The 30th of January 1980 AD
The very first Newsnight (discounting a news review in the 1970s which went by the same name) should have been several months earlier than that which was broadcast on January 30 1980. Union action over potential job cuts resulting from this cooperative venture between BBC News and Current Affairs departments delayed it considerably.
Peter Snow was the first presenter, a slot since filled by, among many others, John Tusa, Kirsty Wark, Jeremy Vine, and Olivia O’Leary, who in 1985 became the show’s first female lead.
But in most minds the programme is associated with Jeremy Paxman , who has worked on it since 1989. His sarcastic, ironic, and often blunt style has by turns delighted and annoyed sections of the audience, and reputedly put the fear of god into some politicians facing a grilling by him – memorably dramatised and rendered comic in Armando Iannucci’s The Thick of It.
The most famous moment in Newsnight’s history is surely the 1997 interview with Michael Howard , when Paxman repeated the same question 12 times, getting answers from Howard that evaded the specific point the interviewer was picking at. Running it close, however, would be the occasion in May 1990 when Peter Snow tangled with a cow being used to pep up a piece on the BSE crisis .
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