Radio Times
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Radio Times

Radio Times
The 2005 Christmas double issue (dated 17-30 December) with cover illustration by Mark Thomas of Doctor Whos TARDIS in a snowy scene
CategoriesTV and radio listings magazine
Circulation577,087 (January - June 2018)[1]
First issue28 September 1923; 97 years ago (1923-09-28)
CompanyBBC Magazines (1937-2011)
Immediate Media Company (since 2011)
CountryUnited Kingdom
Based inLondon, England
Language Edit this at Wikidata

Radio Times is a British weekly magazine which provides radio and television listings, and other features such as interviews, film reviews and lifestyle items. Founded in 1923 by John Reith, then general manager of the British Broadcasting Company (from 1 January 1927, the British Broadcasting Corporation), it was the world's first broadcast listings magazine.[2]

It was published entirely in-house by BBC Magazines from 8 January 1937[3] until 2011, when the division was merged into Immediate Media Company.[4][5][6] On 12 January 2017, Immediate Media was bought by the German media group Hubert Burda.[7]

The magazine is published on Tuesdays and carries listings for the week from Saturday to Friday. Originally, listings ran from Sunday to Saturday: the changeover meant 8 October 1960 was listed twice, in successive issues. Since Christmas 1969, a 14-day double-sized issue has been published each December containing schedules for two weeks of programmes. Originally this covered Christmas and New Year (also included bank holidays). On some occasions those each appeared in separate editions, with the two-week period ending just before the new year.

Publication history

The first issue
28 September 1923

The Radio Times was first issued on 28 September 1923[8] 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.[9] It included a message to "listeners" by the BBC's chairman, Lord Pease.[10] Initially, The Radio Times was a combined enterprise between the British Broadcasting Company and publishers George Newnes Ltd. within 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,[11]The Radio Times established a reputation for using leading writers and illustrators, and the covers from the special editions are now collectable design classics. By 26 September 1926, the narrow columns of BBC's wireless programme schedules were broken up by the insertion of a photograph or two - relevant to or depicting subjects of the broadcasts. On 1 May 1927, The Radio Times produced an experimental Braille edition under the auspices of the National Institute for the Blind. Its success led to a regular weekly Braille version publication costing one penny.

From 5 January 1934 to facilitate these changes, the three-column programme pages were expanded to include a fourth column with the television programmes given a new section layout (from 8 January of that year), and The Radio Times announced a regular series of "experimental television transmissions by the Baird process" for half an hour every night at 11.00pm. 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.[11][12] 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.

Masthead from the 25 December 1931 edition, including the BBC's coat of arms with the motto: "Nation shall speak peace unto nation"
Masthead from the 8 January 1937 edition, the first using the title 'Radio Times'

After 14 years, from issue 693 (cover date 8 January 1937), the definitive article word "The" was no longer used on the masthead within the magazine became simply called Radio Times, and also published a lavish photogravure supplement on the same date of that year.[13] 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 a single service, and included three pages of television listings.

When Britain declared war with Germany on 3 September 1939 and the television broadcasting ceased, but 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. By the same year paper rationing meant editions were only 20 pages of tiny print on thin paper. Radio Times expanded with regional editions introduced from 29 July 1945 and television resumed once again on 7 June 1946.

From 18 January 1953, the television listing schedules which had been in the back of the magazine, were placed alongside daily radio schedules. On 17 February 1957 (after the abolition of "Toddlers' Truce", in which transmissions terminated between 6 and 7 pm), television listings were moved to a separate section at the front with radio listings relegated to the back, a day's listings were 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 schedules:

Section Channels and stations
Television BBC Television Service[1](with the regional areas of London, Midlands, North, Scotland, West/Wales and Northern Ireland)

From 8 October 1960, BBC television and radio schedules were re-integrated as the programmes included a new 'pick of the week' with a single third page for previews before each day's listings coming before the two pages of television and then four pages of radio, while the new bold masthead was designed by Abram Games (who created graphical designs such as the 'Festival Star' on the cover of the 1951 Festival of Britain and the 1953 'Bat's Wings' ident) containing the words 'BBC tv and Sound' on the left side, which became one of the shortest-used designs in the magazine's history. On 4 August 1962, when Radio Times was again revamped, the masthead was replaced with one incorporating the words in the Clarendon typeface; while the main change was the reduction of BBC radio schedules for three stations 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.

From 30 September 1967, Radio Times introduces the all-new colour pages of magazine feature sections which include 'star stories', Percy Thrower's gardening, Zena Skinner's cookery, Bill Hartley's motoring, as well as 'round and about' with up-to-the-minute stories in both television and radio from around the world, and also the four new BBC radio stations (that replaces the Home Service, the Light Programme and the Third Programme) were launched within the schedule listing pages:

Section Channels and stations

On 6 September 1969, Radio Times was given a radical makeover as 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. The new format saw the introduction of a weekly column previewing 'this week's films' by the critic Philip Jenkinson, whether the look of the magazine initially became far more restrained with less white space between columns on headings. Most significantly, the lifestyle section (which covers motoring, gardening and cookery) and the crossword was completely dropped, while the highlights section on the right page was scrapped. The front cover was surrounded by a black border and italicised its masthead (in the Caslon typeface with swash capitals that remained until April 2001) in an attempt to emphasise the 'R' for radio and 'T' for television. From 5 July 1975, the magazine was given a refreshed layout which consisted of horizontal black bars from top to bottom with the familiar darker-shaded look, and eventually the BBC's television schedules included a 'colour' annotation which was dropped after eight years, but programmes in black and white were never indicated (except feature films originally made for the cinema).

The major change was on 23 November 1978 within the presentation of radio programme listings, in response to wavelength changes that enabled Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to receive their own separate domestic services in addition to Radio 4 (also known as the national 'Radio 4 UK' service remained until 29 September 1984), with the arrival of these services on the pages were forced into a six-column grid. On 30 August 1980, Radio Times developed a new double-page spread of Robert Ottaway's highlights from the week ahead, often used for both BBC radio and television programmes. Also, the regular inside-back-page section for younger listeners and viewers featured the Newsround presenter John Craven and a selection of new puzzles were created by the television producer Clive Doig - such as the first-ever trackword which consisting of nine squares in one word, as well as backstage stories and a comic strip of Peter Lord's Morph at the bottom of the page.

Between March and December 1983, Radio Times had severe industrial disputes when the British Printing & Communications Corporation and the union SOGAT 82 joined forces, and production was affected due to printing problems:

  • 23 March - The BBC regrets that because at the printers for next week's edition are in short supply, but copies will be available in the South West, the West of England, North East, and many parts of South and the North of England.
  • 7 April - The BBC expects copies of the magazine will be available in Scotland, Northern Ireland and North of England from 16 April, following the print workers in East Kilbride and near Bristol have returned to work.
  • 4 June - The general election special issue with the combined England edition, as well as the three constituent nations (Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland) across throughout the country was used for one week only.
  • 16 July - The edition was finally returned to our fully-regionalised form with complete details of all BBC television channels and radio stations for national, regional and local.
  • 10 December - The magazine was printed and published as the single national edition once again, after misses an issue but due to a print workers' strike from the previous week.

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 Helvetica typeface that replaces Franklin Gothic which has a larger character style, and the television listings has also been redesigned including the new film icon[5] and 'today at a glance' (is occupied on the far right page) were added. Starting from 11 October 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 19 November 1988, Radio Times launches our new weekly back page section called 'My Kind of Day', which devoted to latest star interviews with various special guests. Also on the same year (17 December), 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. On 25 March 1989 (during Easter), a general overhaul of page layout and design had taken place with a major makeover for the programme schedules and the channel headings reversed out in greater clarity, BBC1 and BBC2 were once again separated as well as the return of an old layout during the late 1950s and early 1960s, with television at the front and radio at the back, along the week's Radio 1 schedules is occupied a single page followed by Radio 2 had a facing pair, then several pages of Radio 3 had five within Radio 4 had six, and finally the BBC Local Radio listings, but regional features had absent from the English editions since the late 1960s were resumed in a localised page. Later on 25 November of that year, the radio schedules were restored to two pages for each day, some of the English editions for daily editorial features on radio as well.

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 (where BBC1 always occupied the left page and BBC2 for the right page without advertisements on several programme listings) and BBC radio stations as enlivened with colour logos at the top pages, also the day showing inside the coloured block halfway down the pages vertically in which adds to a different colour. The layout only lasted for six months when the new refreshed format debuted in the Christmas edition (22 December) where the programme listing pages retained their largely the same, and also the colour-coded days of the week is now at the top of the page headings.[6] On 16 February 1991 as the same date for the new BBC1 and BBC2 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 from 1 March, this new layout in the television section starting with 'at a glance' page preceded by advertisements on the left side as the daytime listings (in a six-column grid) at the right page, followed by two pages for the evening's schedules with three columns for BBC1, two for BBC2, also three for ITV and two for Channel 4 in the same columns occasionally. Also added to the local radio page was an alphabetical list of the commercial radio stations available with the frequency and a two or three-word summary of that station's output.

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 First, IPC Media's What's on TV, Bauer Media Group's TV Quick and Hamfield Publications' TV Plus began to be published, but several newspapers would be allowed to print television schedules for the entire forthcoming week on a Saturday (or a Sunday), where previously they had only been able to list each day's programmes in that edition.

While the major refresh on 31 August 1991, the four extra pages of satellite television listings and one page of highlights section were scrapped and replaced by the number of ten satellite channels (from top to bottom) is to be occupied by the daytime schedules for BBC1 and BBC2 on the left, followed by ITV and Channel 4 with 'at a glance' on the right, and then the main evening schedules for terrestrial television channels that remained the same layout. On 5 September 1992, the daytime listings were slightly tweaked which includes ITV's programme schedules sandwiched between BBC2 and Channel 4 within the centre pages, and also giving two pages of satellite and cable channels for each category sections to making up the six pages of television listings every day:

Category section Channels
(unused until 11 September 1993)

During 1993, Radio Times had several layouts where the programme listing pages for television (including satellite) and radio schedules have been altered throughout the year:

  • 1 January - The VideoPlus+ number codes to cover all the terrestrial and satellite television channels for the first time, which allowed viewers with suitably equipped video recorders to entering the programme's number would ensure to set its timer from taping it.
  • 2 January - The new film premiere icon appears used for the terrestrial television listings, replacing the phrase "first showing on network television".
  • 5 June - The radio schedules is given a radical makeover with highlights on the right, including day-by-day Virgin 1215, Classic FM and BBC World Service were added on each page, with the local radio listings have now incorporated the weekly frequency guide which now included all stations where available, and the television schedule pages saw the introduction of the year of production detail for film titles added as well.
  • 19 June - The categories for satellite television listings were completely rearranged, whether the news section (includes Sky One) moves to the left and the sport section moves to the right, also adding British Sky Broadcasting's film classifications at the bottom corner on the left page.
  • 24 July - The two former cable-only channels (Bravo and Discovery) appeared in the entertainment section following their launch on satellite and the cable television listings were relegated at the bottom, which means the sport section is no longer used.
  • 1 September - The three new channels (UK Living, Family Channel and Nickelodeon) were launched as well as CMT Europe is also added in the unused entertainment section, marking as the same day with the introduction of Sky Multichannels package on the new Astra 1C system.
  • 11 September - The satellite television listings is given an redesigned layout starting with the new movie planner section providing the latest film titles in alphabetical order on various channels at different times every day, within some changes including the new factual section (together with Discovery, Sky News and CNN International) that replaces the news category and also the sport section returned.
  • 18 September - The British versions of TNT and Cartoon Network were added to the movie planner and entertainment sections respectively.
  • 25 September - The daytime listings were changed once again with 'at a glance' now on the right page, with the advertisements occupying the left page. The channel heading logos were reduced into horizontal bars in smaller size on adjacent columns used for terrestrial television listings, another changes in the satellite pages saw the new children's television section (along with Children's Channel, Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network), and the cable listings (including Super Channel) has moved to the left side which next to movie planner section that means AsiaVision, Wire TV and Learning Channel were withdrawn.
  • 1 October - The British version of QVC launches and appears at the bottom corner in the entertainment section.
  • 26 December - The final Christmas Sunday listings used both on television and radio for the very last time, it sometimes referred to Boxing Day never fell on a Sunday and moves to 27 December, although this practice has now fallen out of common usage even when it believed to result from the legalisation of Sunday trading in England and Wales a year later.

Radio Times design was refreshed on 3 September 1994 as the television listings had the day's name written vertically beginning with the daytime section including 'today's choices' which replaces 'at a glance' on the left page, followed by the main evening's schedules in an original four-column grid, as well as the highlights section is occupied on the far left page within the satellite listings and the movie planner is now at the right page. The major revamp took place on 25 September 1999 where all the pages in particular order starting with the letters section, followed by film reviews, then the seven-day programme guide with six pages for television (including satellite) and two pages for radio, as well as the single-page crossword and local radio listings with frequencies, and finally the 'My Kind of Day' for the back page which was preceded by classified advertisements, as the programme page headings were returned whether inside a coloured block vertically is similar to the short-lived 1990 layout, which also changed the primetime television listings from two narrow columns to one wide column and offer issued a warning phrase "contains strong language" (until 2009) used for BBC television programmes from 9.00pm during the hours of watershed broadcasting restrictions.

The layout lasted shortly before Easter on 13 April 2001, which saw the new masthead title with the BBC's corporated typeface Gill Sans (until the end of 2004 and replaced by Interstate in the start of 2005) whether the programme pages with eight pages of television listings reverted to having the day running across the top of the page horizontally from the following week, and the satellite listings expanded into four pages and the double-page movie planner section were also included. 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 magazine (which ran from September 1986 to December 2002) will contain programme information for NTL channels including all terrestrial services 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 schedule 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 that include BBC3, BBC4, ITV2, ITV3 (launches on 1 November) and More4 (from 10 October 2005) now appear on digital/cable section on the right page with a 'Kids' TV' section in a single page on the left, and the category sections for digital, satellite and cable listings have now returned after a four-year absence:

Category section Digital, satellite and cable channels
Kids' TV

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 major sweeping changes came into effect on 10 April 2010 as Radio Times went through a overhaul with the two pages for latest reviews of highlights ('choices') that similar somewhat to TV Times, 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:

  • Choices (includes 'pick of the day' and 'film of the day')
  • Main channels (with daytime listings and regional variations)
  • Freeview
  • Satellite and cable (with children's television listings)
  • Films/Sport
  • Radio (includes 'radio in your area' section)

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 for Film4 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 (BBC2, 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 BBC1 and BBC3/BBC4 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 BBC3 channel on 20 February 2016, Radio Times stated to include BBC4 in the main channels section with Channel 5 being relegated to the Freeview section, reverting back to its original four-channel format which had been used for that pages between 1 March 1991 and 29 March 1997. As from 24 March 2020 to coincide the launch of Disney+, Radio Times introduces the two new sections of podcasts and the six pages of streaming and various catch-up services. That same year (8 September), the three pages of Freeview schedules were redesigned as well as the films section (together with Film4, Talking Pictures TV, Horror Channel and three Sony Movies services), which means the children's television listings along with PBS America, Smithsonian Channel, Quest, HGTV, Pick and Challenge will move to the left side in the third page next to satellite and cable section, while Sky Arts will be available free-to-air from 17 September and moves to the second page on the right side.

Circulation and advertising

In 1934, Radio Times achieved a circulation of two million and its net profit in that year was more than one quarter of the total BBC licence income. By the 1950s, Radio Times had grown to be the magazine with the largest circulation in Europe, with an average sale of 8.8 million in 1955.[15] 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, TV Times. In the mid-1970s, it was just over four million; but in 2013 it was just over one million.

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 broadcasting 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.[] By the early 2000s, advertisements for the publication had become sparse on the BBC.[]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.[16]

During a major revamp in April 2010, Radio Times was the third-biggest-selling magazine in the United Kingdom. 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 (Decrease 11.3%), making it third in the television listings magazine market, behind TV Choice (998,561) Increase 2.1%) and What's on TV (887,049) Decrease 11.7%).[16]

Most Powerful People

The lists charted who the magazine believed were the most powerful people from three different areas of British media: comedy, drama and radio. The listing for comedy was published three times every January between 2003 and 2005; also the drama and radio lists were produced just only once each, in July 2004 and June 2005 respectively.

The first 'Most Powerful People' listing was published by Radio Times on 6 January 2003, and recognised the most influential people in television comedy in the United Kingdom. It was topped by the British comedian Ricky Gervais, as a result of the success of the award-winning second series of his television show The Office. The second poll, published a year later on 13 January 2004, was won by the Irish comedian and television presenter Graham Norton following his signing of two new contracts during 2003, each worth a reported £5 million. Six months later on 5 July of the same year, Radio Times published their 'Most Powerful People in TV Drama' list. Following a series of votes from industry experts, the magazine named the actress Julie Walters as their choice for the most powerful person in drama.

On 11 January 2005, Radio Times published the third 'Most Powerful People in TV Comedy' list, which was topped by the comedy duo Matt Lucas and David Walliams for their sketch show Little Britain, which the magazine called "inspired". Finally on 6 June of that year, Radio Times published their final 'Most Powerful People' list, which named the most influential people in radio in the United Kingdom. Restricted only to current broadcasters, the poll was won by Radio 2 disc jockey and television host Jonathan Ross, who was praised as "one of the wittiest people on radio". On 8 May 2010, Ross kept a copy of the issue of Radio Times naming him the most powerful person in radio in his office, next to a caricature of himself falling down a sewer from The Beanos Dennis the Menace and Gnasher comic strip.

Industrial disputes

Missing issues

For various reasons, some issues were not printed. These include:[17]

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

Diminished form

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


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.

While the major events (such as Remembrance Day, Crufts, BAFTAs, Wimbledon Championships, Glastonbury Festival and the Proms) or new series of popular programmes are marked by producing different covers were actually used for other collectors:

  • On 10 May 1945, two days after Victory in Europe Day, Radio Times declared the 'Victory Number' containing 24 pages of BBC radio programmes for the next eight days, with a special illustrated cover designed by Terry Freeman, incorporating the V sign as twin bursts of spotlights above the London skyline.
  • On 28 June 1969, a special edition of Radio Times for the investiture of the Prince of Wales at Caernarfon Castle (on 1 July) and for the first time was printed both in Welsh and English, which also provided the Prince's coat of arms for the front cover.
  • On 10 July 1969, Radio Times celebrated the Apollo 11 moon landing with this cover bearing the "TARGET MOON" caption at the top of the Saturn V rocket lifts off from Kennedy Space Center as part of the NASA's Apollo mission. On 6 July 2019, a special eight-page, pull-out colour supplement marking for the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11.
  • On 10 December 1988, Alice Roberts won the Blue Peter 'Young Artists' competition at the age of 15, with her picture and the presenters appeared on the front cover, now a familiar face as a television presenter on various science and history documentary programmes, is one of the regular co-presenters of BBC2's geographical and environmental series Coast from 2005 to 2015.
  • From 23 February 1991 during the deregulation of television listings, Radio Times began offering a comprehensive programme schedule guide to BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and satellite on 1 March (which falls on a Friday), bearing the "If it's on, it's in" tagline, which features Arnold Schwarzenegger appeared on the front cover, focusing about the former Mr. Universe and successfully become the biggest film career in Hollywood.
  • On 1 February 1992, as Radio Times celebrated 40 years of Elizabeth II's reign, and produced a 'royal souvenir' issue with its masthead printed in gold over a monochrome image by Dorothy Wilding was photographed back in 1952.
  • On 26 March 1994, to coincide the relaunch of Radio 5 as 'Five Live' (the new rolling news and sport service which took place on 28 March) within the group consists of Nelson Mandela, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Boris Yeltsin, John Major and Benazir Bhutto to appear on the cover wearing in t-shirts that includes the logo was done by Sven Arnstein, as well as Jones Bloom's electronic retouching but we also told that the sportswear came from Lillywhites and the footwear courtesy of John Lewis.
  • A special issue for the 50th anniversary of BBC television news on 3 July 2004, as well as a fold-out front cover with BBC news teams (from left to right: Huw Edwards, Fiona Bruce, Anna Ford, George Alagiah, Sophie Raworth, Dermot Murnaghan, Natasha Kaplinsky, Sian Williams, Darren Jordon and Moira Stuart) was photographed by Andy Earl, and also an accompanying special pull-out supplement within the centre pages.
  • On 10 February 2007, the second series of Life on Mars, was marked by the Radio Times producing a mock-up of a 1973-style cover promoting the series, placed on page three of the magazine.
  • On 5 May 2020, as Radio Times reaches its 5,000th edition with excellent lead articles from the support staff and workers of the National Health Service front line during the COVID-19 pandemic known as the coronavirus disease, and also granted this special cover showing the colours of the rainbow which uses acrylic paint in a plain white background.

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.[18]Radio Times had several sporting events with more than one of the Home Nations (such as the 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.

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 TV Times-style photographic covers for all other issues. In recent years, Radio Times has published and sold packs of reproductions of some of the Christmas covers of the magazine as Christmas cards.[when?]

Doctor Who

Doctor Who is the most represented programme on the cover, appearing on 29 issues (with 35 separate covers due to multiples) in the 49 years since the programme began on 23 November 1963.[19]

The Radio Times for 30 April - 6 May 2005 covered both the return of the Daleks to Doctor Who and the forthcoming general election.

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.[20] This cover recreated a scene from the 1964 serial The Dalek Invasion of Earth in which the Daleks were seen crossing Westminster Bridge with the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben in the background, and also the cover text read "VOTE DALEK!". On 29 September 2008, the contest was sponsored by the Periodical Publishers Association, this cover was voted the best British magazine cover of all time.[21] Five years later (on 17 April 2010) before the next general election, our three special covers depicting the Daleks invading the capital once more within showing their true colours of red, blue and yellow as one of several Britain's political parties for Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrats were used individually.

Other publications

The Listener

The Listener was first published on 16 January 1929 (until ceased publication in January 1991) under the editorship of Richard S. Lambert and was developed as a medium of record for the reproduction of broadcast talks. It also previewed major literary and musical broadcasts, reviewed new books, and printed a selected list of the more intellectual broadcasts for the coming week. Its published aim was to be "a medium for intelligent reception of broadcast programmes by way of amplification and explanation of those features which cannot now be dealt with in the editorial columns of the Radio Times", and the title reflected the fact that at the time that BBC broadcasts via radio only.

On 31 March 2011, the entire digitised archive was made available for purchase online to libraries, educational and other research institutions.

Annuals and guides

An annual was published three times: in 1954,[22] 1955[22] and 1956.[23]

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 in the paperback format. 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.


There have been 20 editors of Radio Times to date (including one uncredited and one returning) since the magazine began publication:[24][25][26]

  • Leonard Crocombe (1923-1926)
  • Walter Fuller (1926-1927)
  • Eric Maschwitz (1927-1933)
  • Maurice Gorham (1933-1941)
  • Gordon Stowell (1941-1944)
  • Tom Henn (1944-1954)
  • Douglas G Williams (1954-1968)
  • C J Campbell Nairne (1968-1969)
  • Geoffrey Cannon (1969-1979)
  • Brian Gearing (1979-1988)
  • Nicholas Brett (1988-1996)
  • Sue Robinson (1996-2000)
  • Nicholas Brett (returned) (2000-2001)
  • Nigel Horne (2001-April 2002)
  • Liz Vercoe (uncredited) (April 2002-July 2002)
  • Gill Hudson (August 2002-August 2009)
  • Ben Preston (September 2009 - 2017)
  • Mark Frith (2017-2020)
  • Tom Loxley and Shem Law (2020-present)

Regional editions

There are several regional editions that which contain different schedules for regional programming, all editions of Radio Times carry variations of adjoining regions for television and various local radio listings.


Since its began on 28 September 1923 during the interwar period, there was just a single national edition to cover all the BBC wireless services (including relay stations between 16 November 1923 and 12 December 1924), but from 10 October 1926, there were three separate editions:

Edition Station ID City Frequency
Southern 2LO London 822 kHz
5IT Birmingham 626 kHz
6BM Bournemouth 777 kHz
5PY (relay) Plymouth 887 kHz
5WA Cardiff 850 kHz
5SX (relay) Swansea 622 kHz
6ST (relay) Stoke-on-Trent 996 kHz
Northern 2ZY Manchester 794 kHz
6LV (relay) Liverpool 906 kHz
5NG (relay) Nottingham 920 kHz
2FL (relay) Sheffield 980 kHz
6KH (relay) Kingston upon Hull 896 kHz
2LS (relay) Leeds and Bradford 935 kHz
5NO Newcastle upon Tyne 743 kHz
Scottish/Ulster 5SC Glasgow 711 kHz
2EH (relay) Edinburgh 914 kHz
2DE (relay) Dundee 952 kHz
2BD Aberdeen 606 kHz
2BE Belfast 689 kHz

They were published until 7 January 1934, when Radio Times reverted back to one edition and covering all the local stations once again. 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 1952:

Regional area Main transmitter (VHF 405-lines) Service date
London Alexandra Palace 2 November 1936
Midlands Sutton Coldfield 17 December 1949
North of England Holme Moss 12 October 1951
Scotland Kirk o' Shotts 14 March 1952
West of England
(including Wales until 1964)[17]
Wenvoe 15 August 1952
Northern Ireland Divis 21 July 1955[18]
Wales Wenvoe 9 February 1964

When BBC2 began in 1964, there were a number of areas where only certain parts of a region could get receive this service until 1966:

Regional area Main transmitter (UHF 625-lines) Service date
London and South East Crystal Palace 20 April 1964
Midlands and East Anglia Sutton Coldfield 6 December 1964
(became full service on 4 October 1965)
Wales Wenvoe 12 September 1965
North of England Winter Hill 31 October 1965
South and West Rowridge 16 January 1966
Northern Ireland Divis 11 June 1966
Scotland Black Hill 9 July 1966

Since November 1967, these regions were further subdivided with individual editions for each BBC Local Radio station in your English county (except the Isle of Man), as well as the national regions and several opt-out services were also used. This continued between February 1981 and January 1983 until each regional edition began to cover three local stations which was previously used by regional news and opt-out programming on Radio 4, apart from the South West (including the Channel Islands) as this is now the only part of England still without any BBC local station. During the mid-1980s and early 1990s, a number of 13 new BBC local stations were added to covering the whole areas throughout the United Kingdom:

Edition BBC Local Radio station
London and South East
  • London (6 October 1970)
  • Oxford (29 October 1970)
  • Medway (18 December 1970, renamed Radio Kent on 2 July 1983)
  • Surrey (14 November 1991, became Southern Counties Radio from 1 August 1994 and reverted back to its original name on 30 March 2009)
  • Berkshire (21 February 1992, became Thames Valley Radio on 9 April 1996 before the two stations were relaunched on 14 February 2000)
East Anglia
  • Sheffield (15 November 1967)
  • Leeds (24 June 1968)
  • Humberside (25 February 1971)
  • Lincolnshire (11 November 1980)
  • York (30 May 1982 as a temporary service, but later became full-time on 4 July 1983 for permanent basis)
North East
  • Durham (3 July 1968, but ceased transmissions on 25 August 1972)
  • Teesside (31 December 1970, renamed Radio Cleveland on 1 April 1974 following the formation of the new county)
  • Newcastle (2 January 1971)
North West
Cumbria Carlisle (24 November 1973, renamed Radio Cumbria on 25 May 1982 and also Radio Furness as an opt-out service)
  • Brighton (14 February 1968, renamed Radio Sussex on 22 October 1983)
  • Solent (31 December 1970)
South West
  • Jersey (15 March 1982)
  • Guernsey (16 March 1982)
  • Devon/Cornwall (17 January 1983)
  • Dorset (26 April 1993 as an opt-out service, but ceased transmissions in March 1996 and replaced by a rebroadcast of Radio Solent with localised news bulletins)
Northern Ireland

From 1 March 1991, Radio Times started carrying ITV and Channel 4 listings to begin they cover the 14 regional editions (which later reduced to ten areas) across the country:


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 programme schedules:

  • The North of England region was separated from Northern Ireland on 4 January 1948 who had their own edition.
  • On 8 October 1960, the Midlands region was renamed 'Midlands and East Anglia', and the West of England region was also renamed 'South and West'.
  • On 9 February 1964, the launch of BBC Cymru Wales television service in the Welsh edition of Radio Times with its own programme schedule pages from the prominent heading (remained until 1982), without detracting from the service they provided to English viewers on the other side of the Severn Estuary.
  • As from 21 March 1964, the previously unmarked London region was successfully renamed 'London and South East'. It was later dropped on 25 March 1989 when the 'London' name is no longer used, became known as 'South East', and later reverted back to its original name on 23 February 1991.
  • On 29 August 1970, the four English regional editions (along the constituent nations) were separated into ten areas, such as the administrative counties of Cumberland and Westmorland (which included the Furness exclave in Lancashire and the district of Sedburgh in the West Riding of Yorkshire) before the creation of a new non-metropolitan county of Cumbria from 1 April 1974 under the Local Government Act 1972 in England and Wales.
  • Between 1 November 1982 and 22 February 1991, S4C listings were included in the Wales edition, known as 'Rhaglenni Cymraeg' (Welsh programmes), while English programmes on S4C were simply billed as 'Rhaglenni Saesneg' with no further detail being given. TV Times included a pull-out supplement Sbec which gave full details on all S4C programming in both languages. From the following week, it also took the billing space by cutting down on the detail in the Channel 4's listings in that edition, and allowing S4C to share some of its space.
  • After the deregulation of television listings on 1 March 1991, they rebranded the Northern Ireland edition as 'Ulster' (named after the historic Irish province), and started including listings for the Irish state broadcaster's two channels - RTÉ1 and Network 2 - were occupied the lower half of the three columns devoted to UTV's schedules.
  • Radio Times used to have three separate editions for STV, Grampian and Border (also appearing in the North East edition) while just then after a while they merged back into one Scotland edition from 27 July 1991.
  • There is no edition of Radio Times in the Channel Islands as their listing schedules were contained within the South West region, but Channel TV published its own listings magazine, the CTV Times (formerly Channel Viewer) until 25 October 1991.
  • The Yorkshire region was absorbed by the North East region on 25 September 1993 became known as 'Yorkshire/Tyne Tees', and also later added the North West region on 7 April 2007.
  • From 2 September 1996, Tyne Tees is rebranded as 'Channel 3 North East' when the relaunch become unsuccessful, and the original name was finally returned on 9 March 1998.
  • The exception to this process of merging is Wales on 31 August 1991, which used to be part of a larger 'Wales/West' (of England), mirroring the HTV area. The region was separated on 16 April 2005 leaving the West of England to join South and South West edition, and also the two regional editions of London and East Anglia will begin to merge on the same date as well.
  • On 5 November 2001, BBC 2W launches as the digital-only service in Wales used for weekday evenings from 8.30pm to 10.00pm, within BBC2's listings in the normal column is mainly split vertically in two to covering the both analogue and digital services. The digital-only service was ceased on 2 January 2009 as part of the digital switchover, and reverts to the normal service with less frequent regional programmes as the arrangement on analogue broadcasts.
  • On 25 August 2007, the Midlands and London/Anglia regions were actually merged.
  • On 24 February 2019, Radio Times introduces the BBC Scotland television channel, a new autonomous service that broadcasts an nightly line-up of entirely Scottish-related programming from 7.00pm to midnight, replacing the Scotland's version of BBC2 after 53 years, and the listings were occupied by BBC4 at the bottom on the right page.


As of March 2021, Radio Times has six regional editions.



Online and media content

Radio Times Extra

Radio Times Extra is a means of extending advertising into the medium of digital programme guides provided by Inview Technology, it offers full schedule listings and synopses forward 14 days, as well as editorialised selections such as 'pick of the day'. It has been installed on certain Freeview box models through an 'over-air download', but some box makers are installing the service on new boxes that can be bought in various stores. As of January 2011, it has been installed on 3.8 million Freeview set-top boxes in the United Kingdom from 21 different manufacturers spanning 37 different receivers.

The service was originally built by Teletext Ltd. in collaboration with Inview Technology. In a deal between BBC Worldwide and Inview Technology, Teletext Extra was relaunched as Radio Times Extra on 31 January 2011, with the editorial content from Radio Times.


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 listing schedules for 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.[27] They identified around five million programmes, involving 8.5 million actors, presenters, writers and technical staff.[27] BBC Genome was released for public use on 15 October 2014.[28][29] Corrections to OCR errors and changes to advertised schedules are being crowdsourced.[28]

Radio Times Puzzles

On 28 September 2020, Radio Times launches its online puzzle site filled with hundreds of brainteasers from your extensive archive, the puzzle pages have been popular with readers ever since the first-ever crossword appeared in the magazine on 15 January 1933 and later expanded three pages every week, with some traditional favourites from television and radio such as Eggheads, Only Connect, Pointless, Channel 4's Countdown and BBC Radio 2's PopMaster.

This new puzzle site containing a huge back catalogue of crosswords (which includes easy, general knowledge and cryptic), trackwords, sudoku and enigma codes with handy tips and tricks to test brainpower. The seven-day free subscription trial with three options available to this online puzzle site for £2.99 per month, £7.99 per quarter and £29.99 per year, each option gives unlimited access to the entire website for the duration of your subscriber.



  • Tony Currie, The Radio Times Story (2001, Kelly Publications) ISBN 1-903053-09-9
  • David Driver, The Art of Radio Times: The First Sixty Years (1981)
  • Martin Baker, The Art of Radio Times: A Golden Age of British Illustration ISBN 978-1854441713
  • R.D. Usherwood, Drawing for Radio Times (1961, Bodley Head)


  1. ^ It replaces the national and regional programmes on 1 September 1939 during the outbreak of World War II, and remained on air until 30 September 1967 as the station became Radio 4.
  2. ^ Television becomes available in Wales following the switching on from the Wenvoe transmitting station.
  3. ^ Television becomes available in Northern Ireland on 1 May 1953 although initially from a temporary transmitter at Glencairn, brought into service in time for the Coronation of Elizabeth II.
  4. ^ Renamed BBC TV on 8 October 1960 and later became BBC1 on 20 April 1964.
  5. ^ All these strands including the Third Programme, kept their separate identities (such as music, sports coverage and education) within Radio 3 until 4 April 1970, when there was a further reorganisation following the introduction of the structural changes which had been outlined in the BBC document Broadcasting in the Seventies on 10 July 1969.
  6. ^ From 1956 to 1964, the Midlands originally had their own edition of TV Times carrying ATV and ABC programme listings, but in a separate weekly magazine called TV World on 27 September 1964, for the innovative idea of splitting the magazine itself 50:50, with a second cover in the middle allowing for the magazine to be folded over to creating both weekend and weekday from one publication, before TV Times went national on 21 September 1968.
  7. ^ Also known as TV Times Magazine from 3 October 1981; rebranded back to its original TV Times name on 6 October 1984.
  8. ^ In earlier years, the BBC television listing schedules has giving phrases such as 'a film series' used for imported programmes and 'the feature film' were remained until 1 September 1984.
  9. ^ Named after the American magazine of the same name that which devoted to latest celebrities and television reviews. It became a monthly magazine from 1991, and it was later absorbed by Satellite TV Europe magazine in 1992.
  10. ^ The colours for days of the week were adopted on 22 December 1990, they are: Saturday in red, Sunday in azure blue, Monday in light orange, Tuesday in indigo, Wednesday in medium green, Thursday in deep pink, and Friday in dark turquoise. On 30 October 2004, the day's colours were slightly changed that often include Tuesday in lavender, Wednesday in mint green, and Friday in navy blue.
  11. ^ The service closed on 8 April 1991 and replaced by Sky Movies.
  12. ^ Replaced by Sky Sports on 20 April 1991.
  13. ^ As from 19 December 1992, the two consecutive adults-only services (HVC and Adult Channel) were unsuitabled.
  14. ^ Absorbed by Eurosport on 1 March 1993.
  15. ^ The station is rebranded as Radio 5 Live on 28 March 1994, that replaces educational and children's programmes with a new rolling news format, whilst retaining the sports programmes from the old service.


  1. ^ "ABC Certificates and Reports: Radio Times". Audit Bureau of Circulations. Retrieved 2018.
  2. ^ Currie, Tony (2001). The Radio Times Story. Kelly Publishing. ISBN 978-1903053096.
  3. ^ "The history of Radio Times". Radio Times.
  4. ^ Sweney, Mark (16 August 2011). "BBC Worldwide agrees £121m magazine sell-off". The Guardian.
  5. ^ Preston, Peter (11 March 2012). "What price the Radio Times? Only private equity can tell us". The Guardian.
  6. ^ Chapman, Matthew (11 April 2012). "Radio Times hires Hello! ad director". Media Week.
  7. ^ "German media group buys Radio Times". 12 January 2017. Retrieved 2019.
  8. ^ "Issue 1 - 28 September 1923 - BBC Genome". Retrieved 2019.
  9. ^ The BBC Story, 1920s
  10. ^ Lord Pease (28 September 1923). "My message to "Listeners"". Radio Times. No. 1. p. 18.
  11. ^ a b "The history of Radio Times". Radio Times. Retrieved 2019.
  12. ^ "Issue 682". Retrieved 2019.
  13. ^ "Issue 693". Retrieved 2019.
  14. ^ Carmody, Robin (July 2000). "THE GOOD NEW TIMES ... THE BRADSHAW OF BROADCASTING: 1980s - 2000". Off the Telly. Archived from the original on 14 May 2008.
  15. ^ "Happy birthday Radio Times: Ten of the best covers from the last 90 years". Press Gazette.
  16. ^ Conlan, Tara (8 August 2005). "For viewers of quality ..." The Guardian. Retrieved 2016.
  17. ^ "FAQs". BBC Genome. 15 October 2014. Retrieved 2014.
  18. ^ Radio Times coverage of the 2012 event, 18 January 2012. Retrieved 1 December 2012
  19. ^ Radio Times - Doctor Who covers
  20. ^ "Doctor Who - The greatest magazine cover of all time". Radio Times. BBC Magazines. Archived from the original on 24 May 2011. Retrieved 2008.
  21. ^ Martin, Nicole (29 September 2008). "Vote Dalek image voted best magazine cover of all time". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 2008.
  22. ^ a b Briggs, Asa (1995). The History of Broadcasting in the United Kingdom: Volume IV: Sound and Vision. OUP. ISBN 978-0-19-212967-3.
  23. ^ "Radio Times ANNUAL 1956". Retrieved 2018.
  24. ^ "Radio Times Facts and Figures". Retrieved 2018.
  25. ^ "Former Time Inc editor-in-chief Mark Frith named as the new editor of Radio Times". Press Gazette. Retrieved 2018.
  26. ^ "Tom Loxley and Shem Law named joint editors of Radio Times". Immediate Media Co. 10 March 2020. Retrieved 2020.
  27. ^ a b Kelion, Leo. "BBC finishes Radio Times archive digitisation effort". BBC. Retrieved 2013.
  28. ^ a b Bishop, Hilary. "Genome - Radio Times archive now live". BBC. Retrieved 2014.
  29. ^ Sweney, Mark (16 October 2014). "BBC digitises Radio Times back issues". The Guardian.

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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