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History of the Daily Service

Read a history of the Daily Service and take a look at a photo gallery of the programme past and present

In 1926, Miss Kathleen Cordeux began her campaign for a short religious service on BBC radio by writing to Lord Reith with the words "How many are there who 'listen-in' who long to hear something daily of God and His love?". She continued her frequent correspondence with Lord Reith until...

The First Broadcast

The first service was broadcast on Monday 2nd January 1928 from a BBC studio in Savoy Hill. This, the first of an experimental series of "short religious services", was to last for 15 minutes a day, transmitted daily throughout January 1928 at 10:15 on Daventry 5XX only.

Those who appreciated the service were invited to write in so that the response could be gauged. Within a couple of weeks, 7,000 letters had been received and so the Short Religious Service - or Daily Service as it soon became - gained a regular slot with a format which is very little changed.

Early Years

By December 1929 the service was being broadcast on all transmitters, presented anonymously - from a studio with a roaring log fire! - by The Revd H.L. Johnston. In 1932 the Daily Service moved with the BBC to the new Broadcasting House and to its own studio - 3E - which was specially consecrated.

A small group of BBC Singers sang for the service each morning and it was not long before the first service book - This Day - was produced to accompany the worship. The well known version with the title New Every Morning first appeared in 1936. A year later, the 100,000th copy was presented to Miss Cordeux, personally inscribed by Lord Reith. 15 years later The BBC Hymn Book appeared in print.

Post-war to Present Day

Having been moved from London during the war, first to Bristol and then to Bedford, the Daily Service returned to London in 1945 and to a studio in Broadcasting House (though not to studio 3E which had been badly damaged during the Blitz). However, the experience of broadcasting from a church during the war had persuaded the production team to continue this tradition in London.

Wartime broadcast from the Trinity Chapel of St Paul's Church, Bedford with Dr George Thalben-Ball

By the mid 1950s the service was regularly coming from All Souls, Langham Place - despite some concerns from listeners about the traffic noise - a tradition which remained until the BBC Religion department moved to Manchester in 1993 and the Daily Service took up residence at Emmanuel Church, Didsbury.

Since then, the service has continued to be broadcast each morning from 9:45 till 10:00 on Radio 4 Long Wave and digital radio from either Didsbury or, every few weeks, from a church in Wales, Northern Ireland or Scotland.

It is led by one of the team of about 25 presenters drawn from the many Christian denominations in this country. In recent years, the ability to listen online has given the listening 'congregation' the added flexibility to hear the service in whichever country they happen to be and at whatever time.

After 80 years of continuous broadcasting, the Daily Service is the longest-running programme of its kind anywhere in the world.