Between the 1920s and the outbreak of the Second World War, the BBC developed two nationwide radio services, the BBC National Programme and the BBC Regional Programme. On September 1, 1939, the BBC merged the two programmes into one national service from London. The reasons given included the need to prevent enemy aircraft from using differentiated output from the Regional Programme’s transmitters as navigational beacons. Regional broadcasting in its pre-war form was no longer feasible, but much of the programming 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 and, according to BBC Genome, programming appears to have begun on September 4, 1939 at 7.00am.
On July 29, 1945 at 8.00am, the BBC resumed its previous regional structure, though true regional radio stations would not return till the 1970s. Following the wartime success of the Forces and General Forces Programmes, light entertainment was transferred to the new BBC Light Programme, whilst “heavier” programming – news, drama, discussion, etc – remained on the regionalised Home Service.
On September 30 1967, the BBC split the Light Programme into a pop music service and an entertainment network. The Light Programme became BBC Radio 1 and BBC Radio 2. The BBC Third Programme became BBC Radio 3, with the Music Programme losing its separate identity (the Third Programme, Study Session, and Sports Service retained their identities under the banner of BBC Network Three until April 4, 1970). The Home Service was renamed BBC Radio 4.
Programme Highlights on the BBC Home Service
Programmes were reorganised across the three BBC networks on September 30, 1957, with much of the 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 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.
During the day, the Service included programmes of classical music but in 1964 and the BBC Music Programme began broadcasting during the daytime on the frequencies of the (evening-only) Third Programme. The Service broadcast educational programmes for schools during the day, backed with booklets and support material.
- September 28, 1939 at 6.30pm – Farming Today
- June 23, 1940 at 10.30am – Music While you Work first transmitted.
- May 31, 1941 at 12.30pm – Worker’s Playtime. Also streamed on BBC Forces Programme.
- May 6, 1942 at 8.15am – First appearance of “The Radio Doctor” on The Kitchen Front.
- November 14, 1943 at 9.30pm – The BBC celebrated its 21st birthday with “21 Years of the BBC”, telling of the beginning and growth of British broadcasting, and recalling memories of its first twenty-one years.
- October 9, 1945 at 10.45pm – Today in Parliament.
- February 28, 1947 at 8.30pm – Twenty Questions.
- November 28, 1947 at 6.30pm – How Does Your Garden Grow? (later Gardeners’ Question Time). A similar programme with the same title debuted on the BBC Forces Programme in 1940.
- September 30, 1949 at 9.15pm – Letter from America (previously American Letter) presented by Alistair Cooke.
- October 12, 1948 at 7.45pm – Any Questions?
- December 26, 1948 at 9.15pm – First Reith Lecture: “Authority and the Individual” by Bertrand Russell.
- May 29, 1950 at 4.00pm – Pilot episodes of The Archers, which would begin properly in January 1951 on the BBC Light Programme.
- May 28, 1951 at 6.45pm – Crazy People. The following year, the programme would be renamed The Goon Show.
- January 22, 1952 9.30pm – The Goon Show
- March 8, 1954 at 7.00pm – The Jimmy Young Show. Jimmy Young would resume his show on BBC Radio 1 in a morning slot in October 1967.
- October 28, 1957 at 7.15am – Today
- October 30, 1957 at 8.45am – Yesterday in Parliament
- April 3, 1959 at 1.10pm – Pick of the Week
- September 19, 1960 at 10.00pm – Ten O’Clock
- June 3, 1961 at 2.10pm – Afternoon Theatre
- April 3, 1964 at 9.30pm – Pilot episodes of I’m Sorry, I’ll Read That Again, which would begin properly in October 1965 on the BBC Light Programme.
- January 6, 1965 at 1.10pm – Petticoat Line
- October 4, 1965 at 1.00pm – The World at One
- October 6, 1966 at 12.00pm – Call My Bluff
- January 3, 1967 at 9.00pm – My Music!
- September 17, 1967 at 1.00pm – The World This Weekend
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