Wednesday 03 Sep 2014
The BBC is to launch an online collection of more than 500 episodes of Desert Island Discs alongside the choices of every single castaway, to coincide with the launch of BBC Radio 4 Extra in April.
The archive will allow fans to download the last 500 complete episodes and will list the choices – music, books and luxury – of every guest since 1942. Classic editions will also be broadcast on Radio 4 Extra, curated by Kirsty Young, who will update and contextualise each interview. In addition, the station – the relaunched Radio 7 – will broadcast special, hour-long versions of episodes from the past year with previously edited material. Both Radio 4 Extra and the archive will launch in April.
Tim Davie, Director of BBC Audio & Music, announced the details today while outlining the BBC's plans for digital radio. He described a range of measures to offer listeners exclusive, high quality content in a simple way that makes better use of existing programme and station brands, improved DAB coverage, more ways to listen and a commitment to drive innovation, such as HD Sound.
Announcing the launch of Radio 4 Extra, he explained how plans for the station reflect the approach of aligning digital-only networks more closely with analogue "sister" stations – exploiting the strength of existing programmes and network brands – with the exception of BBC 6 Music which, with a clear identity and strong brand, will remain a "stand alone" music network.
Mr Davie placed the emphasis firmly on quality content and unveiled further digital-only programming including:
In addition, he outlined some steps to make listening to the digital-only services easier, including a commitment to keep building out national DAB coverage towards FM equivalence, continuing to develop new ways of listening – like the Radioplayer – and offering more innovation such as HD Sound, which will be rolled out more widely this year.
Announcing the plans, Tim Davie said: "This is a collection of simple measures, designed with listeners' interests in mind, to strengthen digital radio. I'm delighted to announce the launch of BBC Radio 4 Extra and hope that fans of Desert Island Discs will indulge themselves in the previously buried treasures of vintage episodes."
Desert Island Discs presenter Kirsty Young said: "Desert Island Discs occupies a special place in many listeners' hearts – its enduring popularity throughout the decades testifies to that. I'm really delighted that BBC Radio 4 Extra will give people the chance to hear even more of the show and the launch of the new website means everyone has the chance get their hands on the Desert Island Discs archive and hear the music, book, luxury and lives of hundreds of castaways from programmes gone by. A real treat."
BBC 7 launched in December 2002. It was renamed BBC Radio 7 in October 2008. It is to relaunch in April as BBC Radio 4 Extra. The digital network is the principal outlet for the BBC's archive of speech entertainment, including comedy, drama and readings.
Desert Island Discs has a unique place in British cultural life. It was created by Roy Plomley in 1942, the first presenter of the programme which now has a weekly reach of nearly three million listeners. Only three other people have presented the programme – Michael Parkinson, Sue Lawley and the current presenter, Kirsty Young. The simple format, inviting guests to choose eight pieces of music they would take with them to a desert island, has often resulted in fascinating and insightful interviews.
The online archive will be found via the Radio 4 website from April.
The Desert Island Discs programmes on Radio 4 Extra are titled as follows:
The measures outlined for digital-only networks were as follows:
NB. Networks which use digital and analogue platforms – such as the Asian Network, the BBC World Service and the BBC's local and national networks – will be looked at separately as this plan concentrates on the portfolio of digital-only brands, which were all created as a direct response to the opportunity presented by digital radio broadcasting.
DAB National Transmitter rollout:
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