The remit of Radio 4 is to be a mixed speech service, offering in-depth news and current affairs and a wide range of other speech output including drama, readings, comedy, factual and magazine programmes.

The station should appeal to listeners seeking intelligent programmes in many genres which inform, educate and entertain.

The digital station Radio 4 Extra is the principal outlet for the BBC's archive of speech entertainment, including comedy, drama and readings.

More information on the remits for BBC Radio 4 and BBC 4 Extra can be found on the BBC Trust website.

Please see the audience production resource page for an overview of the latest RAJAR results, for Radio 4 and Radio 4 Extra. 

 

Anybody wishing to work with Radio 4 must read and follow the Radio 4 Style Guide (PDF)

 

Commissioning opportunities

Radio 4 schedules 13,000 programmes across 14 different genres each year and has a special commissioning process.

If you are an independent production company and wish to hear details regarding the Radio 4 or 4 Extra commissioning rounds, you will need to be part of the Radio Independent Supplier Database and can find more information on the How to pitch page

All Radio Production companies on the database will receive copies of the guidelines for the main commissioning round, held in the spring, and for special tenders.

These contain guidance on:

  • the commissioning process and timetable
  • who is eligible to bid for particular slots
  • editorial, audience and price requirements
  • how to write and submit programme proposals 

Companies wishing to offer dramas or readings to Radio 4 should also consult the Full List of Published Titles (PDF).    

 

RADIO 4 ARTS COMMISSIONING 

This round will be held later in the year. Dates will be published in due course.

2016 SPRING COMMISSIONING ROUNDS

RADIO 4 DRAMA AND COMEDY COMMISSIONING ROUND (PDF)

Guidelines published week commencing 18 January
Briefing in MediaCityUK, Salford 27 January at 13.30
Briefing in the Radio Theatre, London 28 January at 10.30
Pre-offers deadline midday 24 February
Pre-offers results published in Proteus     17 March
Final offers deadline midday 21 April
Final results published in Proteus             end July

RADIO 4 FACTUAL COMMISSIONING ROUND

Guidelines published Week commencing 15 February
Briefing in the Radio Theatre, London 23 February at 11.00
Briefing in MediaCityUK, Salford 24 February at 13.30
Pre-offers deadline midday 24 March
Pre-offers results published in Proteus 14 April
Final offers deadline midday 19 May
Final results published in Proteus  end July

Open tenders

SHORT READINGS TENDER

Guidelines published 3 December 2015
Submission deadline 11 February (noon)
Results issued w/c 28 March 2016
New contracts begin April 2017

 

Recent tenders

The tenders for Book of the Week, Book at Bedtime, 4 Extra Short Readings, Feedback, Something Understood & Gardeners’ Question Time have now closed. The outcome of this competitive process is that is that commissions have been won by the following companies.

BOOK OF THE WEEK

  • Brill Productions Ltd
  • Heavy Entertainment Limited
  • Loftus Media Ltd
  • Pier Productions Limited
  • Radio Drama - London
  • Scotland - Drama
  • Sweet Talk Productions
  • The Waters Partnership

BOOK AT BEDTIME

  • Brill Productions Ltd
  • Ni Drama
  • Pier Productions Limited
  • R&M Production - Bristol
  • Radio Drama - London
  • Scotland - Drama
  • Sweet Talk Productions
  • The Waters Company

4 EXTRA SHORT READINGS

  • Greenlit Productions

FEEDBACK

  • Whistledown

SOMETHING UNDERSTOOD

  • TBI Media
  • Unique              

GARDENERS' QUESTION TIME

  • Somethin’ Else

Other tendered business 

The tender for Afternoon Drama is currently held by:

  • Brill
  • Boz Temple Morris
  • Catherine Bailey
  • Corporation for Independent  Media
  • Goldhawk Essential
  • Pier
  • Somethin’ Else
  • Sparklab
  • Sweet Talk

The tender for Radio 4 Short Readings is currently held by:

  • BBC Northern Ireland – Drama
  • BBC Scotland - Drama
  • BBC Radio Drama - London
  • BBC R&M Factual - Bristol
  • Heavy Entertainment Ltd
  • Pier Productions Ltd
  • Sweet Talk Productions Ltd
  • The Waters Partnership t/a The Waters Company

Programme ideas

BBC Radio 4 is essentially a commissioning centre, not a production department and we are unable to accept unsolicited programme ideas which have been sent directly to the network.

In order to submit an offer to Radio 4, you will need to work with a production department/supplier. Please see Ideas from the public page for more information. 

Book at Bedtime, Book of the Week and Short Stories

This business is tendered and won by selected producers. Additionally the BBC Writersroom  occasionally post competitions for short stories on their website under "Opportunities".

Scripts  

For unsolicited scripts please see the BBC Writersroom website

Rolling commissions

The ad hoc round (Round 8) is always open for rolling commissioning and reactive ideas. From now until 31 March 2016, this round will be in Proteus as Round 8 2015 - 2016.

All programmes commissioned outside of the main rounds require Proteus proposals before conditional commissions can be confirmed.

These may be for

  • individual programmes within a batch or output guarantee that your company or department has secured.
  • an idea you are pitching between rounds because it’s a great idea and can’t wait until the next round.

Please note, however, that the scope for pitching between rounds is narrow. In comedy and drama it is extremely narrow and normally related to availability of talent.

Process:

  1. Email the relevant commissioning editor, with a copy to the commissioning assistant. 
  2. At the same time, enter a Proteus proposal and submit it to the network.  

Rolling submissions are always entered in round 8 of the current financial year (not necessarily the year in which the programme will transmit). 

E.g. to pitch an idea for Archive on 4 (brief number 47088) to TX in 2016-17, you select:

‘20152016 – 47088 – 8 – Archive on 4’

If you are unsure of which brief number or commissioning year to use, please check with Amanda Benson.

  1. If entered into Proteus by last thing Friday, this will ensure inclusion in the next weekly meeting of the commissioning team.
  2. It is assumed that every programme is offered at the guide price unless you make it clear in your short synopsis that it will be over or under the guide.
  3. If the proposal is to be commissioned, you will receive a Conditional Acceptance email as normal, and the status in Proteus will be adjusted accordingly.
  4. If it is Shortlisted for further consideration, you will receive an email confirming this.
  5. If it is Rejected, you will not receive an email but will be able to see this information in Proteus. 
  6. If you have not heard back in a couple of weeks, or seen a rejection in Proteus, then do contact the commissioning editor to enquire.

 

Further information

Programme-makers are advised to read information on the Pitching to RadioHow we do business and Delivery timeline pages before submitting proposals.

Radio 4 is a commissioning network and operates very differently to other radio networks. If you have any questions about the commissioning process, please contact the Radio 4 commissioning team on 020 7765 3366.

 

Radio 4 Extra

Acquisition checklist

BBC Radio 4 Extra purchases a certain number of ready-made programmes each year that match its editorial remit – archive or acquired comedy, entertainment, drama, readings and features. If you are interested you will have to be able to deliver and agree to the points in the Radio 4 Extra acquisition checklist. You may be asked to deliver the information in the acquisition checklist before final agreement is made and before a final contract is signed. Please send your programme information to Rachel Tappin (Business Manager, Radio 4 Extra).

 

Roles

Sioned Wiliam is Commissioning Editor for Comedy, responsible for all comedy output.

Mohit Bakaya, Commissioning Editor for Factual, takes lead responsibility for history, current affairs, politics, natural history, science and religion on the Network.

Tony Phillips, Commissioning Editor, Arts, takes responsibility for music, arts and poetry documentaries – including the Saturday 10.30 feature - and arts strands including: Open Book, The Film Programme, BookclubSaturday Review, A Good Read, Word of Mouth, With Great Pleasure.  Tony is also Commissioning Editor for the World Service where he is responsible for documentaries, World Service Arts, World Bookclub, The Forum and Heart and Soul.

Jeremy Howe is Commissioning Editor for Drama and Fiction and is responsible for all drama output, the Book at Bedtime and Short Readings.

Denis Nowlan, Head of Station Management, BBC Radio 3, Radio 4 & Radio 4 Extra, is responsible for planning the commissioning process.  He is also commissioning editor for the independent strands Feedback and Gardener’s Question Time and The Kitchen Cabinet.

All commissions are signed off by Controller Radio 4, Gwyneth Williams.

 

If you would like to know more about BBC Radio 4 and 4 Extra programmes, content and schedules, please visit the Radio 4 station websites

 

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