Archive for the ‘Radio 4 Extra’ Tag

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.


Radio 4 Extra – more information

Information is slowly emerging about about the upcoming switch from Radio 7 to Radio 4 Extra.


It appears that the switch will happen in the ‘first week in April’ – information about the new Archer’s spin off points to this date.  You’ll also see that I’m one of the few people who’s written a comment in support of the new programme- the first time I have been moved to do so on the BBC site (check out comment 11 on the posting).  For me, this couldn’t be worse timing assuming the ‘first week’ of April is the 4th April.  I’m in Lancaster for my PhD residential, though I will of course be taking a radio with me.


We don’t know much about the schedule yet, though I guess like all Radio programmes it will be published a week in advance.  Ambridge Extra will be on twice a day, at 10:00 and 14:15, so that seems to indicate that there will be repetition as there is now, though could we hope for maybe a little less (8:00, 12:00, 19:00 ‘classic comedy’ for instance, if I’ve had a hard day in front of the keyboard it’s possible if not likely that I will here each of these repeats, and be able to act as a prompt to The Men from the Ministry).  It’s unclear too what will happen to current programmes which haven’t finished their run.  I’m enjoying The Navy Lark, and whilst each episode is pretty well interchangeable, it would be a shame if they can’t complete the entire run.  I do hope that they keep the zoned programming though, it’s nice to know that I can turn the radio on at (say 10pm), and know there’s going to be comedy, or if I’m unfortunate Heated Rollers.


Well we know that there are going to be extended versions of The News Quiz / Now Show, and classic Desert Island Discs – so that will be something to look forward to.  Other nuggets in the press release state that some new comedy will be premiered on Radio 4 Extra before its outing on Radio 4.  This is a good idea, given how comedy programmes frequently transfer from the Radio (I listened to Miranda Hart’s Comedy Shop on Radio 2 well before the first series aired on BBC2, and the rest of the world ‘discovered her’).

Catch Up

It looks like there will be more podcasts available for off-line listening (Keri Davies has confirmed Ambridge Extra will be a podcast too), and of course there’s always iPlayer.  Worryingly though, buried in the BBC’s online strategy I remember reading that they were considering ‘spinning off’ Radio from the iPlayer.  If so, this is a mistake – so much time has been spent integrating the two services, and even my mom, who is not a techie can click on the iPlayer icon I’ve put on her desktop and access any Archers episodes she has missed.


That’s all that I’ve been able to gleam, and it seems that even the BBC News site can add little to the current knowledge, they’re keeping this all pretty hush hush apart from trailing the launch ‘coming soon’ fairly heavily on Radio 4.  I’ll resist posting more until actual launch, though if you hear anything, feel free to add a comment below.