Panorama is the longest-running current affairs documentary series in the world. Launched on 11 November 1953 on BBC Television, it focuses on investigative journalism. Daily Mail reporter Pat Murphy was the original presenter, only lasting one episode after accidentally broadcasting a technical mishap. Max Robertson then took over for a year. Originally the programme was more of a magazine format and included arts features. Richard Dimbleby took over in 1955 and presented it during the late 1950s and 1960s. His son, David Dimbleby, went on to present the programme in later years. Other past presenters include: Sir Robin Day, Sir Ludovic Kennedy and Sir Charles Wheeler. The programme is currently presented by Jeremy Vine.
The programme was responsible for the famous Spaghetti trees hoax, broadcast on April Fool's Day, 1957.
In 1987, the programme "Scientology: The Road to Total Freedom?" for the first time exposed on broadcast television the secret upper-level doctrines of the Church of Scientology. Copies of the portion of the programme featuring an animated retelling of the Xenu mythology widely circulated on the Internet from the mid-1990s onward.
On 14 May 2007, an episode titled Scientology and Me was broadcast. The journalist John Sweeney presented the edition, showing how the Church reacted to his journalistic investigations, including its reaction when he put to members that some people describe the organisation as a "cult". At one point during an interview, the presenter lost his temper with a member of the Church of Scientology. Members of the BBC Trust, the Corporation's independent governors, expressed concern about this criticised edition of Panorama. However, the 2007 Scientology episode was Panorama's highest audience of the current series so far.[
Arguably the most famous Panorama programme of all was the 1995 interview of Diana, Princess of Wales by Martin Bashir, which occurred after her separation in which she openly talked about the rumours surrounding her personal life.
One of the most controversial broadcasts of recent time was the "Who bombed Omagh?" programme, which named those suspected of involvement in the Omagh bombing. It is believed that the Real IRA attack on the BBC Television Centre was a revenge attack for the broadcast.
In 1955, an edition featured Christopher Mayhew taking mescaline under medical supervision. The resulting programme was never broadcast though the footage and transcripts were later released. (this I want to see!)