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Over the past two months I've been searching for a new Controller for Radio 4 and Radio 7. This is no simple task; Radio 4 is a unique cultural institution with a passionate audience and incredibly talented staff. Leading it is a huge honour. As I wrote here at the start of the process, Mark Damazer - Radio 4's current Controller - has managed to sustain buoyant audiences without compromising the quality of programmes, so I am well aware of the importance of finding the right person to follow in the exceptional Mr Damazer's footsteps.

I saw some outstanding candidates during the recruitment process; brilliant leaders from a broad range of backgrounds, all with hugely impressive experience. This week we entered the final stage of the lengthy process and today we announced on Radio 4 that the successful candidate is Gwyneth Williams, until recently Director of BBC World Service English.

Gwyneth is an editorial leader of the highest calibre and a passionate supporter of Radio 4. She brings vast broadcasting experience, tremendous intelligence and a fresh perspective to the role. I was impressed by her creativity, enthusiasm and ideas for building the network's intellectual quality while maintaining its relevance.

This is one of the biggest jobs in broadcasting and I believe I have found the right person to succeed Mark Damazer. I look forward to working with her in building on Mark's success and leading Radio 4 to even greater things over coming years.

Tim Davie is Director of BBC Audio & Music

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  • Comment number 39. Posted by TV Licence fee payer against BBC censorship

    on 30 Aug 2010 17:45

    26. At 9:18pm on 18 Jul 2010, tambman wrote:

    "Woman's Hour is quite clearly well past its day. If it was "Man's Hour", it would have been axed as non-PC years ago."

    Agreed, there is absolutely no need for such a programme in this day and age, the programmes name and content should be made none gender specific, better still, the programme should just be scrapped.

    "While you're about it, could you not restore the timing of the interesting "Sunday" programme to a more civilised hour, say from 8 a.m. I am a regular churchgoer, but I find the Sunday morning R4 Church Service ill-timed and, frankly, boring."

    In my opinion, a re-timed "Sunday" programme would be a good replacement for that irrelevant excuse and waste of space of a programme called "Broadcasting House" on a Sunday morning unless it is made into a serious news/current affairs programme (complete with a new serious presenter [1]) - and I'm not at all a religious person but find Sunday far more intellectually interesting than anything normally contained within "BH"...

    "And that's just a start...."

    Indeed, I won't even mention my (long running) request to 'steel' the "Financial World Tonight" back from Radio 5Live!

    [1] and on that subject, can we have a serious presenter for PM, surely there must be another William Hardcastle or Derek Cooper waiting in the wings somewhere, and if the UK Theme is to return (as some seem to want) can PM have it's quirky Theme tune back also please? :-)

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  • Comment number 38. Posted by TV Licence fee payer against BBC censorship

    on 30 Aug 2010 17:09

    Oh please, no return to that awful musical medley, I would call it more a musical mash-up, called the "UK Theme"...

    As for what I would like to see changed (brought back), it would have to be a 40 to 45min' "World at One" and the reinstatement of the lunchtime - that is, between 13:00 and 14:00hrs - repeat of the previous nights edition of the "The Archers", there must be many people who don't get a chance to listen to either of the week-day editions of the Archers due to working/travelling times and thus have to plan their Sunday mornings around the omnibus edition. Also, suggesting to people living in the country and/or away from Broadband (and indeed, in some cases, rock steady dial-up) that they can 'catch-up' via the web podcasts is not all that helpful I suspect!

    Oh, and can we have a daytime or evening repeat of Farming Today please, this has been mentioned to Mark in past blogs, if I remember correctly he was broadly sympathetic to the rational for such a repeat (although scheduling seemed to have been the problem), I also seem to recall that there was some support amongst fellow bloggers to the suggestion.

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  • Comment number 37. Posted by Robert Price

    on 26 Aug 2010 10:13

    For the sake of your station's integrity please get rid of [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator] and all similarly poorly acted and extremely poorly written rubbish.

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  • Comment number 36. Posted by anotherfakename

    on 19 Aug 2010 11:15

    I sincerely hope the new controller has some interests outside 'the arts'. Radio 4 is getting dull and boring as it becomes increasingly an arts broadcaster with apparently little interest and no skill in any other area.
    Take yesterdays (Wed 18th August) PM program. This is supposed to be 'news and current affairs'. We were treated to a long piece on some newly dead 'literary critic' - frankly I don't read literary critics, I prefer to read the books and make up my own mind...
    Apart from the 'interview' (not exactly in depth or useful) with the Labour party candidate - actually an idea that I agree with - the rest of the listening was equally about art and celebrity, not a single piece of news in it.

    Frankly - especially at a time when the UK needs people who actually do useful things - like manufacturing - we should find a balance on stations like radio 4 where engineering, science, proper investigative journalism (not just reading sound bites from a prepared government statement, or asking stupid questions about 'splits' in a coalition - of course there are going to be differences of opinion in ANY government worth its salt, if there aren't then we have worse than a dictatorship even some of Hitlers advisers argued with him!).
    Radio 4 should stop believing the rest of the world is full of arts obsessed thickos with the attention span of a goldfish and start providing us with real content worth chewing.

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  • Comment number 35. Posted by Paul Hudson

    on 5 Aug 2010 06:19

    There is a lot that continues to be good and really good on R4 so it will be important to make sure they continue. I note that Gwyneth has already been in charge of much that is good. Comedy on R4 is one exception though. I cannot imagine that the BBC can get away with describing many of the programmes as such. Reading above I saw the joke in
    "Mark Damazer - Radio 4's current Controller - has managed to sustain buoyant audiences without compromising the quality of programmes, so I am well aware of the importance of finding the right person to follow in the exceptional Mr Damazer's footsteps." it is QUALITY that we need reinstated and I do hope Gwyneth will try to undo all the damage done by Damazer.

    There was a comment higher up about Feedback. It just does not work for the listener and I have stopped listening. It does show how arrogant many of the BBC producers are though.

    I also wonder what happened to the drama and story telling on the World Service, a look at RNZ would offer some ideas of what to do to entertain us all and bring in more listeners.

    Of R7 its prime value is in the fact of offering quality programmes from the archives. It should be on all our radios however - not just the DAB ones.

    I keep my fingers crossed that Quality is the key word and change is neither driven by listener numbers or new brooms.

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  • Comment number 34. Posted by citiboy

    on 2 Aug 2010 06:15

    I on't agree with comments that Front Row is dire. Its reviews are first-rate and Mark Lawson does a great job.

    I'd like to see Feedback done more seriously, one gets the impression that listeners are patronised and their views not taken seriously enough.

    Women's Hour is, as some have said already, well past its sell-by date and needs a new format.

    Please could we have the Radio 4 anthem back. Getting rid of it seemed a sop to the politically correct.

    I find your news bulletins through the day (apart from Today, the 1 o'clock news and PM) very thin. I tend to switch to Radio 2 to get a fuller version.

    And Sunday mornings - urgh. I know the BBC has a commitment to Christianity but, really, can we have some news at some point in the morning? I find Radio 5 live so much better on Sunday morning while Radio 4 is doing its white-middle-class-kneeling-in-the-pews thing.

    And Fi Glover, you need to break out of the London focus. I'm glad I'm not the only listener to have noticed that you obssess about the metropolis. Not all your listeners (and licence fee payers) live within the M25.

    Er, that's it. Thanks.

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  • Comment number 33. Posted by Gordon Pearson

    on 29 Jul 2010 10:38

    This comment was removed because it broke the house rules. Explain

  • Comment number 32. Posted by Bob Harvey

    on 25 Jul 2010 19:33

    May I join those welcoming Gwyneth Williams?

    May I also add my voice to those calling for the return of the UK theme? In fact, why not play it before the 13:00 news as well?

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  • Comment number 31. Posted by R J Evans

    on 22 Jul 2010 12:32

    I was one of the 15 million who listened to "Dick Barton" every evening at 6.45 pm in the post-war years, from the age of 7 in 1946. Having just returned from a short holiday, I find that last Thursday's programme, "Dick Barton-a Very Special Agent", is already gone from the website, just 7 days and 1 hour after it was broadcast. You bring the shutters down as fast as a Saudi shopkeeper at mid-day when the religious police are around! Does this mean that the programme is gone forever and that I will have no chance to wallow in nostalgia? By the way, the background note left on the site is not quite correct, to my recall. "Dick" was not immediately replaced by "The Archers" but by a circus life soap, "The Daring Dexters." I think it lasted for only a few weeks, paling in comparison with its predecessor. But never so pale as "the everyday story of country-folk", which I never took to.

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  • Comment number 30. Posted by JayBee

    on 21 Jul 2010 16:04

    It seems the website complaints procedure is being treated by insiders as something of a joke, when it states:-

    "For some of our, um, more regular correspondents,..." etc.

    Paul Wakely, Editor, Moderation Services, BBC Online, needs to nip this jokey treatment of genuine complaints in the bud. Let's have some public accountability and less sneering 'look at me' showing off.

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