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Radio 4 programming to inform, educate and entertain during the coming weeks

Radio 4 will broadcast new programming to inform listeners and analyse what is happening in the UK and around the globe, as well as feature highlights from the archive during this unprecedented time.


This will include:

  • Five new series commissioned to examine the Covid-19 crisis, plus a special The Global Philosopher
  • Favourite programmes and episodes from the Radio 4 archive including ground breaking series A History Of The World In 100 Objects
  • A celebration of classic episodes of Just A Minute and I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue

Mohit Bakaya, Controller of Radio 4, says: “Like the rest of the BBC, we know we have a special role to play at a time of national need. For our many loyal listeners, Radio 4 is vital to their daily lives - providing information, analysis and escape. That privilege and responsibility could not be more important to us than it is now. The schedule is changing as we respond to the significant challenge we all face, but we will do everything we can to make sure we’re giving listeners information, intellectual stimulation, and even joy, in the way I believe only Radio 4 - with the richness of our archive and schedule - can.”

In the coming weeks, a new series Life in Lockdown will share the experiences of those in isolation around the globe. Our Inside Health team will produce a special series, Inside Health: The Virus, giving the latest, accurate guidance on our understanding of Covid-19, and documenting the work of the medical professionals on the frontline of the UK’s response to it.

A special edition of The Global Philosopher, with Harvard’s Professor Michael Sandel, will bring young people from all over the world together in a digital space to explore the ethical implications of the pandemic and the response to it.

Radio 4 will also explore the long-term implications of the current crisis with a new series, Fallout. Another new series, Viral Exposure, will examine how the virus is exposing and exacerbating underlying pressures in many of the countries it has hit, from the uneven system of healthcare in the US to the precarious employment of those in the UK’s gig economy. In a separate series, The Virus Hunters, will tell the story of scientists, past and present, and their race to find vaccines and contain outbreaks.

Existing programmes will have an important role in informing our audiences. Our news programmes - Today, World At One, The World Tonight and PM - will continue to report and analyse the latest events relating to the impact of Coronavirus, the UK and global response as well as updating audiences on public health advice and answering important questions. There will be special editions of More Or Less, explaining and interrogating the statistics lying under this global health crisis. Inside Science will track the latest scientific breakthroughs.

Radio 4 has the richest radio archive in the world. Over the coming weeks we will broadcast some of the best of that archive for listeners to enjoy again or, for many, the first time. The ground breaking series A History Of The World In 100 Objects, in which Neil MacGregor told the history of the world’s civilisations through objects in the British Museum, will broadcast again. For the foreseeable future Radio 4 will broadcast highlights from the In Our Time archive to help all those who would be otherwise studying, and The Reunion will celebrate some favourite episodes from Sue MacGregor’s time as presenter.

Radio 4 will continue to broadcast comedy and drama to entertain and delight audiences. Well-loved titles from the archives such as film noir classics by Raymond Chandler, the novels of the Brontes, and favourites such as Rumpole, starring Benedict Cumberbatch, and Wodehouse will air again. Popular Radio 4 podcasts will be shared with the on air audience for the first time, including award-winning Forest 404, The Whisperer In Darkness and Fortunately With Fi And Jane.

There will also be a series of classic editions of I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue and Just A Minute. Nicholas Parsons’ widow, Annie Parsons, told Radio 4: “I know that in difficult times laughter can be such a tonic. Nicholas knew that and really devoted his whole life to making people feel uplifted. I am certain he would be delighted to think that his shows were helping to keep the nation’s spirits up. As a supporter of The Silver Line, the service set up to offer friendship and advice to older people, he would know how important it is to think of all those feeling lonely - especially the elderly - at this uncertain time”

From 22 March until the end of April, The Archers will reduce from six to five episodes per week with the Friday episode replaced in the schedule. A shorter omnibus will continue to broadcast on Sundays. With theatres, cinemas and galleries closed, Saturday Review won’t be on air for the time being as we focus on broadcasting other Radio 4 arts programmes.

Radio 4 will keep our audience updated on further expected changes to the schedule and programming, and continue to do everything we can to provide the best possible companionship for our listeners during these difficult times.

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