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BBC Radio 2 in Sunday shake-up

Church and Media Network director Andrew Graystone comments on changes to Sunday listening on Radio 2 ...

Church and Media Network director Andrew Graystone comments on changes to Sunday listening on Radio 2 ...

The long-standing Sunday schedule on BBC Radio 2 will be shaken-up from Sunday 20 January.

Clare Balding (right) takes over from Aled Jones as the presenter of Good Morning Sunday, and the show will be shortened by an hour, starting at 7am instead of 6am. 

And Sunday Half Hour, the popular evening programme of prayers, reflection and hymns which has broadcast on the station continuously since 1940, will end. 

In its place an hour-long programme of hymns and reflections – Sunday Hour – will air at 6am on Sunday mornings. It has been suggested that people unable to listen to this new show at this hour will be able to hear it later on the BBC iPlayer. 

The scheduling puts the new Sunday Hour in direct competition with Radio 4’s Something Understood, which offers spiritual music and readings at the same time. It also clashes with similar offerings from a number of BBC local radio stations.  

Sunday Half Hour has been running in more or less its current slot since 1940. That makes it one of the longest continually-running programmes in the history of broadcasting. For several years it has been broadcast at 8.30pm on BBC Radio 2, and is currently presented by Diane Louise Jordan (left).

Over the last 10 years Sunday Half Hour, in line with the rest of Radio 2's Sunday evening schedule. has lost about 50% of its audience. Less than 250,000 people now listen week by week. As a result it is being moved to 6am and extended to an hour. It will now be known as Sunday Hour.

It’s worth noting that whilst the current audience for the programme at 8.30pm is less than 250,000, more than twice that number listen to BBC Radio 2 at 6am on Sunday morning. So although the overall time given to faith broadcasting will fall, the audience for the programme is likely to rise.  

Nevertheless, the move of Sunday Half Hour will be felt as a loss by many of its loyal listeners, and some have organized petitions against the change.

I raised these concerns in a meeting with BBC Radio 2 Controller Bob Shennan today (15 January). He reassured me that Radio 2’s commitment to broadcasting programmes about faith, as well as it commitment to serve its older audience, is unwavering. 

He has given me a personal commitment that if Sunday Half Hour doesn’t prosper in its new slot it won’t be cancelled, but found a new home. He also assured me that Good Morning Sunday will retain its distinctive faith agenda under its new presenter Clare Balding.

Unnecessary tinkering? A welcome change? Or the jury's out ...? Mail with your response to the changes


Having been a regular listener together with my wife to Sunday Half Hour for the past 50 years, I must complain in the most strongest of terms I can muster at the decision to move this wonderful programme to 6am on a Sunday morning. We shall no longer have this Sunday evening worship to enjoy.
My wife is 93 and I am 86, so you may appreciate that listening to the new Sunday Hour is hardly an option. You will know by the number of requests from senior citizens (many housebound) that this programme was fulfilling a most important role in their lives.
BBC –please don't wait to see if the new hour does not function, but as soon as possible return Sunday Half Hour to an evening spot.

Derek Llewellyn, Cookham

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