Christmas 2005 double issue
|Categories||TV and radio listings magazine|
|Circulation||577,087 (January - June 2018)|
|First issue||28 September 1923|
|Company||BBC Magazines (1937-2011)|
Immediate Media Company (since 2011)
|Based in||London, England|
Radio Times is a British weekly magazine which provides radio and television listings, and other features such as film reviews. It was the world's first broadcast listings magazine when it was founded in 1923 by John Reith, then general manager of the British Broadcasting Company (from 1 January 1927 the British Broadcasting Corporation).
It was published entirely in-house by BBC Magazines from 8 January 1937 until 2011 when the division was merged into Immediate Media Company. On 12 January 2017, Immediate Media was bought by the German media group Hubert Burda.
The magazine is published on Tuesdays, the day having gradually moved forward from Fridays over many years, and carries listings for the following Saturday through to Friday. Originally, listings ran from Sunday to Saturday - the changeover meant that 8 October 1960 was listed twice in successive issues.
The Radio Times was first issued on 28 September 1923 for the price of 2d, carrying details of programmes for six BBC wireless stations (2LO, 5IT, 2ZY, 5NO, 5WA and 5SC), newspapers at the time boycotted radio listings fearing that increased listenership might decrease their sales. It included a 'Message to "listeners"' by the BBC's chairman, Lord Pease.
Initially, The Radio Times was a combined enterprise between the British Broadcasting Company and publishers George Newnes Ltd.. The latter typeset, printed and distributed the magazine. In 1925 the BBC assumed full editorial control, but printing and distribution could not begin in-house until 1937. The Radio Times established a reputation for using leading writers and illustrators, and the covers from the special editions are now collectable design classics. On 1 May 1927, The Radio Times received an experimental Braille edition was produced under the auspices of the National Institute for the Blind, its success led to a regular weekly Braille version starting publication costing one penny each.
In 1928, The Radio Times announced a regular series of 'experimental television transmissions by the Baird process' for half an hour every morning. The launch of the first regular 405-line television service by the BBC was reflected with television listings in the Radio Times London edition of 23 October 1936. Thus Radio Times became the first ever television listings magazine in the world, Initially only two pages in each edition were devoted to television, which ran from Monday to Saturday and remained off-air on Sundays.
After 14 years, from issue 693 (cover date 8 January 1937), the definitive article "The" was no longer used on the masthead, and the magazine became simply called Radio Times. On the same date, the magazine published a lavish photogravure supplement. By September 1939, Radio Times included three pages of television listings.
Prior to the German invasion of Poland on 1 September 1939, the BBC radio listings provided a National Programme for the whole in the United Kingdom, and the Regional Programme appeared in seven different versions (London, Midlands, North, West, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland), plus the Aberdeen and Stagshaw programmes each with a combination of national and regional were transmitted to the north east of Scotland and England respectively, before the two stations merged into an single service.
Britain declared war on Germany on 3 September 1939 and television broadcasting ceased, radio listings continued throughout the war with a reduced service. As from 23 June 1944, just 18 days after D-Day, the Allied Expeditionary Forces edition carried details of all the programmes for the Home Service and General Forces Programme, but by the same year that paper rationing meant editions were only 20 pages of tiny print on thin paper, when the Radio Times expanded with regional editions were introduced from 29 July 1945 and television resumed once again on 7 June 1946.
From 18 January 1953, television listings, which had been in the back of the magazine, were placed alongside the daily radio schedules. From 17 February 1957, television listings were moved to a separate section at the front, with radio listings relegated to the back. A day's listings was sometimes spread over up to three double-page spreads, mixed with advertisements, but this format was phased out when independent publishers were allowed to publish television programme schedules:
|Category||Channels and stations|
|Television||BBC Television Service(with the regional areas of London, Midlands, North, Scotland, West/Wales and Northern Ireland)|
|Sound||BBC Home Service (1 September 1939),BBC Light Programme (29 July 1945), BBC Third Programme (29 September 1946), BBC Network Three (30 September 1957)|
On 4 August 1962, when Radio Times was again revamped, the Abram Games' masthead was replaced with one incorporating the words in the Clarendon typeface on the left, and the BBC / tv / Sound reversed out to the right; while the main change was the reduction of BBC radio listings for Home, Light and Third to a double-page spread brought down into size, it had been running at between 60 and 68 pages but the relaunched issue (two years earlier) contained only 52 pages.
On 6 September 1969, Radio Times is given a radical makeover as well as the front cover is surrounded by black border and italicses its masthead (in the Caslon typeface with swash capitals that remained until April 2001) was an attempt to emphasize the "R" for radio and "T" for television. In some changes for the new format saw the introduction of a weekly column previewing "this week's films", however the look of the magazine was initially at least became far more restrained less the white space between columns on headings, most significantly the "lifestyle" section (which covers motoring, gardening and cooking) and the crossword puzzle was completely dropped, while the highlights section on the right page is scrapped, but despite the new look, they switched the date format from "month-day-year" to "day-month-year" and ceases carrying cigarette advertisements after 46 years since its first published. Since Christmas 1969, a 14-day double-sized issue has been published each December containing listings for two weeks of programmes. Originally, this covered Christmas and New Year listings, but in some years these appear in separate editions, with the two-week period ending just before New Year.
The major change was on 23 November 1978 within the presentation of radio programme listings took place, this was in response to wavelength changes that enabled Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to receive their own separate domestic services in addition to BBC Radio 4 (also known as 'Radio 4 UK' remained until September 1984), with the arrival of these services on the pages were forced into a six-column grid.
Between March and December 1983, Radio Times had severe industrial disputes with the support of joining forces by the British Printing & Communications Corporation and the union SOGAT 82 about the dispute was affected due to printing problems:
On 23 June 1984, the radio listings have been redesigned for these pages that improve their legibility to paving the way for a new printing technology, but some copies are already printed by this process will be other changes that enhance our service to our readers, and from 1 September of that year, web-offset printing was used for the first time when the magazine became brighter and more colourful, with newsprint and sheets of gravure is replaced by black ink and white paper, also installing a new typeface called Neue Helvetica that replaces Franklin Gothic which has a larger character style, and the television listings has also been redesigned including the new film icon and "today at a glance" is occupied on the right page. Starting from 1986, Radio Times introduces the new family viewing policy warns BBC Television does not broadcast programmes before 9:00pm which it believes to be unsuitable for children after that time parents can be expected to share responsibility but some programmes may be appropriate for adult audiences.
On 17 December 1988, its popularity climaxed when the Christmas edition sold an astounding 11,220,666 copies, and the Guinness Book of Records as the biggest-selling edition of any British magazine in history.
From 2 June 1990, the entire magazine was published in colour for the first time which ended monochrome for over 67 years, the day's listings beginning with a single page of highlights that includes "at a glance", followed by the double-page spreads of BBC television channels and radio stations. On 16 February 1991 as the same date for the new BBC One and BBC Two idents, the introduction of television logos started to cover all channels and also include the programme pages for ITV and Channel 4 illustrations where the billings of white space until the next 13 days, when the full complete listings on the four main channels and satellite television from 1 March.
Before the deregulation of television listings in 1991, the four weekly listings magazines were as follows:
Today both publications carry listings for all major terrestrial, cable and satellite television channels in the United Kingdom and following deregulation, new listings magazines such as Mirror Group's TV Plus, IPC Media's What's on TV and Bauer Media Group's TV Quick (up until 2010) began to be published.
While the major refresh on 31 August 1991, the four extra pages of satellite television listings and one page of highlights section were replaced by the number of satellite channels on the left in the daytime television listings with "at a glance" on the right to complete the set, then followed by evening's television listings. On 5 September 1992, Radio Times devoted two pages of satellite and cable channels to making up the six pages of television listings for a day:
|Movies||Sky Movies, The Movie Channel, Sky Movies Gold (from 1 October 1992)|
|Sport||Sky Sports, Eurosport, Screensport|
|News||Sky News, CNN International|
|Entertainment (unused)||Sky One, The Comedy Channel,UK Gold (from 1 November 1992), Lifestyle,The Children's Channel, MTV Europe, TV Asia, The Adult Channel|
|Cable||Bravo, Discovery Channel, The Learning Channel, Super Channel, AsiaVision, Home Video Channel|
During 1993, Radio Times had several programme listing pages have been recently altered:
Radio Times design was refreshed on 3 September 1994 as the television listings had the day's name written vertically with "today's choices" replacing "at a glance" on the left of a page, while the major revamp on 25 September 1999 as well as the programme page headings were returned which also changed the 'letters' section beginning on the front pages and primetime television listings from two narrow columns to one wide column, and lasted until 13 April 2001 (shortly before Easter), which saw the new masthead title with the BBC's corporated typeface Gill Sans (until the end of 2004) and the programme pages with eight pages of television listings reverted to having the day running across the top of the page horizontally.
On 26 November 2002, NTL and BBC Worldwide announced a major new agreement that will offer an exclusive and tailored edition of Radio Times to every customer across the United Kingdom for every week it will be delivered directly to subscribers' homes. The special NTL edition of Radio Times replaces the monthly Cable Guide, which ran from September 1986 to December 2002, will contain programme information for NTL channels (including all terrestrial channels) with Front Row's pay-per-view movies and events will also be included. Subscribers will be offered the first four weekly issues of the new title for the same price as the existing monthly magazine, will be delivered free to homes in time for the first programme week of 4 January 2003, both companies will actively and jointly market the new edition.
From 30 October 2004, the programme listings pages have been revamped with the regional variations is now at the bottom of daytime section as well as the same spread on the five main channels include BBC Three, BBC Four, ITV2 and ITV3 (launches on 1 November) now appear on digital/cable section on the right page and a "Kids' TV" section (that includes Nick Jr., CBeebies, CBBC and Disney Channel) in a single page on the left. On 22 May 2007, two extra pages of television listings per day were added as part of a slight tweak in the publication's format, bringing it up to ten pages of listings per day in total, or five double-page spreads: one page of highlights with daytime listings and regional variations, followed by two pages of evening's terrestrial television listings (with "at a glance" for nine digital channels until 2010), then six pages of listings for digital, satellite and cable channels, within the digital radio listings were integrated into the main radio pages, and also the three new pages of sport, lifestyle and music.
The most sweeping change came into effect on 10 April 2010 as Radio Times went through a major overhaul with the two pages for latest reviews of highlights ('choices') that similar to TVTimes, while the daytime listings moved onto the evening section having the full day's output for the five main channels on one double-page spread to complete the set:
Other changes saw the evening listings start at 5.00pm rather than 6.30pm (sometimes earlier than 5.00pm for weekends, bank holidays, Easter, Christmas and New Year), the addition of electronic program guide numbers into the channel headers, and the inclusion of director and year of production details on all Film4 movies throughout the day.
For that time during the London 2012 Olympics (also in Rio 2016) and the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, whether the listings for three terrestrial channels (BBC Two, ITV and Channel 4) are now occupied on the right page and Channel 5 was moved to the next page on the left, which means BBC One and BBC Three/Four as the Olympic broadcasters that also remind viewers in the possibility of both using the red button and online for BBC channels with additional broadcasts. Following the closure of the BBC Three channel on 20 February 2016, Radio Times stated to include BBC Four in the main channels section with Channel 5 being relegated to the Freeview section pages, reverting back to its original four-channel format which had been used for that page between 1 March 1991 and 29 March 1997.
From 25 March 2020, Radio Times introduces the two new sections of podcasts and the six pages of streaming and various catch-up services such as BBC iPlayer, Now TV, Disney+, BritBox, Netflix, Amazon Prime and UKTV Play.
Following the 1969 relaunch, circulation indeed dropped by about a quarter of a million. It would take several years to recover, but the magazine remained ahead of glossier, lifestyle-led competitor, TVTimes. In the mid-1970s, it was just over four million; in 2013 it was just over one million.
During a major revamp in April 2010, Radio Times was the third-biggest-selling magazine in the UK. However, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations, the magazine experienced about 2.2% year-on-year decrease to an average weekly sale of 1,648,000 in the second half of 2009.
The January 2018-January 2019 circulation figure for Radio Times is 622,000 ( 11.3%), making it third in the TV listings magazine market, behind TV Choice (998,561) 2.1%) and What's on TV (887,049) 11.7%).
Between April and November 1990, Radio Times launches the four-page preview of British Satellite Broadcasting programmes for five channels (that includes The Sports Channel, The Movie Channel, Now, Galaxy and The Power Station) as seen used for advertisement feature.
After the deregulation of television listings, there was strong criticism from other listings magazines that Radio Times was advertised on the BBC (as well as on commercial channels), saying that it gave unfair advantage to a publication and includes the tagline: 'If it's on... it's in'.
The case went to court, but the outcome was that as the Radio Times had close connections with the BBC it would be allowed to be advertised by the BBC; however from 1992 until 2004, it must be a static picture of the cover and show clear disclaimer 'Other television listings magazines are available' leading to the phrase entering common public usage for a time.
On 9 September 2000, Rover Group sponsored Team GB for the Sydney Olympics, the two special edition cars (25 and 45) painted gold and silver were produced, in order to promote Rover's association with the team and we brokered one of the first cross-platform deals and used the Radio Times portfolio for six weeks between 15 September and 1 October, with the package of activity included a 'win a car' competition on a detachable front cover flap, a marketing double-page spread to promote advertorial strips on television listing pages and a web reprise that included competition fulfilment.
By the early 2000s, advertisements for the publication had become sparse on the BBC. The Radio Times has not been promoted on BBC television and radio channels since 2005, following complaints by rival publications that the promotions were unfair competition.
For various reasons, some issues were not printed. These include:
|Issue No.||Issue date||Reason|
|138||14 May 1926||General strike|
|1221||21 February 1947||Fuel crisis|
|28 February 1947|
|1404||8 September 1950||Printing dispute|
|1408||13 October 1950|
|20 October 1950|
|27 October 1950|
|3012||1 August 1981|
|3099||2 April 1983|
|3100||9 April 1983|
|3134||3 December 1983|
Printing disputes and other operational difficulties have also led to the magazine appearing in a different formats to the standard:
|Issue No.||Issue date||Reason|
|1342||1 July 1949||London edition printed by The Daily Graphic|
|1404||15 September 1950||Nine-day issue, northern edition printed as a tabloid|
|1408||3 November 1950|
|1685||24 February 1956||Printed as a broadsheet in Paris, France|
|1686||2 March 1956|
|1687||9 March 1956|
|1688||16 March 1956|
|1689||23 March 1956|
|1690||30 March 1956|
|2870||11 November 1978||Cover printed in monochrome|
|2871||18 November 1978|
|2872||25 November 1978|
|2951||31 May 1980|
There are several regional editions that which contain different listings for regional programming, all editions of Radio Times carry variations of adjoining regions for television and various local radio listings.
When it began on 28 September 1923 during the interwar period, there was just a single national edition, but from 10 October 1926 there were three separate editions - Southern, Northern and Scottish/Ulster. They were published until 7 January 1934 when Radio Times reverted back to one edition:
|Edition||BBC wireless stations|
|Southern||2LO (London), 5IT (Birmingham), 5WA (Cardiff), 6BM (Bournemouth), 5PY (Plymouth), 5NG (Nottingham), 6ST (Stoke), 5SX (Swansea)|
|Northern||2ZY (Manchester), 5NO (Newcastle), 2FL (Sheffield), 6LV (Liverpool), 2LS (Leeds/Bradford), 6KH (Hull)|
|Scottish/Ulster||5SC (Glasgow), 2BD (Aberdeen), 2DE (Dundee), 2BE (Belfast)|
After the war, regional editions were introduced on 29 July 1945 and the television service is finally resumed on 7 June 1946 (after closed down on 1 September 1939 in the duration of war for over six years). The spread of television editions for Radio Times when the full listings (with six pages) were not included in all issues until August 1952:
|BBC TV (later BBC One) regions||Service date|
|London||2 November 1936|
|Midlands||17 December 1949|
|North of England||12 October 1951|
|Scotland||14 March 1952|
|West of England (including Wales until 1964)||15 August 1952|
|Northern Ireland||21 July 1955|
|Wales||9 February 1964|
When BBC Two began on 20 April 1964, there were a number of "BBC-2 edition" for areas where only certain parts of a region could get BBC Two until July 1966:
|BBC Two regions||Service date|
|London & South East||20 April 1964|
|Midlands & East Anglia||6 December 1964|
|Wales||12 September 1965|
|North of England||31 October 1965|
|South & West||16 January 1966|
|Northern Ireland||11 June 1966|
|Scotland||9 July 1966|
|Edition||BBC regions||ITV regions|
|London||BBC South East||Thames Television (until 31 December 1992), Carlton Television (from 1 January 1993), London Weekend Television|
|East Anglia||BBC East||Anglia Television|
|Midlands||BBC Midlands, BBC East Midlands||Central Independent Television|
|South||BBC South, BBC South East||Television South (until 31 December 1992), Meridian Broadcasting (from 1 January 1993), Channel Television (from 26 October 1991)|
|West||BBC West||Harlech Television (HTV)|
|Wales||BBC Cymru Wales|
|South West||BBC South West||Television South West (until 31 December 1992), Westcountry Television (from 1 January 1993)|
|Yorkshire||BBC North||Yorkshire Television|
|North East||Tyne Tees Television|
|North West||Granada Television|
|Central Scotland||BBC Scotland||Scottish Television|
|Northern Scotland||Grampian Television|
|Northern Ireland (Ulster)||BBC Northern Ireland||Ulster Television (UTV)|
The number of regional editions has been altered over the years with the number of regional editions gradually being reduced over time due to there being fewer variations in the schedules:
As of 2019, Radio Times used to have six regional editions for television channels and radio stations throughout the country had been since 25 August 2007.
|Edition||BBC regions||ITV regions||Other channels|
|London/Anglia/Midlands||BBC London, BBC South East, BBC East, BBC Midlands, BBC East Midlands||ITV London, ITV Anglia, ITV Central||BBC One Wales, BBC Two Wales, ITV Wales, London Live|
|South/West/South West||BBC South, BBC South East, BBC West, BBC South West||ITV Meridian, ITV West Country, ITV Channel Television||BBC One Wales, BBC Two Wales, ITV Wales, S4C|
|Yorkshire/North East/North West||BBC Yorkshire, BBC Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, BBC North East and Cumbria, BBC North West||ITV Yorkshire, ITV Tyne Tees, ITV Granada||BBC One Scotland, BBC Scotland, BBC One Wales, BBC Two Wales, ITV Anglia, ITV Border, ITV Central, ITV Wales, S4C|
|Scotland/Border||BBC Scotland||STV North, STV Central, ITV Border, ITV Border Scotland||BBC Alba, BBC One England, BBC Two England|
|Wales||BBC Cymru Wales||ITV Cymru Wales||S4C, BBC One England, BBC Two England, ITV Central, ITV Granada, ITV West, ITV Westcountry|
|Northern Ireland||BBC Northern Ireland||UTV||RTÉ One, RTÉ2, Virgin Media One, Virgin Media Three|
|Edition||BBC Local Radio regions|
|London/Anglia/Midlands||BBC Radio Berkshire, BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, BBC Coventry & Warwickshire, BBC Radio Derby, BBC Essex, BBC Radio Gloucestershire, BBC Hereford and Worcester, BBC Radio Kent, BBC Radio Leicester, BBC Radio Lincolnshire, BBC Radio London, BBC Radio Norfolk, BBC Radio Northampton, BBC Radio Nottingham, BBC Radio Oxford, BBC Radio Shropshire, BBC Radio Stoke, BBC Radio Suffolk, BBC Surrey, BBC Sussex, BBC Three Counties Radio, BBC WM|
|South/West/South West||BBC Radio Berkshire, BBC Radio Bristol, BBC Radio Cornwall, BBC Radio Devon, BBC Essex, BBC Radio Gloucestershire, BBC Radio Guernsey, BBC Hereford and Worcester, BBC Radio Jersey, BBC Radio Kent, BBC Radio London, BBC Radio Oxford, BBC Radio Solent, BBC Somerset, BBC Surrey, BBC Sussex, BBC Three Counties Radio, BBC Wiltshire|
|Yorkshire/North East/North West||BBC Radio Cumbria, BBC Radio Derby, BBC Radio Humberside, BBC Radio Lancashire, BBC Radio Leeds, BBC Radio Lincolnshire, BBC Radio Manchester, BBC Radio Merseyside, BBC Radio Newcastle, BBC Radio Sheffield, BBC Radio Stoke, BBC Tees, BBC Radio York plus BBC Radio Scotland|
|Scotland/Border||BBC Radio Scotland, BBC Radio Shetland, BBC Radio Orkney, BBC Radio nan Gàidheal|
|Wales||BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru (including Radio Cymru 2)|
|Northern Ireland||BBC Radio Ulster, BBC Radio Foyle|
When the magazine was a BBC publication, the covers had a BBC bias (in 2005, 31 of the 51 issues had BBC-related covers) and consisting of a single side of glossy paper, however the magazine often uses double or triple-width covers that open out for several large group photographs.
Each year, the Radio Times celebrates those individuals and programmes that are featured on the cover at the Radio Times Covers Party, where framed oversized versions of the covers are presented.
Radio Times had several sporting events with more than one of the Home Nations (such as the Five/Six Nations, UEFA European Championship, Commonwealth Games and the Rugby World Cup) taking part are often marked with different covers for each nation, showing their own team.
On 30 April 2005, a double-width cover was used to commemorate the return of the Daleks to Doctor Who and the forthcoming general election. This cover recreated a scene from the 1964 Doctor Who serial The Dalek Invasion of Earth in which the Daleks were seen crossing Westminster Bridge, with the Houses of Parliament in the background. The cover text read 'VOTE DALEK!' In a 2008 contest sponsored by the Periodical Publishers Association, this cover was voted the best British magazine cover of all time.
The cover of the 'Christmas Number' (as this issue came to be called) dating from the time when it contained just a single week's listings, usually features a generic festive artwork, atypical for the magazine, which since the 1970s has almost exclusively used as a TVTimes-style photographic covers for all other issues.
The Radio Times Guide to Films was first published by BBC Worldwide on 26 October 2000, featuring more than 21,000 film titles in alphabetical order containing with a 1,707-page book. The 2006 edition was edited by Kilmeny Fane-Saunders and also featured an introduction by Barry Norman, former presenter of the BBC's Film programme (until his death on 30 June 2017 at the age of 83), and the 2007 edition is introduced by Andrew Collins. The final-ever edition of Radio Times Guide to Films was published on 28 September 2018 for the last time after 18 years.
There are also similar publications, the Radio Times Guide to TV Comedy by Mark Lewisohn and the Radio Times Guide to Science-Fiction.
The Radio Times website was launched in 1997 primarily as a listings service. In 2011, it relaunched offering a diverse editorial product to accompany its listings and television, radio and film recommendations.
In December 2012, the BBC completed a digitisation exercise, scanning the listings of all BBC programmes from an entire run of about 4,500 copies of the magazine from 1923 (the first issue) to 2009, the BBC Genome Project, with a view to creating an online database of its programme output. They identified around five million programmes, involving 8.5 million actors, presenters, writers and technical staff. BBC Genome was released for public use on 15 October 2014. Corrections to OCR errors and changes to advertised schedules are being crowdsourced.