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Welcome to Radio 4 Extra

Friday 1 April 2011, 18:02

Mary Kalemkerian Mary Kalemkerian

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George Bernard Shaw at a microphone in 1931

After we bid a fond farewell to BBC Radio 7 after over 8 years on-air - what a delight to be able instead to welcome you to the world of BBC Radio 4 Extra.

Whether you're a newbie or one of our loyal band of followers - I can promise you plenty to enjoy in our new schedule, which kicks off tomorrow at 6am.

In keeping with the joys of spring, and the romance of weddings in the air, we are delivering the traditional 'Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Something Blue' in our new line-up for the rebranded digital radio station.

For Something Old, Radio 4 Extra will open with a 90' production of George Bernard Shaw's Arms and the Man, starring Andrew Sachs and directed in 1984 by former Head of BBC Radio Drama, John Tydeman.

John e-mailed us with the following message:

Seven was Heaven! Since the same team are now scheduling Extra, I have every hope that it too will be something Extra good! There's a gold-mine to be mined of nuggets from the BBC's speech archive, and all programmes in the archive are there because of excellence or because they are of exceptional interest. Gold does not tarnish and often grows in value with age. Listeners are sure to be in for a rich experience for many years to come

Very well expressed, John.

For Something New, we have commissioned new children's dramas, beginning with Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, a family friendly magazine series, The Four O' Clock Show and an excellent archive drama new to the network, Fortunes of War. There's also plenty of new comedy, including a comedy magazine What's So Funny? presented by Rufus Hound.

Something Borrowed: well, the bulk of our programmes are already borrowed from the archive, but for 4 Extra, in addition to 'borrowing' Desert Island Discs and Ambridge from our sister station Radio 4, we've also borrowed some of the Radio 4 announcers to present some of our programmes. Alan, Kathy, Neil, Rory and Susan Alan and will be joining our presentation team over the coming weeks.

Something Blue? - certainly not our comedy, classic or contemporary! But blue is the colour of the Radio 4 logo, and we've moved a shade away from blue to the lovely, warm colour purple for Radio 4 Extra, as you can see on our website.

If we've managed to tempt you - BBC Radio 4 Extra is available to enjoy on digital radio, digital television and online.

Mary Kalemkerian is Head of Programmes at BBC Radio 4 Extra

  • The picture, from the BBC picture archive, shows George Bernard Shaw at the microphone in 1931. John Tydeman's production of Shaw's Arms and the Man opens broadcasting for 4 Extra tomorrow morning at 0600.
  • These words are from Mary's hugely popular weekly newsletter. Sign up to have it delivered to your email inbox free of charge here.

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    Comment number 1.

    What is the address of the Windows Media stream for Radio 4 Extra? I assume it is some variation of http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio/listen/live/r4.asx but there are all sorts of spelling and capitalization possibilities.

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    Comment number 2.

    I haven't seen much about what happened to those presenters that didn't move from Radio 7 to 4 Extra. My favorite, all-time host has been Michaela Saunders. To me she "was" BBC Radio 7! Being American, I appreciated her fairly "neutral" British accent and her articulate, well inflected and sometimes wry humorous presentations. Her interview with Peter Coke was marvelous.

    I thought it was a mistake when the station moved to using a single presenter for a whole day rather than for a particular time block every weekday. My favorite programs were the Crime and Thrillers which Michaela used to do.

    I would encourage you to consider adding Michaela Saunders to Radio 4 Extra's team of presenters. Of course, she may have other commitments that make that impossible, but a comment on her situation would be appreciated. I found Michaela's Linked In profile and it appears she's working at BBCHD.

    I also enjoyed the other women who seem left out - Penny Haslam and Helen Aitken - who will be sorely missed. Comment on their situation would be appreciated.

    Richard Bertrand
    Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA

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    Comment number 3.

    Dears Sirs,
    has nobody ever told you that HTML in email is rude? When HTML was invented the email already was twenty years old and it took users only a very short time to reach the consensus of banning HTML in polite company. I was and am subscibed to the plain text newsletter and I expect it to stay that way. There was a time, long ago, when British people were famed for their impeccable manners. Nowadays it seems only the most ill mannered and boorish make it to become roll models.
    Your long listener
    Axel Berger

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    Comment number 4.

    As I feared the Radio 4 Extra schedule is not as good as Radio &. Where is the full-length drama on Saturday & Sunday early afternoons? Where the 10 o'clock daily serial. Must we have so much "Just a Minute"?

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    Comment number 5.

    Some of the radio 4 extra programs sound interesting - any chance of making sure we can all receive DAB programs so we can try it out??

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    Comment number 6.

    Richard Bertrand, I so agree with you. The warmth of Helen, Penny and Michaela will be sadly missed. They had none of the vocal harshness or irritating "here I am" quirks of some presenters and one felt totally relaxed in their company. Michaela's Peter Coke interview was brilliant and I defy any other presenter to have done better.
    Eljypea, I too feel bereft with no full-length drama today and I will miss it tomorrow and also the daily serial. I guess my cd collection will getting more play time.
    I came to R7 when it first started to get away from some of things which I did not enjoy on R4 and some of those things have now followed me onto 4Extra!
    However, we all have to give 4Extra a chance and I am looking forward to hearing some of it, but I doubt the station will be my constant companion as was R7.
    Best wishes to all involved.

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    Comment number 7.

    Thanks for your comments, everyone. I'll make sure that Mary and the 4 Extra management are aware of them. And, in the meantime, Axel Burger, I should say, in the interests of clarity, that the 4 Extra newsletter is available in both boorish (but rather elegant) HTML and polite (but somewhat plainer) text. You can sign up for either or both on the newsletter page. Both, of course, are free.

    Steve Bowbrick, editor, Radio 4 blog

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    Comment number 8.

    Why can't you leave well alone? No doubt your Tristams will come up with some gobblegook about improving the service experience, but R7 worked very well. Don't bother replying with the usual platitudes, but I would like to know just how much of the licence payers money has gone on the change and the new website.

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    Comment number 9.

    Deeply dissapointed, almost to tears, by the new schedule. My BBC 7 listening is the 12:00 - 02:30 slot in the morning. To lose the crime and thrillers hour and the 90 minute dramas; exactly what I feared in this over-hyped rebranding of what was the most poular digital only channel. For those of you with long memories "Well done the BBC another winner." Anyone want a cheap second-hand digital radio? I don't think I will need it anymore.

  • Comment number 10.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

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    Comment number 11.

    I've been trying to listen to the new Radio 4 Extra (was Radio 7) online and the sound is messed up. There will be a few seconds of clear, normal audio, and then it starts stuttering.
    Regular Radio 4 (online) is fine; it's just the new, extra version.

  • Comment number 12.

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

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    Comment number 13.

    I originally went to radio 7 to get away from celebrity interviews and music and now we have Desert Island discs.Why did they have to change a successful format.

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    Comment number 14.

    I did enjoy listening to Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, but why was Mimsie Pott, Commander Caractacus' wife and Jeremy and Jemima's mum, not kept in the adaptation - on Mothering Sunday?

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    Comment number 15.

    Steve Bowbrick wrote:
    > You can sign up for either or both on the newsletter page.
    > Both, of course, are free.

    So you can. Two points:
    The new tabbed interface is anything but obvious AND you can't change tabs, unless allowing scripts from a different domain than the one you're on to run, something a security-conscious user will never allow. I've now managed my way around both these obstacles.
    You had switched me over from BBC7 text to 4extra html without my ever asking for that. I think you can trust all readers who explicitly request the text variant to know what they're doing.

    But thanks for the help, everything ought to be alright again now.

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    Comment number 16.

    so we get one positive quote from a listener and all other comments are ignored. this is the bbc at its worst ignoring the vast amount of comments a bit like they did over the archers disaster. no-one asked or wanted a change to radio 7. the bbc treats its listeners with complete contempt it manipulates the listening figures so now it can add a few thousand to the overall archers and the dire desert island discs figures and hope for a sony award. i refused to tune into 4 after the archers new year debacle now it seems ive lost radio 7 aswell to same autocratic jobsworths whose only function is to justify their pay packets. my last post was deleted so lets see if this passes muster.

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    Comment number 17.

    andrew, I can promise you that your comments are not being ignored. All will be passed to 4 Extra management (the same people who ran Radio 7, as I'm sure you're aware). Thanks for your comment and do help us by providing specific feedback on the new schedule.

    Steve Bowbrick, editor, Radio 4 blog

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    Comment number 18.

    well mr bowbrick the most obvious is the loss of the feature length drama but also what on earth is the point of putting the archers in the middle of two 15 minute shows that are part of the same story it makes no sense at all.

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    Comment number 19.

    After 6 years with Radio 7 and 2 miserable, mind numblingly boring days and nights with Radio 4Extra, I can see that I am not going to be around much longer. Why oh why, when you had a good thing going with the fantastic R7, did you have to shake it up, change it and, in the event, make it worse! It's hideous so far. I want drama and comedy and maverick continuity announcers with personality, not the staid old dry and frankly, boring straight guy/gals direct from R4. (Radio 7 stood out because it developed its own character, now you want to make it exactly like R4).

    What the heck is Dessert Island Disc doing on at 9pm? I don't want to listen to Kirsty again at this time, it's bad enough on Friday on R4. I'm giving this new schedule a week and if it continues like this I'm off, and, for good. For the first time in years the radio is off at this time, where normally I would be listening from 6pm until midnight.

    What is wrong with you at the BBC? Did any consulations with your R7 Audience take place? If not, why not? I despair at this recklessness.

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    Comment number 20.

    I can't believe what you've done to Radio 7, where have all the plays gone, both long and short ? I used to like listening to them especially late at night.
    You've filled the whole schedule up with inane chatter and programmes we can hear on Radio 4 if we so choose.

    I'm absolutely furious, you've ruined the station, this is yet more dumbing down !

    Pease don't tell me the station is staying like this ,I can't bear it , soon i won't be able to listen to the BBC at all. I bought a digital radio to get away from Staions 4 and 5, I can't believe what you've done !


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Find out about this year's panel and theme