Wednesday, 25 January 2012

The Long Runners

So what are the long-running programmes on UK radio still on air today?

Yesterday when I posted about Desert Island Discs I originally wrote: “The UK’s second-longest running radio programme celebrates its 70th anniversary this Sunday on Radio 4”. In fact the first part of that sentence was utter bunkum, and has now been amended.

Choral Evensong billing on 14 September 1948
So, after the result of a little more research and perhaps stepping into something of a minefield, here’s the Top 10:

1st - Choral Evensong, October 1926
2ndThe Daily Service, January 1928
3rdThe Week in Westminster, November 1929
4th - Sunday Half-Hour, July 1940
5th  Desert Island Discs, January 1942
6th  Today in Parliament, 1945
7thWoman’s Hour, October 1946
8thRound Britain Quiz, 1947
9thSports Report, January 1948
10thAny Questions, October 1948  

I have ignored the news, weather and the shipping forecast here. Though Today in Parliament started on the Home Service in 1945 I’ve not established when Yesterday in Parliament first aired other than it was in the late 40s, so this would change my top 10.

Paul Donovan’s book The Radio Companion states that Farming Today began as a weekly series in 1937 which would place it at number 4. However, the author of the Wikipedia article on the programme gives its first broadcast on Network Three in 1960. I have found evidence of an earlier occasional 10-minute talk series called Farming Today but for the most part the regular farming programmes consist of the morning Market Report for Farmers and magazine programmes such as Farm Fare and The Farmer.

I have also left out Gardeners’ Question Time. This is listed as starting in April 1947 but at the time it was known as How Does Your Garden Grow?,  changing  its title to the present one at a later date, but I’m not sure when.

An honorary mention should also go to The Week’s Good Cause which ran from 1926 until 1998 when it became known as Radio 4 Appeal.    

Of course not all these programmes have run continuously. Desert Island Discs itself had a five-year break between 1946 and 1951. In terms of the sheer number of programmes, The Daily Service, must take the record.  

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