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Radio 4 Extra - the first week

Friday 8 April 2011, 18:37

Mary Kalemkerian Mary Kalemkerian

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Tony Hancock in 'The Lift' in 1961

Radio 4 Extra is almost one week old - and we've all been delighted to read far more publicity for the network than we ever expected. Our notice boards are groaning with press cuttings of previews and reviews from a wide variety of newspapers across the UK. We also made a number of feature pages too - which has all helped to raise awareness of the rebranded network.

On our launch day. Russell Davies took us on fascinating journey through the history of radio panel games. Let's Get Quizzical was very well-received, and those of you who enjoyed it can look forward to the second part of this entertaining series on Saturday.

The Chitty Chitty Bang Bang dramatisation also proved to be popular, and I notice that our next new children's drama commission, Elidor, is one of next week's Radio Choices in the Radio Times. Alan Garner's magical novel and the dark world of Elidor is a definite pick of the week for me...

Old favourites - like Hancock and Garrison Keillor's Radio Show - got favourable mentions in the press too.

So now it's on to our second week of broadcasting, when lovers of radio drama can look forward to My Cousin Rachel (Daphne Du Maurier), Howard's End and Torchwood.

Amongst the 10 hours-plus of comedy per day you can enjoy Ed Reardon's Week, Arthur Smith's Balham Bash, up and coming comedy group The Penny Dreadfuls, Hancock's War - and for fans of I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue there's a treat from 1982 - a programme which includes the late and much-missed Willie Rushton in the panel.

Mary Kalemkerian is Head of Programmes at BBC Radio 4 Extra

  • The photograph is from the BBC picture library. The caption reads: "Picture shows (front) Hugh Lloyd, Jack Watling, Tony Hancock. (back) Jose Read, John Le Mesurier, Noel Howlett, Diana King and Charles Lloyd Pack Tony Hanock suffers his indignity of being stuck for rather along time in a lift at the BBC Televsion Centre. Stuck with him are a number of visitors to the Centre and one or two employees including of course, the lift attendant plyed by Hugh Lloyd."
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    Comment number 1.

    You may have many reviews but you may not have many listeners for much longer. That is if you don't start taking our complaints seriously (previously loyal BBC7 fans). Bring back the full length dramas and the crimne and thrillers hour at 01:00.

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    You might be delighted at all the publicity you've got, but if you bothered to read the earlier blog, you'll see an awful lot of people are very upset about the changes, especially the loss of the Crime and Thrillers hour, from 1am onwards.
    I really miss that, and Radio 4 extra now comprises of inanane chatter, and old comedy shows.
    Where have the feature length plays gone ?

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    I kept an open mind about the re-branding exercise. I could see that there might be benefits in terms of directing potential listeners to the station; the association with Radio 4 might give some assurance regarding content quality.
    Having listened to some of the output, however, and viewed the schedule, I have to say that I am disappointed. I very much liked the format and balance of the Radio 7 schedule and the un-fussy, ego-free style of the presentation. The content of the original was so good that it did not require the 'added value' of presenters talking down to the audience and intruding into the quality of the radio experience.
    Radio 4 Extra is a rather poor shadow of its predecessor. I wonder if much research was conducted among the audience prior to the changes? I cannot imagine that there would have been much support for further unimpressive ouptut from the discredited 'Archers' stable.
    I too miss the 'Crime and Thrillers' hour at 1a.m.
    Come on Tim and co, I think you have enough indication that some readjustment is required.

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    I, too, am disappointed by the first week. The new schedule is incoherent and poorly thought through, and it makes what was Radio 7 seem to be little more than a dump for arbitrarily selected bits of Radio 4 (such as the interviews from Front Row). Please bring back the crime and thrillers hour at 1.00 am and please bring back the extended dramas. At the same time, please do not recommission the Archers programme and please do not include snippets of music (in the form of Desert Island Discs and the rather lame Inheritance Tracks): they are what Radio 4 is for and they are why I know when not to tune in to Radio 4. It would be interesting to know just how much this 'rebranding' exercise (with its infuriating station identifications and concomitant and incessant promotion on other channels) has cost us, the listeners. Any chance of some figures?

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    I agree with the comments made above. Also, I have an impression that there are more repeats of programmes (which follow the original programme very quickly). In particular, the loss of the Crime & Thrillers Hour is extremely regrettable as is the increase in 15 minute items. Please can we have confirmation that the comments here have been noted.


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Identifying the top ten game changers operating in the UK today.


See the latest on our blog


Find out about this year's panel and theme