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Encyclopedia > BBC National Programme

The BBC National Programme was a BBC radio station from the 1920s until the outbreak of World War II. The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is the largest publicly-funded radio and television broadcasting corporation of the United Kingdom (see British television). ... To meet Wikipedias quality standards and appeal to a wider international audience, this article may require cleanup. ... Combatants Allies: Poland, British Commonwealth, France/Free France, Soviet Union, United States, China, and others Axis Powers: Germany, Italy, Japan, and others Casualties Military dead: 17 million Civilian dead: 33 million Total dead: 50 million Military dead: 8 million Civilian dead: 4 million Total dead: 12 million World War II...



When the BBC first began transmissions on 14 November 1922, the technology for both national coverage and joint programming between transmitters did not exist - transmitter powers were generally in the region of 1 kilowatt (kW). November 14 is the 318th day of the year (319th in leap years) in the Gregorian Calendar, with 47 days remaining. ... 1922 (MCMXXII) was a common year starting on Sunday (see link for calendar). ... The watt (symbol: W) is the SI derived unit of power. ...

The BBC began experimenting with higher power transmissions from a site in Chelmsford in 1924. The experiments were successful, leading to the development of both shortwave international broadcasting and longwave national broadcasting. Chelmsford is the county town of Essex, England. ... 1924 (MCMXXIV) was a leap year starting on Tuesday (link will take you to calendar). ... A Grundig shortwave receiver Shortwave radio operates between the frequencies of 3,000 kHz and 30 MHz (30,000 kHz) and came to be referred to as such in the early days of radio because the wavelengths associated with this frequency range were shorter than those commonly in use at... Longwave radio frequencies are those below 500 kHz, which correspond to wavelengths longer than 600 meters. ...

In 1925 the Chelmsford transmitter was relocated to Daventry and commissioned as 5XX. This provided a "national service" from London but remained somewhat experimental and was supplementary to the BBC's local services. 1925 (MCMXXV) was a common year starting on Thursday (link will take you to calendar). ... For other uses see Daventry (disambiguation) Daventrys High Street Daventry is a market town in Northamptonshire, England with a population of 22,367 (2001 census). ...

The Regional Scheme

On 21 August 1927, the BBC opened a high power mediumwave transmitter at Daventry, 5GB, to replace the existing local stations in the English Midlands. The BBC began to replace its previous local services with similar high-power regional services in a process called The Regional Scheme. August 21 is the 233rd day of the year (234th in leap years) in the Gregorian Calendar. ... 1927 (MCMXXVII) was a common year starting on Saturday (link will take you to calendar). ... Mediumwave radio transmissions (sometimes called Medium frequency or MF) are those between the frequencies of 300 kHz and 3000 kHz. ... In general, the midlands of a territory are its central regions. ...

That allowed 5XX to provide a formal service, programmed from London, for the majority of the population. This came to be called the BBC National Programme.

Each local transmitter was slowly either converted to a regional service relay or closed entirely and replaced by high power regional broadcasts. Most of these transmitters also carried the BBC National Programme on a local frequency to supplement the longwave broadcasts from 5XX, Scotland receiving a modified service known as the Scottish National Programme, programmed from Glasgow.


Upon the outbreak of World War II, the BBC closed the National Programme and combined it with the Regional Programme to form a single channel known as the BBC Home Service. The BBC Home Service was the original name for Radio 4 and was on the air from 1939 until 30 September 1967. ...

The former transmitters of the National Programme continued to broadcast the Home Service until 1940, when the lack of choice and lighter programming for people serving in the Armed Forces was noted. At that point, the frequencies were given to a new entertainment network, the BBC Forces Programme. 1940 (MCMXL) was a leap year starting on Monday (the link is to a full 1940 calendar). ... The BBC Forces Programme was a BBC radio station from 7 January 1940 until 26 February 1944 // Foundation Upon the outbreak of World War II, the BBC closed the existing BBC National Programme and BBC Regional Programme, combining the two to form a single channel known as the BBC Home...

This network itself was replaced when the influx of American soldiers, used to a different style of entertainment programming, had to be catered for. The replacement service was named the BBC General Forces Programme and was also broadcast on shortwave on the frequencies of the BBC Empire Service (itself reborn after the war as the BBC Overseas Service and now known as the BBC World Service). The BBC General Forces Programme was a BBC radio station from 27 February 1944 until 31 December 1946. ... radio programming, transmitting in 43 languages to around 150 million people throughout the world. ... World Service logo The BBC World Service is one of the most widely recognised international broadcasters of radio programming, transmitting in 33 languages to around 150 million people throughout the world. ...

After VE-Day, the BBC reintroduced the regional service, but kept the title "BBC Home Service". The longwave frequencies of the former National Programme became the BBC Light Programme. Victory in Europe Day (V-E Day or VE Day) was May 8, 1945, the date when the Allies during the Second World War formally celebrated the defeat of Nazi Germany and the end of Adolf Hitlers Third Reich. ... The Light Programme was a BBC radio station broadcasting mainstream light entertainment and music. ...


Both the National Programme and the Regional Programme provided a mixed mainstream radio service. Whilst the two services provided different programming, allowing listeners a choice, they were not streamed to appeal to different audiences. Therefore, the pre-war National Programme, whilst using the same frequencies and transmitters as the post-war Light Programme, was not the general entertainment network its successor the Light Programme became (the Light Programme being more of a child of the General Forces Programme). Similarly, the pre-war Regional Programme was not the middlebrow news and drama station that its successor the Home Service became.


  • Various authors The B.B.C. Year-book 1933 London: British Broadcasting Corporation 1932
  • Various authors BBC Year Book 1947 London: British Broadcasting Corporation 1947
  • Graham, Russ J A local service Radiomusications from Transdiffusion, undated; accessed 5 February 2006
  • Graham, Russ J A new lease of life Radiomusications from Transdiffusion, undated; accessed 5 February 2006
  • Groves, Paul History of radio transmission part 1: 1922 - 1967 Frequency Finder, undated; accessed 5 February 2006
  • Paulu, Burton Radio and Television Broadcasting on the European Continent Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press 1967

Further reading

  • Briggs, Asa History of Broadcasting in the United Kingdom Oxford:Oxford University Press 1995 ISBN 0192129309

External links

  • Radiomusications from Transdiffusion
Logo of the BBC Former BBC national radio stations
Pre-war BBC National ProgrammeBBC Regional Programme
Wartime BBC Home ServiceBBC Forces ProgrammeBBC General Forces ProgrammeBBC Allied Expeditionary Forces Programme
Post-war BBC Home ServiceBBC Light ProgrammeBBC Third Programme



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