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News at Ten to drop Big Ben

By Gary Neale

The image of the Big Ben clockface is to be dropped from the titles of ITV’s News At Ten next month as part of a radical revamp to boost viewing figures.

The familiar sound of the bell being struck will remain in the opening soundtrack as the nightly bulletin is rebranded with a new title sequence and a new set.

But the clock tower will disappear because it was felt to be off-putting to viewers who do not identify with London.

A spokesman said: “We didn’t want the news to be too London-centric.

“While Big Ben won’t be in the title sequence, we felt that we needed to retain the heritage that people recognise so in the studio there will be a clock face.”

The new studio set will incorporate the signature yellow used throughout ITV’s branding. The changes will be promoted in a multimillion-pound advertising push that will include a billboard campaign and promotional clips that will run throughout the broadcaster’s schedule.

News At Ten will continue to be fronted by Mark Austin and Julie Etchingham when the changes take effect from November 2. Alastair Stewart and Mary Nightingale will host the Evening News, and Katie Derham or Alastair Stewart will present the Lunchtime News.

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Michael Jermey, the ITV director of news, current affairs and sport, said: “ITV news programmes are performing extremely strongly, getting journalistic scoops and winning major awards. We believe the investment in our news brand announced today will further enhance the appeal of our programmes for ITV1 viewers.

“Our current affairs output will be strengthened by our national and regional news teams working more closely with our network current affairs producers than ever before. ITV1’s weekly current affairs programme Tonight will be able to tap into the best of our journalism right across the ITV network. The close collaboration between newsrooms and current affairs specialists will help us produce excellent programmes for viewers.”

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