Rubys honour 40 years of BBC regional news

Two Rubys: Look East won for reports on the Soham schoolgirl murders

The BBC has held its first awards ceremony in honour of its regional news programmes, to coincide with their 40th anniversary.

Reports on the murders of Soham schoolgirls Jessica Chapman and Holly Wells last August earned two awards for the Norwich-based Look East programme.

Look East won the top “Ruby” award for best 6.30pm programme and reporter Rachel Dane also won the best exclusive story prize, for a piece in which she doorstepped Maxine Carr, girlfriend of the man accused of the murders, Ian Huntley, before they were arrested and held on remand.

Midlands Today and North West Tonight were second and third respectively for the best 6.30pm programme.

Mark Sanders at South Today was named best news reporter, beating BBC London News’s Tim Donovan and Catherine Mackie at Midlands Today.

Richard Smith at South East Today, a finalist for best exclusive, was named best specialist correspondent.

Progress in video-journalism made by BBC Nations and Regions journalists was acknowledged with a Ruby going to Johnny Rutherford on BBC South West’s Spotlight programme.

The best presenter award went to North West Tonight’s Gordon Burns – known more widely as presenter of The Krypton Factor gameshow – for his live broadcast from the opening of the 2002 Commonwealth Games in Manchester.

The award for best broadcast of diversity issues went to Look North, Yorkshire and Lincolnshire. In the outstanding craft skills category, Ben Leete of BBC London News was named best camera operator; Andy Stone of South Today as best director; and Ian Wagdin of North West Tonight as best editor.

A director’s special award went to Bruce Parker, the longest-serving BBC regional presenter, with 38 years of service. He was one of the presenters of the flagship BBC1 regional programme Nationwide when it launched in 1966 and stayed for its entire run. He also began presenting South Today in 1967, and has interviewed every prime minister since Churchill.

BBC director general Greg Dyke, who was the recipient of a gong himself, presented the awards.

At the ceremony, Pat Loughrey, BBC director of Nations and Regions, said the awards acknowledged that “these programmes have become not only a cornerstone of the BBC1 schedule, but also the most watched news programmes on British television”.

By Wale Azeez

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