|Genre||News, current events, and factual|
|Running time||45 minutes weekdays from 10 pm|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|Home station||BBC Radio 4|
|Hosted by||Ritula Shah|
|Edited by||Alistair Burnett|
|Recording studio||BBC Television Centre (until Dec 2012) |
(Dec 2012 onwards)
|Original release||6 April 1970 – present|
The World Tonight is a British current affairs radio programme broadcast on BBC Radio 4, every weekday evening, which started out as an extension of the 10 pm news. It features news, analysis and comment on domestic and world issues. Ritula Shah is currently the main presenter, usually presenting the first three days of the week. The programme utilises other BBC broadcasters including David Eades, Carolyn Quinn, James Coomarasamy, Roger Hearing, Samira Ahmed and Felicity Evans to regularly present on Thursdays, Fridays and in Shah's absence. Between 1989 and 2012, the main presenter was Robin Lustig.
The World Tonight was first broadcast on 6 April 1970, starting on the same day as the PM Programme. It was introduced following the changes at Broadcasting House which ushered in Radio 1, to create "the serious current affairs programme of the day" on the new Radio 4, as one survivor recalls.
Broadcast live at 10 pm, initially for only thirty minutes, its tone was set by presenter Douglas Stuart, a former Washington and Bonn correspondent for the BBC. The first edition contained interviews on Northern Ireland and relations between West Germany and the United States. Later that week, ideas for better government in Scotland and peace in the Middle East were featured.
Its focus on international news was set early on by events in Washington surrounding Watergate. The US time zone (five hours behind the UK) meant that the programme could bring up to the minute developments at 10 pm. Its first reporters came from within the ranks of the programme's own producers, which meant that packages or features were cut from a different cloth than standard news reports. Today's World Tonight reporters may not have come from the same stable but the emphasis on perceptive, contextual reporting has remained.
Presenters with strong journalistic credentials, including John Tusa, Anthony Howard, Richard Kershaw, Isabel Hilton and Robin Lustig, have secured and maintained the programme's reputation for authoritative coverage.
Veterans recall the traditionally 'relaxed' figure of the editor. The laissez faire approach of the boss over the years created a culture in which Output Editors, responsible for daily editions, were able to take risks, some of which have led to notable scoops, such as the predicted arrest on war crimes charges of General Augusto Pinochet in 1998.
A staple of the Radio 4 schedule for over four decades, 2013 figures showed The World Tonight has retained 1.75 million listeners, representing 17.8% of the national radio audience at 10 pm.
Ritula Shah, the main presenter, usually presents Monday–Wednesday. Since 2012 the programme has used a roster of broadcasters to host at other times.
|2009–present||Ritula Shah||Main presenter|
|?–present||David Eades||Frequent presenter|
|?–present||Samira Ahmed||Occasional presenter|
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