BBC Radio 4 Extra

BBC Radio 4 Extra is a British digital radio station broadcasting archived repeats of comedy, drama and documentary programmes nationally, 24 hours a day. It is the principal broadcaster of the BBC's spoken-word archive, and as a result the majority of its programming originates from that archive. It also broadcasts extended and companion programmes to those broadcast on sister station BBC Radio 4, and provides a "catch-up" service for certain Radio 4 programmes.

The station launched in December 2002 as BBC 7, broadcasting a similar mix of archive comedy, drama and current children's radio. The station was renamed BBC Radio 7 in 2008, then relaunched as Radio 4 Extra in April 2011. For the first quarter of 2013, Radio 4 Extra had a weekly audience of 1.642 million people and had a market share of 0.95%; in the last quarter of 2016 the numbers were 2.184 million listeners and 1.2% of market share.[1][2]

BBC Radio 4 Extra
BBC Radio 4 Extra
Broadcast areaUnited Kingdom – national
SloganShowcasing the best in comedy drama and entertainment. With quizzes, sitcoms, panel games, satire, stand up, life stories, classics from the archive, science fiction and fantasy
FrequencyDAB: 12B mono
Freeview: 708 stereo
Freesat: 708 stereo
Sky (UK only): 0131 stereo
Virgin Media: 910 stereo
Virgin Media Ireland: 929 stereo
First air date15 December 2002 (as BBC Radio 7)
2 April 2011 (as BBC Radio 4 Extra)
FormatComedy, Drama
Sister stationsBBC Radio 4

HTTP Streams

HLS Streams


WebsiteBBC Radio 4 Extra


Former BBC Radio 7 logos
Former branding as BBC 7 (2002) and BBC Radio 7 (2008). Both featured a smiling face motif. The latter was created by design company Fallon.[3]


The station was initially launched as BBC 7 on 15 December 2002 by comedian Paul Merton. The first programme was broadcast at 8 pm and was simulcast with Radio 4.[4] The station, referred to by the codename 'Network Z' while in development, was so named to reflect the station's presence on the internet and on digital television in addition to radio.[4][5] The station broadcast mostly archived comedy and drama, in that the programme was either three or more years old or had been broadcast twice on their original station.

The station also broadcast a themed section for Children's programmes. This section carried a variety of programmes, including The Little Toe Radio Show (later renamed CBeebies Radio), aimed at younger children and consisting of short serials, stories and rhymes, and The Big Toe Radio Show with phone-ins, quizzes and stories for the 8+ age group. The segment also hosted the only news programme on the network presented by the Newsround team.

The station won the Sony Radio Academy Award for station sound in 2003,[6] was nominated for the Promo Award in 2004, and in 2005 received a silver for the Short-Form award, plus nominations in the speech and digital terrestrial station-of-the-year sections. Because of the station's archive nature the station was scheduled, produced and researched by 17 people, excluding presenters.[4]

The station was renamed on 4 October 2008 as BBC Radio 7 in an effort to bring it in line with other BBC Radio brands.[5] It also coincided with the introduction of a new network logo for the station.

During this later period, Radio 7 saw growth in its audience, with a growth rate of 9.5% annually in 2010, going from 931,000 listeners in the first quarter of that year[8] to 949,000 a quarter later, making it the second most listened to BBC digital radio station at the time.[9] However, despite this growth, the audience of children between 4 and 14 was reported to be only at 25,000 and in February 2011 the BBC Trust approved a reduction in hours dedicated to children from 1,400 to 350.[10][11]

BBC Radio 4 Extra

The BBC announced their intention to relaunch the station on 2 March 2010[12] and following a public consultation, the proposal was approved by the corporation's governing body the BBC Trust in February 2011.[10][13] As a result, the station relaunched as BBC Radio 4 Extra on Saturday 2 April 2011. The relaunched station contained much of the same mix of programming with some new additions that reflected the new alignment with Radio 4, many of which were extended, archive or spin offs of flagship Radio 4 programmes.


Broadcasting House by Stephen Craven
BBC Radio 4 Extra originates from Broadcasting House in central London.

BBC Radio 4 Extra is broadcast from Broadcasting House in central London, although due to the nature of the channel very little of the channel's content is broadcast live from there with even the continuity announcements being pre-recorded. The channel uses ten continuity announcers to link between programmes. These currently are Wes Butters, Kathy Clugston, Jim Lee, David Miles, Joanna Pinnock, Susan Rae, Debbie Russ, Neil Sleat, Alan Smith, Zeb Soanes and Luke Tuddenham.[14] Previous presenters, including those presenting Radio 7, include Penny Haslam, Helen Aitken, Rory Morrison, Steve Urquhart, Alex Riley and Michaela Saunders.[15]

The station only operates on digital networks and so has no allocated analogue radio signal. Instead it is broadcast over the internet on the BBC website, on services such as Radioplayer and TuneIn and for users of IPTV's.[16] It is also available on digital radio (on which it is broadcast monophonically)[16] and television services including digital terrestrial provider Freeview, cable television providers including Virgin Media and on satellite television providers Freesat and Sky who receive their signal from the Astra 2E satellite.[16] The pan-European nature of this satellite means that the signal can be received across northern Europe.

The controller of the station is Gwyneth Williams who is answerable to the Radio board in the BBC.[17] BBC Radio 4 Extra is currently only available in stereo on Digital TV (Freeview / FreeSat / Sky / Virgin Media) and online but not on DAB as its maximum bit rate is only 80kbps, only sufficient for it to be broadcast in mono.


Although the current station is a rebranding of Radio 7 and contains a similar mix of archived programming, content has been brought further in line with BBC Radio 4 with new additions based upon their schedule. These include extended versions of programmes such as The News Quiz and Desert Island Discs, the broadcast of archived editions of the latter as Desert Island Discs Revisited. It has also previously included the addition of the programme Ambridge Extra, a more youth-orientated version of long-running radio soap The Archers,[7] and an extended version of The Now Show.

Some programming is organised into programme blocks of similar programmes. The late night Comedy Club segment broadcasts "two hours of contemporary comedy" most nights of the week and is primarily hosted by Arthur Smith. A long-standing segment that remained following the change from Radio 7, it was previously fronted by Alex Riley and Phil Williams. Comedy previously available as CDs on the Laughing Stock label is also broadcast.

Drama is also broadcast, notably in The 7th Dimension evening segment. A long-running segment continued from Radio 7, the block airs speculative fiction, science fiction, fantasy and horror stories presented by Nicholas Briggs. The segment contains programmes including Doctor Who audio dramas starring Paul McGann as the Eighth Doctor, as well as programmes imported from overseas including American broadcasts The Twilight Zone and Garrison Keillor's Radio Show as well as Stuart McLean's Vinyl Cafe from Canada. However, The 7th Dimension has been recently controversially scrapped on weekday evenings, and with increasing additions of repeats of old Radio 4 documentaries, interviews and "educational/cultural" programmes concern is growing that the station's original mandate to provide comedy, drama and entertainment is being increasingly sidelined, turning Radio 4 Extra into what some are already starting to refer to as "Radio Bore(4)", Mk 2.


Much of the channels schedule is formed of repeats from classic comedy and drama. The schedule spans The Goon Show (1950s) and Round the Horne (1960s), through Radio 2 favourites like The News Huddlines, Castle's On The Air and Listen to Les to recent Radio 4 shows such as Little Britain and Dead Ringers. Some of this content is newly discovered, such as copies of the version of Dick Barton Special Agent that were made for international distribution and early episodes of The Goon Show.

Despite having 50 years of archive material to draw from, R4e's programming schedule, in the vast majority, consists of repeating the same content across a 2 year cycle.

Original programmes

The station has broadcast original programmes. Newsjack is a topical news sketch show in the spirit of Radio 4s Week Ending which encourages contributions from listeners. Spanking New on Seven was stand-up comedy, and the BBC New Comedy Competition a competition for new comedians. Those who went on to have their own series on Radio 7 include John-Luke Roberts with Spats and Miriam Elia with A Series of Psychotic Episodes.

The Mitch Benn Music Show featured comedy songs introduced by Mitch Benn. The Colin and Fergus' Digi Radio comedy sketch show ran for two series in 2005–06. Serious About Comedy was a weekly show presented by Robin Ince in which comedians and comedy critics discussed comedy television, radio, DVDs, and films. Tilt was a satirical look at the week's news of views other than the norm. Knocker was a sitcom about a market researcher, written by and starring Neil Edmond.

Original Radio 7 programmes

While most shows on Radio 7 were repeats, original programmes included:

  • Big Toe Books (Children's show)
  • Serious About Comedy (Comedy review show)
  • Tilt (Satirical sketch comedy)
  • Newsjack (Satirical sketch comedy)
  • Spats (Sketch comedy)
  • Knocker (Sitcom)
  • The Penny Dreadfuls Present… (Comedy)
  • Undone (Sci-fi comedy)
  • The Spaceship (Sci-fi comedy)
  • Oneira (Sci-fi comedy)
  • The Laxian Key (Sci-fi comedy)
  • Cold Blood (Sci-fi drama)
  • The Voice of God (Sci-fi drama)
  • Slipstream (Sci-fi drama)
  • A Series of Psychotic Episodes (Sketch comedy)
  • CBeebies Radio (Children's show)
  • Colin and Fergus' Digi Radio (Sketch comedy)
  • No Tomatoes (Sketch comedy)
  • The Mitch Benn Music Show (Musical comedy)
  • Spanking New on Seven (Stand-up)
  • Play and Record (Sketch comedy)
  • Pleased to Meet You (Comedy)
  • Gus Murdoch's Sacred Cows (Comedy)
  • Planet B (Sci-fi drama)
  • Doctor Who: The Eighth Doctor Adventures (Sci-fi Drama)
  • The Man in Black (Horror)
  • The Scarifyers (Horror comedy)
  • This is Pulp Fiction (Crime fiction)

Original Radio 4 Extra programmes

Original programmes made for Radio 4 Extra.

See also


  1. ^ Williams, Gwyneth. "Latest RAJARs for Radio 4 & 4 Extra". Radio 4 Blog. BBC. Retrieved 24 May 2013.
  2. ^ "RAJAR". RAJAR. Retrieved 19 April 2017.
  3. ^ Plunkett, John (8 August 2007). "New logos for BBC Radio - cool or balls?". Guardian. Retrieved 25 May 2013.
  4. ^ a b c Kalemkerian, Mary (25 March 2011). "BBC Radio 7 Newsletter". BBC. Retrieved 25 May 2013.
  5. ^ a b "BBC 7 adds the magic word and becomes BBC Radio 7". BBC. 4 October 2008. Retrieved 25 May 2013.
  6. ^ "Sony Radio Academy Awards 2003". The Guardian. 9 May 2003. Retrieved 4 January 2018.
  7. ^ a b "About Radio 4 Extra". BBC. Retrieved 25 May 2013.
  8. ^ Plunkett, John (4 February 2010). "Jazz FM, 6Music and Radio 7 are bright spots amid digital radio's gloom". Guardian. Retrieved 25 May 2013.
  9. ^ Busfield, Steve (5 August 2010). "BBC 6 Music's audience rises again". Guardian. Retrieved 25 May 2013.
  10. ^ a b "Service Review: BBC Radio 3, BBC Radio 4 & BBC Radio 7". BBC Trust. 8 February 2011. Retrieved 25 May 2013.
  11. ^ Dowell, Ben (17 March 2009). "Radio 4 ditches last remaining children's series". Guardian. Retrieved 25 May 2013.
  12. ^ Plunkett, John (2 March 2010). "BBC confirms plans to axe 6 Music and Asian Network". Guardian. Retrieved 25 May 2013.
  13. ^ Plunkett, John (8 February 2011). "Call for investigation into BBC Radio 7 rebranding". Guardian. Retrieved 25 May 2013.
  14. ^ "Radio 4 Extra Presenters". BBC. Retrieved 25 May 2013.
  15. ^ "BBC Radio 7 - Presenters". BBC. Retrieved 25 May 2013.
  16. ^ a b c "How to Listen - Radio 4 Extra". BBC. Retrieved 25 May 2013.
  17. ^ "Gwyneth Williams, Controller, Radio 4 and Radio 4 Extra". About the BBC. BBC. Retrieved 25 May 2013.
  18. ^ William Golding - Lord of the Flies at BBC Programmes
  19. ^ "About Neverwhere". Neil Gaiman - Neverwhere. BBC. Retrieved 25 May 2013.

External links

Ambridge Extra

Ambridge Extra is an extension of the long-running radio drama The Archers. It began broadcasting sporadically on the digital radio station BBC Radio 4 Extra from 5 April 2011. The programme ran for five series, before it was "rested".

Brian Gulliver's Travels

Brian Gulliver's Travels is a satirical comedy series and also a novel created and written by Bill Dare, first broadcast on 21 February 2011 on BBC Radio 4. A second series first broadcast on 25 June 2012 on BBC Radio 4 Extra. The series is a modern pastiche of the Jonathan Swift novel Gulliver's Travels. The series revolves around the character Brian Gulliver, played by Neil Pearson. Gulliver is a travel documentary presenter who at the beginning of series is revealed to have been missing for six years, claiming to have travelled to the previously undiscovered continent of Clafrenia. His stories lead him to being put in psychiatric hospital where they believe that he is suffering some sort of delusion. In each episode he is visited by his daughter Rachel (Mariah Gale), who writes about the countries that he claims to have visited.

Cobwebs (audio drama)

Cobwebs is a Big Finish Productions audio drama based on the long-running British science fiction television series Doctor Who. It was aired on BBC Radio 4 Extra from the 16th to the 19 May 2011.

Death in Blackpool

Death in Blackpool is an audio drama based on the long-running British science fiction television series Doctor Who. This audio drama was produced by Big Finish Productions.

Deimos and The Resurrection of Mars

Deimos and The Resurrection of Mars consistute a two-part audio drama based on the long-running British science fiction television series Doctor Who. The audio drama was produced by Big Finish Productions.

Dr. Finlay's Casebook

Dr. Finlay's Casebook is a television drama series that was produced and broadcast by the BBC from 1962 until 1971. Based on A. J. Cronin's novella entitled Country Doctor, the storylines centred on a general medical practice in the fictional Scottish town of Tannochbrae during the late 1920s. Cronin was the primary writer for the show between 1962 and 1964.

Jim Lee (broadcaster)

James "Jim" Lee (born 21 April 1953 in Nuneaton, England) is a freelance continuity announcer and newsreader on BBC Radio 4 and the BBC World Service as well as providing links for BBC Radio 4 Extra.

List of Dad's Army radio episodes

This is a radio episode list of the British sitcom Dad's Army. Dates shown are original air dates on BBC Radio 4. Since 2007 the full run of radio episodes has been regularly repeated on digital archive station BBC Radio 4 Extra along with its radio-only sequel It Sticks Out Half a Mile.Although many of the television episodes were adapted to radio, the following were not: Gorilla Warfare, Ring Dem Bells, When You've Got to Go, Come in, Your Time is Up, The Face on the Poster, My Brother and I, The Love of Three Oranges, Wake Up Walmington, The Making of Private Pike, Knights of Madness, The Miser's Hoard, Number Engaged & Never Too Old.

List of Doctor Who radio stories

Doctor Who is a British science fiction television programme produced by the BBC. The show has been a large influence in the media since its inception. 1966 saw the first radio broadcast of the show.

There have been many Doctor Who radio broadcasts over the years. In addition to a small number of in-house BBC productions, a larger number of radio plays produced by Big Finish began to be broadcast on BBC Radio 7 from 2005, featuring the Eighth Doctor (again played by Paul McGann) with mainstay companions Charley Pollard and later Lucie Miller. Initially, these were broadcasts of Big Finish productions that had already been released on CD. However, the series that began with Blood of the Daleks and concluded with Human Resources was specially commissioned by the BBC from Big Finish for broadcast prior to the CD release. Many more of these were released on CD than were broadcast on the radio; only those plays broadcast by the BBC are listed here. See the list of Doctor Who audio releases as a starting point for other audio plays and audio books, notably the List of Doctor Who audio plays by Big Finish which includes more plays than were broadcast.

One (radio series)

One is a radio comedy series created by David Quantick. It is broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and BBC Radio 4 Extra. Each episode lasts 15 minutes and consists of a series of vignettes, each of which features only a single voice.

Protect and Survive (audio drama)

Protect and Survive is a Big Finish Productions audio drama based on the long-running British science fiction television series Doctor Who. It was released on CD and download in July 2012, and was first broadcast on BBC Radio 4 Extra on 17 November 2013 as part of the Doctor Who 50th-anniversary celebrations.

Spats (radio series)

Spats is a British radio comedy sketch series broadcast on digital radio station BBC 7. The series is written and presented by John-Luke Roberts (credited as Luke Roberts in the first series), with additional material written by Nadia Kamil. Kamil also stars in the show, alongside Stephen Critchlow and Clare Wille. The series first started as a pilot, first broadcast on 11 December 2006.Each episode of Spats looks at two sides of some kind of argument. Examples include "Religion v Atheism (and Other Religions)", "Love v Something Better" and "The Living vs The Dead". Each episode then presents a series of sketches, consisting of what Roberts himself describes as "perfectly adequate sketch comedy" concerning the themes. At the end of each episode, one of the sides is declared by Roberts the winner.

The 7th Dimension

The Seventh Dimension is the BBC's regular radio slot for science fiction, fantasy and horror. It is broadcast on the digital radio station BBC Radio 4 Extra at 6 p.m. (GMT in winter, BST in summer) on Saturdays and Sundays, and then repeated each day at midnight with host Nicholas Briggs. Most of the programs are full cast dramatizations and the remainder are book readings. The Seventh Dimension has hosted both standalone stories and serials. Most of the programs are drawn from the BBC's extensive archives and have previously been aired on other BBC stations. A few Seventh Dimension shows are new commissions, such as Undone, The Spaceship and Planet B. It also sometimes uses Big Finish Productions of Doctor Who.

Originally aired on BBC 7, it retained the 7 in the name when BBC 7 became BBC Radio 4 Extra.

Previously broadcast seven days a week, in May 2014 this was reduced to Saturday and Sunday only, the reason given being "the number of archive programmes available is limited". By October 2015 it was completely gone from the schedule.

The Architects of History

The Architects of History is a Big Finish Productions audio drama based on the long-running British science fiction television series Doctor Who. It contains a four-part story.

The story was broadcast on BBC Radio 4 Extra in 4 episodes on 30 May, 31 May, 1 June and 4 June 2012.

The Big Toe Radio Show

The Big Toe Radio Show was a daily show (seven days a week) for children on the DAB radio station BBC 7 at breakfast time and from 4 to 6 pm. It was aimed at children aged nine to eleven. It featured music, games, stories read from well-known books such as those by Roald Dahl and fun. It began in December 2002, as BBC 7 launched

A notable feature was the involvement of children in the making of the programme. Each day, three children were invited to the specially-designed studios at Broadcasting House. Becoming part of the Big Toe team for the day, the children could see the 'behind-the-scenes' aspects of making a radio programme. If they wished to, they could also take part in the on-air features, often having the opportunity of interviewing visiting guests such as musicians, authors, scientists, and sports stars.Its counterpart was the hour-long The Little Toe Radio Show for children beginning school of age four to seven, which was broadcast daily at 7 am and 3 pm. In 2003, the Big Toe Reporters' Club was formed where children reported on current affairs pertaining to them – often very different from topics found on conventional current affairs programmes.

The Crimes of Thomas Brewster

The Crimes of Thomas Brewster is a Big Finish Productions audio drama based on the long-running British science fiction television series Doctor Who. It was broadcast on BBC Radio 4 Extra from 28 May – 4 June 2016.

The Curse of Davros

The Curse of Davros is a Big Finish Productions audio drama based on the long-running British science fiction television series Doctor Who. It is due to be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 Extra from 25 June – 2 July 2016.

The Navy Lark

The Navy Lark is a radio sitcom about life aboard a British Royal Navy frigate named HMS Troutbridge, (a play on HMS Troubridge, a Royal Navy destroyer) based in HMNB Portsmouth. In series 1 and 2, the ship and crew were stationed offshore at an unnamed location known simply as "The Island". In series 2 this island was revealed to be owned by Lt. Cdr. Stanton.

The programme was transmitted on the BBC Light Programme and subsequently BBC Radio 2. It was produced by Alastair Scott Johnston. Jon Pertwee is frequently quoted as having suggested the idea of a forces comedy based on the Royal Navy, but writer Laurie Wyman and Alastair Scott Johnston both contemplated an Air Force and an Army themed sit-com before going to the BBC with The Navy Lark. Laurie Wyman included ideas based on excuses for late return from leave and other misdemeanours from HMS Troubridge bulletins. He worked with George Evans (Pertwee's personal scriptwriter) from quite early on, but Alastair Scott Johnston did not want him named until the 12th series onwards. For most of its run, it starred Leslie Phillips, Jon Pertwee and Stephen Murray, whose names rotated in order of precedence every episode over the entire 15 season run.

Episodes of The Navy Lark series are still replayed in rotation on BBC Radio 4 Extra, and made available for delayed listening through their iPlayer service.

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