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An introduction to Online First

Andrew Caspari

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The magic of radio is that when you switch it on in your kitchen, in your car, laptop or phone you can probably find something suited to your taste at that moment.  However, sometimes that isn't always the case...  Maybe the programme on now is not quite what you want. Luckily you can find almost everything you could possibly wish for on demand on all platforms and now for download for 30 days on smartphone and tablet in the iPlayer Radio app.

We now offer the chance to get programmes Online First. So from now you can go online and hear a selection of our programmes before they have been on the radio. This improves the ability to schedule your own listening and I hope it will encourage more listeners to use our digital services.

We hope this will particularly appeal to listeners of some dramas as you will no longer have to wait until the next day for the next episode.  One of our first offerings for Online First will be the continuing Radio 4 drama series Home Front.  This means that from the Monday of each new week of programmes of Home Front you can get the full week's programmes all in one go.   We will also try this for a selection of Books at Bedtime and some history series over the coming weeks.

The BBC Trust approved the Online First offer in the summer and we are selecting programmes from all the radio networks. We do not have the capacity or the rights to offer all our programmes in this way but hope that listeners will enjoy the choice we can make and that we can raise the profile of some great programmes that might otherwise only go out in slots some listeners find inconvenient. The offer will focus on factual programmes and some drama and comedy. Programmes that are primarily music cannot be included.

Programmes that are available Online First can be heard simply by going to their normal programme page online or in the iPlayerRadio app you can download the programme for 30 days and listen offline.
We are excited to see how this service catches on and how far we might expand it in the future.

One note though: We won’t be time travelling with Ambridge as making Tuesday in Ambridge happen on Monday would be too confusing and may also send out too many spoilers.
Keep an eye on the Radio 4 homepage for links to Online First offers.

Programmes that featured in our first Online First outing included: 

BBC Radio 4:
Home Front: The seasonal drama charting the history of Great War Britain through the daily stories of ordinary people. The war has wrought terrible change: those who try to manage at home see it in each other, and those who return from the fighting are almost unrecognisable. A fiction set against a backdrop of carefully researched fact. 

Peter Snow Returns to the Future: A ten-part series during October 2015 - With the aid of the DeLorean time machine last deployed in Back To The Future, Peter Snow and guests go back and forward in time. But this is not just temporal tourism - each episode in this series presents a compelling thesis which connects today with the world of yesterday – or tomorrow. Guests include Alan Johnson MP, Futurist Genevieve Bell and Geneticist Steve Jones. 

• Voices of the First World War: Five-part series in November 2015 – Dan Snow brings together the sound archive collections of the Imperial War Museum and the BBC for the first time to tell the story of World War One through the voices of those who were there. In the first programme, the war gets underway with speakers' recollections of the day war broke out, their journey to France, and their first experiences of the Front. Dan Snow also explores some of the issues around oral history as evidence. 

• The Invention of France: Three-part series starts in November 2015 - Misha Glenny begins an intriguing new history of France. In the first episode, Misha explores a crucial period in France's history, when Burgundians warred with Armagnacs and the English threatened to become kings of France, until the arrival of Joan of Arc. With contributions from Helen Castor, Anne Curry, the French ambassador in London Sylvie Bermann, Desmond Seward and Professor Francoise Michaud-Frejaville. Future programmes focus on Maximilien Robespierre and Napoleon III, le petit Napoleon. 

BBC Radio 5 live:
• Raising the Bar: Criminal barrister Rob Rinder demystifies the legal world. With high profile guests from across the legal profession, he explains what a barrister really does and how they can morally defend the indefensible in the courtroom. Along with his studio guests he aims to show how the justice system in England and Wales works compared to what we think we know from watching television drama series. 

BBC Radio 2:
• Comedy Showcases: Five new comedies to air on BBC Radio 2 in November 2015 - The BBC Radio 2 Comedy Showcases are a series of brand new comedies especially for Radio 2, written by and featuring some of the most exciting rising stars and new faces on the comedy scene, as well as brilliant comic actors who will already be familiar to audiences. Recorded in front of a live studio audience, each half hour episode is a standalone piece with a range of themes, from a chat show with a twist, to a couple with very different ideas on how to spend the golden age of retirement. 

BBC Radio 6 Music:
• Paperback Writers: In November 2015.  BBC 6 Music takes a closer look at the musical influences of some of the UK’s most successful novelists, and how they weave those influences through their work, featuring Stephen King, Mark Billingham, Danny Boyle, Belinda Bauer and Nick Hornby. 

Andrew Caspari is Head of Speech & Classical Music Radio Multiplatform

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