The BBC Home Service
was a British
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...
national radio station
Radio broadcasting is a one-way wireless transmission over radio waves intended to reach a wide audience. Stations can be linked in radio networks to broadcast a common radio format, either in broadcast syndication or simulcast or both...
which broadcast from 1939 until 1967.
Between the 1920s and the outbreak of The Second World War
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...
, the BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...
had developed two nationwide radio services, the BBC National Programme
The BBC National Programme was a BBC radio station from the 1920s until the outbreak of World War II.-Foundation:When the BBC first began transmissions on 14 November 1922, the technology for both national coverage and joint programming between transmitters did not exist – transmitter powers were...
and the BBC Regional Programme
The BBC Regional Programme was a UK radio network which operated from the end of the 1920s until the outbreak of World War II in 1939.-Foundation:...
. As the name of the latter suggests, as well as a "basic" service programmed from London, the Regional Programme included a large measure of additional, alternative, or rescheduled programming originating in six regions. Although the programmes attracting the greatest number of listeners tended to appear on the National, the two services were not streamed – that is, they did not attempt to appeal to different audiences; instead, they appealed to a single audience but provided a choice of programming.
World War II
On 1 September 1939, the BBC merged the National and the Regional Programmes into one national service from London. The reasons given for this included the need to prevent enemy aircraft from using differentiated output from the Regional Programme's transmitters as navigational beacons. To this end, the former "regional" transmitters were synchronised in chains on (initially) two frequencies, 668 and 767 kHz, with an additional chain of low powered transmitters (known as "Group H") on 1474 kHz appearing later. Under this arrangement "regional" broadcasting in its pre-war form was no longer feasible; however, much of the programming on the new service was gradually decentralised to the former "regional" studios (because of the risks from enemy attack/bombing/invasion in London) and broadcast nationally.
The new service was named the Home Service, which was also the internal designation at the BBC for domestic radio broadcasting (the organisation had also had Television Service and Overseas Service departments).
On 29 July 1945, the BBC resumed its previous regional structure and began "streaming" its radio services. Following the wartime success of the Forces
The BBC Forces Programme was a BBC radio station which operated from 7 January 1940 until 26 February 1944.-Foundation:Upon the outbreak of World War II, the BBC closed the existing BBC National Programme and BBC Regional Programme, combining the two to form a single channel known as the BBC Home...
and General Forces
The BBC General Forces Programme was a BBC radio station from 27 February 1944 until 31 December 1946.-Foundation:Upon the outbreak of World War II, the BBC closed the existing BBC National Programme and BBC Regional Programme, combining the two to form a single channel known as the BBC Home...
Programmes, light entertainment was transferred to the new BBC Light Programme
The Light Programme was a BBC radio station which broadcast mainstream light entertainment and music from 1945 until 1967, when it was rebranded as BBC Radio 2...
, whilst 'heavier' programming – news, drama and talks – remained on the now-regionalised Home Service.
However, popular light programming from the former national Home Service – such as ITMA
It's That Man Again was a BBC radio comedy programme which ran from 1939 to 1949. The title was a contemporary phrase referring to ever more frequent news-stories about Hitler in the lead-up to World War II, and specifically a headline in the Daily Express written by Bert Gunn...
– remained on the new Home Service; similarly, some speech programming of the type pioneered by the Forces Programmes – the newly-launched Woman's Hour
Woman's Hour is a radio magazine programme broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in the United Kingdom.-History:Created by Norman Collins and originally presented by Alan Ivimey the programme was first broadcast on 7 October 1946 on the BBC's Light Programme . It was transferred to its current home in 1973...
being very much in this mould – remained on the new Light Programme.
The Home Service had seven regions.
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...
and South East England
South East England is one of the nine official regions of England, designated in 1994 and adopted for statistical purposes in 1999. It consists of Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, East Sussex, Hampshire, Isle of Wight, Kent, Oxfordshire, Surrey and West Sussex...
was served by the "basic Home Service", which was not considered a region by the BBC and acted as the sustaining service for the other regions.
A shortage of frequencies meant that the Northern Ireland Regional Home Service was treated as part of the North Regional Home Service, as the Northern Ireland service used the same frequency as a North service booster. The Northern Ireland service was separated from the North region on 7 January 1963.
|Regional Home Service
||330 (plus a local booster on 202)
Birmingham is a city and metropolitan borough in the West Midlands of England. It is the most populous British city outside the capital London, with a population of 1,036,900 , and lies at the heart of the West Midlands conurbation, the second most populous urban area in the United Kingdom with a...
Manchester is a city and metropolitan borough in Greater Manchester, England. According to the Office for National Statistics, the 2010 mid-year population estimate for Manchester was 498,800. Manchester lies within one of the UK's largest metropolitan areas, the metropolitan county of Greater...
|434 (plus local boosters on 261 and 202)
||692 (1151, 1484)
Bristol is a city, unitary authority area and ceremonial county in South West England, with an estimated population of 433,100 for the unitary authority in 2009, and a surrounding Larger Urban Zone with an estimated 1,070,000 residents in 2007...
|285 and 206
||1052 and 1457
Cardiff is the capital, largest city and most populous county of Wales and the 10th largest city in the United Kingdom. The city is Wales' chief commercial centre, the base for most national cultural and sporting institutions, the Welsh national media, and the seat of the National Assembly for...
Glasgow is the largest city in Scotland and third most populous in the United Kingdom. The city is situated on the River Clyde in the country's west central lowlands...
Belfast is the capital of and largest city in Northern Ireland. By population, it is the 14th biggest city in the United Kingdom and second biggest on the island of Ireland . It is the seat of the devolved government and legislative Northern Ireland Assembly...
|261 until 1963; 224 thereafter.
As well as five national news programmes a day from London, the Home Service also provided drama, talks and informational programmes. After the BBC Third Programme
The BBC Third Programme was a national radio network broadcast by the BBC. The network first went on air on 29 September 1946 and became one of the leading cultural and intellectual forces in Britain, playing a crucial role in disseminating the arts...
began broadcasting on 29 September 1946, non-topical talk programmes and heavier drama output were transferred to the new network.
During the day, the Home Service included in its schedules a number of programmes of serious (classical) music. These were reduced in number when government limits on radio broadcasting hours were relaxed in 1964 and the BBC Music Programme began broadcasting during the daytime on the frequencies of the (evening-only) Third Programme. They disappeared entirely when the Music Programme began regular 0700–1830 daily broadcasting on 22 March 1965.
The Home Service broadcast educational programmes for use in schools during the day, backed with booklets and support material available from the BBC.
Programmes were reorganised across the three BBC networks on 30 September 1957, with much of the Home Service's lighter content transferring to the Light Programme and the establishment of the BBC Third Network, which used the frequencies of the Third Programme to carry the Home Service's adult education content (BBC Study Session) and the Home and Light's sports coverage (BBC Sports Service) as well as the Third Programme itself.
Becomes BBC Radio 4
On 30 September 1967, the BBC split the Light Programme into two services: a popular music service and an entertainment network. The Corporation took the opportunity of renaming the national networks from the same date. The Light Programme became BBC Radio 1
BBC Radio 1 is a British national radio station operated by the British Broadcasting Corporation which also broadcasts internationally, specialising in current popular music and chart hits throughout the day. Radio 1 provides alternative genres after 7:00pm including electronic dance, hip hop, rock...
and BBC Radio 2
BBC Radio 2 is one of the BBC's national radio stations and the most popular station in the United Kingdom. Much of its daytime playlist-based programming is best described as Adult Contemporary or AOR, although the station is also noted for its specialist broadcasting of other musical genres...
. The Third Network became BBC Radio 3
BBC Radio 3 is a national radio station operated by the BBC within the United Kingdom. Its output centres on classical music and opera, but jazz, world music, drama, culture and the arts also feature. The station is the world’s most significant commissioner of new music, and its New Generation...
, with the Music Programme losing its separate identity (the Third Programme, Study Session, and Sports Service, however, retained their identities – under the banner of BBC Network Three – until 4 April 1970).
The BBC Home Service was renamed BBC Radio 4
BBC Radio 4 is a British domestic radio station, operated and owned by the BBC, that broadcasts a wide variety of spoken-word programmes, including news, drama, comedy, science and history. It replaced the BBC Home Service in 1967. The station controller is currently Gwyneth Williams, and the...
Regional radio legacy
BBC Radio 4 continued as a regionalised service and continued to use the term "Home Service" to refer to regional programming and scheduling, with the Radio Times
Radio Times is a UK weekly television and radio programme listings magazine, owned by the BBC. It has been published since 1923 by BBC Magazines, which also provides an on-line listings service under the same title...
listings being headlined "BBC Radio Four - Home Service".
"Broadcasting in the Seventies"
With the introduction of BBC Local Radio
BBC Local Radio is the BBC's regional radio service for England and the Channel Islands, consisting of 40 stations. They cover a variety of areas with some serving a city and surrounding areas, for example BBC Radio Manchester; a county, for example BBC Radio Norfolk; an administrative region for...
, starting with BBC Radio Leicester
BBC Radio Leicester is the BBC Local Radio service for the English counties of Leicestershire and Rutland. The station broadcasts from studios in Leicester on 104.9 FM, on DAB, and via the BBC iPlayer.-History:...
on 8 November 1967, it was felt that the future of non-national broadcasting lay in local rather than regional services. To this end, the BBC produced a report, Broadcasting in the Seventies
, on 10 July 1969, proposing the reorganisation of programmes on the national networks and the end of regional broadcasting.
The report began to be implemented on 4 April 1970 and the Home Service regions gradually disappeared (with some of its frequencies reallocated to Independent Local Radio
Independent Local Radio is the collective name given to commercial radio stations in the United Kingdom. The same name is used for Independent Local Radio in Ireland.-Development of ILR:...
), until 23 November 1978 when Radio 4 was given the national longwave
In radio, longwave refers to parts of radio spectrum with relatively long wavelengths. The term is a historic one dating from the early 20th century, when the radio spectrum was considered to consist of long, medium and short wavelengths...
frequency previously used by Radio 2 and was relaunched as Radio 4 UK (with two additional longwave transmitters opened in Scotland).
The "national regions" survived to become separate stations – BBC Radio Scotland
BBC Radio Scotland is BBC Scotland's national English-language radio network. It broadcasts a wide variety of programming, including news, sport, light entertainment, music, the arts, comedy, drama, history and lifestyle...
, BBC Radio Wales
BBC Radio Wales is the BBC's national radio station broadcasting to Wales in the English language. Operated by BBC Wales, it began broadcasting on 12 November 1978 following the demise of the old "Radio 4 Wales" when BBC Radio 4 became a national network and moved from medium wave to long wave...
/ BBC Radio Cymru
BBC Radio Cymru is BBC Cymru's Welsh-language radio station, broadcasting throughout Wales from studios in Cardiff, Bangor, and Aberystwyth on FM since 1977. At the time of its launch it was one of the few FM-only radio services in the UK...
and BBC Radio Ulster
BBC Radio Ulster is one of two Northern Irish BBC radio stations, the other being BBC Radio Foyle located in the city of Derry. BBC Radio Ulster is located at Broadcasting House in the Ormeau Avenue area of Belfast city centre...
– at first relaying the majority of Radio 4 programming but later becoming completely independent.
South West region
The last remaining Regional Home Service was an FM opt-out of Radio 4 for Devon
Devon is a large county in southwestern England. The county is sometimes referred to as Devonshire, although the term is rarely used inside the county itself as the county has never been officially "shired", it often indicates a traditional or historical context.The county shares borders with...
Cornwall is a unitary authority and ceremonial county of England, within the United Kingdom. It is bordered to the north and west by the Celtic Sea, to the south by the English Channel, and to the east by the county of Devon, over the River Tamar. Cornwall has a population of , and covers an area of...
. This "South West Region", also carried on several low power medium-wave transmitters, continued in existence until BBC Radio Cornwall
BBC Radio Cornwall is the BBC Local Radio service for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly in the United Kingdom. It broadcasts from its studios on Phoenix Wharf in Truro on 95.2 in the east, 96.0 on the Isles of Scilly and 103.9 in the west MHz FM, as well as on DAB.Andrew George, MP for St Ives, has...
and BBC Radio Devon
BBC Radio Devon is the BBC Local Radio service for the English county of Devon. It began transmissions on 17 January 1983, replacing a previous breakfast show for Devon and Cornwall broadcast on the local frequencies of Radio 4....
opened on 17 January 1983.
East Anglia region
During the 1970s Radio 4 FM in the East of England (Tacolneston
Tacolneston is a village in Norfolk, England. Tacolneston is a civil parish within the South Norfolk District with a population of around 700. The village name has also been spelt Tacolnestone....
Peterborough is a cathedral city and unitary authority area in the East of England, with an estimated population of in June 2007. For ceremonial purposes it is in the county of Cambridgeshire. Situated north of London, the city stands on the River Nene which flows into the North Sea...
and relays) carried a breakfast magazine programme, "Roundabout East Anglia", the region lacking any BBC Local Radio stations. The service closed in advance of the opening of BBC Radio Norfolk
BBC Radio Norfolk is the BBC Local Radio service for the English county of Norfolk, broadcasting since 11 September 1980. It broadcasts from the studios of BBC East in The Forum, Norwich on 95.1 FM , 104.4 FM , 95.6 FM , 855 kHz AM/MW , 873 kHz AM/MW BBC Radio Norfolk is the BBC Local...
English Region News bulletins
Radio 4 FM continued to carry 4 five-minute news bulletins Monday to Saturday until the early 1980s by which time BBC Local Radio had reached most areas of England. The wide coverage of the Holme Moss
Holme Moss is a moor in the south Pennines of England, on the border between the High Peak District of Derbyshire and the West Yorkshire district of Kirklees. It is just inside the boundary of the Peak District National Park....
transmitter meant that listeners in much of northern England received combined North and North-West news.
- BBC Radio
BBC Radio is a service of the British Broadcasting Corporation which has operated in the United Kingdom under the terms of a Royal Charter since 1927. For a history of BBC radio prior to 1927 see British Broadcasting Company...
- Timeline of the BBC
- 1920s :* 1922** 18 October - The British Broadcasting Company is formed.** 14 November - First BBC broadcasts from London .** 15 November - First broadcasts from Birmingham and Manchester ....
- Stations of the BBC
-Television:*BBC UK**Free-to-Air ***BBC One***BBC Two**Digital-only ***BBC One HD ***BBC Three***BBC Four***BBC Parliament***BBC News...
- BBC English Regions
BBC English Regions is the division of the BBC responsible for local television, radio, web and teletext services in England. It is one of the BBC's four 'Nations' - the others being BBC Scotland, BBC Wales and BBC Northern Ireland....