Radio 2 announces new schedule for Autumn 2013

"Sounds Of The 80s was a show waiting to happen and I’m happy to be welcoming Sara to Radio 2." - Bob Shennan, Controller, BBC Radio 2, 6 Music, Asian Network and Popular Music

  • Sara Cox presents Sounds Of The 80s
  • Big Band programming increases to two-hour weekly show
  • Jo Whiley show extended to two hours
  • Hugh Laurie debuts as Radio 2 presenter with new six-part series on the blues

BBC Radio 2 presents an autumn schedule shake-up with extended music programming and exciting new series.

The 1980s was the decade that saw synthesizers, ghetto blasters, the moonwalk and pop videos explode on to the music scene. Now it has become the latest period to have its music celebrated in a weekly show on Radio 2.

Sounds Of The 80s is a brand new show presented by former BBC Radio 1 Breakfast Show presenter and TV host Sara Cox, which will kick off the autumn schedule on Saturday 5 October from 10pm-12midnight.

The Eighties were not only a time of great social, economic and political change but alongside that a hugely exciting decade for music and popular culture. Music phenomena such as new wave and synth pop arrived and the hip-hop scene evolved. Hard rock, heavy metal, glam metal and new country became dominant genres which also saw the emergence of U2, Madonna, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Prince, Duran Duran, The Smiths and David Bowie. Sounds Of The 80s will also look at the wider legacy of the decade, such as shellsuits, mobile phones, the personal computer, the CD, the Yuppie and even ET!

Listeners can email requests to and Boy George will be Sara's guest on the first show.

Sara says: “I'm completely over the moon to be hosting an Eighties shindig every Saturday night on Radio 2. Dig out your lace gloves and ra-ra skirts and join me for the BEST music from the BEST decade."

Bob Shennan, Controller, BBC Radio 2, 6 Music, Asian Network and Popular Music, says: “Sounds Of The 80s was a show waiting to happen and I’m happy to be welcoming Sara to Radio 2. Sara has been a regular holiday cover presenter on the network for 18 months and we know the audience have really taken to her. The show will perfectly complement two of the network’s best loved programmes, Sounds Of The 60s, presented by Brian Matthew, and Sounds Of The 70s, hosted by Johnnie Walker.”

Music fans can also look forward to Dave Pearce’s Dance Years which will return as a 13-part series in 2014.

Jo Whiley’s weeknight show will be extended to from 90 minutes to two hours each Monday – Thursday from 30 September. From 8-10pm, Jo will treat listeners to her favourite album tracks and some musical gems rarely heard on Radio 2.

Jo says: “I'm delighted that the show will now be two hours long. More time means more music, playing brilliant new artists and much loved classic songs. It means I have more time to hang out with my radio family in the evenings.”

Radio 2 is making a further commitment to Big Band music.

Clare Teal’s Sunday night show (10-11pm) will be extended as the network’s two big band music shows (Sun 10-11pm and Mon 9.30-10pm) are combined into a single live two-hour programme every Sunday from 9-11pm. The programme will include a wide variety of Big Band recordings, archive material and special guests and incorporate music from the 1920s to the present day. Sessions and special concerts by the BBC Big Band will also be featured, and individual band members will make guest appearances within the new show. The first session will be recorded in November and will feature award-winning jazz vocalist Liane Carroll.

Clare says: "Big Band and swing music has been a passion of mine since I can remember. I feel honoured and so excited at the thought of sitting in a room every week for two whole hours, sharing some of the greatest big band tunes ever written, both old and new, with listeners who already love this kind of music and to the many others who don't realise they do… yet!"

Lewis Carnie, Radio 2 Head of Programmes, says: "I wanted to expand our Big Band programming but, with reduced funds across the BBC, we could no longer afford to commit to regular Big Band recordings. However, we are aware that our listeners love this kind of music, so we are giving our Sunday night audience an extended two-hour session of the tunes they love from the broadest range of Big Band music.”

Russell Davies’ show (Sun 9-10pm) will move to Monday nights (11pm-12midnight) for 26 weeks a year, with Jools Holland returning for the remainder. Nigel Ogden: The Organist Entertains (Tuesday 9.30-10pm) and Listen To The Band presented by Frank Renton (Weds 9.30–10pm) will move to Thursday evenings at 11pm and 11.30pm respectively. These shows replace Steve Lamacq’s Rock College. Steve will be returning to Radio 2 in 2014 to celebrate Britpop with a number of exclusive programmes, and can still be heard presenting every weekday on BBC Radio 6 Music from 4-7pm.

Hugh Laurie’s Blues Changes is his first series for Radio 2 and examines the blues in a six-part series starting on 23 September. Looking at the way in which the blues has influenced all the types of popular music that we listen to today, each week Hugh will be playing a song with his acclaimed Copper Bottom Band and uses that as a starting point from which to explore the permutations and permeations of the music that he loves.

Starting with the primitive country blues of Robert Johnson and Charley Patton, he traces the changes in the music through the electric Chicago period of Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf, the soul and rock influences of the 1960s to the blues as we know it today. A performance film accompanying the series can be seen on the BBC's Red Button service.

In November, Radio 2 shines a spotlight on the eventful year of 1963. The 50th birthday of Doctor Who - which was first broadcast that year - will be celebrated (details to be announced shortly).

On the evening of 22 November, Radio 2 will be broadcasting The Assassination Of JFK: Minute-By-Minute, produced by TBI Media. Dermot O’Leary and Jeremy Vine will be broadcasting live, telling the story of the momentous three hours from when President Kennedy was shot in Dealey Plaza to Lyndon B. Johnson’s swearing in on Air Force One. There will be dramatised eye-witness accounts from the scores of people caught up in the unfolding drama, expert analysis, plus the music of the day will provide an emotional score to one of the most infamous events of the 20th century.

Jeremy says: “This will be a gripping way of following one of the last century's most cataclysmic events as it happened. I am delighted to be hosting this programme with Dermot. We are both fascinated with the story, and delighted to be working with the same producers who gave us the award-winning Titanic: Minute-By-Minute and the Dambusters anniversary programmes.”

The changes to the schedule have the dual purpose of reflecting feedback from the audience and addressing the financial challenges faced across the BBC due to the licence fee freeze.

Bob Shennan said: “Although we have had to make difficult decisions in order to make savings in line with the rest of the BBC, I’ve taken this opportunity to create some new programmes and make changes to reinvigorate the Radio 2 schedule.”

September 10, 2013 10:36am ET by BBC Radio 2   Comments (0)

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