BBC Light Programme

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BBC Light Programme
HeadquartersBroadcasting House, London, UK
Launch date
29 July 1945 (1945-07-29)
Dissolved29 September 1967 (1967-09-29)
ReplacedBBC General Forces Programme
Replaced byBBC Radio 2
BBC Radio 1

The Light Programme was a BBC radio station which broadcast chiefly mainstream light entertainment and music from 1945 until 1967, when it was replaced by BBC Radio 2 and BBC Radio 1. It opened on 29 July 1945, taking over the longwave frequency which had earlier been used – prior to the outbreak of World War II on 1 September 1939 – by the BBC National Programme.

The service was intended as a domestic replacement for the wartime General Forces Programme which had gained many civilian listeners in Britain as well as members of the British Armed Forces.


The longwave signal on 200 kHz/1500 metres was transmitted from Droitwich in the English Midlands (as it still is today for BBC Radio 4, although adjusted slightly to 198 kHz/1515 metres in 1988), and gave fairly good coverage of most of the United Kingdom, although a number of low-power medium wave transmitters (using 1214 kHz/247 metres) were added later to fill in local blank spots. Over the course of the 1950s and 1960s, the Light Programme (along with the BBC's two other national programmes, the Home Service and the Third Programme) gradually became available on what was known at the time as VHF, as the BBC developed a network of local FM transmitters.

From its first day of broadcasting in 1945 until Monday 2 September 1957, the Light Programme would be on the air from 9.00am until midnight each day, apart from Sundays when it would come on the air at 8.00am. From Monday 2 September 1957, the Light Programme's broadcasting hours would start to increase, with a new early morning start time of 7.00am, later moving to 6.30am from Monday 29 September 1958. In 1964, broadcasting hours were increased even more, with a new morning start time of 5.30am from Monday 31 August. Up until September 1964, the Light Programme would always end its broadcasting day at midnight; however this changed on Sunday 27 September 1964, when a new closedown time of 2.00am was introduced.[1][2][3][4]

The Light Programme closed down for the last time at 2.03am on Friday 29 September 1967. At 5.30am, it was replaced by BBC Radio 2 on its longwave frequency and VHF and by BBC Radio 1 on its medium wave frequencies at 7.00am.

The long-running soap opera The Archers was first heard nationally on the Light Programme on 1 January 1951,[5] although a week-long pilot version had been broadcast on the Midlands Home Service in 1950.

Notable programmes[edit]

Some series broadcast on the Light Programme still continue today, including Friday Night and Woman's Hour.



  1. ^ "Light Programme - 26 September 1964 - BBC Genome".
  2. ^ "Light Programme - 2 September 1957 - BBC Genome".
  3. ^ "Light Programme - 29 September 1958 - BBC Genome".
  4. ^ "Light Programme - 29 July 1945 - BBC Genome".
  5. ^ Reynolds, Gillian (24 August 1996). "William Smethurst: the man who turned The Archers into a cult". The Telegraph. UK.
  6. ^

External links[edit]