Radio Times

Radio Times
Radio Times

Christmas 2005 double issue
Editor Ben Preston
Former editors Gill Hudson
Staff writers Tim Glanfield
Categories TV and Radio Listings
Frequency Weekly
Circulation 960,839[1]
First issue 28 September 1923

Exponent 2011-

BBC Magazines 1923-2011
Country United Kingdom
Based in London
Language English
ISSN 0033-8060

Radio Times is a UK weekly television and radio programme listings magazine, owned by the BBC. It has been published since 1923 by BBC Magazines, which also provides an on-line listings service under the same title. In August 2011 the BBC agreed to sell the title to the UK private equity firm Exponent, subject to approval from Britain's Office of Fair Trading, which is expected in late 2011.[2]


History and publication

Radio Times was first issued on 28 September 1923, carrying details of BBC radio programmes (newspapers at the time boycotted radio listings, fearing that increased listenership might decrease their sales[3]). 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 broadcast programming listings for BBC channels, while the ITV-published magazine, the TVTimes, carried only ITV and (from 1982) Channel Four listings.[4] 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 ten 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 ten pages or five double-page spreads: two pages of reviews of highlights ("Choices") followed by two pages of terrestrial TV listings (one column for daytime television, and five columns for the evening television), then six pages of listings for digital channels.

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

In the years after deregulation of television listings in 1991, there was outcry from other listings magazines that Radio Times was advertised on the BBC (as well as on commercial channels), saying it gave unfair advantage to the publication. The case went to court, but the outcome was that as the Radio Times had close connections with the BBC it would be allowed to be advertised by the BBC; however, it must be a static picture of the cover, and that the clear disclaimer "Other television listings magazines are available" be given (leading to the phrase entering common public usage for a time).[citation needed] By the early 2000s, advertisements for the publication had become sparse on the BBC, and BBC magazines, including the Radio Times, have not been advertised or promoted on BBC television and radio channels since 2005, following a commercial review by the BBC.

The latest circulation figure (July–December 2009) for the Radio Times is 1,000,648 making it third in the TV listings magazine market behind TV Choice (1,302,382) and What's on TV (1,243,933)

Edition BBC regions ITV regions Other channels
London/Anglia/Midlands BBC London, BBC South East, 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
Yorkshire/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/Border BBC Scotland, BBC North East and Cumbria STV (North and Central), ITV Border
Wales BBC Wales ITV Wales S4C
Northern Ireland BBC Northern Ireland UTV RTÉ, TV3


When the magazine was a BBC publication, covers had 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 48 years since the programme began.[5]

The Radio Times for 30 April–6 May 2005 covered both the return of the Daleks to Doctor Who and the forthcoming general election.

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.[6] This cover recreated a scene from the 1964 Doctor Who serial The Dalek Invasion of Earth in which the Daleks were seen crossing Westminster Bridge, with the Houses of Parliament 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.[7]


When it launched in September 1923 an issue of Radio Times cost just 2d (2 old pence). This price remained the same until January 1951 when it increased to 3d and by September 1963 it had doubled to 6d. By October 1970 the price had doubled again to 1 shilling (5p in decimal currency). The price remained at 5p until the summer of 1974 when it rose to 8p. In 1984, the year that Radio Times began to be web-offset printed, the price was 30p.

2007 saw an issue cost £1 for the first time.

The current price of an issue (as of the edition on sale 26 October 2010, covering programmes from 30 October) is £1.20. The most recent Christmas double issue (2010) cost £2.40. Since decimalisation the price has risen by an average of 2.76p per year.[citation needed]

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

  • The Listener



External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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