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Series catch-up for speech-based radio programmes is here

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Andrew Caspari Andrew Caspari | 18:13 PM, Thursday, 24 February 2011

An illustration for Raymond Chandler's Farewell My Lovely on BBC Radio 4.

Ever since 2002, when we started offering listeners the chance to hear radio programmes on demand via the original Radio Player, listeners have consistently asked to be able to catch up on all the episodes of series whilst that series is on air. There is nothing more frustrating, they told us, than getting interested in a serial in the third week and not being able to catch up on the first two parts which disappear after 7 days. In fact we became quite concerned that people might not even start listening to a serial if they felt they would not be able to keep up.

Well, today we have had good news. The BBC Trust has approved plans to introduce 'series catch-up' for radio and we will introduce it over the coming weeks. This means all episodes of a selected range of series will be available on our websites and via the BBC iPlayer until 7 days after the final instalment has gone out. The first series to offer this is the magnificent Classic Chandler on Radio 4.

Series catch-up covers speech-based programmes where we have the rights in place and where there is a clear narrative that progresses from one episode to the next. On Radio 4 look out in particular for future Classic Serial dramas such as Patrick O'Brien's The Mauritius Command and The History of Titus Groan as well as Agatha Christie dramatisations. Some of our big factual series such as The Reith Lectures or The Story of Economics or other long-running history series will benefit too as will comedy serials such as Ed Reardon and Clare in the Community. Series catch-up will be possible for landmark series on all of the BBC's radio networks.

We conducted a trial of this offer last year. One of the projects featured was the Complete Smiley. The results from the audience were very encouraging. 7000 people responded to our survey and the headlines were:

  • 90% of users surveyed claimed they listened to more radio online as a consequence of series catch-up being available.
  • More than half listened to programmes they otherwise wouldn't have listened to.
  • More than half listened to more BBC radio online due to series catch-up.
  • 37% said they had listened to episodes of series they would otherwise have missed without series catch-up.

We are working hard to make it easier for our audiences to hear more of our programmes online and this has been a good couple of weeks. The Series Catch up approval comes hot on the heels of the Radio 3 and Radio 4 service licence reviews in which the BBC Trust encouraged us to increase the amount of archive content we make available on our sites. As an example of this we have just launched a collection of interviews with the authors whose books are being featured on World Book Night on March 5th. There will be much more of this kind of activity and I will update you on our progress in the coming months.

Andrew Caspari is Head of Speech Radio and Classical Music, Interactive at the BBC


  • Comment number 1.

    This is very good news...will keep a look out for it!

  • Comment number 2.

    Perfect for those of us who must travel frequently and have no routine. Thank you BBC.

  • Comment number 3.

    Splendid development for Drama and readings programmes.
    Many many THANKS BBC !

  • Comment number 4.

    This is wonderful. I listen in USA with a considerable time difference. I've one more related request: might thee be a way of listening to 5 episodes of the 15 minute serials, be it from Women's Hour or otherwise, in one stream, no have to search, play, close, search, play close 5 time just to hear a one hour plus program. Really takes so much away from listening plus have to keep jumping up or around the computer as well. Thanks so much for your great programs. Joan

  • Comment number 5.

    good. now i won't miss a programme whilst i'm away. hope it's in place for the new mclevy series.

  • Comment number 6.

    At last!

    Because of the listen-again facility, I have been listening to BBC radio EXCLUSIVELY online for two years. I do not own a radio!

    Whenever I missed an episode of a series, I was disappointed. But if I missed an episode of a serial, I abandoned future episodes altogether, never listening to it again.

  • Comment number 7.

    Very good news, thanks, BBC, but I didn't see a mention of 'Bleak Expectations'. PLEASE allow catch-up with this series - I want to recommend it to friends and family. (Oh, and if it is going to transfer to TV, don't let them change the title!).

  • Comment number 8.

    Fantastic news. Many thanks BBC.

  • Comment number 9.

    Excellent news indeed.
    However I have just caught up with this while I had seen on the Classic Chandler homepage that all (well, most of) the broadcasts where available to listen to again and no date given till when. Hence I thought they where being archived for longer and didn't catch them all.
    Maybe a good idea that when broadcasts are in a 'series catch-up' this is made clear on the home and till when they will be available (even if that's only 'till seven days after the last broadcast').


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