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40th Anniversary Special

Saturday 6 October 2007 12:15-13:00 (Radio 3)

As Radio 3 celebrates 40 years of broadcasting, Tom Service listens back over the decades and investigates how the station has reacted to the outside world and vice-versa. With contributions from Nicholas Kenyon, Harrison Birtwistle, Lord Asa Briggs, Robert Ponsonby and Georgina Born.


45 minutes

In this programme

Radio 3 40th Anniversary Special

Radio 3 logo
On 30th September 1967, BBC Radio 3 had its first official day on the air. However, not until April 1970 was the original Third Programme, which started broadcasting in 1946, fully absorbed into Radio 3.

In line with the other 3 radio networks, Radio 3 nominally came into being in 1967, but the network's first day was a curious mix. After the news at 8am came Record Review on Schumann's Dichterliebe, Mozart's La Clemenza di Tito and then five and a half hours of sports programming, followed at 6pm by the Third Programme, with its unique menu of drama, music and debate.

BBC MicrophoneEven in 1970, there was an administrational split between the Music Department and Radio 3, despite the fact that most of the Music Department's content was broadcast on Radio 3.

Today, music, content, the sound of the station and even the BBC Proms are overseen by the current Controller, Roger Wright.
But, the story of Radio 3 over the last forty years does not rest solely in the hands of Controllers like Robert Ponsonby, John Drummond, Nicholas Kenyon, and Roger Wright, but also of audiences - both the people who tune in to BBC Radio 3 and the people who contribute to its output.

Broadcasting HouseComposers Peter Maxwell Davies and Julian Anderson explain how their composing lives have been enriched by Radio 3, along with the musical life of the nation. Similarly, soprano Emma Kirkby recognises the contribution of the network to the flourishing of the Early Music movement.

For many, the experience of listening to the huge variety of what Radio 3 has to offer has been a means to expanding horizons. Yet, since the early 1990s, the network has had to confront themes of audience and accessibility more than ever before.

BBC Proms conductorTo discuss what Radio 3 represents today, and how it has reflected or led culture, Tom is joined by cultural anthropologist Georgina Born.

With contributions from Lord Asa Briggs, Robert Ponsonby, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, Sir Harrison Birtwistle, Julian Anderson, Dame Emma Kirkby, Ned Chaillet, Paul Gambaccini, Sue Gaisford, Nicholas Kenyon, Roger Wright and Listeners.

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