Acclaimed Australian drama series The Newsreader is back for its second season on BBC Two, with Anna Torv and Sam Reid returning as the co-anchors of 1980s news show News at Six.


Torv was, of course, already well-known for her roles in Fringe and Mindhunter, although she has also become known of late for her role in The Last of Us.

Meanwhile, Reid recently gained a host of new fans for his role in Interview with the Vampire.

The new season starts out in July 1987, as the country (and the newsroom) prepares for a vital general election.

This follows directly on from the first season, which took audiences back to 1986 and covered news events such as Halley’s Comet, the AIDS crisis continuing to take hold and the Challenger explosion shocking the world.

However, how much of the series is based on real-life, and are the characters in the series inspired by real journalists from the 1980s? Here's all you need to know.

Is The Newsreader inspired by a true story?

The cast of colourful characters in The Newsreader are all fictional; any similarities to real-life people from the same period are purely coincidental.

However, many of the events depicted in The Newsreader really did happen - for example, the Challenger space shuttle disaster depicted in episode one in 1986.

In terms of British news mentioned in season 1, the show also accurately depicts coverage of the Westland Affair of 1985-1986 and how it impacted then-British prime minister Margaret Tatcher and her government's reputation.

British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher wearing a blue shirt
Former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher. Bettmann / Getty Images

Likewise, the show pays close attention to period-correct details, such as what hairstyle or jewellery the newsreader Helen Norville (Anna Torv) wears, the clothes various characters wear and the songs playing on the radio – for example, Mr Mister's 1980s hit Kyrie plays in season 1.

Meanwhile, season 2 covers the 1987 federal election in Australia, which saw the Labor Party win a third consecutive election for the first, and so far only, time.

What didn't The Newsreader get right?

Anna Torv and Sam Reid in The Newsreader standing on set
Anna Torv and Sam Reid in The Newsreader. BBC/Werner Film Productions

Some statements made during season 1 appear to have the benefit of hindsight. For example, in April 1986, the newsreaders named Chernobyl as the worst-ever nuclear disaster, before all the facts about the event would have emerged and become public knowledge.

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Likewise, the timing of some announcements is tweaked to better fit within an episode timeline.

For example, the engagement of Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson was suggested to have taken place near the end of March 1986 instead of mid-February.

The Newsreader season 2 starts at 9pm on Thursday 9th November 2023, on BBC Two and iPlayer. Check out more of our Drama coverage or visit our TV Guide and Streaming Guide to find out what's on.

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