Radio 4 Extra – The First Weekend

I have spent much, some would say too much of the weekend listening to Radio 4 Extra, the successor to Radio 7, or as some of us will still think of it due to early publicity, BBC 7.
I actually set my alarm for 5:55 on Saturday morning so that I could hear the switch over, and see if my digital bedside radio (one of two by my bed actually, for complex reasons) would change the name automatically.

Maybe they could have chosen a better start to the station than a play by George Bernard Shaw, but remember that the start of channel five was heralded by the Spice Girls singing 5-4-3-2-1 so at least it’s an improvement on that.

There is much to like about the new schedule. Comedy and drama seem to have a roughly 50:50 balance in the new schedule, with space for more 90 minute dramas. Whilst none of these yet have been my cup of tea, that isn’t the fault of the programme planners. Sci-Fi is still planned for 6pm and midnight, and in a shamelessly popularise move, the heavily plugged Torchwood dramas, all of which I have heard before and have varying levels of success are leading this.

But there are some criticisms. Repeats within the day are still to frequent, and for the moment appear unpredictable. I am sure over time I will start to notice when the repeats are scheduled, and this weekend was exceptional in the amount that I listened to, but there’s still to many. There is a good argument to be made that with iPlayer there is no need for any repeats, but I know a schedule has to be filled.

And the 10:00 Saturday evening comedian stand-up slot is a good idea, but to start with a frankly filthy routine by Whoopi Goldberg, which dealt with ‘lady parts’ for much that I was able to listen to (about 10 minutes) – I was glad to switch to Family Guy for something more cerebral.

I am away all this week, but have packed my little Pure Mi radio in my overstuffed gadget bag, and will enjoy listening to the new schedule. I did really enjoy waking to Dick Barton, special agent at 6:45, and even forgave the whimsical (i.e. boring) Ballylenon at 7:00 – after eight years of big toe/little toe/cbeebies in the morning, I’ll forgive much – except for King Street Junior, for which I have a personal hatred that goes beyond the rational.

So I would give Radio 4 Extra 7.5/10 for its first few days. Room for improvement, but could have been much worse.


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