30th September 1963

The BBC broadcasts first edition of Spotlight

The launch of Spotlight, the BBC’s local news bulletin covering Jersey, wider Channel Islands and south-west of England, was more of a name change than anything else. The BBC’s first bulletin for the region was News from the South West, which had launched in 1961 and, within a year, been re-titled South West at Six.

Live from the mainland

Spotlight is broadcast from the BBC’s Plymouth headquarters on Seymour Road, which is housed in an extended and converted Victorian villa. Originally called Ingledene, the BBC had purchased the property shortly before the Second World War. Broadcasts made on the site were initially in black and white, but Spotlight converted to colour in 1975.

Jersey and Guernsey opt out of the regular Spotlight programme for the first 12 minutes of each early evening bulletin, and the whole of the local slot that follows the national News at 10. The hyper-local segment is called, perhaps not entirely inventively, BBC Channel Islands. The opt-out comes from the BBC’s studios in St Helier.

Local opt-outs

The BBC’s earliest regional broadcasts for the area, News from the South West, were transmitted on 20 April 1961. It would take more than 30 years for the Channel Islands to get their own dedicated opt-outs. Initially, these were short inserts broadcast in the 1990s. It wasn’t until October 2000 that they were extended to their current length.

The broader Spotlight programme has featured several notable journalists over the years. These include war correspondent Kate Adie, former Desert Island Discs presenter Sue Lawley, one-time Top Gear presenter Angela Rippon and late the Antiques Roadshow host Hugh Scully.

Spotlight is also the name of an unrelated weekly current affairs programme broadcast on BBC Northern Ireland.


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