Reporting for duty
or more than three decades, police forces have relied on a civilian ally to bring criminals to justice – Crimewatch. With one in three appeals leading to arrests, the show is invaluable.
Now the BBC1 series is moving from an occasional to a weekly slot, with new presenters Jeremy Vine and
Radio 1 newsreader Tina Daheley broadcasting live from different locations around the country.
For Jeremy, 51, whose headlinegrabbing turn on last year’s Strictly is still talked about, Crimewatch is a show he’s watched religiously and one that he can’t wait to host…
FWhen did you start watching? When I was 19 and I don’t think
I’ve ever missed an episode; it’s part of my life. It’s a sign of a good show that Crimewatch has had relatively few presenters [there have only been 10 regular hosts in its 32year history]. I’d like to host it for the next 40 to 50 years! Why is a weekly slot so important? It’s going to give us the opportunity to make the programme really powerful. You’ll know the time and day it’s on and it won’t be shifted around. It feels like the BBC is re-committing to the show in a big way, which is exciting.
Will you add technical wizardry to reconstructions, as in the flashy graphics you use on election nights?
No, but it’s funny – for the last election we used video to make it look like I was walking along Downing Street and it was so convincing. It’s not beyond the realms of imagination that Crimewatch will be able to use virtual reality environments for reconstructions in the future because they are now as real as can be. I didn’t realise until
I got this job how intensely produced those reconstructions are. They have to be very accurate and a lot of hours go into them.
Do you worry you’ll find the show harrowing?
You get used to bad things when you work in news. Nick Ross [who presented the show for 23 years, from 1984 to 2007] used to say, ‘Don’t have nightmares’. I always felt that offset a lot of the upsetting moments in the programme. What is it about Crimewatch that makes people come forward with information?
It’s been around for a long time, so viewers feel it can be trusted. It’s incredibly precious to have the trust of both the police and the victims.
Real-crime stories, such as Netflix’s Making a Murderer, are huge. How does Crimewatch compare?
It’s a different programme, but it’s definitely the same kind of territory. We’re fascinated by the process – it’s not just the crime, but the investigation and the trial as well.
This is rather different from Strictly!
Strictly was crazy – there was one time when I was standing around in my pants waiting to get into a cowboy outfit and John Whittingdale, the then Culture Secretary, came in on a tour! There’s a similarity with Crimewatch, though, in that both shows are very BBC – neither would be the same on any other channel.
New Crimewatch host Jeremy Vine on the arresting development in his career