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About this project

What's here

This site contains the BBC listings information which the BBC printed in Radio Times between 1923 and 2009. You can search the site for BBC programmes, people, dates and Radio Times editions.

We hope it helps you find that long forgotten BBC programme, research a particular person or browse your own involvement with the BBC.

This is a historical record of both the planned output and the BBC services of any given time. It should be viewed in this context and with the understanding that it reflects the attitudes and standards of its time - not those of today.

Join in

You can join in and become part of the community that is improving this resource. As a result of the scanning process there are lots of spelling mistakes and punctuation errors and you can edit the entries to accurately reflect the information as printed in the magazine. You can also tell us when the schedule changed and we will hold on to that information for the next stage of this project.

How was this achieved?

This site has been created by BBC Archive Development, in conjunction with BBC Research and Development. Each page of the Radio Times was scanned and a high resolution TIFF image was produced. The programme listings were then zoned in blocks and optical character recognition (OCR) techniques applied to the zones. The information was broken down into time, title, synopsis, contributors, tables etc. automatically and an XML file was then produced for each magazine. Once the programme listings had been reviewed and checked for compliance issues the files were ingested into the database for this site.

Radio Times has been published with regional variations only since 1926. The magazines which have been scanned, and the data sets which have been included in Genome are not exhaustive, rather they represent the ones which we could access and which covered the greatest areas and variations.

How did Radio Times begin?

The BBC began life as the British Broadcasting Company in November 1922. It was formed by a consortium of radio manufacturers, under licence from the Post Office, with John Reith appointed as General Manager shortly thereafter. In early 1923 the Newspaper Publishers' Association refused to print BBC programme details without the payment of advertising fees, and in response, the BBC decided to publish its own magazine - The Radio Times ('The Official Organ of the BBC') - to alert listeners to what was on and when.

Some milestones in Radio Times history:

28 September 1923
The first edition of The Radio Times is published.
14 May 1926
No issue published due to the General Strike, although the BBC continues to broadcast.
January 1927
After a series of government inquiries, the BBC's initial 10-year Royal Charter is issued and its status is changed, from a private company to a public corporation.
November 1936
With the start of the first high-definition service broadcast to the London area from Alexandra Palace, Radio Times becomes the world's first television listings magazine.
January 1937
The magazine publishes a lavish photogravure Television Supplement for those readers in the London area who could afford the expense of a television set. The supplement only lasted a few months, as it was too costly to produce.
1 September 1939
With war imminent, TV closes down in order to prevent enemy aircraft from using its signal as a directional beacon and the nation turns once again to the wireless. 'Broadcasting carries on!' announces the first wartime Radio Times, a special supplement, but there is only one station, the newly christened Home Service.
1944
Paper rationing reduces the magazine to 20 pages of tiny type on thin paper, but despite all the disruption of war, Radio Times never misses an edition.
21 & 28 February 1947
Two issues missed due to the fuel crisis caused by the severe winter. Television also closes for several weeks to save power.
8 September, 13, 20, and 27 October 1950
No Radio Times published, due to a printing dispute.
 
29 May 1953
New record sales of just over 9 million, for the issue celebrating the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.
20 September 1955
ITV launches TV Times.
6 October 1960
A comprehensive redesign of Radio Times sees television programmes take precedence over radio for the first time. The week, as defined by Radio Times, now starts on Saturday and ends on Friday. Publication, a day earlier on Thursday instead of Friday, means that Saturday 8 October is listed in two consecutive editions of Radio Times.
21 September 1967
Last regular black, white and spot colour, Radio Times cover. Subsequent issues all had full-colour covers, except during a printing dispute in 1978.
2 November 1967
First local radio station, BBC Leicester, listed.
1973
The fiftieth anniversary of Radio Times is celebrated, with a special glossy souvenir magazine, one of a number of Radio Times specials published at the time.
1 August 1981
The issue following the Royal Wedding souvenir edition is not published, due to a printing dispute.
2 & 9 April 1983
Two issues fail to be published, due to industrial action.
3 December 1983
For the last time to date, Radio Times misses an issue, due to a print workers' dispute.
1988
Radio Times gains a place in the Guinness Book of Records, when the Christmas edition sells 11,220,666 copies, making it the biggest ever selling copy of a British magazine.
1 March 1991
With the de-restriction of rights in broadcast listings, ITV, Channel 4, satellite television, and independent local radio are billed in Radio Times for the first time.
2011
The BBC sells Radio Times to Immediate Media.
2013
Radio Times celebrates 90 years of publication with an exhibition at the Museum of London. The magazine has only missed publishing eleven issues in its history.

You can discover more about the timeline of the BBC and the Radio Times on the History of the BBC.

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About this project

Welcome to BBC Genome

Genome is a digitised version of the Radio Times from 1923 to 2009 and is made available for internal research purposes only. You will need to obtain the relevant third party permissions for any other use, including use in programmes, online etc.

This internal version of Genome, which includes all the magazine covers, PDF downloads, images and articles as well as the programme listings from the Radio Times, is different to the version of Genome that is available externally/to the public.

Please do not share this internal version of Genome, or any part of it, with anyone external.

For rights reasons, external users may only have access to the Radio Times listings, which will be available in the external version of Genome.

Your use of this version of Genome is covered by the BBC Acceptable Use of Information Systems Policy and these terms.