BBC Radio 4 Extra to launch in April
The BBC is to launch an online collection of more than 500 episodes of Desert Island Discs alongside the choices of every single castaway, to coincide with the launch of BBC Radio 4 Extra in April.
The archive will allow fans to download the last 500 complete episodes and will list the choices - music, books and luxury - of every guest since 1942. Classic editions will also be broadcast on Radio 4 Extra, curated by Kirsty Young, who will update and contextualise each interview. In addition, the station - the relaunched Radio 7 - will broadcast special, hour-long versions of episodes from the past year with previously edited material. Both Radio 4 Extra and the archive will launch in April.
Tim Davie, Director of BBC Audio & Music, announced the details today while outlining the BBC's plans for digital radio. He described a range of measures to offer listeners exclusive, high quality content in a simple way that makes better use of existing programme and station brands, improved DAB coverage, more ways to listen and a commitment to drive innovation, such as HD Sound.
Announcing the launch of Radio 4 Extra, he explained how plans for the station reflect the approach of aligning digital-only networks more closely with analogue "sister" stations - exploiting the strength of existing programmes and network brands - with the exception of BBC 6 Music which, with a clear identity and strong brand, will remain a "stand alone" music network.
Mr Davie placed the emphasis firmly on quality content and unveiled further digital-only programming including:
- The Now Show Extra and The News Quiz Extra - extended, hour-long versions of the shows on Radio 4 Extra, featuring behind-the-scenes interviews with the show's writers, producers and guests
- Family Hour (working title) on Radio 4 Extra, featuring quizzes, stories, comedies and interviews. New dramas to be enjoyed by all ages include The Silver Sword and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
- Comedy First - part of the comedy club, premiering new comedy to be broadcast first on Radio 4 Extra before transferring to Radio 4. Will include a new series of Arthur Smith's Balham Bash and Sarah Millican's Support Group
- Adam and Joe on 6 Music - the popular duo and their "black squadron" are to return to Saturday mornings in Spring. This follows the recent announcement that Mark Radcliffe and Stuart Maconie are to join the network
- The launch of a new 1Xtra Live Lounge hosted by Trevor Nelson, featuring 1Xtra artists including Jessie J and Taio Cruz from March. This builds on the schedule changes made at Radio 1Xtra earlier this year
- Chris Evans will host live coverage of Masters golf on Radio 5 Live Sports Extra in April. The network will also cover at least ten different sports in March with more than 200 hours of live sport
In addition, he outlined some steps to make listening to the digital-only services easier, including a commitment to keep building out national DAB coverage towards FM equivalence, continuing to develop new ways of listening - like the Radioplayer - and offering more innovation such as HD Sound, which will be rolled out more widely this year.
BBC Radio 7 launched in December 2002 and is to relaunch in April as BBC Radio 4 Extra. The digital network is the principal outlet for the BBC's archive of speech entertainment, including comedy, drama and readings.