BBC Radio 2 is one of the BBC's national radio stations and the most popular station in the United Kingdom.[1] Much of its daytime playlist-based programming is best described as adult contemporary or AOR, although the station is also noted for its specialist broadcasting of other musical genres. Radio 2 broadcasts throughout the UK on FM between 88.1 and 90.2 MHz from studios in Western House, adjacent to Broadcasting House in central London. Programmes are relayed on digital radio via DAB, Sky, Cable TV, IPTV, Freeview, Freesat and the Internet.

Contents 1 History 1.1 1967–1986 1.2 Frances Line: 1986–1996 1.3 James Moir "The Nation's Favourite" – 1996 onwards

2 Current position 3 Presenters 3.1 Stand-in presenters 3.2 Guest presenters 3.3 Additional staff

4 Former presenters 5 Notable programmes or features 6 Controllers 7 Controversies 8 References 9 External links



The station was launched at 05:30[2] on 30 September 1967, and evolved from the Light Programme, with some of the Light Programme's music shows transferring to the newly launched BBC Radio 1. The first show had started at 05:30 am (on the Light Programme) but continued with Breakfast Special from Paul Hollingdale as Radio 1 split.

In early years, much programming and music was common to both stations, particularly on the shared FM frequency. Radio One was targeted at the audience of pirate radio stations whereas Radio Two settled down as a middle-of-the-road station playing laid-back pop/rock, folk and country, jazz and big-band music, easy listening, light classics, and oldies, with significant amounts of comedy and sport. Notable broadcasters on Radio Two in the 70s and 80s were Ray Moore on early breakfast, Terry Wogan on breakfast, replaced by Ken Bruce and later Derek Jameson; Jimmy Young and his lunchtime news and current affairs show; 'Diddy' David Hamilton on mid-afternoons, John Dunn at what became known as drivetime. Radio Two became the first national 24-hour radio station in the UK in 1979.

Frances Line: 1986–1996=

The station's policy remained stable with only minor changes until April 1986 when Frances Line, head of music, repositioned the station. She would become Controller in 1990. An ageing Radio 1 audience which had grown up with the station was sticking with it into their 40s and beyond; Line repositioned Radio 2 to appeal exclusively to the over-fifties and introduced older presenters and based the playlist around nostalgia, easy listening and light music. As a result, David Hamilton quit the station at the end of 1986, claiming the music policy had become "geriatric"; Terry Wogan's replacement Derek Jameson also appealed to an older, down-market demographic. Although popular with its target audience, the policy alienated many younger listeners who had listened to both Radio 1 and Radio 2 and the station's audience fell. It took another hit when sports coverage moved to Radio 5 in August 1990. Another blow was struck by the rise of album-rock commercial stations (particularly Virgin Radio) and 'gold' spinoffs from Independent Local Radio stations playing classic pop and rock. With the station's audience in decline a change of emphasis was needed.

James Moir "The Nation's Favourite" – 1996 onwards

Line was replaced by James Moir in 1996. Moir repositioned Radio 2 with a largely AOR/contemporary playlist by day, aimed at a more mature audience than Radio 1 (which, post-Britpop, was again starting to focus on a young audience) but still embracing new music, and more specialist broadcasting by recognised genre experts in the evenings. Unlike the early-1990s repositioning of Radio 1 in which the BBC lost many well-known names, many former Radio 1 presenters stayed with the BBC and moved across to Radio 2.

Radio 2 is now termed "the nation's favourite", a title the BBC formerly used for BBC Radio 1. It is the most listened-to station in the UK, its schedule filled with broadcasters such as: Steve Wright, Chris Evans, Simon Mayo, Ken Bruce, Jeremy Vine, Mark Radcliffe, Janice Long, Tony Blackburn, Jo Whiley, Paul Gambaccini, Johnnie Walker and Bob Harris.

As well as having most listeners nationally, it ranks first in many regions above local radio stations. BBC Radio 2 played to 27% of the available audience in 2006.[3]

In February 2007, Radio 2 recruited Jeff Smith, director of UK and International programming at Napster and a former head of music at Radio 1, as its new head of music. Smith joined the network on 26 March.[4]

The licence fee funding of Radio 2, alongside Radio 1 is often criticised by the commercial sector. In the first quarter of 2011, Radio 2 was part of an efficiency review conducted by John Myers.[5] His role, according to Andrew Harrison, the chief executive of RadioCentre, was "to identify both areas of best practice and possible savings."[5]

On 29 July 2013, Radio 2 changed its "sonic logo" for the first time in 15 years, replacing the "heritage" logo composed by US jingle company Groove Worx with a new seven note melody composed by British composer and producer Jem Godfrey.[6] This coincided with the launch of a new jingle package produced by Godfrey in association with Wise Buddah Productions, marking Radio 2's second new package in as many years.

Between 8 and 11 May 2014 Radio 2 ran BBC Radio 2 Eurovision, a "pop-up" service available online and on DAB in the UK, to provide coverage of the Eurovision Song Contest 2014.[7] The temporary station featured special editions of regular Radio 2 programmes as well as original documentaries along with coverage of the semi-finals and final of the contest itself. The station returned in 2015 for coverage of that year's contest.

Between 5 and 8 March 2015 Radio 2 ran BBC Radio 2 Country, a "pop-up" service available online and on DAB in the UK, to provide coverage of the Country2Country 2015 Festival.[8]

Current positionEdit

The station's audience is now mainly adults over the age of 35 (82% of listeners)[9] although in recent years it has attracted more younger listeners. Its daytime playlist features music from the 1960s to various current chart hits, album and indie music. The station's appeal is broad and deep, with accessible daytime programmes and specialist programmes of particular types or eras of music. In 2009, Radio 2 again won the Music Week Award for National Radio Station of the Year, an award it has won for several consecutive years.[10]

Weekday evenings feature specialist music, including jazz, folk music, blues, country and western, reggae, classic rock, showtunes and biographies and documentaries on musical artists and genres. This specialist programming typically runs from 19:00 to 20:00, and from 22:00 to midnight. Radio 2 hosts both the BBC Concert Orchestra and the BBC Big Band.

Brian Matthew's "Sounds of the Sixties" remains a regular fixture on the Saturday schedule, as does Johnnie Walker's "Sounds of the Seventies" on a Sunday. On 5 October 2013, these two shows were joined by "Sounds of the Eighties", which is hosted by Sara Cox and broadcast on Saturdays between 2200 and midnight.[11]

On Sundays, the schedule reverts closer to its old style, with a focus on easy listening, Jazz and Show music, with presenters like Clare Teal and Don Black and long-standing programmes like The Sunday Hour.

Radio 2 does not broadcast complete works of classical music (the domain of Radio 3) or offer in-depth discussion or drama and although some book readings, comedy and arts coverage still remains on the station this is the remit of Radio 4. Jeremy Vine's weekday lunchtime show covers current and consumer affairs informally, a style pioneered by Jimmy Young. Until Radio 5 Live, Radio 2's medium wave frequencies carried the BBC's sports coverage. Radio 5 Live was positioned on Radio 2's mediumwave frequencies.

Like all BBC radio stations broadcasting to UK audiences, Radio 2 is funded by the television licence fee, and does not broadcast adverts.

BBC Radio 2's last closedown was at 02:02 on 27 January 1979. Sarah Kennedy (who later became a daily early-morning presenter from 1993 until her departure in August 2010) was at the Newsdesk after Brian Matthew finished "Round Midnight". From 02:00 to 05:00 the following night, listeners heard "You and the Night and the Music". Radio 2 has the longest period of continuous broadcasting of any national radio station in the UK.

The BBC Pips are broadcast at 07:00 and 08:00 on weekdays, then again at 17:00 and 19:00.

BBC Radio 2 moved its studios from Broadcasting House to the adjacent Western House in 2006.[12] Although the majority of programming comes from London, some shows are broadcast from other cities around the UK, including Birmingham and Manchester. For many years, the network's overnight presenters, such as Janice Long and Alex Lester, were based in Birmingham, but made the move to London in April 2008.


Michael Ball Don Black Tony Blackburn Ken Bruce Desmond Carrington Sara Cox Jamie Cullum Russell Davies Chris Evans

Paul Gambaccini Leo Green Bob Harris Jools Holland

Alex Lester

Brian Matthew Simon Mayo Huey Morgan Trevor Nelson Graham Norton Nigel Ogden Paul O'Grady Dermot O'Leary Elaine Paige Mark Radcliffe Frank Renton

David Rodigan

Jeremy Vine Johnnie Walker

Stand-in presenters

Richard Allinson (former regular presenter 1997–2005, 2009–2014) Richard Bacon (stands-in for Simon Mayo Drivetime)

  • Zoë Ball (former regular presenter 2009–2012, stands-in for Ken Bruce)

Nikki Bedi O. J. Borg Edith Bowman (stands-in for Dermot O'Leary)

Craig Charles (stands-in for Steve Wright in the Afternoon and Jo Whiley)

Gideon Coe Mark Goodier Len Goodman (stands-in for Paul O'Grady on the Wireless) Janey Lee Grace (stands-in for Sunday Love Songs and also regular contributor on Steve Wright in the Afternoon) Jake Humphrey Alex Jones (stands-in for Vanessa Feltz and The Chris Evans Breakfast Show) Patrick Kielty (stands-in for Steve Wright in the Afternoon and Simon Mayo Drivetime) Hardeep Singh Kohli (stands-in for Good Morning Sunday) Steve Lamacq Richard Madeley Cerys Matthews (stands-in for Dermot O'Leary) Martine McCutcheon Maria McErlane (also regular contributor on Graham Norton's show) Paddy O'Connell (stands-in for The Jeremy Vine Show) Mary Portas

  • Jodie Prenger (stands-in for Paul O'Grady on the Wireless and also provides voiceovers for the show)

Jonathan Ross (former regular presenter 1999–2010, stands-in for Steve Wright in the Afternoon) Olly Smith (stands-in for Good Morning Sunday) Penny Smith Tim Smith (also regular contributor on Steve Wright in the Afternoon) Chris Tarrant (stands-in for Steve Wright in the Afternoon) Ryan Tubridy (stands-in for The Chris Evans Breakfast Show' and Simon Mayo Drivetime)

Guest presenters[edit]

In addition to its regular and stand-in presenters, Radio 2 is often joined by guest presenters that host one-off documentaries or short series. Such guests have included David Mitchell, Suzi Quatro, Carla Bruni, Sir Tim Rice, Kate Thornton, David Quantick, Hugh Laurie and Michael Grade.

Additional staff[edit]

Many of Radio 2's additional on-air staff (particularly newsreaders) are shared with sister station BBC Radio 6 Music.

Newsreaders and Reporters Vassos Alexander (sport, Breakfast) Sally Boazman (travel, weekend) Lynn Bowles (travel, weekday mornings) Matt Everitt (music news) Dr Sarah Jarvis (medical expert, The Jeremy Vine Show) Martin Lewis (financial expert, The Jeremy Vine Show) Bobbie Pryor (travel, weekday afternoons) Tom Sandars

Matt Williams (sport, Drivetime)

Pause for Thought Kate Botley Richard Coles Brian D'Arcy Cormac Murphy-O'Connor Julia Neuberger John Sentamu

Former presentersEdit

Barry Alldis (1967–73) Simon Bates (1973–76) David Gell (1967–77) Sam Costa (1967–81) Alberto Semprini (1967–82) Pete Murray (1967–83) Tony Brandon (1970–85) David Hamilton (1975–86) Ray Moore (1967–88) Stuart Hall (1982–88) Simon Dee (1988–89) Teddy Johnson (1967–92) Keith Fordyce (1969–92)

Graham Knight Weekend Breakfast (1988–92) Anne Robinson (1988–93, stand-in for Jimmy Young in 1996) Adrian Love (1987–94) Alan Dell (1967–95)

Wally Whyton (1969–96) Derek Jameson (1985–97)

John Dunn (1967–98) Benny Green (1967–98) Bob Holness (1968–98) Pam Ayres (1996–99) Des Lynam (1970–80, 1998–99) Barbara Sturgeon, Early Sunday Breakfast (1989–90s) Jackie Bird (1998–2000) Alan Freeman (1997–2000) Cliff Adams (1967–2001) Jack Docherty (2000–01) Katrina Leskanich (1998–2000) Sheila Tracy (1977–2000) Jimmy Young (1973–2002) Andy Peebles (1998–2002) Alan Keith (1970–2003) Sybil Ruscoe (2003–04) Lynn Parsons (1998–2003) Colin Berry (1973–2006) Don Maclean (1990–2006) Ed Stewart (1980–83, 1991–2006) Brian Hayes (1991–2006) Richard Baker (1986–2007) Nick Barraclough (1992–2007) Canon Roger Royle (1991–2007) Russell Brand (2006–08) Humphrey Lyttelton (1967–2008) Matthew Wright (2006–08) Michael Aspel (1968–74, 1986–99, 2009) Jon Briggs (newsreader and continuity) (1996–2009) Mo Dutta (1994–2009) Bob Dylan (2007–09) Malcolm Laycock (1995–2009) Pete Mitchell (2006–09) Emma Forbes (2009–10) Sarah Kennedy (1976–2010) Mark Lamarr (1998–2010) Suzi Quatro (2008–10) Dale Winton (2000–10) Michael Parkinson (1996–2007, 2011) Alan Titchmarsh (1988, 2006–11) Alan Carr (2009–12) and Melanie Sykes (2010–12) Brian D'Arcy (2007–12) Mike Harding (1997–2012) Aled Jones (2006–12) David Jacobs (1967–2013) Stuart Maconie (1998–2013) Fran Godfrey (newsreader) (1990–2014) Dave Pearce (2011–14) Alan Dedicoat (newsreader) (1986–2015) Rebecca Pike (business news reporter) (2006–15)

Notable programmes or featuresEdit

BBC New Comedy Awards BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards Big Band Special The Chris Evans Breakfast Show The Day the Music Died Elaine Paige on Sunday Friday Night is Music Night It's Been a Bad Week Jammin' The Organist Entertains Paul O'Grady on the Wireless PopMaster Pick of the Pops Simon Mayo Drivetime Sounds of the 60s Steve Wright in the Afternoon The Sunday Hour Sunday Night at 10 Weekend Wogan


Years served


1967–68 Robin Scott 1968–76 Douglas Muggeridge 1976–78 Derek Chinnery 1978–80 Charles McLelland 1980–84 David Hatch 1996–2004 James Moir 2004–08 Lesley Douglas 2009–present Bob Shennan


In April 1999, Radio 2 presenter Johnnie Walker was suspended from his drivetime show after allegations concerning a drug problem appeared in the Sunday tabloid, the News of the World. Walker had been the victim of a tabloid exposé over his cocaine problem.[13] Bosses later reinstated him after he was fined £2,000 for possession of cocaine.

The presenter Sarah Kennedy has sometimes attracted controversy. In May 1999, she gave a bizarre performance while standing in for Terry Wogan, blaming the incident on a lack of sleep the previous night.[14] Her slurred speech throughout her show on 13 August 2007 also made the headlines. She blamed a sore throat and later took a month-long break.[15] It was later reported that Kennedy was recovering from pneumonia,[16] and she returned to work on 10 September. In October 2007, she was reprimanded after joking that she had almost run over a black pedestrian because she could not see him in the dark. The BBC later apologised for the comment.[17] She was also "spoken to" by BBC bosses after praising Enoch Powell during a show in July 2009, describing him as "the best prime minister this country never had".[18]

Main article: The Russell Brand Show prank telephone calls row

On 16 October 2008, an episode of the Russell Brand Show, co-hosted by fellow Radio 2 presenter Jonathan Ross was recorded for transmission at a later date. The show included Brand and Ross leaving four prank messages on actor Andrew Sachs' answerphone including offensive remarks about his granddaughter and use of foul language. The programme was subsequently broadcast on Saturday 18 October, partially censored, having passed the various pre-transmission checks from the programme's editors. Initially, the programme only received a negligible number of complaints regarding Jonathan Ross' bad language; however, the incident was reported a week later by the Mail on Sunday and a public outcry soon ensued. The case was referred to both Ofcom and the BBC Trust, and in the interim, Ross and Brand were both suspended for 12 weeks from all BBC programmes pending investigation. Soon after these announcements, Russell Brand announced his resignation from the BBC shortly followed by the controller at the time, Lesley Douglas. Jonathan Ross was suspended from the BBC without pay for 12 weeks.[19][20]

In July 2009, longtime presenter Malcolm Laycock announced his resignation live on air following a long running dispute over the content of his show, Sunday Night at 10, and issues regarding his salary.[21] He later criticised Radio 2 management for abandoning its older listeners and claimed to have been constructively dismissed by the station, although Radio 2 denied this was the case.[22]

On 1 November 2013, it was reported that presenter Paul Gambaccini had been arrested as part of the Operation Yewtree investigation into historic sexual abuse allegations.[23] The BBC later released a statement stating that Gambaccini had "decided that, in light of today's media attention, he would rather not be on-air at present" and "will not be presenting on BBC Radio in coming weeks".[24] In December 2013 he was re-bailed until March 2014,[25] but on 10 October 2014 – nearly a year after his initial arrest – it was announced that Gambaccini would not be charged[26] and it was later confirmed that he would return to Radio 2 on 15 November.[27] During Gambaccini's absence his Saturday night slot was filled by interim shows, including repeats of documentaries and specially commissioned shows presented by Johnnie Walker and Craig Charles.

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