17:40 News at 540) as the flagship ITN programme was the ITV Evening News at 18:30 (fronted by Trevor McDonald). The ITV Nightly News was also introduced, presented by Dermot Murnaghan and airing at 23:00 every weeknight. However, the loss of News at Ten was a massive blow to both ITV and ITN. By the start of the year 2000, viewing figures for news programmes on ITV had dropped by about a million viewers due to the loss of the 22:00 bulletin. The regulating ITC ordered ITV to perform a review of the new news time slots and whether or not they were working. There was much opposition towards ITV from the viewing public, politicians such as Gerald Kaufman, former ITN faces including editor Nigel Ryan and newscaster Alastair Burnet, and some of ITN's then-current staff including political editor Michael Brunson. After a lengthy battle with the ITC, a half-hearted ITV News at Ten was introduced (hosted by McDonald) in January 2001, although as part of the agreement, the bulletin was only shown at 22:00 for 3 days a week to accommodate other programming. The programme returned with a massive 8 million viewers, but figures soon fell drastically. Cashing in on the 1999 loss of News at Ten, BBC director-general Greg Dyke announced that the Nine O'Clock News would be moved to 22:00. Whereas the 2001 ITV News at Ten was at 22:00 for only three nights a week, the BBC's Ten O'Clock News was a firm fixture at ten for six nights a week. ITV rarely started this incarnation of News at Ten on time; time starts ranging from 21:55 to 22:10 led to the programme being disparaged as "News at When?" and viewers soon switched to the BBC. Also in 2001, the ITN name was removed from the voiceovers at the start of bulletins and reporter name-checks. The ITN name and logo is now only seen on the production slide, and is only used in ITV bulletins when referring to footage shot by ITN camera teams working for other clients (for example: the ITN name is used when both News at Ten and Channel 4 News broadcast the same piece of footage).
With the outbreak of warfare in Iraq in 2003, ITV replaced the ITV News at Ten with a special 45-minute-long ITV News at Nine every Monday to Friday, hosted by Trevor McDonald in Kuwait City and John Suchet in the ITV News studio in London. The News at Nine proved to be very popular, reaching 9.1 million viewers on the first night in comparison to the 5 to 6 million for the BBC's late evening news. The ITV Evening News was extended to 60 minutes, and various ITV news specials ran throughout the schedules. A simulcast of the ITV News Channel aired from 00:00 to 05:30 every night on ITV1. ITN also managed to persuade big name newscasters to return to the organisation to present the special war coverage on ITV: Alastair Stewart, Carol Barnes, Angela Rippon, Jon Nicholson and Anne Leuchars were all back presenting news bulletins and regular slots on the ITV News Channel.
February 2004 to January 2008
An example of the standing-up presentation discontinued from 2009 – Geraint Vincent
presenting an edition of the ITV Evening News
in late 2008
Since 2004, ITV plc's 40% stake in ITN has been held as part of (and the company's ITV News operations integrated into) the ITV News Group. The ITV News Group also comprises the ITV regions in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and the Channel Islands, as well as ITV Sport. Its director is Michael Jermey, formerly a programme editor with ITN.
On 2 February 2004, ITV News unveiled a £1 million virtual studio, with a rounded green screen (the set was nicknamed the "Theatre of News") for presenters to stand up in front of and present graphics to viewers. As part of the revamp, the ITV News at Ten was axed due to low ratings and replaced with the News at Ten Thirty, hosted once again by McDonald (from Monday-Thursday), and by Mark Austin on Fridays. The new programme did not fare any better in the ratings; News at Ten had once gained audiences of 10 million or more, though the News at Ten Thirty now struggled to reach 2 million viewers on any one night (though the flagship ITV Evening News regularly attracted audiences of around 6 million). In addition, ITV abandoned its 24-hour news channel towards the end of 2005, saying it was not "commercially viable". The ITV News Channel was replaced by men's channel ITV4 and the recently relaunched CITV channel in March 2006.
On 16 January 2006, to reflect the launch of the new ITV logo, ITV News revamped with a teal-coloured look. The music was remixed to become slightly 'heavier', and new opening titles were made based around the famous Big Ben clock face (see right). A specially made VR view of the ITN atrium now adorned the "Theatre of News" screen (an earlier version had been used for ITV's Election 2005 a year previously). In November 2006, the teal-colours of the name-strap designs and other on-screen graphics – including the atrium design – were replaced with blue. The teal-coloured opening titles and stings remained unchanged.
In April 2007 ITN announced that ITV had awarded it a 6-year contract to produce ITV News, at a cost of £250 million. However, ITN announced that the new budget meant it would have to cut staff despite already operating on a smaller budget than its two main rivals BBC News and Sky News.
On 2 December 2007, ITV News and the ITV regional newsrooms switched from the traditional 4:3 format to 16:9 widescreen.
January 2008 to November 2009
In 2007, ITV plc's newly appointed chairman Michael Grade was reported as saying that the axing of the original News at Ten was "the worst mistake ITV ever made"; not long afterwards, plans were made for the famous bulletin to return to ITV. News at Ten returned on 14 January 2008, with a revised version of the original theme tune, presented by Trevor McDonald (temporarily, until November of that year, after which point Mark Austin took over) and former Sky News presenter Julie Etchingham. The studio contained a VR view over night-time London (with an outline of the Big Ben clockface superimposed on top), with dark blue and black being the primary colour scheme; VR glass 'sheets' also provided News at Ten logos on them.
In 2007, The Guardian reported that ITV planned to take its news output "back to basics" by paring back graphics and having newscasters adopt a more formal style of presenting from behind the desk instead of standing up. This was confirmed when, on 9 February 2009, ITN refreshed ITV News to bring it more in line with the News at Ten studio set. All news bulletins began to be presented from behind a desk; a VR view over London appeared as the backdrop (different coloured versions were used depending on the time of day). Continuing the cohesive look across all programmes, VR glass screens also appeared in the studio to provide graphics and live links with correspondents and reporters. Almost all of the teal-coloured graphics of 2006 were replaced with reworked blue versions to provide some consistency with the rest of the ITV News look, but the teal clockface opening animation remained on the ITV News-branded bulletins. Jib camera pans across the studio replaced the previous title sequence; these shots were pre-recorded 10 to 15 minutes before transmission, because it is a difficult shot to achieve and cannot be done if other studio cameras are already in place.
In July 2009, to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the NASA moon landings, ITN produced five special 10-minute programmes for ITV titled Mission to the Moon – News from 1969. The programmes took the form of news bulletins, reporting on the day's events of 1969. John Suchet, a former ITN newscaster, was the presenter of these specials; he was aided by a team of correspondents including Andrea Catherwood (who had left ITV News in 2006) and Peter Snow, who was an ITN newscaster and correspondent between 1962 and 1979. The first Mission to the Moon programme aired at 22:35 on ITV on Wednesday 15 July and continued the following Thursday, Friday, Sunday and Monday (Friday in Scotland, on STV).
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 the main co-anchor of the ITV Evening News. Mark Austin concentrates his energies on News at Ten but continues to present some editions of the 18:30 bulletin. It was also revealed that, following his successful stint as presenter of Election Night Live: America Decides in 2008, Stewart was to present the ITN/ITV coverage of the UK general election in 2010.
The semi-circular "Theatre of News" studio set, in use for five years, was last broadcast on Sunday 1 November 2009.
November 2009 to January 2013
ITV News logo from 2010–2013
On 22 October 2009, it was jointly announced by ITN and ITV that ITV News would be rebranded from Monday 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 ITV News programmes including News at Ten; ITV executives felt, after "months of deliberation", that the imagery of the landmark promoted London-centricity to viewers outside the capital. A clockface remained as part of the studio backdrop and also appeared within the opening titles, and the headline bongs were also retained. The November revamp included a newly designed rectangular set and graphics featuring a colour scheme of black and gold to complement the ITV1 image and branding. A newly composed piece music called 'News Centre' was introduced, which incorporated only a few elements of 'The Awakening', the previous ITV News theme. The ITV News revamp was developed by ITN, ITV and design agency Bruce Dunlop Associates. ITV-plc regional news programmes continued to use their studio sets introduced in 2004, but with an updated colourscheme and news titles reflecting the ITV News rebrand.
In December 2009, ITV News at Ten won the award for Best National Television Programme from the Plain English Awards.
In April 2010, it was announced that after 12 years working at ITN, Katie Derham was to leave the organisation to front the BBC's coverage of the Proms for BBC Two and BBC Radio 3. A spokesman for BBC Radio 3 confirmed the appointment but declined to give any further details.
January 2013 onwards
On 16 November 2012 it was announced ITV News would rebrand in January 2013. On 27 November 2012 it was understood the ITV News at 5:30 would be axed, in favour of delivering content for itv.com and creating a new foreign affairs unit. The new look brought forth another rearrangement of signature tune The Awakening, more direct than its predecessors, and a new opening sequence featuring "Big Ben" marking the time for its respective news programmes; it also saw the ITN logo removed entirely, the production slide instead being the ITV News logo with "ITN year" in small type underneath.
'Big Ben' branding
The clockface appearing in the News at Ten
titles from January 2008 to November 2009. Other bulletins used a stylised image
Trademarks of ITN and ITV News are the inclusion of the Elizabeth Tower at the Houses of Parliament in its programme titles, along with the chimes of Big Ben (known popularly as the "bongs") between headlines. The "bongs" were originally introduced for News at Ten in 1967; the other ITN bulletins used different studio designs, individual graphic sets and individual music. In 1992, News at Ten was relaunched following the decision to move to a single newscaster – Trevor McDonald won the role – and composer Dave Hewson was assigned with the responsibility of musical changes. The famous theme tune was re-arranged by Hewson and re-recorded in a slightly higher pitch but the timpani and chimes remained. In 1995 ITN adopted a unified look for all ITV bulletins except News at Ten, extending the use of the Big Ben clockface and branding to all bulletins on the channel; Hewson again composed the music. In March 1999, the "ITV News" brand was introduced and, with the loss of News at Ten, the "bongs" were extended to all ITN bulletins (despite all but one of them starting on the half-hour). The ITN name was dropped from the start of bulletins and, in 2001, from reporter sign-offs. "The Awakening" was re-arranged again in February 2004 as part of a major revamp of ITV News, and again in January 2006 with a further revamp of ITV News bulletins. Despite the 2008 return of News at Ten, the other bulletins continued to use the "bongs".
In February 2009, ITV News bulletins were refreshed to be more cohesive with the branding and look of News at Ten, with the studio featuring a VR view of London and an outline of the Big Ben clockface filling the "theatre of news" screen.
On 22 October 2009, it was announced that the "Big Ben" branding would be removed from ITV News from 2 November to avoid perceptions of London-centricity, thus marking the first time that the clock tower has not been used in programme titles for ITN bulletins on ITV since before 1967. However, "Big Ben" hadn't gone entirely – a clockface was retained as part of ITV News' studio design from 2009–2013; and the clock tower was seen again in the ITV News opening sequences from 2013.