Rochdale bongs replace Big Ben on BBC Radio 4 at Christmas

Rochdale town hall bells
Image caption Rochdale's will be the only bells - other than Big Ben - used over the festive period

The traditional Big Ben bongs on BBC Radio 4 will be replaced by bells from Rochdale town hall on Christmas Eve.

Chimes from the Greater Manchester town will herald the 18:00 GMT news bulletin as a "special festive replacement".

BBC Radio 4 normally broadcasts Big Ben live but has been broadcasting recordings since August last year when the bells fell silent for repair works.

Rochdale Borough Council leader Allen Brett said he was "proud" the town's gongs "will ring out over the land".

'Strike a chord'

The Labour councillor said broadcasting a recording of the town hall's bells was a "huge boost" for the area.

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"We are proud its famous gongs will ring out across the land over the festive period.

"Well done to the BBC for backing our campaign and for striking a chord with public opinion."

He added: "Let the bells ring out for Christmas."

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BBC Radio 4 said Rochdale will be the only bells - other than Big Ben - used at the start of its news bulletins over the festive period.

It added it was a "special festive replacement".

Image copyright Geograph UK/ David Dixon
Image caption BBC Radio 4 says it will be a "special festive replacement"

Gwyneth Williams, controller of BBC Radio 4, said she was "delighted" to have the chimes of Rochdale bells ringing out for everyone across the UK to hear.

Big Ben's famous chimes are to remain silent until 2021 for essential repair works to the clock and surrounding Palace of Westminster's Elizabeth Tower, apart from special occasions.

Prior to the start of work, Big Ben had sounded on the hour for 157 years.

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