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The World Tonight

This newscast should not be confused with the Philippines newscast of the same name.
The World Tonight
Genre News, current events, and factual
Running time 45 minutes weekdays from 10pm
Country United Kingdom
Language(s) English
Home station BBC Radio 4
Host(s) Ritula Shah
Editor(s) Alistair Burnett
Recording studio BBC Television Centre (until Dec 2012)
Broadcasting House
(Dec 2012 onwards)

The World Tonight is a British current affairs radio programme broadcast on BBC Radio 4, every weekday evening, which started out as an extension of the 10pm news. It features news, analysis and comment on domestic and world issues. Since the departure of Robin Lustig on 13 December 2012, Ritula Shah remains the only main presenter. The programme makes frequent use of other presenters, including David Eades, Roger Hearing, Samira Ahmed, Philippa Thomas and Felicity Evans.


The World Tonight was introduced following the changes at Broadcasting House which ushered in Radio 1, to create "the serious current affairs programme of the day" on the new Radio 4, as one survivor recalls.

Broadcast live at 10 pm, as now, but initially for only thirty minutes, its tone was set by presenter, Douglas Stuart, a former Washington and Bonn correspondent for the BBC. The first edition contained interviews on Northern Ireland and relations between West Germany and the United States. Later that week, ideas for better government in Scotland and peace in the Middle East were featured.

Its focus on international news was set early on by events in Washington surrounding Watergate. The US time zone (five hours behind the UK) meant that the programme could bring up to the minute developments at 10 pm. Its first reporters came from within the ranks of the programme's own producers, which meant that packages or features were cut from a different cloth than standard news reports. Today's World Tonight reporters may not have come from the same stable but the emphasis on perceptive, contextual reporting has remained.

Presenters with strong journalistic credentials, including John Tusa, Anthony Howard, Richard Kershaw, Isabel Hilton and Robin Lustig, have been key to the programme's reputation for authoritative coverage.

Other notable former staffers include Dominic Lawson, former editor of The Sunday Telegraph, Jim Gray, Editor of Channel 4 News, Jonathan Freedland of The Guardian and Henry Kelly.

Veterans recall the traditionally 'relaxed' figure of the Editor. The laisser faire approach of the boss over the years created a culture in which Output Editors, responsible for daily editions, were able to take risks, some of which have led to notable scoops; such as the predicted arrest on war crimes charges of General Augusto Pinochet in 1998.

A staple of the Radio 4 schedule for over four decades, 2013 figures showed The World Tonight has retained 1.75m listeners, representing 17.8% of the national radio audience at 10pm.[1]



Years Presenter Current role
2009-present Ritula Shah Main presenter
 ?–present David Eades Regular relief presenter
 ?–present Carolyn Quinn
 ?–present Philippa Thomas
 ?–present Samira Ahmed Occasional relief presenter
 ?–present Felicity Evans
 ?–present Roger Hearing
 ?–present Bridget Kendall



  • Alistair Burnett (Current)
  • David Stevenson (Acting Editor for 2 years)
  • Prue Keely
  • Prue Keely & Jenni Russell (Joint Editors)
  • Ann Koch
  • Margaret Budy
  • Blair Thompson
  • Ken Goudie



  • Beth McLeod
  • Paul Moss


  • Jonty Bloom, The World Tonight's economics and Europe correspondent.


  • In 2011, The World Tonight was nominated for a Sony award for Best News & Current Affairs Programme.
  • In 2009, Jonty Bloom won the Royal Statistical Society award for Statistical Excellence in Journalism.
  • In 2006, Paul Moss won the Foreign Press Association's award for Environment Story of the Year for his reports on the environmental impact of India's economic growth
  • In 2006 & 2004 Jonty Bloom's reporting on business and economics won the World Tonight the Wincott Foundation award, for radio programme of the year.
  • In 1998, Robin Lustig won a Sony Silver award as Talk/News Broadcaster of the Year.
  • In 1992, Robin Lustig was awarded a Gold Medal at the New York Radio Festival for a special edition of The World Tonight broadcast live from Moscow on the last day of the Soviet Union

See also

  1. Today, Radio 4's early morning stablemate to the World Tonight programme.
  2. The World At One, Radio 4's lunchtime stablemate to the World Tonight Programme.
  3. PM, Radio 4's early evening stablemate to the World Tonight programme.


External links