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. 

 

The commissioning process 

Radio 4 is a commissioner and broadcaster of programmes, not a production department, and we are therefore unable to accept unsolicited scripts or programme ideas.

For guidelines on submitting scripts and details of occasional writing competitions, please visit the BBC Writersroom website.

To submit an idea via a registered supplier, please visit the Ideas from the public page. 

To register as a supplier: please visit the How to pitch page.

Commissioning opportunities for registered suppliers are published on this website.

Before submitting a proposal, suppliers should consult the following documents and webpages:

If you have any questions about the commissioning process, please contact the Radio 4 commissioning team on 020 7765 3366.

 

2017 commissioning rounds 

Download information about the Radio 4 spring commissioning round (PDF).

Radio 4 Drama and Comedy, Spring 2017 

Guidelines published Week commencing 19 December
Briefing in the Radio Theatre, London 30 January at 10.30
Briefing in MediaCityUK, Salford 1 February at 13.30
Phase 1 deadline for pre-offers Midday 22 February
Phase 1 results published in Proteus Week commencing 13 March
Phase 2 deadline for final offers Midday 12 April
Phase 2 results of final offers published in Proteus End of July

 

Radio 4 Factual and Arts, Spring 2017  

Guidelines published Week commencing 19 December
Briefing in the Radio Theatre, London 20 February at 10.30
Briefing in MediaCityUK, Salford 22 February at 13.30
Phase 1 deadline for pre-offers and batch tenders Midday 9 March
Phase 1 results published in Proteus Week commencing 3 April
Phase 2 deadline for final offers Midday 11 May
Phase 2 results of final offers and batch tenders published in Proteus End of July

 

Rolling commissioning

The ad hoc round (Round 8) is always open for rolling commissioning and reactive ideas. From now until 31 March 2017, this round will be in Proteus as Round 8 2016 - 2017.

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). 

Eg to pitch an idea for Archive on 4 (brief number 47088) to TX in 2017-18, select ‘20162017 – 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 (and sent to the network) 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 six weeks, or seen a rejection in Proteus, then do contact the commissioning editor to enquire.

 

Tenders

Current Tenders

Radio 4 Afternoon Drama 2017

Download information about the Radio 4 Afternoon Drama Tender (PDF)

Guidelines published Week commencing 14 November 2016     
Briefing in Broadcasting House, London 25 November 2016 at 2.30pm
Submissions deadline 12 January 2017 at noon
Results issued Week commencing 20 February 2017

 

Recent tenders

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

 

Short Readings tender

  • Pier Productions Limited
  • Radio Drama, BBC Northern Ireland
  • Radio Production, BBC Bristol
  • Radio Drama, BBC Scotland
  • Sweet Talk Productions
  • The Readings Unit, BBC Radio Drama

 

Book of the Week tender

  • Brill Productions Ltd
  • Heavy Entertainment Ltd
  • Loftus Media Ltd
  • Pier Productions Limited
  • Radio Drama, BBC Scotland
  • Sweet Talk Productions
  • The Readings Unit, BBC Radio Drama
  • The Waters Company

 

Book at Bedtime tender

  • Brill Productions Ltd
  • Pier Productions Limited
  • Radio Drama, BBC Northern Ireland
  • Radio Drama, BBC Scotland
  • Radio Production, BBC Bristol
  • Sweet Talk Productions
  • The Readings Unit, BBC Radio Drama
  • The Waters Company

 

4 Extra short readings tender

  • Greenlit Productions

 

Feedback tender

  • Whistledown Productions Ltd

 

Something Understood tender

  • TBI Media
  • Unique The Production Company  

          

Gardeners' Question Time tender

  • Somethin’ Else

 

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 (PDF). 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

James Runcie is Commissioning Editor, Arts, responsible for special documentaries and series on music, poetry, popular arts and culture.

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

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.

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 Gardener’s Question Time and The Kitchen Cabinet.

All commissions are signed off by Controller BBC Radio 4 & Radio 4 Extra, 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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