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Radio Times is the BBC's weekly television and radio programme listings magazine. It also provides on-line listings.

History and publication

Radio Times was founded on 28 September 1923, and originally carried details of BBC radio programmes in response to a newspaper boycott of radio listings. Their boycott was because they feared that people would listen to news on the radio instead of buying newspapers. It was at one time the magazine with the largest circulation in Europe.Until deregulation of television listings in 1991, the Radio Times carried only listings for BBC channels, while the ITV-published magazine, the TVTimes, carried only ITV and (from 1982) Channel Four listings. Today both publications carry listings for all major terrestrial (analogue and digital), cable and satellite television channels in the United Kingdom. A number of similar magazines, from independent publishers, also exist. However, the Radio Times still lives up to its name by being the most comprehensive source of UK radio listings in print, and also since the 22 May 2007 edition has carried two extra pages of TV listings per day as part of a slight tweak in the publication's format, bringing it up to 10 pages of listings per day in total.

Radio Times is published on Tuesdays (its publication day having gradually moved forward from Fridays over many years) and carries listings for the following Saturday through to Friday (this began in 1960, before which issues ran Sunday to Saturday; the changeover meant that Saturday 8 October 1960 was listed twice). The week including Christmas and the next week are published as one double-sized issue (a tradition since 1969), in common with most other listing magazines. This usually features a generic festive artwork, atypical for the magazine which since the 1970s has almost exclusively used photographic covers.

There are several regional editions, which each contain different listings for regional programming. All editions carry variations for adjoining regions and local radio listings. There are now fewer regional editions than there once were because fewer variations in the schedules have led to merging of several editions. The most recent of these is when the Midlands and London/Anglia versions merged into one in August 2007. The exception to this process of merging is Wales, which used to be part of a larger Wales/West (of England) version, mirroring the HTV region.

Each day's television is listed over 10 pages or five double-page spreads: a page of reviews of terrestrial highlights ("Choices") followed by three pages of terrestrial TV listings (one page for daytime television, and a double-spread for the evening television), then six pages of listings and highlights for digital channels.

Before digital channels became commonplace, a terrestrial day's television was sometimes spread over up to 3 double-spreads mixed with advertisements, but this format was phased out when independent publishers were allowed to publish television program schedules.

Edition BBC regions ITV regions Other channels
London/Angliamarker/Midlandsmarker BBC London, BBC East, BBC Midlands, BBC East Midlands ITV London, ITV Anglia, ITV Central
South/West/South West BBC South, BBC South East, BBC West, BBC South West ITV Meridian, ITV West, ITV Westcountry, ITV Channel Television
Yorkshiremarker/North East/North West BBC Yorkshire, BBC Yorkshire and Lincolnshire, BBC North East and Cumbria, BBC North West ITV Yorkshire, ITV Tyne Tees, ITV Granada
Scotland/Bordermarker BBC Scotland, BBC North East and Cumbria STV (North and Central), ITV Border
Wales BBC Wales ITV Wales S4C
Northern Irelandmarker BBC Northern Ireland UTV RTÉmarker, TV3


Since the magazine is a BBC publication, covers have a BBC bias (in 2005, 31 of the 51 issues had BBC-related covers). Doctor Who is the most represented programme on the cover, appearing on 29 issues (with 35 separate covers due to multiples) in the 45 years since the programme began.

Most covers consist of a single side of glossy paper. However, the magazine often uses double or triple-width covers that open out for large group photographs, while events such as Crufts or new series of popular programmes are marked by producing several different covers for collectors. Sporting events with more than one of the Home Nations taking part are often marked with different covers for each nation, showing their own team. The second series of Life on Mars, meanwhile, was marked by the Radio Times producing a mock-up of a 1973-style cover promoting the series, placed on page 3 of the magazine.

In April 2005, a double-width cover was used to commemorate the return of the Daleks to Doctor Who and the forthcoming general election. This cover recreated a scene from the 1964 Doctor Who serial The Dalek Invasion of Earth in which the Daleks were seen crossing Westminster Bridgemarker, with the Houses of Parliamentmarker in the background. The cover text read "VOTE DALEK!" In a 2008 contest sponsored by the Periodical Publishers Association, this cover was voted the best British magazine cover of all time.


In January 2009, the price rose to £1.10.

Radio Times Guide to Films

Since 2000, BBC Worldwide has published the Radio Times Guide to Films, featuring more than 21,000 films in a 1,707-page book. The 2006 edition was edited by Kilmeny Fane-Saunders and featured an introduction by Barry Norman, former presenter of the BBC's Film Programme.

The Radio Times Guide to Films 2007 is introduced by Andrew Collins.

There are also similar publications, the Radio Times Guide to Comedy and the Radio Times Guide to Science-Fiction.


The Radio Times website uses hCalendar microformats, so that individual listing entries can be downloaded directly into calendar applications.

See also


  • Tony Currie (2001) The "Radio Times" Story, Kelly Publications, ISBN 1-903053-09-9


  1. The BBC Story, 1920s
  2. THE GOOD NEW TIMES ... THE BRADSHAW OF BROADCASTING: 1980s - 2000 by Robin Carmody, July 2000, Off the Telly
  3. Radio Times - Doctor Who covers

External links

  • Radio Times home page Has over 400 TV and radio channels listed that can be personalised. The site also contains a free film database of over 22,000 film reviews, programme guides, downloads, blogs and competitions.

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