Liquid News

Liquid News was BBC Choice and BBC3's nightly round-up of the day's music, television, film and showbiz news, which ran from 30th May 2000 to 1st April 2004.

The programme is best known for its original presenter, Christopher Price. Christopher had worked his way up the BBC ladder, through local radio to 5 Live, and then to BBC News 24 where he presented the entertainment news show Zero 30. When Zero 30 was dropped by News 24, BBC Choice head honcho Stuart Murphy immediately picked it up and transformed it into Liquid News. It quickly became the channel's flagship show.

The show was originally housed in the strangely-named Studio TC0 at Television Centre, and was broadcast live at 8.30 each weeknight, with a repeat at 12.30am and a highlights programme on Saturdays. The theme tune was by Moby and is called 'Bedhead'. Around a year after launch the show received a cash injection and a showbizzier set when it moved into the larger TC11 (in the pre-digital era this studio had been known as N2 and was used for the Nine O'Clock News).

The show's standing and influence was continuing to grow, even if BBC Choice audience figures weren't. Weekly round-up shows were now being produced for BBC1, BBC News 24, BBC Prime and BBC America. The Liquid phenomenon was spreading quickly! In 2001 the show opened a bureau in Los Angeles. One of Christopher's last assignments was covering the 2002 Oscars live from the Liquid News pool.

Christopher Price sadly died on 22nd April 2002, at the age of just 34. In the months following his death, a variety of different presenters hosted the programme. The first guest host was Dale Winton (!) - he was quickly followed by the likes of Iain Lee, Julian Clary, Richard Bacon and Lorraine Kelly.

Liquid News took on its first (and only) new look on 6th October 2002, with a new title sequence and theme tune - still by Moby, but now it was the Tiesto mix of 'We Are All Made of Stars'. Having already moved from 8.30 to 7.00 and then to 8.00, the show now settled into a 7.00 slot, live six days a week. Claudia Winkleman and LN reporter Colin Paterson were installed as regular presenters, and the show went double-headed in a somewhat cosier set. The Friday review edition was presented by Heat magazine editor Mark Frith and comedienne Julia Morris - she was later replaced by Jo Whiley.

Following the relaunch, it soon became clear that Colin Paterson was somewhat out of his depth in his new role, especially when presenting on his own (although his meeting with Meat Loaf which quickly descended into mayhem must rank as one of the show's all-time highlights). Then when Claudia went on maternity leave the show began to be presented jointly by Colin in the studio and Steph West in Los Angeles. This was a particularly awkward period, full of uncomfortable pauses and endings, which no doubt had many regular viewers turning off.

So in an attempt to arrest falling ratings, in July 2003 Colin was returned to his reporting role in July 2003 and Claudia was now joined by Paddy O'Connell, former BBC News 24 business presenter and the face of Celebdaq. The sofa and desk were also replaced at this point.

Liquid News still retained the capacity to cause controversy - in May 2003 Claudia questioned the band S Club, who had just announced their split, about their financial situation. Despite the group themselves seeming happy to answer the question, a PR woman stormed in to halt the interview. Although the item was not being shown live, in typical Liquid fashion the footage was still shown on that night's programme.

Many believe the show was never able to meet the standards that were set during the Christopher Price era. But the witty and irreverent approach always prevailed, and LN continued to treat the showbiz world with the disrespect it deserves. And the live link-ups with LN's own reporters around the country and around the world were always worth watching, frequently descending into chaos.

But this wasn't good enough for BBC3 controller Stuart Murphy. Just as the show was finding its feet again with the burgeoning on-screen relationship between Paddy and Claudia, in November 2003 it was announced that it was to be axed. Citing the need to 'refresh the channel's output to best serve the audience', in reality the show was simply not bringing in the ratings and was too expensive to produce.

In its final months Liquid News continued to be shunted all over the schedule and ended up enduring a long lingering death airing at the convenient time of midnight. The satellite link-ups even ended a week before the show finished, because they ran out of money. The final edition was shown on 1st April 2004, with a typically honest and humorous look back at the programme's history.

To the end, Liquid News was dedicated to the memory of Christopher Price.


Text copyright © Robert Williams, images copyright © British Broadcasting Corporation