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BBC Light Programme
HeadquartersBroadcasting House, London, England
Launch date
29 July 1945 (1945-07-29)
Dissolved30 September 1967 (1967-09-30)
ReplacedBBC General Forces Programme
Replaced byBBC Radio 2
BBC Radio 1

The BBC Light Programme was a national radio station which broadcast chiefly mainstream light entertainment and light 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 long wave frequency which had earlier been used – prior to the outbreak of the Second World War on 1 September 1939 – by the 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 long wave 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 from 1 February 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 stations – 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 until 11.00pm.

There was, however, a period of a year when the Light Programme was forced to end its broadcasting day one hour earlier than normal at 11.00pm. This commenced in mid-February 1947 as an effect from the appalling winter of 1946–1947 which saw a fuel shortage in the country with the government enforcing electricity saving measures, one of which was losing one hour of broadcasting per day from the Light Programme. Even after the fuel shortage had ended by spring 1947, the 11.00pm closedown each night continued as BBC Radio found itself in financial problems and needed to save money. The midnight closedown of the Light Programme resumed one year later from Sunday 11 April 1948.[1][2] The long-running soap opera The Archers was first heard nationally on the Light Programme on New Year's Day 1951,[3] although a week-long pilot version had been broadcast on the Midlands Home Service in 1950.

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 until midnight, 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.[4][5][6][7]

The Light Programme closed down for the last time at 2.02am on Saturday 30 September 1967.[8] At 5.30am, it was replaced by BBC Radio 2 and was also replaced by BBC Radio 1 at 7.00am.


Some programmes broadcast from the Light Programme still continue today, such as Friday Night is Music Night, Junior Choice, The Archers, Pick of the Pops, Desert Island Discs and Woman's Hour. Other programmes included:



  1. ^ [1][dead link]
  2. ^ [2][dead link]
  3. ^ Reynolds, Gillian (24 August 1996). "William Smethurst: the man who turned The Archers into a cult". The Telegraph. UK. Archived from the original on 31 January 2014.
  4. ^ "Light Programme – 26 September 1964 – BBC Genome".
  5. ^ "Light Programme – 2 September 1957 – BBC Genome".
  6. ^ "Light Programme – 29 September 1958 – BBC Genome".
  7. ^ "Light Programme – 29 July 1945 – BBC Genome".
  8. ^ "BBC Light Programme schedule for 29 September 1967". BBC Genome. Retrieved 20 January 2023.
  9. ^ "Broadcast - BBC Programme Index".