Panorama (TV series)

Panorama (TV series)

Infobox British television
show_name = Panorama

caption = The "Panorama" opening titles, as of January 2007.
format = Current affairs, documentary
runtime = 30 minutes
creator =
country=United Kingdom
presenter = Jeremy Vine
channel = BBC One
first_aired = 11 November 1953
last_aired = present
num_episodes =

"Panorama" is the longest-running current affairs documentary series in the world. [cite web | title =Panorama returns to peak time on BBC ONE| publisher = BBC Press Office | date = 2006-07-18 | url = | accessdate =2008-06-02] Launched on 11 November 1953 on BBC television, it focuses on investigative journalism. "Daily Mail" reporter Pat Murphy was the original presenter, [BBC Radio 2, Steve Wright in the Afternoon 15th January 2006, Jeremy Vine interview] only lasting one episode after accidentally broadcasting a technical mishap. Max Robertson then took over for a year. Originally the programme was more of a magazine format and included arts features. Richard Dimbleby took over in 1955 and presented it during the 1950s and 1960s. His son, David Dimbleby, went on to present the programme in later years. The programme is currently presented by Jeremy Vine.

Panorama set an example for the German magazine show of the same name, which is produced by NDR, and broadcast on Das Erste. Panorama started there in 1961 and is one of the leading political magazine shows.

Notable episodes

The programme was responsible for the famous Spaghetti trees hoax, broadcast on April Fool's Day, 1957.

In 1987, the programme "Scientology: The Road to Total Freedom?" for the first time exposed on broadcast television the secret upper-level doctrines of the Church of Scientology. Copies of the portion of the programme featuring an animated retelling of the Xenu mythology widely circulated on the Internet from the mid-1990s onward.Fact|date=May 2007

On 14 May 2007, an episode titled "Scientology and Me" was broadcast. The journalist John Sweeney presented the edition, showing how the Church reacted to his journalistic investigations, including its reaction when he put to members that some people describe the organisation as a "cult". At one point during an interview, the presenter lost his temper with a member of the Church of Scientology. Members of the BBC Trust, the Corporation's independent governors, expressed concern about this criticised edition of Panorama. [ [ Daily Mail, UK, October 6, 2007] ] However, the 2007 Scientology episode was "Panorama"'s highest audience of the current series so far. [cite web |first=Joanne |last=Oatts|title= Journalist's 'Panorama' outburst brings in 4.4m |work=DigitalSpy |url=|accessdate=2007-05-15] [ [ (TV ratings) The Guardian] ]

Arguably the most famous "Panorama" programme of all was the 1995 interview of Diana, Princess of Wales by Martin Bashir, which occurred after her separation in which she openly talked about the rumours surrounding her personal life.

One of the most controversial broadcasts of recent time was the "Who bombed Omagh?" programme, which named those suspected of involvement in the Omagh bombing. It is believed that the Real IRA attack on the BBC Television Centre was a revenge attack for the broadcast.

In 1955, an edition featured Christopher Mayhew taking mescaline under medical supervision. The resulting programme was never broadcast though the footage and transcripts were later released.

Panorama and Seroxat

Since 2002, "Panorama" has made four programmes about the anti-depressant Seroxat: "The Secrets of Seroxat" (2002); [cite web|url=|title=The secrets of seroxat|publisher=BBC News Online|date=2002|accessdate=2007-02-21] "Seroxat: Emails from the Edge" (2003); [cite web|url=|title=Seroxat: Emails from the edge|publisher=BBC News Online|date=2003|accessdate=2007-02-21] "Taken on Trust" (2004) [cite web|url=|title=Taken on trust|publisher=BBC News Online|date=2004-09-21|accessdate=2007-02-21] and "Secrets of the Drug Trials" (2007). [cite web|url=|title=Secrets of the drug trials|publisher=BBC News Online|date=2007-01-29|accessdate=2007-02-21]

"The Secrets of Seroxat" elicited a record response from the public as 65,000 people called the BBC helpline and 1,300 people emailed "Panorama" directly. []

The leading mental health charity Mind collaborated with "Panorama" in a survey of those who emailed the programme. Anonymised findings from the 239 responses were sent to the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). []

The second "Panorama" programme on Seroxat, "Emails from the Edge", included a report of the survey to which the 239 people responded. It showed widespread experiences of suicidal feelings and other severe reactions, very bad withdrawal symptoms and lack of warnings from doctors. Following the broadcast users/survivors and Mind protested outside the offices of the MHRA. []

On January 29 2007, the fourth documentary in the series about the drug Seroxat was broadcast. It focused on three GlaxoSmithKline paediatric clinical trials on depressed children and adolescents. Data from the trials show that Seroxat could not be proven to work for teenagers. Not only that, one clinical trial indicated that they were six times more likely to become suicidal after taking it. In the programme, Panorama revealed the secret trail of internal emails which show how GlaxoSmithKline manipulated the results of the trials for its own commercial gain. Access to the documents has been gained as GlaxoSmithKline fights a fraud trial in the US. Some of these previously secret Glaxo documents, [cite web|url=|title=Want to see some of the documents that Glaxo don’t want you to see?|publisher=Seroxat Secrets|date=2007-01-29|accessdate=2007-02-21] featured in the programme were leaked into the internet following the programme's broadcast.

Undercover: Football's Dirty Secrets

On 19 September, 2006 Panorama showed a documentary called "Undercover: Football's Dirty Secrets", which alleged payments in English football contrary to the rules of the Football Association, involving:

* That Bolton Wanderers F.C. manager Sam Allardyce, and his agent son Craig were implicated for taking "bungs" (a backhander or kickback) from agents for signing certain players. Two agents, Teni Yerima and Peter Harrison, were secretly filmed, each separately claiming that they had paid Allardyce through his son. Allardyce denies ever taking, or asking for, a bung. [cite news | title =Agents claim manager was bribed | publisher = BBC News | date = 2006-09-19 | url = | accessdate =2006-09-19] The programme was aired on the same night that Bolton beat Walsall 3-1 in the Carling Cup, so Allardyce missed the original showing.

* Portsmouth F.C. manager Harry Redknapp is secretly filmed discussing the possibility of buying the Blackburn Rovers F.C. captain Andy Todd with agent Peter Harrison, which is against Football Association rules.

* Then Portsmouth F.C. first-team coach Kevin Bond, who was first team coach of Newcastle United F.C. at the time of airing, is secretly recorded admitting he would consider discussing receiving payments from a proposed new agency involving agent Peter Harrison. Consequently, Bond was relieved of his duties at Newcastle.

* Chelsea F.C. director of youth football Frank Arnesen is secretly filmed making an illegal approach or "tapping up" Middlesbrough F.C.'s England youth star 15-year-old Nathan Porritt. Arnesen offers a fee of £150,000 spread over three years as an incentive to move. Both of these allegations are against FA rules.

* Agent Peter Harrison told the undercover reporter that, to secure transfer deals with Bolton, he bribed Sam Allardyce by offering to pay his son Craig. Harrison is a FIFA-listed agent who is based in the north-east of England.

* That three different Bolton transfer signings involved secret payments from agents to Craig Allardyce, some when he was contractually banned from doing any Bolton deals. Panorama alleged Bolton's transfer signings of defender Tal Ben Haim, midfielder Hidetoshi Nakata and goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi involved secret payments from agents to Craig Allardyce. Allardyce's son quit the agency business in summer 2006, and has admitted in newspaper interviews that his working as an agent might have cost his father the chance of becoming England manager.

The Football Association has asked for any evidence as it tries to rid such action from football.

ex Crimes and the Vatican

On October 1, 2006 "Panorama" did an episode on Crimen Sollicitationis, a secret document which sets out a procedure for dealing with child sex abuse scandals within the Catholic Church. It was enforced for 20 years by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger before he became the Pope. It instructs bishops on how to deal with allegations of child abuse against priests and has been seen by few outsiders. Critics say the document has been used to evade prosecution for sex crimes.

Crimen Sollicitationis was written in 1962 in Latin and given to Catholic bishops worldwide who are ordered to keep it locked away in the church safe. It instructs them how to deal with priests who solicit sex from the confessional. It also deals with "any obscene external act ... with youths of either sex." It imposes an oath of secrecy on the child victim, the priest dealing with the allegation and any witnesses. Breaking that oath means excommunication from the Catholic Church.

Panorama found seven priests with child abuse allegations made against them living in and around the Vatican City. One of the priests, Father Joseph Henn, has been indicted on 13 molestation charges brought by a grand jury in the United States. Henn is fighting extradition orders from inside the headquarters of his religious order in the Vatican. The Vatican has not compelled him to return to America to face the charges against him. After filming, Father Henn lost his fight against extradition but fled the Vatican and is believed to be hiding in Italy while there is an international warrant for his arrest.

Sex Crimes and the Vatican was filmed by Colm O'Gorman, who was raped by a Catholic priest in the diocese of Ferns in County Wexford in Ireland when he was 14 years old. Father Seán Fortune was charged with 66 counts of sexual, indecent assault and another serious sexual offence relating to eight boys but he committed suicide on the eve of his trial. Colm started an investigation with the BBC in March 2002 which led to the resignation of Dr Brendan Comiskey, the bishop leading the Ferns Diocese. Colm then pushed for a government inquiry which led to the Ferns Report.

In some countries this means that the Crimen Sollicitationis is the only policy followed. The Vatican has refused repeated requests from Panorama to respond to any of the cases shown in the film. [cite web|url=
title=Sex crimes and the Vatican: Transcript |publisher=BBC Panorama

"Daylight Robbery"

"Panorama" investigated claims that as much as $23 billion (£11.75 billion) may have been lost, stolen or not properly accounted for in Iraq. []

The United States Department of Justice has imposed gagging orders that prevent discussion of the allegations. [] US and other media have reported little on this issue. []


The scheduling of "Panorama" has, since the 1980s, often been a subject of media debate and controversy, due to the duties of the BBC to provide both on the one hand entertaining programming that appeals to a mass audience, and on the other serious journalism that might have a narrower audience. In February 1985, with the programme being watched by an average audience of just 3.5 million viewers, Controller of BBC One Michael Grade moved the programme from its traditional prime time 8.10pm slot on Monday evenings back to 9.30pm, following the "Nine O'Clock News".cite news|title=Birds of a Feather puts Panorama to flight as Sharon and Tracey displace BBC flagship|publisher=The Guardian|first=Andrew|last=Culf|date=1997-05-08|accessdate=2007-01-24] Despite many protests about this move in the media, "Panorama" remained in this slot until 1997, although two of Grade's successors, Alan Yentob and Michael Jackson, were known to be unhappy about running 70 continuous minutes of news from 9pm. In May 1997 the Acting Controller of BBC One, Mark Thompson, did move "Panorama" back half an hour to 10pm, to make way for the sitcom "Birds of a Feather", which opened the BBC to criticism that it was sidelining serious content in favour of lighter programming.

In 2000, the programme was moved again, with the 10pm timeslot no longer available due to the moving of the BBC News from 9pm to the later slot. "Panorama" was moved to Sunday nights, following the news, usually shown at around 10.15pm — labelled by some critics as a "graveyard slot".cite news|url=,,383701,00.html|title= 1 m viewers lost as BBC shifts Panorama to Sunday 'graveyard' slot|publisher=The Guardian|first=Matt|last=Wells|date=2000-10-17|accessdate=2007-01-20] The number of editions made per year was also cut back, which attracted press criticism for the BBC in general and its Director-General Greg Dyke in particular, as Dyke was the driving force behind the schedule changes.cite news|url=,,360503,00.html|title=A shameful decision|publisher=The Guardian|format=Requires free registration|first=David|last=Elstein|authorlink=David Elstein|date=2000-05-22|accessdate=2007-01-21] cite news|title=You cannot be serious!|publisher=The Independent|first=David|last=Aaronovitch|authorlink=David Aaronovitch|date=2000-05-16|accessdate=2007-01-21] The incoming Controller of BBC One, Lorraine Heggessey, defended the move, claiming that the programme's audience would have "dwindled" had it remained on Monday nights.

January 2007 Heggessey's successor, Peter Fincham, moved "Panorama" back from Sunday nights to a prime time Monday evening slot at 8.30pm, although it was now shorter than it had previously been, running to just half an hour. This decision was at least partly in response to a demand from the Board of Governors of the BBC for the channel to show more current affairs programming in prime time.cite news|url=,,14934-2276469,00.html|title=Panorama to take on ITV soap|publisher=The Times|first=Adam|last=Sherwin|date=2006-01-19|accessdate=2007-01-19]


External links

* [ Panorama official website]
* [ Encyclopedia of Television]
* [ BBC News: "Panorama" returns to prime-time TV] ;"Scientology and Me"
* [ Scientology and Me: transcript] , "Panorama", BBC
* [ Panorama Exposed] ; "Counter-documentary" prepared by the Church of Scientology


*Richard Lindley (2002), "Panorama: Fifty Years of Pride and Paranoia", Politicos, ISBN 1-902301-80-3

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