Bona Dicta

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Bona Dicta
Genre: Politics / Current Affairs
First Broadcast: 1997
Last Broadcast: 2007
Producer(s): Julie Knox
James Brookes
Thea Darricotte
Kevin Bowman
Michael Brothwell
Matthew Platts
Kev Larkin

A campus politics panel show, Bona Dicta is almost certainly YSTV's longest running show. The name is Latin for "well spoken".

The programme was first broadcast in the autumn of 1997, produced by Debbie Rule and presented by Julie Knox. It followed on from 1996's very similar The Panel. The format remained unchanged for most of the run - four campus hacks or politicians, sitting round a table talking about union politics. The programme was designed to be screened just before Tuesday's fortnightly Union General Meeting, and would discuss the agenda. The set was very basic - the table was a circular bit of wood balanced on stools and black drapes were placed around the back of the studio as a backdrop.

The first title sequence was by Graham Quince, in which a broken compass reassembled, animated on the Commodore Amiga (it was a complete rip off of the titles of a cool legal drama at the time called Murder One).

Towards the end of 1998, an attempt was made to give the show a bit more production. A title sequence consisting of UGM footage and talking heads was made by Chris Ward accompanied by a new version of the old Week by Week theme music digitally recreated by Paul Soulsby. This title sequence was used for nearly five years, which may be the longest time a title sequence has been used so regularly on YSTV. The closing credits for a while included footage from that evening's show - making use of the new Mac edit suite that had recently been acquired. By the early 2000s the closing credits also used the title sequence, with the credits superimposed underneath the footage.

The new-look show went on to win two awards at the 1999 NaSTA conference in Glasgow for News & Current Affairs and Title Sequence (See the Press Clippings). The wins were featured in the Yorkshire Evening Press shortly afterwards including an interview with Julie Knox, and Nony nony nah.

Julie continued to present the show until James Brookes took over throughout much of 1999-2000, after which the presenters appeared to change frequently. However by 2002-3 Sam Challis was the regular presenter of the programme.

Due to the political nature of the programme it was probably the most watched on the station - usually by other campus hacks eager to see their friends/enemies (on the Facebook group for ex York hacks, "throwing paper balls at the TV during Bona Dicta" is listed as an activity!). When the programme went online in October 2004 it was one of the most-watched on the website, with each edition attracting hundreds of hits. Despite this Bona Dicta was often (perhaps unfairly) derided for being stale, or dull, or unexciting to crew. However it did get some notable guests - a 2002 edition featured the new Vice-Chancellor Brian Cantor in debate with the then SU President, URY Station Manager and editor of Vision. At some point in the early 2000s the programme began staging debate specials in voting week for the student union elections, usually with three editions in as many days.

Brian Cantor on Bona Dicta

By 2002 the programme was being produced by Station Director Kevin Bowman due to the absence of a dedicated producer for the show (one of only two regular programmes on the station at that point). A year later the programme was facing the axe as most of the station's membership departed, leaving the Gang of Four in charge. The programme was saved when new Production Director Jonathan Bufton asked his ambitious and politically-minded housemate Michael Brothwell if he'd like to take control of the show. Thankfully he agreed.

Summer 2003 saw the show adopt the new news and current affairs standard set around the time of the launch of YSTV Week, also featuring the same set. A new title sequence (desired for years due to the out-dated content of the previous one) was finally created by Steve Walker in November of that year. It featured a new stylised Bona Dicta logo flying around Central Hall. The logo was suggested by Jonathan Bufton and featured the word "Dicta" in reverse, attached to "Bona" (see below). This also lent itself to a contracted "BD" version which featured on the programme's graphics. There was also a new theme tune, a more down-beat version of the YSTV Week theme tune.

After about six months Michael decided to stay behind-the-scenes producing, and there were a number of guest presenters such as James Flinders, Michelle Donelan and URY's James Wickham. Around March 2004 James Gallagher became the regular presenter of the programme, in addition to his work for URY and Nouse - leading to him being awarded the Media Personality Of The Year award at the 2004 YUMAs. The programme had by now doubled in length to one hour and begun debating national politics as well as campus politics. There was also an effort to include VTs, such as the previous fortnight's UGM highlights.

Bona Dicta 2003 logo

From June 2004 Matthew Platts took charge for a year, adding many surreal elements familiar to viewers of Solipsism. For the final year of the programme Kev Larkin presented and produced, and the format also changed for the first time, mimicking the BBC's This Week. There was also another new look, featuring images from around York and London. However by this point UGM voting had been taken online, with the remaining "discussion" meetings poorly attended and political apathy in the university increasing. As a result of this - and of course the lack of a producer willing to take on the show - the programme ended regular production in March 2006.

Bona Dicta 2005 logo

The show returned in the week of Elections 2007 for two special debate programmes, meaning it must be one of the few programmes on YSTV to notch up ten year on air (other than coverage of events such as Elections, Roses etc). However these turned out to be the last episodes to date to be broadcast by YSTV. In late 2007 a Facebook group was created suggesting a revamped version of the show was to be produced but this does not appear to have happened.

James Gallagher has acknowledged that URY's Sourcenight programme - which he launched in 2003, and continues to this day - is a complete ripoff of Bona Dicta.

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