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Newsflash: Stories that Stopped the World

Wed Nov 6, 10.35-11.35pm, ITV

A slightly odd premise – a brief history of breaking news – receives a slightly disjointed, unsatisfactory treatment in this fitfully fascinating documentary which features rather too much Windsor worship for our liking. The ‘interruption’ announcement still has a rare frisson, but – in an age of instant online news – feels like a museum piece.

Still, it was JFK’s assassination in 1963 that set the ball rolling: a broadcast was interrupted, although only with a testcard and the stentorian tones of legendary US newscaster Walter Cronkite because the cameras took 15 minutes to warm up; from that point on, CBS’s cameras remained on for days. CNN invented the concept of rolling news 17 years later and the first Gulf War made the idea palatable for a British audience, but it’s the recollections of the Lockerbie bombing that prove most revealing as a collision of professional excitement and real-life tragedy that clearly still haunts some of the contributors.

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