1 9 7 2 – 1 9 7 6 (UK)
20 minute episodes
ITN’s groundbreaking lunchtime news programme First Report was launched t 12.40 pm on 16 October 1972.
It rapidly established itself as a distinctive news programme with its own special character. The audience soon rose to over 3 million viewers – an impressive figure for lunchtime viewing.
The production of the 20-minute programme raised several problems – the main one being the shortage of time to get the programme together by 12.40. One way of doing it would have been to pre-film items that would have a certain news value. It was decided not to do this as the aim was to bring in fresh news since the breakfast time papers.
The ITN News at 5.50 pm and News at Ten were produced by the same technicians and journalists, and their already long working day could not be extended for First Report. And so a separate team was formed, headed by a producer, with a news editor, chief sub-editor, copy taster and secretary.
Robert Kee (pictured), long-established as a distinguished TV reporter and interviewer, became the regular presenter, with a different role to that of the ITN newscaster. He not only read the news but conducted live interviews in the First Report studio, which won the programme the reputation of immediacy.
The team was completed with five journalists responsible for writing the news items and making sure people in the news were in the studio on time.
All ITV companies set up links for studio-to-studio interviews and made their studios, journalists and technicians available at the shortest notice to ensure First Report covered the country truly “live”.
First Report also produced the smallest outside broadcast unit in the UK, housed in a Range Rover that could nip through the traffic and be linked “live” to the studio in minutes.
While the show covered all types of news, it made special niche for itself with current affairs reporting. During major news events the programme was sometimes extended by half an hour.
The programme was moved to 1.00 pm on 7 September 1974 and retitled News at One on 6 September 1976. Leonard Parkin and Peter Sissons alternated as the programme’s lead presenters after Kee’s departure.
On 20 July 1987, the bulletin was relaunched as News at 12:30 with Jon Snow and Julia Somerville. Moved back to its 1.00 pm timeslot the following year, the title changed to News at One with John Suchet as its lead presenter.
On 2 March 1992, the programme was relaunched as the Lunchtime News with Nicholas Owen and Carol Barnes. By 1999, John Suchet returned to the newly named ITV Lunchtime News.
Robert Kee died on 11 January 2013, aged 93.