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Introducing Witness, Americana and Hardtalk

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Cathy Packe | 11:45 UK time, Friday, 23 October 2009

This week, changes are being made to the World Service schedule, so we decided to devote the whole of this week's Over To You to an interview with the woman responsible, Gwyneth Williams.

She's the Director of the World Service in English and she has the challenging job of putting together a mix of programmes that she hopes will appeal to as many of us as possible - regardless of where we come from, what we do, and what our interests are.

She was remarkably frank about the difficulties she faces, the main one being the budget, or lack of it.  "All forms of original programming are expensive in terms of the budget of the World Service," she tells us in the programme. "This is very challenging!"


Hardtalk: coming soon to the World Service.

Nevertheless, she's introducing a new strand of programmes that will include a radio version of Hardtalk, the interview programme that Stephen Sackur presents on television; and Americana, presented by Matt Frei, which is designed to give us a view of American life that we don't get from the news programmes.

And then there's Witness, which sounds like a fascinating way of presenting modern history, explaining events through archive, eye witnesses and historians.

I'm sure Over To You listeners will let us know what they think of these new programmes. I'm particularly curious to know what the reaction will be to Americana. It's a programme we've been listening to here in the UK for a few months now. But now that a version of it is going out on the World Service it will also reach our American audience - so I hope those of you listening in the United States will let us know whether you think it presents a picture of life as you know it.

But although Gwyneth's comments are interesting and at times thought-provoking, I think it's fair to say that this week's Over to You is dominated by our listeners - which is, of course, the way we like it - and when we'd finished the programme, Gwyneth told us how delighted she was to have had the opportunity to speak to so many of you, and to hear the comments of others.

Emails about the World Service schedules are still coming in, and we shall be passing them on to her, so if you haven't been in touch yet - well it's never too late to drop us a line.

Cathy Packe is the Producer, Over To You

Over To You is your chance to have your say about the BBC World Service and its programmes. It airs at 10:40 and 23:40 every Saturday, and at 02:40 on Sunday (GMT).


  • Comment number 1.

    Just heard Over To You and wanted to give you my own 2 cents on what I think the World Service should keep and change.

    It will be great to have HardTalk on the radio as we don't get it on TV, even when they're interviewing local politicians. Also looking forward to Americana.

    I'm also happy with some of the more recent changes - I don't miss those radio plays at all.

    World Service often feels more like just an African Service here in Uganda, and I'd like to have regular shows not just about the US, but about other developing regions like South America and Asia too - to find out what life is like there, and how they deal with the same issues we face in Africa.

    I'd also like to see some programs from the UK like Pick of the Week and some comedy relayed on World Service too.

    If you're wondering about how to make room for all this perhaps you could cut back on all the repetition, on Have your say, technology, and obscure world music programs. Thanks.

  • Comment number 2.


    Congrats to getting *Hardtalk* on BBC World

    ~Dennis Junior~

  • Comment number 3.

    Hardtalk is a silly programme. It`s neither informative nor amusing. How much lower much the World Service slide?

  • Comment number 4.

    I just wanted to say how disappointed I am that Analysis is gone. The programme that replaced it isn't at all the same sort of thing. I classed Analysis as one of the top two programmes on the World Service and I think it is a real loss. It enabled us to look deeper into a current issue and understand more of the context and I was often surprised by how complex the background was to an event, which seemed initially quite simple from the information given in the news. I had a German friend who I recommended Analysis to, who started regularly listening to just that programme because he found it so good.

    Witness is in the past, which is all very interesting but it isn't a 'replacement' to Analysis at all.


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