BBC Home Service

The BBC Home Service was a British national radio station that broadcast from 1939 until 1967, when it became the current BBC Radio 4.


Between the 1920s and the outbreak of the Second World War, the BBC developed two nationwide radio services, the BBC National Programme and the BBC Regional Programme. As well as a basic service programmed from London, the Regional Programme included programming originating in six regions. Although the programme items attracting the greatest number of listeners tended to appear on the National, the two services were not streamed: they were each designed to appeal "across the board" to a single, but variegated, audience by offering between them and at most times of the day a choice of programme type, rather than simply catering, each of them exclusively, to two distinct audiences.

Second World War

On 1 September 1939, the BBC merged the two programmes into one national service from London. The reasons given included the need to prevent enemy aircraft from using differentiated output from the Regional Programme's transmitters as navigational beacons. To this end, the former regional transmitters were synchronised in chains on (initially) two frequencies, 668 (South) and 767 kHz (North), with an additional chain of low-powered transmitters (known as "Group H") on 1474 kHz appearing later.[1] Under this arrangement regional broadcasting in its pre-war form was no longer feasible, but much of the programming was gradually decentralised to the former regional studios because of the risks from enemy attack/bombing/invasion in London, and broadcast nationally.

The new service was named the Home Service, which was also the internal designation at the BBC for domestic radio broadcasting (the organisation had also had Television Service and Overseas Service departments).

During the war, the BBC Home Service would air each day from 7.00am in the morning until a quarter past midnight, with main news bulletins airing at 7.00am, 8.00am, 1.00pm, 6.00pm, 9.00pm and Midnight.


On 29 July 1945, the BBC resumed its previous regional structure, though true regional radio stations would not return till the 1970s, and began "streaming" its radio services. Following the wartime success of the Forces and General Forces Programmes, light entertainment was transferred to the new BBC Light Programme, whilst "heavier" programming – news, drama, discussion, etc – remained on the regionalised Home Service.

Popular light programming, such as ITMA, remained on the Home Service, and some speech programming of the type pioneered by the Forces Programmes – the newly launched Woman's Hour being very much in this mould – was on the Light Programme.

Once war was over, the BBC Home Service adjusted its broadcasting hours, now commencing at 6.25am each weekday and at 7.50am on Sundays. The broadcasting day would end around 11.10pm each night. By 1964 the Home Service was on the air each day from 6.35am (7.50am on Sundays) and would conclude each night at the precise time of 11.48pm.


The Home Service had seven regions. London and South East England was served by the "basic" Home Service, which was not considered a region by the BBC and acted as the sustaining service for the other regions.

A shortage of frequencies meant that the Northern Ireland Regional Home Service was treated as part of the North Regional Home Service, as the Northern Ireland service used the same frequency as a North service booster. The Northern Ireland service was separated from the North region on 7 January 1963.

Region Home city
Booster signal wavelengths and frequencies in parentheses
n/a London 330 (202) 908 (1484)
Midland Birmingham  276 1088
North Manchester  434 (261, 202) 692 (1151, 1484)
West Bristol 285
Welsh Cardiff 341 881
Scottish Glasgow 371 809
Northern Ireland  Belfast Until 1963: 261 1151
From 1963: 224 1340


The Service provided between five and seven national news bulletins a day from London, and drama, talks and informational programmes. Non-topical talk programmes and heavier drama output were transferred to the BBC Third Programme when it began broadcasting on 29 September 1946.


During the day, the Service included programmes of classical music. These were reduced in number when government limits on radio broadcasting hours were relaxed in 1964 and the BBC Music Programme began broadcasting during the daytime on the frequencies of the (evening-only) Third Programme. They disappeared when the Music Programme began regular 0700–1830 broadcasting daily on 22 March 1965.


The Service broadcast educational programmes for schools during the day, backed with booklets and support material.


Programmes were reorganised across the three BBC networks on 30 September 1957, with much of the Service's lighter content transferring to the Light Programme and the establishment of the BBC Third Network, which used the frequencies of the Third Programme to carry the Service's adult education content (BBC Study Session) and the Home and Light's sports coverage (BBC Sports Service) as well as the Third Programme itself.

BBC Radio 4

On 30 September 1967, the BBC split the Light Programme into a pop music service and an entertainment network. The Light Programme became BBC Radio 1 and BBC Radio 2. The BBC Third Programme became BBC Radio 3, with the Music Programme losing its separate identity (the Third Programme, Study Session, and Sports Service retained their identities under the banner of BBC Network Three until 4 April 1970). The Home Service was renamed BBC Radio 4.

Regional radio legacy

Initially, Radio 4 continued to provide for regional programming and scheduling, and the BBC's programme journal Radio Times listed the channel's offerings under the heading "BBC Radio Four - Home Service", with particular reference to the seven broadcasting regions: London, Midland, North, Northern Ireland, Scottish, Welsh, and West.

"Broadcasting in the Seventies"

With the introduction of BBC Local Radio, starting with BBC Radio Leicester on 8 November 1967, it was felt that the future of non-national broadcasting lay in local rather than regional services. The BBC produced a report, "Broadcasting in the Seventies", on 10 July 1969, proposing the reorganisation of programmes on the national networks and the end of regional broadcasting.

The report began to be implemented on 4 April 1970 and the Home Service regions gradually disappeared, with some of their frequencies reallocated to Independent Local Radio, until 23 November 1978 when Radio 4 was given the national longwave frequency previously used by Radio 2 and was relaunched as Radio 4 UK, with two additional longwave transmitters opened in Scotland.

National regions

The "national regions" became BBC Radio Scotland, BBC Radio Wales / BBC Radio Cymru and BBC Radio Ulster, at first relaying the majority of Radio 4 programming but later becoming completely independent.

East Anglia region

During the 1970s Radio 4 FM in the East of England (Tacolneston, Peterborough and relays) carried a breakfast magazine programme, Roundabout East Anglia, the region lacking any BBC Local Radio.[2] The service closed in mid 1980, ahead of the opening of BBC Radio Norfolk.[2]

South West region

The last Regional Home Service was an FM opt-out of Radio 4 for Devon and Cornwall as the "South West Region". Morning Sou'West was also carried on several low power medium-wave transmitters. The programme ended on 31 December 1982, ahead of the launch of BBC Radio Cornwall and BBC Radio Devon on 17 January 1983.

English regional news bulletins

Radio 4 FM continued to carry four daily five-minute regional news bulletins on Mondays to Saturdays until mid 1980, by which time BBC Local Radio had reached most areas of England. The wide coverage of the Holme Moss transmitter meant that listeners in much of Northern England received combined North and North-West news.

See also


  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 11 June 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-04.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ a b "BBC Radio Norfolk's 25th anniversary". 9 September 2005. Retrieved 10 February 2012.


  • BBC Year Book 1947 (various authors), London: British Broadcasting Corporation, 1947.
  • BBC Year Book 1948 (various authors), London: British Broadcasting Corporation, 1948.
  • BBC Handbook 1967 (various authors), London: British Broadcasting Corporation, 1967.
  • BBC Handbook 1972 (various authors), London: British Broadcasting Corporation, 1972.
  • BBC Annual Report and Handbook 1987 (various authors), London: British Broadcasting Corporation, 1986 [sic]. ISBN 0-563-20542-3.
  • Paulu, Burton: British Broadcasting: Radio and Television in the United Kingdom, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1956.

External links

Anthony Gilbert (author)

Anthony Gilbert, the pen name of Lucy Beatrice Malleson (15 February 1899 – 9 December 1973), was an English crime writer who was a cousin of actor-screenwriter Miles Malleson. She also wrote nongenre fiction as Anne Meredith and published one crime novel and an autobiography (Three-a-Penny, 1940) under the Meredith name.

She published 69 crime novels, 51 of which featured her best-known character, Arthur Crook. Crook is a vulgar London lawyer totally (and deliberately) unlike the sophisticated detectives, such as Lord Peter Wimsey and Philo Vance, who dominated the mystery field when Gilbert introduced him. Instead of dispassionately analyzing a case, he usually enters it after seemingly damning evidence has built up against his client, then conducts a no-holds-barred investigation of doubtful ethics to clear him or her. As fellow mystery author Michael Gilbert noted, "...he behaved in a way which befitted his name and would not have been approved by the Law Society." The first Crook novel was published in 1936 and was immediately popular. The last Crook novel was published in 1974.

Her novel The Vanishing Corpse (1941) was adapted as the film They Met in the Dark (1943), another novel, The Mouse Who Wouldn't Play Ball was filmed as Candles at Nine in 1944, and her novel on abduction and a faked identity, The Woman in Red, which features Arthur Crook and his assistant Bill Parsons (1941), was adapted as the 1945 film noir, My Name Is Julia Ross. "You'll Be the Death of Me," an October 1963 episode of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, was adapted from Gilbert's short story "The Goldfish Button" in the February 1958 Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. Her short stories "Door to a Different World" and "Fifty Years After" were Edgar Award nominees.

BBC National Programme

The BBC National Programme was a UK radio broadcasting service which was on the air from 9 March 1930 – when it replaced the earlier BBC radio station 5XX – until 1 September 1939, when it was subsumed into the BBC Home Service, two days before the outbreak of World War II.

BBC Radio 4

BBC Radio 4 is a radio station owned and operated by the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) that broadcasts a wide variety of spoken-word programmes including news, drama, comedy, science and history. It replaced the BBC Home Service in 1967. The station controller is Gwyneth Williams, and the station is part of BBC Radio and the BBC Radio department. The station is broadcast from the BBC's headquarters at Broadcasting House, London. On 21 January 2019 Williams announced she was quitting the role. There are no details of when or who will be her replacement.It is the second most popular domestic radio station in the UK, broadcast throughout the UK, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands on FM, LW and DAB, and can be received in eastern and south eastern counties of Ireland, the north of France and Northern Europe. It is also available through Freeview, Sky, Virgin Media and on the Internet. Its sister station, BBC Radio 4 Extra (formerly BBC Radio 7), complements the main channel by broadcasting repeats from the Radio 4 archive, extended versions of Radio 4 programmes and supplements to series such as The Archers and Desert Island Discs.

It is notable for its news bulletins and programmes such as Today and The World at One, heralded on air by the Greenwich Time Signal "pips" or the chimes of Big Ben. Radio 4 broadcasts the Shipping Forecast, which reached 150 years old in August 2017. The pips are only accurate on FM, LW, and MW as there is a delay on DAB and digital radio of approximately 3 to 5 seconds, even longer online (up to 23 seconds).

BBC Regional Programme

The BBC Regional Programme was a UK radio broadcasting service which was on the air from 9 March 1930 – when it replaced a number of earlier BBC local stations – until 1 September 1939, when it was subsumed into the BBC Home Service, two days before the outbreak of World War II.

Book at Bedtime

Book at Bedtime (or A Book at Bedtime, as it was known until 9 July 1993) is a long-running radio programme which is currently broadcast on BBC Radio 4 each weekday evening between 22.45 and 23.00.

The series began on the BBC Light Programme on 31 January 1949 with the first instalment of a 15-part reading of the John Buchan novel The Three Hostages, read by Arthur Bush. There was a break after 29 March 1957, but the programme returned under its old title, now on the BBC Home Service, on 2 April 1962. (The Home Service had in fact been broadcasting weekday evening 15-minute readings since 19 September 1960, but not under the Book at Bedtime heading.)

The programme presents readings of fiction, including modern classics, new works by leading writers, and literature from around the world. Books are abridged and typically serialised over one or two weeks and occasionally three; usually read by well-known actors. Occasionally, from a collection of short stories, five stories from the book will be selected and one broadcast each evening.

Book at Bedtime is a BBC Arts and Drama series.

Children's Hour

Children's Hour, initially The Children's Hour, was the BBC's principal recreational service for children (as distinct from "Broadcasts to Schools") which began during the period when radio was the only medium of broadcasting.

Children's Hour was broadcast from 1922 to 1964, originally from the BBC's Birmingham station 5IT, soon joined by other regional stations, then in the BBC Regional Programme, before transferring to its final home, the new BBC Home Service, at the outbreak of the second World War. Parts of the programme were also rebroadcast by the BBC World Service. For the last three years of its life (from 17 April 1961 until 27 March 1964), the title Children's Hour was no longer used, the programmes in its "time-slot" going out under the umbrella heading of For the Young.

The programme takes its name from a verse by Longfellow: "Between the dark and the daylight, When the night is beginning to lower, Comes a pause in the day's occupations, That is known as the Children's Hour."

Coral Browne

Coral Edith Browne (23 July 1913 – 29 May 1991) was an Australian-American stage and screen actress. Her extensive theatre credits included Broadway productions of Macbeth (1956), The Rehearsal (1963) and The Right Honourable Gentleman (1965). She won the 1984 BAFTA TV Award for Best Actress for the BBC TV film An Englishman Abroad (1983). Her film appearances included Auntie Mame (1958), The Killing of Sister George (1968), The Ruling Class (1972) and Dreamchild (1985).

Down Your Way

Down Your Way was a BBC radio series which ran from 29 December 1946 to 1992, originally on the Home Service, later on BBC Radio 4, usually being broadcast on Sunday afternoons. It visited towns around the United Kingdom, spoke to residents and played their choice of music.

It was initially hosted by Stewart MacPherson, who presented the first twelve shows, but in 1947, after brief hosting spells by Lionel Gamlin and Wynford Vaughan-Thomas, Richard Dimbleby took over its presentation until 1955, then Franklin Engelmann until his death in 1972 when Brian Johnston took over until 1987. In 1975, despite then being the second most popular programme on radio, it was taken off the air as an 'economy measure'. It was subsequently reinstated, after a storm of popular protest.

From 1987 until its demise in 1992 it had a different celebrity host every week, who would visit a place of significance in their own lives – effectively turning it into 'Down My Way' and blending it into the then-emerging celebrity culture.

Its well-remembered signature tune was "Horse Guards, Whitehall" by Haydn Wood.

In the 1980s the show was satirised on the Kenny Everett Television Show as "Up Your Way", a saccharine television version presented by "Verity Treacle". In 1984, it was parodied by Radio Active as "Round Your Parts".

John Le Mesurier on stage, radio, screen and record

John Le Mesurier (born John Elton Le Mesurier Halliley; 5 April 1912 – 15 November 1983) was an English actor who performed in many mediums of light entertainment, including film, radio and theatre. Le Mesurier's career spanned from 1934 until his death in 1983. He is best remembered for his role as Sergeant Arthur Wilson in the BBC situation comedy Dad's Army, between 1968 and 1977.Le Mesurier made his professional stage debut in September 1934 in Dangerous Corner at the Palladium Theatre in Edinburgh under his birth name, and appeared on television for the first time four years later as Seigneur de Miolans in the BBC Television broadcast of "The Marvellous History of St Bernard". The broadcast was adapted from a 15th-century manuscript by Henri Ghéon. After wartime service as a captain in the Royal Tank Regiment, Le Mesurier returned to acting and made his radio debut on the BBC Home Service in a March 1947 broadcast of Escape or Die. He continued working in television roles throughout his career, but it was his portrayal in the BBC television play Traitor, of a character loosely based on Kim Philby, which earned him the British Academy Television Award for Best Actor in 1972.In 1948, Le Mesurier worked on his first film, Death in the Hand, a mystery in which he played the character Jack Mottram. He went on to appear in over 100 films, including Private's Progress (1955), I'm All Right Jack (1959), The Punch and Judy Man (1962), Carlton-Browne of the F.O. (1959), The Pink Panther (1963), Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines (1965), and The Italian Job (1969). He always appeared in supporting roles.

Le Mesurier took a relaxed approach to acting, saying: "I'm a jobbing actor ... as long as they pay me I couldn't care less if my name is billed above or below the title". He was known for playing "an indispensable figure in the gallery of second-rank players which were the glory of the British film industry in its more prolific days". Le Mesurier died in November 1983 from a stomach haemorrhage; his last words before slipping into a coma were: "It's all been rather lovely." The Guardian noted that Le Mesurier gave the impression of an "inimitable brand of bewildered persistence under fire which [he] made his own", while Philip Oakes considered that Le Mesurier single-handedly "made more films watchable, even absorbing than anyone else around".

List of actors who have played Inspector Lestrade

List of actors who have played Inspector Lestrade

Orbit One Zero

Orbit One Zero is a BBC Radio science fiction programme written by Peter Elliott Hayes. Only a single series was produced.

Radio 4 Appeal

The Radio 4 Appeal is a British radio programme on BBC Radio 4. Each week a single speaker, usually a celebrity, appeals for support for a different charity (for example Paul Heiney appealed on behalf of Send a Cow in 2008, while Ross Noble appealed on behalf of Riders for Health in 2010). Listeners are invited to respond by sending cheques using a Freepost address, or can make payments online or by telephone. Listeners can also set up a standing order payment to support all 52 charities each year.The programme is transmitted at 07:55 and 21:26 on Sunday, and at 15:27 on the following Thursday. It is governed by the BBC's Charity Appeal Policy.Each year since 1927, the BBC has broadcast a special Christmas Appeal in association with St Martin-in-the-Fields church in Trafalgar Square, London. This raises funds which are divided equally between The Connection at St Martin's, which supports vulnerable and homeless people in central London, and the Vicar's Relief Fund, which makes grants, averaging £200, to people anywhere in the UK who are at risk of homelessness or with experience of being homeless. The 2012 Appeal raised a record £1.9 million.In 2007-2008 the appeals raised £1,433,154.02 for 52 charities. Just over half of this, £725,000, was for the annual Christmas appeal, broadcast on 2 Dec 2007. Amounts raised for other charities in that year ranged from £1,366.00 (Jenni Murray appealing for BEAT (Eating Disorders Association) on 24 Feb 2008) to £53,988.00 (Krishnan Guru-Murthy appealing for Homeless International on 3 March 2007, one week later).An earlier programme based on the same principle was The Week's Good Cause, which ran from 1926 (from 1939 in the BBC Home Service) until controller James Boyle's major reforms to Radio 4 in 1998.

Stig of the Dump

Stig of the Dump is a children's novel by Clive King, first published in the United Kingdom in 1963. It is regarded as a modern children's classic and is often read in schools. It was illustrated by Edward Ardizzone and has been twice adapted for television, in 1981 and in 2002. It was first broadcast as an adaptation on BBC Home Service for schools in November 1964, and later on the BBC series Blue Peter.

Terry-Thomas on screen, radio, stage and record

The English actor and comedian Terry-Thomas (1911–1990) performed in many mediums of light entertainment, including film, radio and theatre. His career spanned from 1933 until his retirement in the late 1970s. During this time he became synonymous with playing the "silly-ass Englishman", a characterisation that he had portrayed from his time on the variety circuit.Terry-Thomas made his film debut as an extra in the 1933 film, The Private Life of Henry VIII, which starred Charles Laughton in the title role; Terry-Thomas continued to undertake a series of small and uncredited film roles while his reputation grew on radio and television. He played his first role on radio in the 1938 BBC tea dance programme Friends to Tea, before spending the Second World War with the Royal Corps of Signals and ENSA, the Entertainments National Service Association.After the war, Terry-Thomas began his stage career with an appearance in Piccadilly Hayride at the Prince of Wales Theatre, London; the show was a hit and he appeared in it from September 1946 until January 1948. In 1949 he appeared in his first television programme, Technical Hitch, and scored a success later that year with his own television series, How Do You View?, which was noted for being the first comedy series on British television. In 1956 he was cast by the Boulting brothers in Private's Progress. The role boosted his film career, initially in Britain, and then in America. In 1958 Terry-Thomas released the first of two solo comedy records, Strictly T-T; the same year he also appeared as Bertie Wooster in a cast recording of Jeeves, with Roger Livesey playing Jeeves.

During the 1960s and 70s, Terry-Thomas' appearances on stage and radio were becoming less frequent but his television and film output remained consistent, despite his diagnosis with Parkinson's disease in 1971; by the mid-1980s, though, the disease had effectively ended his career. On his death, The Guardian observed that "as an upper class twit or as a debonair rascal, Terry-Thomas had few equals", and described him as "a national treasure", while The Independent considered that he "personified the Englishman as amiable bounder".

The Man Born to Be King

The Man Born to Be King is a radio drama based on the life of Jesus, produced and broadcast by the BBC during the Second World War. It is a play cycle consisting of twelve plays depicting specific periods in Jesus' life, from the events surrounding his birth to his death and resurrection. It was first broadcast by the BBC Home Service on Sunday evenings, beginning on 21 December 1941, with new episodes broadcast at 4-week intervals, ending on 18 October 1942. The series was written by novelist and dramatist Dorothy L. Sayers, and produced by Val Gielgud, with Robert Speaight as Jesus.

The twelve plays in the cycle are:

Kings in Judea

The King's Herald

A Certain Nobleman

The Heirs to the Kingdom

The Bread of Heaven

The Feast of Tabernacles

The Light and the Life

Royal Progress

The King's Supper

The Princes of This World

King of Sorrows

The King Comes to His OwnThe project aroused a storm of controversy, even before it was broadcast. Objections arose to the very idea—atheists complained of Christian propaganda, while devout Christians declared that the BBC would be committing blasphemy by allowing the Christ to be impersonated by a human actor—and also to Sayers' approach to the material. Sayers, who felt that the inherent drama of the Gospel story had become muffled by familiarity and a general failure to think of its characters as real people, was determined to give the plays dramatic immediacy, featuring realistic, identifiable characters with human emotions, motivations, and speech-patterns. The decision to have the characters speak in contemporary colloquial English was, by itself, the cause of much disquiet among those more accustomed to Jesus and his followers using the polished and formal words of the King James Bible.

In the event, although it continued to be criticised by conservative Christians—one group going so far as to proclaim the fall of Singapore in February 1942 to be a sign of God's displeasure with the series—The Man Born to Be King was generally considered a great success, both as drama and as biblical representation. The public reaction to the series is described in the foreword to the play scripts, first published in 1943, accompanied by a commentary by the author illuminating her attitude to the work and the reasoning behind particular aspects of her dramatisation. There have been many subsequent issues and editions.

Thought for the Day

Thought for the Day is a daily scripted slot on the Today programme on BBC Radio 4 offering "reflections from a faith perspective on issues and people in the news", broadcast at around 7:45 each Monday to Saturday morning. Nowadays lasting 2 minutes and 45 seconds, it is a successor to the more substantial five-minute religious sequence Ten to Eight (1965–1970) and, before that, Lift Up Your Hearts, which was first broadcast five mornings a week on the BBC Home Service from December 1939, initially at 7:30, though soon moved to 7:47. The programme is broadcast by religious thinkers; often, these are Christian thinkers, but there have been numerous occasions where representatives of other faiths, including Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Sikhism and Jainism, have presented Thought for the Day.

Notable contributors to the slot have included major religious figures including Rowan Williams (former Archbishop of Canterbury) and Pope Benedict XVI. Major British rabbis to have contributed include Chief Rabbi Jonathan Lord Sacks of the United Synagogue movement and Lionel Blue of the World Union for Progressive Judaism.

Other contributors include Anne Atkins, John L. Bell (Iona Community), Rhidian Brook, Tom Butler (former Bishop of Southwark), Canon Giles Fraser (Inclusive Church founder), Richard Lord Harries of Pentregarth, James Jones (former Bishop of Liverpool), Mona Siddiqui (Muslim professor), Michael Banner (ethicist), Indarjit Lord Singh of Wimbledon (Sikh parliamentarian) and Canon Angela Tilby.

Welsh Rarebit (radio programme)

Welsh Rarebit was a British radio variety show broadcast from Cardiff by the BBC between February 1940 and December 1952. The title was taken from that of the Welsh dish of the same name. The show's most lasting legacy remains its closing song, We'll Keep a Welcome (in the Hillsides).

Workers' Playtime (radio programme)

Workers' Playtime was a British radio variety programme transmitted by the BBC between 1941 and 1964. Originally intended as a morale-booster for industrial workers in Britain during World War II, the programme was broadcast at lunchtime, three times a week, live from a factory canteen "somewhere in Britain", initially on the BBC Home Service (now Radio 4) and, from 1957, on the Light Programme (now Radio 2). For all its 23 years each show concluded with the words from the show's producer, Bill Gates: "Good luck, all workers!"

The programme had the support of the government because the shows were seen as supporting the war effort on the home front. Workers' Playtime was a touring show, with the Ministry of Labour choosing which factory canteens it would visit.

Throughout World War II, Ernest Bevin, the Minister of Labour and National Service, would appear on these shows from time to time to congratulate the workers and exhort them to greater efforts. When the war ended it was realised that the show had worked, which meant that Ernest Bevin wanted Workers' Playtime to continue to raise the morale of the workers, whilst the government rebuilt Britain and the British economy. The BBC, for its part, was very happy to continue with a show which had proved a national success even if it did mean transporting crew, cable, microphones, two pianos, a producer, two pianists and a group of variety artists up and down the country three times a week.

On 1 October 1957 the programme switched to the Light Programme, a move which seemed to recognise that it no longer had the national sense of purpose which made it so essential during the war and the post-war peace.

Many famous variety, vocal and comedy artists appeared over the years, such as Charlie Chester, Bob and Alf Pearson, Peter Sellers, Tony Hancock, Frankie Howerd, Terry-Thomas, Anne Shelton, Betty Driver, Eve Boswell, Dorothy Squires, Arthur English, Julie Andrews, Morecambe and Wise, Peter Cavanagh, comedian George Martin, Janet Brown, Roy Hudd, comedian Michael Howard, harmonica player Paul Templar, The Stargazers, Bob Monkhouse, impressionist Peter Goodwright, Percy Edwards, Ken Dodd, Ken Platt, Gert and Daisy (Elsie and Doris Waters) and many more. It was one of the very first touring variety shows on the BBC, and was scheduled to run for six weeks, but went on to become one of the longest running radio shows in history. A selection of original recordings from the show can be heard on the audiobook CD Workers' Playtime published by CD41 in 2008.

Works of John Betjeman

Sir John Betjeman (1906–1984) was a twentieth-century English poet, writer and broadcaster. Born to a middle-class family in Edwardian Hampstead, he attended Oxford University, although left without graduating. He turned down a position in the family furniture business, and instead took a series of jobs before becoming the assistant editor of The Architectural Review in 1931, which reflected a deeply held affection for buildings and their history. That same year he published his first book, Mount Zion, a collection of poems.In 1932 Betjeman began a career in broadcasting, with a radio programme about the proposed destruction of Waterloo Bridge; he continued with regular radio work for the rest of his life, appearing in a wide range of genres, from panel and game shows, interviews, news interviews, documentaries and poetry readings. He published his first non-verse book in 1933, Ghastly Good Taste, which was subtitled "a Depressing Story of the Rise and Fall of English Architecture"; it reflected his concern of the destruction of Victorian and Edwardian architecture to make way for "grimmer contemporary developments, shopping arcades, and bogus Tudor bars". In 1937—shortly after the BBC began regular screen broadcasts—he appeared in his first television programme, How to Make a Guidebook, and went on to appear in a wide range of programmes until his death. His television appearances increased from the 1950s, and his output was prolific.In 1960 Betjeman was appointed a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE), which was followed in 1968 with his election as a Companion of Literature. In 1969 he was knighted and, in 1972, he succeeded Cecil Day-Lewis as Britain's Poet Laureate. In the later years of his life, Betjeman suffered from Parkinson's disease, and he died in May 1984. His obituarist in The Times thought him "a true original", and considered that he was "whimsical, imprudent, shrewd, humorous, disarming, always something of an enfant terrible. The poet Philip Larkin wrote that Betjeman "was not only the best loved poet, but one of the best loved men of our time", while his biographer, the academic John Clarke, described him as a "unique figure in twentieth-century English poetry, enjoying a degree of fame and success unequalled by any poet since Byron".

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