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noggin14,704 posts since 26 Jun 2001

If it was done better there could have made it more stream line, and connected better? It was strange trying to fit everything under one umbrella, it even had Watchdog slotted into it before being spun into its own show.


To be fair, Watchdog had been a popular part of Nationwide for a couple of years, and I guess they felt the need to keep it rather than dropping it. I assume it spun out into a separate show once 60 Minutes was axed and there was no longer a networked current affairs slot at teatime for it to go out in.

One massive side effect of cancelling 60 Minutes was they effectively ditched the popular current affairs slot at teatime - moving from the 20/20/20 format of News, Regional News and Current Affairs to a 30/30 format of just News and Regional News. (I know the exact durations differ - but they're a good approximation)

In some ways they've moved to a 30/30/30 model of News, Regional News and Light Factual since The One Show launched (though it's very difficult to categorise The One Show - and it's made by the Factual bit of the BBC, not Current Affairs. That said it does commission content from BBC Current Affairs in Salford)
Chris Hughes4 posts since 27 Jan 2016 new member
I'm always happy to see a discussion about Sixty Minutes.

The strangest thing about the programme's failure is that the same parts of the BBC that had got the mix of news and current affairs right on Breakfast Time six months earlier got it so wrong with Sixty Minutes.

I think the main contributor to that failure, as John alluded to, was the miscasting of Desmond Wilcox as chief anchor. He was intended to be the equivalent of Frank Bough on Breakfast Time, but he seemed ill at ease in the studio, interacting with other presenters and having to ad lib, where he'd been making documentaries for the last decade or so. Of course, they also hired Sarah Kennedy, but she was still under contract to LWT when Sixty Minutes began so she couldn't appear for months, which just added to the impression of chaos.

I think also there's no getting away from the fact that Nationwide was so established that anything that followed it was bound to get a negative reaction. It didn't help that Sixty Minutes seemed a bit formal and cold, and was stopping and starting every 10 minutes. It wasn't exactly a relaxed watch.

One thing I remember from the launch of Sixty Minutes is that they had an in-house team of satirists, called The Special Correspondents, including Sandi Toksvig, which bemused me, having watched her as Ethel on No 73 all summer. It all seemed a bit BBC2 and a world away from the cosy round-the-regions fun of Nationwide.

As Noggin states, it did spell the end for the evening current affairs magazine, but as the Michael Leapman book cited by Steve Williams points out, some people thought the format had had its day even before Sixty Minutes was commissioned. It must have been very expensive to run, five days a week for most of the year.

There was a brilliant bit on Children In Need 1983 where one of the charity auction lots was a massive photo of the Breakfast Time launch team, including Nick Ross, and Wogan makes a comment along the lines of "Well, he's on Sixty Minutes now... I know nobody's looking at it!" And that was a month after it started. It became a bit of a joke very quickly.
noggin14,704 posts since 26 Jun 2001
I'm always happy to see a discussion about Sixty Minutes.

The strangest thing about the programme's failure is that the same parts of the BBC that had got the mix of news and current affairs right on Breakfast Time six months earlier got it so wrong with Sixty Minutes.


I think the big difference was that there was no established news provision already at that time of the day, so no fiefdoms in the same way as BBC News and BBC Current Affairs had at teatime. It's important to remember how much the two departments disliked each other (one of the reasons Birt merged them was to try and fix this dysfunctional relationship)...

Did the News Dept produce the news update bulletins that the Lime Grove-based newsreader presented (Debbie Rix, Fern Britton etc.) ? ISTR that at on point there was a very separate 0900 news bulletin made at TVC (by BBC News) that was dropped in? Or am I misremembering. I'd always imagined that the news bulletins within Breakfast Time 0600 onwards were also made by Current Affairs at Lime Grove and not produced by News at TVC (irrespective of their presentation location)
A former member
I never know that, do you know what months that was?


Well, the first three months, obviously.


I never know that, hence why I asked Wink I wonder if it was more stream line in scotland because it would have been done in the same studio expect for the national news?
Steve Williams2,959 posts since 1 Aug 2008
I never know that, hence why I asked Wink I wonder if it was more stream line in scotland because it would have been done in the same studio expect for the national news?


It wasn't. Scotland wanted to opt out of the whole thing, apart from the news, from the start. They were told they couldn't, but if they could wait three months they'd have another look at it. After three months were up they were told there was no need to bother opting out because it was being axed everywhere.
Mouseboy332,792 posts since 10 Feb 2014


I remember looking forward to Sixty Minutes as it was much heralded at the time as bringing a successful American Format to the UK, combining news analysis and regional input. When it actually started, it did seem very un-joined-up.


Wow. Was wondering about the name. Didn't know it was meant to be a take on the venerable CBS News 60 Minutes. I know Australian tv did a successful take on the show. But its not as captivating and serious as the CBS version. Feels kinda tabloidly.
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deejay2,950 posts since 5 Jan 2003
Central (South) Oxford
Well that's how I remember it anyway, I'm sure some parallels were drawn at the time between the BBC's Sixty Minutes and CBS's 60 Minutes, however reading up a bit on the format of the CBS show, it's clear they were very different beasts indeed!
Two minutes regions...
Ne1L C1,391 posts since 11 Sep 2011
I barely remember nationwide and have no recollection of Sixty Minutes. For me the mixture of news/current affairs and the lighter side of life has always been uneasy.

Maybe what would have been better would have been a clear gap:

5.30 BBC News
5.45 Local News

6.00 Current Affairs (Studio interviews, reports etc)
6.45 Sports ?

7.00 Magazine Programme, (movies, fashion etc)
cityprod2,051 posts since 3 Oct 2005
Westcountry Spotlight
Looking at the clips, it seems that 'Dessy' seemed a poor choice of initial anchor.

As a young child I thought the sig tune was excellent and didn't some regions continue to use it? spotlight and Points West often use it on anniversary programme montages.


Spotlight continued to use it until about 1986 or 87. They never adopted the replacement version of the theme, they stuck with the original.

The only change that was made in the titles, was during the 60 Minutes era, the 60 minutes log would finish forming up and then change into the Spotlight S. After 60 Minutes was replaced by the Six O'Clock News, the 60 minutes logo was replaced by the Spotlight S, coming out from the middle line to the ends.