OPINION: We all want good news, but maybe not a programme full of it

Sir Trevor Macdonald on the new set of ITV News At Ten. The popular news programme will return to t

Sir Trevor McDonald- master of the good news section at the end of a news bulletin - Credit: PA

Where do they come from, those quotations and sayings that pop into your head and you have no idea where you first heard them?

The two of us were in the garden on a hot summer evening watching a bank of threatening clouds when we both said, in unison: “It’s looking a bit black over Bill’s mother’s."

The meaning was obvious of course, that we were very likely in for a downpour, but where had we picked up that quote?

Of course, these days the internet would tell us the answer, even give us alternative words. Some might say: “Dark over Will’s mother’s” and add to the debate as to where the phrase comes from. You could knock hours off your life if you began to explore the origins. Another phrase that sprang to mind recently was “There’s nothing new under the sun.”

The meaning is pretty obvious and searching for its origin I see it comes from the Bible, the Book of Ecclesiastes but it’s also been attributed to Mother Theresa. I don’t know where I picked that up from; I just know it.


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There’s another half-remembered quotation from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, something like: “There is a truth universally acknowledged that there are no truly original ideas.”

This came to mind when I looked at the publicity blurb for a possible “good news” slot on the new GB News channel which went on air a few days ago. One of the “new” slots that GB News is offering is presented by Simon McCoy.

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It’s a “good news” section, thoughtfully called Good News unless we get confused.

The trouble is that a new news programme broadcasting good news is not exactly, well, new. Years ago in the seventies when I began presenting at Westward TV we had an “and finally” item at the end of each news programme.

The producers wanted to leave the teatime audience with a happy tale, signing off with a smile. Needless to say it was the item that people talked about most.

Nationally, News at Ten used to end with an “and finally” too. Several newscasters had to say it but the one who became synonymous with the phrase was Sir Trevor McDonald.

You can still find plenty of “positive news” as it’s called online. I seem to recall Martyn Lewis presenting a regular cheerful news bulletin a while ago but, sad to say, it didn’t last.

For some reason, much as we say we like good news not enough of us appear to want a whole programme of it. However, I do wish Simon McCoy good luck with his fresh effort on GB News. He seems an affable sort of bloke so maybe the good news will work for him.

There was one good news story last week that worked for all of us. It was the Norfolk tale of the eight-year-old deaf sheep dog who was taught sign language by her shepherd. Peggy had been handed over to the RSPCA when her hearing loss meant that she could no longer work on the farm.

Chloe Shorten worked at the charity and bonded with Peggy, took her home and trained her to “go back to the job she loved.”

When Peggy had picked up enough sign language to understand what she had to do she was back in the fields working with the team just as she’d always done. It’s an uplifting story and the pictures of Peggy and Chloe were lovely to see.

Another dog to make the good news headlines was a labradoodle called Digby, a specially trained therapy dog. When a distressed woman threatened to take her own life on a motorway Digby was recruited by the fire service to coax her back to safety.

The next time it turns black over Bill’s mother’s just think of Peggy and Digby and the clouds may roll away.

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