BBC Light Programme Launch
Following the end of the war, the BBC reintroduced the six pre-war regional services, on the same transmitters and frequencies as before, retaining the wartime name BBC Home Service. So for example the Welsh regional station on medium wave became the Welsh Home Service.
The WWII domestic BBC output had been the Home and Forces programmes. Towards end of the war the Corporation announced that it would introduce improved services for listeners at home within 90 days of the end of hostilities. An internal memorandum issued in December 1944 stated that the new service then called 'Programme B' would be "a popular but not rubbishy programme for the masses designed to be effective in competition with neighbouring sponsored stations." The long and medium wave frequencies of the pre-war National Programme were to become the BBC Light Programme.
The then Director General of the BBC, W.J. Haley, introduced the new station on the front cover of the Radio Times, 27 July 1945; "There is to be available a new alternative to the Home Service; the BBC Light Programme. It will have national coverage and will be heard generally on long wave and in certain areas on medium wave. It will be built for the civilian listener. Developing its own special character it will, we hope, be one of the most successful ventures the BBC has undertaken. " At 8.55 AM on Sunday 29 July 1945, Forces Favourites presenter Marjorie Anderson announced the closing of the Allied Expeditionary Forces Programme. The station theme tune was then played.
Light Programme Opening Music
Oranges and Lemons (played by the BBC Concert Orchestra) was the opening theme as for the Forces Programme. The Chief assistant of the new programme, Tom Chalmers then inaugerated the station.
Tom Chalmers introduces the Light
There can be no doubt that the war had changed the sound of BBC radio dramatically; the Light Programme style being very much based on the informal American approach of the Allied Expeditionary Forces Programme. This new station offered general entertainment with a plethora of shows unheard of before the war in contrast to the staid National Programme and Home Service. The Light broadcast those shows popular with the forces together with serious content and classical music. Comedy and music was the order of the day providing a welcome light relief to its listeners during difficult post war years.
Launch day programmes included Sandy Macphearson at the theatre organ and an afternoon performance by the Torquay Municipal Orchestra. The following years would go on to produce a firmament of stars including Ted Ray, Donald Peers, Tony Hancock, Frankie Howerd, Max Bygraves, Archie Andrews, Peter Brough and the Goons.
Links to the shows to be heard can be found below.