News, Culture & Society

BBC releases archive footage of famous news presenters dating back more than half a century to 1962

They are some of the best-known names in broadcasting.

Some have carried the nation through its biggest moments, others have made their name subjecting politicians to intense questioning, or fronting much-loved programmes. 

But now, the BBC has revealed the rather more humble beginnings of some of their biggest stars. 

Among the thousands of clips on the new website BBC Rewind are early news reports conducted by some of the most famous names on television.

Whilst a few faces will be instantly recognisable, others might be harder to identify. 

But now, the BBC has revealed the rather more humble beginnings of some of their biggest stars

They are some of the best-known names in broadcasting. Some have carried the nation through its biggest moments, others have made their name subjecting politicians to intense questioning, or fronting much-loved programmes. But now, the BBC has revealed the rather more humble beginnings of some of their biggest stars

A clip from 1962 shows Question Time veteran David Dimbleby, now 82, reporting on local feeling about the arrival of a Butlin’s holiday camp in Minehead, Somerset. 

Looking suave in a suit and tie, the then 23-year-old is seen walking around Minehead as he delves into the town’s history and completion of the Butlin’s resort.

Mr Dimbleby begins by remarking on the divisiveness of the arrival of the Butlin’s holiday camp, saying: ‘This is the story of a town that thinks it is going down in the world.

‘In the gay 20s its income from polo and from hunting, from retired colonels and a handful of Maharajas, but now, in the 1960s, it is getting ready to welcome hoards of holiday campers.’

Later in the report, he adds: ‘Butlins with its decor in pink and blue, purple and puce and tangerine, its plastic parrots swinging among the jungle flowers will change Minehead forever. 

‘The quiet days are numbered. Soon the canned music will be switched on and life will be brighter and noisier and more cheerful. 

Angela Rippon, now aged 77, is seen as a fresh-faced 22-year-old venturing into a cave network in Buckfastleigh, Devon, in October 1967

Angela Rippon, now aged 77, is seen as a fresh-faced 22-year-old venturing into a cave network in Buckfastleigh, Devon, in October 1967

Meanwhile, Kirsty Wark, 67, a familiar face on Newsnight and other political programmes, is seen aged 33 in 1988 talking about the opening of a diving museum in Weymouth, Dorset

Meanwhile, Kirsty Wark, 67, a familiar face on Newsnight and other political programmes, is seen aged 33 in 1988 talking about the opening of a diving museum in Weymouth, Dorset

Former BBC star Andrew Neil, 73, who helped to launch GB News last year, is seen in a 1976 clip reporting from the former shipyard in Clydebank, Scotlan

Fiona Bruce

Former BBC star Andrew Neil, 73, who helped to launch GB News last year, is seen in a 1976 clip reporting from the former shipyard in Clydebank, Scotland. Fiona Bruce, 58, who succeeded Mr Dimbleby in the Question Time hotseat in 2019, is seen presenting a news report in 1999 – ten years after the start of her TV career

‘And Minehead will have to learn to live with it. To accept its new vulgarity as the price it has paid for the stream of visitors coming out of the camp for tea and souvenirs.’ 

Whilst the Minehead Butlin’s resort still stands today, along with many others around the country, Mr Dimbleby has retired from regular broadcasting but still provides commentary for important national occasions such as the service of thanksgiving during the Queen’s Platinium Jubilee last month. 

Former Newsnight presenter Jeremy Paxman featured on Northern Ireland programme Scene Around Six early in his career. 

He is seen in a 1975 clip aged just 25 wearing a colourful patterned tie as he reports on an armed robbery. 

Mr Paxman’s 1975 report told about a bank robbery in which a gun-wielding gang held the branch manager’s family hostage. 

Whilst he had not yet forged a name for himself as the no-nonsense frontman of Newsnight, the presenter’s trademark traits – including his stony expression and folded arms – were on display.

Former BBC star Andrew Neil, 73, who helped to launch GB News last year, is seen in a 1976 clip reporting from the former shipyard in Clydebank, Scotland. 

Dressed in a suit jacket, black polo neck and flares, the then 26-year-old would go on to edit the Sunday Times for more than a decade from 1983 before becoming one of the BBC’s biggest names. 

Mr Neil’s report detailed how US firm Marathon Manufacturing Company were building oil rigs at the former shipyard in Clydebank. 

Angela Rippon, now aged 77, appears as a fresh-faced 22-year-old in a report where she ventures into a cave network in Buckfastleigh, Devon, in October 1967. 

Ms Rippon, who went on to be one of the first presenters of Top Gear and fronted the forerunner to Strictly Come Dancing, is seen crawling through narrow passageways and observing stalactites and bats. 

Former BBC Radio 4 Today Programme presenter John Humphrys, now aged 78, reported in 1968 on how the Isle of Man was issuing its own passports. 

The then 24-year-old is seen holding one of the passports aloft before speaking to locals.

Former BBC Radio 4 Today Programme presenter John Humphrys, now aged 78, reported in 1968 on how the Isle of Man was issuing its own passports. The then 24-year-old is seen holding one of the passports aloft before speaking to locals

Jeremy Vine, 57, who hosts his own popular show on BBC Radio 2, is seen in a 1988 clip presenting from a hospital in Belfast. Aged just 23, the slim-looking presenter is sporting a striped shirt and tie

Former BBC Radio 4 Today Programme presenter John Humphrys, now aged 78, reported in 1968 on how the Isle of Man was issuing its own passports. The then 24-year-old is seen holding one of the passports aloft before speaking to locals. Jeremy Vine, 57, who hosts his own popular show on BBC Radio 2, is seen in a 1988 clip presenting from a hospital in Belfast. Aged just 23, the slim-looking presenter is sporting a striped shirt and tie

Jeremy Vine, 57, who hosts his own popular show on BBC Radio 2, is seen in a 1988 clip presenting from a hospital in Belfast.  Aged just 23, the slim-looking presenter is sporting a striped shirt and tie. 

Fiona Bruce, 58, who succeeded Mr Dimbleby in the Question Time hotseat in 2019, is seen presenting a news report in 1999 – ten years after the start of her TV career. 

Speaking last week, James Stirling, Executive Editor BBC 100, said of BBC Rewind: ‘As we celebrate 100 years of the BBC, we’re opening up our unique and deeply valuable archive, an important part of the nation’s collective memory.

‘By breathing new life into stories which have laid dormant for years, audiences will be able to discover recordings which can help us all learn more about who we are and where we’re from.’

Meanwhile, Kirsty Wark, 67, a familiar face on Newsnight and other political programmes, is seen aged 33 in 1988 talking about the opening of a diving museum in Weymouth, Dorset. 

Speaking last week, James Stirling, Executive Editor BBC 100, said of BBC Rewind: ‘As we celebrate 100 years of the BBC, we’re opening up our unique and deeply valuable archive, an important part of the nation’s collective memory.

‘By breathing new life into stories which have laid dormant for years, audiences will be able to discover recordings which can help us all learn more about who we are and where we’re from.’

The new BBC Rewind website is available at www.bbc.co.uk/rewind.

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