Newsround: 40 facts for 40 years

Everything you need to know about CBBC's long-running news and current affairs programme

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Newsround: 40 facts for 40 years
Written By
Tom Cole

The BBC's children's news programme, Newsround, marks its fourth decade on air today, so what better way to mark the occasion than to share 40 fascinating facts from the show's history? So happy birthday to Newsround, and happy learning to you. And now, without further ado, it's eyes down for a full house...

1. Newsround’s very first edition was broadcast on 4 April 1972

2. Edward Barnes, the programme’s creator, first mooted the idea of a children’s news bulletin as a buffer for over- or under-running schedules.  While the news stories would be supplied by the BBC News department, editorial control rested with the people in charge of children’s TV

3. In its early days, the programme enjoyed many TV news scoops because there were no lunchtime TV news bulletins - therefore it was often the first to report big events during the day

4. The programme’s first report was about near-extinct ospreys returning to Scotland

5. The show originally ran for around eight minutes per edition to guard against the possibility of children getting bored while watching

6. John Craven was the show’s first and longest-serving presenter, hosting Newsround for 17 years, from 1972 to 1989

7. Craven presented more than 3,000 bulletins during his time on the show

8. The presenter’s practice of wearing bright jumpers and sitting on the edge of his desk was also calculated to keep children interested in the programme. “Kids had been at school all day looking at a man in a suit sat behind a desk. I didn’t want them to see a carbon copy the minute they switched on the TV,” he said

9. John was not the first choice of presenter for the show, and was taken on only after first choice Jonathan Dimbleby declined

10. Newsround was initially only commissioned for six weeks, and would have faced the axe had it not proven a success during this period

11. The show was originally only shown for two days a week, but began broadcasting Monday-Thursday in 1974

12. Three staff armed with two typewriters made up the original team

13. Newsround only upgraded to its first computer in 1987

14. Craven returned to co-host the programme for one last time in 2002, to mark its 30th anniversary

15. The original Newsround theme, which was used for the programme’s first 15 years on air, was recorded by Ted Heath and his Music

16. Newsround once dispelled the playground rumour that you could catch Aids from toilet seats, but had to avoid mention of how the disease was spread

17. John Craven claims that Newsround pre-empted ITV News by ending each bulletin on a lighter, feel-good note

18. There have been 32 presenters in Newsround’s history, including such alumni as Krishnan Guru-Murthy, Helen Skelton, Lizo Mzimba and Ellie Crisell

19. ITV News at Ten co-presenter Julie Etchingham also presented Newsround from 1994-1997

20. BBC political editor Nick Robinson worked on Newsround for three months in 1986

21. Nel Hedayat is the most recent Newsround presenter, having joined the show in 2011

22. In addition to its usual presenting staff, Newsround has also featured Michael Buerk and Martin Bell as reporters on the show

23. The show was originally known as John Craven’s Newsround - the name was changed shortly before his departure

24. John Craven no longer owns any of the famous jumpers he wore while presenting the programme, having given them all away to charity

25. Scoop! The programme was the first in Britain to report the assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II in 1981

26. Newsround was also the first British TV programme to break the news of the Space Shuttle Challenger tragedy on 28 January 1986

27. And another scoop! Newsround broke the story of a fire at Windsor Castle in 1992

28. Newsround moved to the BBC’s northern HQ, the MediaCity in Salford, on 21 November 2011

29. Newsround has spawned two spin-off series, Newsround Showbiz and Sportsround, which examined specific areas of the news

30. Newsround Showbiz was discontinued in 2005, while Sportsround ceased broadcasting in 2010

31. The show was honoured with a bespoke Bafta Award at the 2011 Children’s Baftas for its contribution to children’s television

32. Today presenter John Humphrys worked as a reporter on Newsround early in his career

33. Children who contributed to Newsround were rewarded with a Newshound badge

34. Doctor Who companion Rose Tyler once said in a storyline that the end of the world was broadcast on Newsround Extra

35. Former Doctor Who star David Tennant narrated the Newsround Special Caught in the Web, which was nominated for a Bafta in 2010

36. The programme’s creator, Edward Barnes, claims that the show almost never made it to air, thanks to a fear at the BBC of telling youngsters about frightening real world events and “violating children's innocence”

37. Newsround features 15-minute documentaries under the heading Newsround Specials (formerly Newsround Extra) two or three times a year

38. A Newsround Special report called The Wrong Trainers, about child poverty, won the 2006 Royal Television Society award for best children's programme and the 2007 Bafta children's award for best factual programme

39. Current Channel 4 news anchor Krishnan Guru-Murthy began presenting Newsround during his third year of university

40. The BBC urged Newsround to instigate changes in 2009 when viewing figures for the show slumped to 226,000 on average


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