B.B.C. sheds battledress 

11 November 2020 tbs.pm/71354

New programmes next Sunday




Newcastle Journal masthead

From the Newcastle Journal for 20 July 1945

THE B.B.C. will discard battle-dress on Sunday week, when the new “Home Service” and “Light Service” will be inaugurated and regional broadcasting resumed.

After July 28 the Forces programme will be broadcast only on the short wave for troops abroad.

Mr. W. J. Haley, Director-General of the B.B.C., said yesterday that it was hoped that a third programme — of a more serious or “highbrow” kind — would be available by May 8 next year, the anniversary oi VE-Day.

“We believe these new programmes will give the country the best broadcasting it can get out of the B.B C. resources,” he added.

“I think it is reasonable to say that it will be a wider and morge comprehensive service than that of any other country in the world.”


First performer in the “Light” programme will be Mr. Sandy Macpherson at the organ

One feature of the change-over will be that many radio dials will be inaccurate. To these and other objections the B.B.C. will offer such guidance as is needed.

The war has effected one major improvement. “Pockets of resistance” in outlying areas of the country, where reception is faint or faulty, have been reduced from 15 to 5 per cent.

Mr Haley said that the Regions would be free to develop whatever resources and talent they had in their own areas and to exchange programmes with one another or take the London programme or join together.

In the North Region the director will be Mr. John Salt, who was at Manchester before the war and has lately returned from America.




The new Home Service will be a “middle of the road” programme, containing something for everybody and will not differ greatly from its predecessor.

The midnight news will be dropped as will as the 7 a.m. bulletins on Sundays. News broadcasts will be at 7.0 and 8.0 a.m. and 1.0, 6.0 and 9.0 p.m., with a news summary at 11 p.m. Women news readers will not be heard any more.

It is with the new “light” programme that differences and difficulties are likely to be found. It will be primarily for civilians, though early in September a series of dally broadcasts will start for the benefit of the Services during demobilisation.

The home service would be radiated from 6.30 a.m. to midnight each week-day and from 8 a.m. to midnight on Sundays. There would be three big variety shows weekly — on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

The new light programme would be radiated from 9 a.m. to midnight every day.



❛❛Russ J Graham writes: It’s easy to think that branding has always worked the way it does now. You pick a name and the way you want that name represented (for instance, BBC Radio 4, not BBC Radio Four; BBC ONE, not BBC-1) and stick to it through thick and thin until it’s time to spend a small fortune on changing it again.

Not so in the past, as the Journal makes clear. Here, reporting on (or largely reprinting a press release about) William Haley’s announcement on the peacetime BBC stations, everybody is happy to call the BBC Light Programme “the Light Service”, or to leave “programme” in lowercase (thus setting a trap for later journalists, who will repeatedly assume that “the Light programme” was a show called “Light” that the BBC put out on the radio – “programme” here is as in ‘theatre programme’, not as in ‘television programme’).

The Home Service drops into all lowercase too, becoming “the home service”, a literal description of its position in the BBC rather than a brand name. But the Regions keep a capital letter, perhaps indicating their importance.

The third programme is as yet unnamed, but there’s a clue hidden in the description.

This freewheeling about the names turns up in the BBC Yearbooks published annually during the period. Because the Home Service was created in a hurry by collapsing the BBC’s two existing services, the National Programme and the Regional Programme, it simply took the name of the BBC department that ran the services – the Home Service, as compared to the Overseas Service.

But when it came to typesetting the Yearbooks, that led to the chapter “the Home Service” (the department, not the radio network) being followed directly by the section on the Home Service. To get round that, the Yearbooks call the Home Service (the network, not the department) “the Home Programme”. Which is literally true but very confusing 75 years later.

A similar thing happens with the BBC Forces Programme. It was initially an ad-hoc network, again set up in a hurry, and therefore was just called “for the Forces”. The name “the Forces Programme” (this with both a P and a p) was also used but doesn’t appear to have been official – it’s more of a back-naming based on the network’s replacement, which was called the General Forces Programme.

All of this is a very long way round of saying: after three quarters of a century, this stuff takes quite some untangling and gives me a headache.

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