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BBC Radio 7
BBC 7 logo
Broadcast area United Kingdom - national
Frequency DAB: 12B
Freeview: 708
Freesat: 708
Sky: 0131
Virgin Media: 910
TalkTalk TV: 633
UPC Ireland: 929
Live Stream Real/WM
First air date 15 December 2002
Format Comedy, Drama, and Children's programming
Audience share 0.6% (December 2009, [1])
Owner BBC

BBC Radio 7 (known until 4 October 2008 as BBC 7) is a British digital radio station broadcasting comedy, drama, and children's programming nationally 24 hours a day. It is the principal broadcasting outlet for the BBC's vast archive of spoken-word entertainment, and was established specifically to enable the contents of the BBC Sound Archive to be broadcast. It is the most listened to BBC digital radio station, with 884,000 listening to it in the third quarter of 2009.[1] The station can be heard worldwide on the Internet, across northern Europe via the Astra 2A satellite (including via Freesat and Sky), and in the UK on DAB digital radio, cable television, IPTV and Freeview digital terrestrial television.



Originally codenamed "Network Z", Paul Merton launched the station at 20:00 on 15 December, 2002 in a simulcast with BBC Radio 4.

As a speech network, BBC Radio 7 was unique from the start in carrying no news, with the exception of a daily bulletin aimed at younger listeners presented by the Newsround team at 07:55 on weekdays. Until February 2010 each of the station's continuity announcers was associated with themed blocks of programming and were promoted as personalities and presenters in their own right; subsequently Radio 7 has adopted a more traditional continuity format using one presenter to announce every programme throughout the day. Current regular presenters are Penny Haslam, Helen Aitken, Jim Lee, Joanna Pinnock, Alex Riley and Michaela Saunders, with cover presenters Peddy Pedro Knowles and Kerry McCarthy. In January 2010 Phil Williams joined Radio 7 to introduce the Sunday Comedy Club Catchup and the Sunday Night Comedy Club. Nicholas Briggs took over the 7th Dimension slot.

The station won the Sony Radio Academy Award for Station Sound in 2003, was nominated for the Promo Award in 2004, and in 2005 received a Silver for the Short-Form award, plus nominations in the Speech Award and Digital Terrestrial Station Of The Year Award.

In February 2010 Radio 7 was reported as one of the few digital radio stations to show consistent growth in its audience, winning an audience of 931,000 listeners, up 5.3% on the previous quarter and 9.5% year on year.[2].

On 2 March 2010 it was announced the station would ultimately be rebranded as Radio 4 Extra.[3]


Programmes qualify for broadcast on Radio 7 if they are either three years old or more, or if they have previously been broadcast twice on their original station. However, even if a programme fulfils these criteria, there may be copyright issues preventing it from appearing on BBC Radio 7. However, programmes made exclusively for the station are exempt from this rule.

The schedule spans the decades, from The Goon Show (1950s) and Round the Horne (1960s), through Radio 2 favourites like The News Huddlines, Castle's On The Air and Listen to Les to recent Radio 4 shows such as Little Britain and Dead Ringers. There is also speculative fiction of various kinds, science fiction, fantasy or horror seven days a week in a regular slot called The 7th Dimension which is broadcast on Radio 7 twice a day, at 18:00 and midnight. In early 2007, this slot featured a series of original Doctor Who audio dramas, starring Paul McGann as the Eighth Doctor.

The station's remit requires it to carry children's programming which, since the station's launch, has come in various forms including The Little Toe Radio Show, aimed at younger children and consisting of short serials, stories and rhymes and The Big Toe Radio Show which featured phone-ins and quizzes as well as stories intended for the 8+ age group. In 2010 BBC Radio 7's weekday schedule featured four hours for children,Children's Hour and Cbeebies on BBC Radio 7 from 05:00 to 08:00 and Big Toe Books from 16:00 to 17:00[4]. The audience of children between 4 and 14 listening to these programmes was reported to be just 25,000.[5]

Radio 7 also broadcasts some original programming. Spanking New on Seven is a stand-up comedy programme, and they have broadcast the BBC New Comedy Competition, a competition for new stand up comedians. People who have taken part in BBC comedy competitions have gone on to have their own series on Radio 7, such as John-Luke Roberts with Spats and Miriam Elia with A Series of Psychotic Episodes. The Mitch Benn Music Show features comedy songs introduced by Mitch Benn. Colin and Fergus' Digi Radio is a comedy sketch show which ran for two series in 2005–2006. Serious About Comedy was a weekly show, now decommissioned, presented by Robin Ince where comedians and comedy critics discuss comedy television, radio, DVDs, and films from the last week. Tilt is a satirical sketch show which looks at the week's news of views other than the norm. Knocker is a sitcom about a market researcher, written by and starring Neil Edmond.

The flagship comedy section on Radio 7 is The Comedy Club, hosted by Alex Riley (Monday to Friday) and Phil Williams (Sunday) . Pitched as "two hours of contemporary comedy", it is broadcast from 22:00 to midnight Sunday to Friday, and repeated between 03:00 and 05:00 the following morning. Comedy that has previously been commercially available as CDs on the Laughing Stock label is also broadcast.

The network also features output from North America such as the American series Garrison Keillor's Radio Show and The Twilight Zone, and Stuart McLean's Vinyl Cafe from Canada.

List of original programmes

While most of the shows on Radio 7 are repeats, there is some original programming such as:

  • Big Toe Books (Children's show)
  • Serious About Comedy (Comedy review show)
  • Tilt (Satirical sketch comedy)
  • Newsjack (Satirical sketch comedy)
  • Spats (Sketch comedy)
  • Knocker (Sitcom)
  • The Penny Dreadfuls Present... (Sketch comedy)
  • Undone (Sci-fi comedy)
  • The Spaceship (Sci-fi comedy)
  • Oneira (Sci-fi comedy)
  • The Laxian Key (Sci-fi comedy)
  • Cold Blood (Sci-fi drama)
  • The Voice of God (Sci-fi drama)
  • A Series of Psychotic Episodes (Sketch comedy)
  • CBeebies Radio (Children's show)
  • Colin and Fergus' Digi Radio (Sketch comedy)
  • No Tomatoes (Sketch comedy)
  • The Mitch Benn Music Show (Musical comedy)
  • Spanking New on Seven (Stand-up)
  • Play and Record (Sketch comedy)
  • Pleased to Meet You (Comedy)
  • Gus Murdoch's Sacred Cows (Comedy)
  • Planet B (Sci-fi drama)
  • Doctor Who: The Eighth Doctor Adventures (Sci-fi Drama)
  • The Man in Black (Horror)

See also


External links


Simple English

BBC Radio 7
Broadcast area UK - National
FrequencyDAB: 12B
Freeview: 708
Freesat: 708
Sky: 0131
Virgin Media: 910
Tiscali TV: 633
UPC Ireland: 929
Live Stream Real/WM
First air date15 December 2002
Format Comedy, Drama, and Children's programming
Audience share0.4%[1] (September 2008)
Owner BBC

BBC Radio 7 (known until 4 October 2008 as BBC 7) is a British digital radio station. It includes comedy, drama, and children's programmes nationally 24 hours a day.

On 2 March 2010 the BBC's Management gave notice of their intention to abolish the station, which repeats all programmes in the BBC Sound Archive, and replace it with one which repeats only current Radio 4 shows, to be known as Radio 4 Extra.[2]

On 3 June 2010 the BBC Trust opened a public consultation on the proposal to abolish the station, to consider objections (which remains open for submissions until 26 August).[3]


  1. RAJAR listening figures
  2. John Plunkett "BBC confirms plans to axe 6 Music and Asian Network", The Guardian, 2 March 2010
  3. BBC Trust Public Consultation "BBC Trust Public Consultation opens"

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