The Television and Radio Database is the definitive database for radio and TV programmes broadcast in the UK during the 20th Century. It contains details of almost every programme ever broadcast to London, England, from the first regular radio broadcast in 1922 to the millennium eve broadcasts of 1999.
The main source for our radio and TV listings is The Times newspaper. It began listing full radio schedules on 31st December 1922, just six weeks after the British Broadcasting Company began in the UK, and over 9 months before the Radio Times was first published. Other daily newspapers that include listings have also been used as a source of reference. These include the Daily Mirror, the Daily Express, the Daily Star and The Guardian. The advantage of using a daily newspaper is that it is more likely to contain last minute changes to the schedule that would not have been published in the weekly magazines.
Broadcasting began in the UK on the 14 November 1922 and has continued, without a break, ever since. That means there are 28,172 days worth of listings to add to the database before it contains everything ever broadcast in the 20th Century. There are some days for which it has been difficult to track down the complete radio and television listings (although every day does have details for at least one service). As a member of TVRdb you are encouraged to fill in the gaps by submitting the missing information for those days.
We have now finished adding all 77 years of BBC broadcasting in the twentieth century (with the exception of the World Service and regional variations), all of Channel 5 (1997-2000) and most of Channel 4 and the various ITV franchises. You can view our progress so far here.
Any help you can offer is most welcomed. Simply sign up as a contributor and you will find tools in the Members Area that allow you to add or edit information in the database. All additions are manually verified so you can use any printed source in addition to the recommended online resources detailed in the Members Area.
You'll be helping to complete the UK's most comprehensive, free-to-access database of television and radio listings. As a bonus, we'll include your name on our credits page. The more you contribute, the higher up the list your name will appear.
The ITA awarded fifteen regional licences for the ITV network between 1955 and 1961. This meant a lot of regional variations for news and local programming. TVRDb is close to completing the largest of these regions, the London area, that broadcast to around 12 million homes. You can also add listings for other regions, as many important and groundbreaking programmes of the twentieth century were only broadcast locally.
The Sound Broadcasting Act 1972 finally allowed independent radio stations the chance to legally broadcast throughout the UK. Until then, the only competition to the BBC were the pirate stations, such as Luxembourg, Jackie and Caroline. The first of these launched, once again, in London, with both LBC and Capital Radio going on the air in October 1973. If you have programme listings for these stations, or any other archive listings for local or national radio, please let us know so we can add them too!
The eighties and nineties finally saw our TV and Radio choices expand exponentially, as both cable and satellite operators competed for subscribers. Towards the end of the century, the first digital channels also appeared, with many new channels only available to those willing to pay for them. Although it would be nice to include all the different cable, satellite and digital services, TVRDb is currently limiting itself to free-to-air channels. If you have comprehensive listings for any of the Pay-TV channels, please let us know so that we can add these in future updates.
Very few radio programmes from the last century were archived, so, with the exception of specially recorded series or special event broadcasting, it's highly unlikely that a recording still exists. Most television shows made before the 1980s would also have been wiped or transmitted live and not recorded. Even groundbreaking shows like Top of the Pops and Doctor Who are missing many of their early episodes! TVRDb cannot provide copies of any of the programmes listed in this database. It is provided purely as a research tool listing when and where a programme was broadcast. Examples of early sound recordings can be found at the British Library Sound Archive. The most important film and television collection is preserved by the British Film Institute.
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