Panorama set an example for the German magazine show of the same name, which is produced by NDR, and broadcast on Das Erste. Panorama started there in 1961 and is one of the leading political magazine shows.
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.
The leading mental health charity Mind collaborated with Panorama in a survey of those who emailed the programme. Anonymised findings from the 239 responses were sent to the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
The second Panorama programme on Seroxat, "Emails from the Edge", included a report of the survey to which the 239 people responded. It showed widespread experiences of suicidal feelings and other severe reactions, very bad withdrawal symptoms and lack of warnings from doctors. Following the broadcast users/survivors and Mind protested outside the offices of the MHRA.
On January 29 2007, the fourth documentary in the series about the drug Seroxat was broadcast. It focused on three GlaxoSmithKline paediatric clinical trials on depressed children and adolescents. Data from the trials show that Seroxat could not be proven to work for teenagers. Not only that, one clinical trial indicated that they were six times more likely to become suicidal after taking it. In the programme, Panorama revealed the secret trail of internal emails which show how GlaxoSmithKline manipulated the results of the trials for its own commercial gain. Access to the documents has been gained as GlaxoSmithKline fights a fraud trial in the US. Some of these previously secret Glaxo documents, featured in the programme were leaked into the internet following the programme's broadcast.
The Football Association has asked for any evidence as it tries to rid such action from football.
On October 1, 2006 Panorama did an episode on Crimen Sollicitationis, a secret document which sets out a procedure for dealing with child sex abuse scandals within the Catholic Church. It was enforced for 20 years by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger before he became the Pope. It instructs bishops on how to deal with allegations of child abuse against priests and has been seen by few outsiders. Critics say the document has been used to evade prosecution for sex crimes.
Crimen Sollicitationis was written in 1962 in Latin and given to Catholic bishops worldwide who are ordered to keep it locked away in the church safe. It instructs them how to deal with priests who solicit sex from the confessional. It also deals with "any obscene external act ... with youths of either sex." It imposes an oath of secrecy on the child victim, the priest dealing with the allegation and any witnesses. Breaking that oath means excommunication from the Catholic Church.
Panorama found seven priests with child abuse allegations made against them living in and around the Vatican City. One of the priests, Father Joseph Henn, has been indicted on 13 molestation charges brought by a grand jury in the United States. Henn is fighting extradition orders from inside the headquarters of his religious order in the Vatican. The Vatican has not compelled him to return to America to face the charges against him. After filming, Father Henn lost his fight against extradition but fled the Vatican and is believed to be hiding in Italy while there is an international warrant for his arrest.
Sex Crimes and the Vatican was filmed by Colm O'Gorman, who was raped by a Catholic priest in the diocese of Ferns in County Wexford in Ireland when he was 14 years old. Father Seán Fortune was charged with 66 counts of sexual, indecent assault and another serious sexual offence relating to eight boys but he committed suicide on the eve of his trial. Colm started an investigation with the BBC in March 2002 which led to the resignation of Dr Brendan Comiskey, the bishop leading the Ferns Diocese. Colm then pushed for a government inquiry which led to the Ferns Report.
In some countries this means that the Crimen Sollicitationis is the only policy followed. The Vatican has refused repeated requests from Panorama to respond to any of the cases shown in the film.
Panorama investigated claims that as much as $23 billion (£11.75 billion) may have been lost, stolen or not properly accounted for in Iraq.
The United States Department of Justice has imposed gagging orders that prevent discussion of the allegations. US and other media have reported little on this issue.
In 2000, the programme was moved again, with the 10pm timeslot no longer available due to the moving of the BBC News from 9pm to the later slot. Panorama was moved to Sunday nights, following the news, usually shown at around 10.15pm — labelled by some critics as a "graveyard slot". The number of editions made per year was also cut back, which attracted press criticism for the BBC in general and its Director-General Greg Dyke in particular, as Dyke was the driving force behind the schedule changes. The incoming Controller of BBC One, Lorraine Heggessey, defended the move, claiming that the programme's audience would have "dwindled" had it remained on Monday nights.
January 2007 Heggessey's successor, Peter Fincham, moved Panorama back from Sunday nights to a prime time Monday evening slot at 8.30pm, although it was now shorter than it had previously been, running to just half an hour. This decision was at least partly in response to a demand from the Board of Governors of the BBC for the channel to show more current affairs programming in prime time.