BBC News at Six

BBC News at Six
Current programme titles
Also known as
  • BBC Six O'Clock News (1984-2008)
  • BBC News at Six O'Clock (1999-2004)
Created by BBC News
Presented by
Theme music composer David Lowe
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
News editor(s) Paul Royall (2013–present)
Production location(s)
Running time 30 minutes
Original network
Picture format
Original release 3 September 1984 (1984-09-03) – Present
Preceded by Sixty Minutes
Related shows

The BBC News at Six is the evening news programme bulletin from the BBC. Produced by BBC News, the programme is broadcast on BBC One and the BBC News channel Monday to Sunday at 6:00pm. For a long period the News at Six was the most watched news programme in the UK but since 2006 it has been over taken by the BBC News at Ten. On average it is watched by four million viewers.[1]

George Alagiah is the programme's main presenter,[2] presenting Mondays to Thursdays, with Fiona Bruce presenting on Fridays. Other BBC News presenters, including Sophie Raworth, Reeta Chakrabarti, Clive Myrie and Jane Hill, occasionally present the programme.

In late 2007 the length of the programme was shortened from 30 minutes to 28 minutes to allow for a news summary being shown on BBC One at 7:58pm.

On 8 May 2017, SBS in Australia began airing BBC News at Six during their English-language news programming segment. It is broadcast at 7:00am everyday on delay from Britain.[3]


The programme launched on 3 September 1984, replacing early evening news magazine Sixty Minutes and was originally presented by Sue Lawley and Nicholas Witchell. Both presenters have since moved on to other positions within BBC News and the BBC itself. Jeremy Paxman, who went on to present Newsnight in 1989, was relief newsreader from 10 September.[4]

In 1988, the Six O'Clock News studio was famously invaded during a live broadcast by a female group protesting against Britain's Section 28 (a law against the "promotion" of homosexuality in schools). Witchell famously grappled with the protesters and is said to have sat on one woman, provoking the memorable front-page headline in the Daily Mirror, "Beeb man sits on lesbian".[5]

In 13 April 1993, the bulletin was relaunched with a more coherent look that was adopted across all BBC newscasts on the same day.

On 10 May 1999, the bulletin was relaunched again, along with the rest of the BBC News programme and the new presenter was Huw Edwards with Fiona Bruce as the deputy presenter. Both Edwards and Bruce left the Six O'Clock News on 19 January 2003.

On 20 January 2003, as George Alagiah and Sophie Raworth took over, the bulletin was relaunched along with the rest of BBC One's news bulletins. During Raworth's first maternity leave in 2004, Sian Williams stood in for her for over the six months. However, during Raworth's second maternity leave at the end of 2005, Natasha Kaplinsky stood in, originally as a temporary measure. As part of a presenter reshuffle in April 2006, Kaplinsky was confirmed as the new full-time presenter. Sophie Raworth was later named as the main presenter of the BBC News at One. Raworth is now a regular presenter on the News at Six and BBC News at Ten, covering for main presenters during their absences.

Since April 2005, the programme has formed the first half-hour of the Six O'Clock Newshour on the BBC News Channel. The subsequent half-hour consists of business and sport updates presented from within the News channel studio by one of the News Channel presenters. As before, the bulletin still completes at 6:30pm before splitting off to regional news programmes on BBC One.

On 5 October 2007 it was announced that Natasha Kaplinsky was leaving the BBC to replace Kirsty Young on Five News, taking up her new role on 18 February 2008 presenting two half-hour evening bulletins. She left at the end of the Six O'Clock News on the same day.[6]

For a while Sian Williams filled in as co-presenter, but on 3 December 2007, the programme went single-headed, with George Alagiah as main presenter, and Sian Williams as deputy presenter. A few months into the new arrangement Fiona Bruce took over from Sian as the main Friday presenter.

On 28 January 2008, the programme moved studios, from N6 to TC7, as part of a restructuring across BBC News. On 21 April 2008 the programmes, along with the rest of BBC News, underwent a refresh, taking on new titles and a new set.

On 17 March 2013, the BBC News at Six bulletin presented by Sophie Raworth was the final programme to be broadcast from TC7 in BBC Television Centre, after BBC Breakfast and Newsnight vacated the studio in 2012.[7] The studio will be demolished later in 2013 as part of the redevelopment of the site. On 18 March 2013, the programme moved to Broadcasting House, along with the BBC News channel and the other BBC One bulletins, and began broadcasting in high-definition.[8]


Current presenters

YearsPresenterCurrent role
2003-presentGeorge AlagiahMain presenter (Monday–Thursday)
2003-presentSophie RaworthMain presenter (Friday)
1997-presentFiona BruceMain presenter (Saturday)
2015-presentClive MyrieMain presenter (Sunday)
2014-presentReeta ChakrabartiRelief presenter (Alternate Friday)
2005-presentJane HillRelief presenter
1999-presentHuw Edwards Occasional relief presenter
2018-presentTina DaheleyRelief presenter

In addition, Huw Edwards often presents in the event of a major news story and as a Occasional relief presenter.

Former presenters

If there is no position before the years of being a presenter, then this newsreader was either a relief presenter or occasional guest stand-in presenter.


Unlike the other BBC News bulletins that were broadcast from BBC Television Centre, the BBC News at Six was broadcast from TC7, which until 2012 housed Newsnight, Newsround, The Politics Show and The Andrew Marr Show, most of which moved to Broadcasting House. The programme would occasionally be broadcast from the BBC News channel studio (N6). Since the move to Broadcasting House the bulletin is broadcast from Studio E, the same studio as the BBC News channel and other national bulletins. The current set design and titles were introduced in March 2013.

Within the last few minutes of each bulletin, a full national weather forecast is presented by Helen Willetts, Alina Jenkins, Susan Powell or Louise Lear of the BBC Weather centre. The final full national weather forecast on the BBC News at Six, broadcast from Studio TC7, was presented by Nick Miller.[7]


The current Editor since 2013 is Paul Royall.


The bulletin has been accused of being an example of the BBC 'dumbing-down' with more consumer led reports and dynamic presentation. In particular, in 2006 the then Leader of the House of Commons Jack Straw berated the programme's presenters for "prancing around the studio".[9]

The BBC defend the format as they believe that the body language and integration of presenter and graphics increases the viewer's understanding of the news.[10]

The bulletin has also been accused of having an English perspective on the news in terms of items covered and priority each news item is given. There have been calls in Scotland for a separate Scottish Six that would combine Scottish, British and international news items to create a news programme from a Scottish perspective. The idea was rejected by the BBC in 2003 after a series of public meetings and a poll showed that 38% favoured the idea, as opposed to the 45% that wanted no change.[11] However, the SNP have continued to call for the change.[12]

See also


  1. News Viewing Figures Broadcast Archived 27 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
  2. "George Alagiah to be sole presenter of Six O'Clock News" BBC Press Office, 15 October 200]
  3. "SBS". SBS Media Centre. Special Broadcasting Service. Retrieved 3 July 2017.
  4. Radio Times, 8–14 September 1984
  5. Freeman, Simon (31 March 2005). "Witchell, the BBC man who 'sat on a lesbian'". The Times. Archived from the original on 10 March 2007. Retrieved 20 May 2018.
  6. "Kaplinsky quitting BBC for Five". BBC News Online. 5 October 2007. Retrieved 5 October 2007.
  7. 1 2 "Last BBC Six O'Clock News bulletin from TV Centre". BBC News. 2013-03-15. Retrieved 2013-03-16.
  8. "BBC News' television output moves to new studios at Broadcasting House". BBC. 2013-03-18. Retrieved 2013-03-18.
  9. 'Prancing' BBC News hosts berated BBC News, 18 May 2006
  10. Newswatch BBC News
  11. 'Scottish Six' idea dropped BBC News, 17 December 2003
  12. SNP re-ignites Scottish Six idea BBC News, 7 June 2007

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