20 Radio Times top factoids as the magazine turns 100 years old
Did you know the phrase "back to square one" originates from Radio Times?
Radio Times, the world's first and longest running radio and television listings magazine, is celebrating turning 100 with a special centenary edition on sale from Tuesday 19th September.
To celebrate this landmark moment, Radio Times have asked some of the biggest names in the broadcasting industry - including Libby Purves, Michael Grade, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Russell T Davies, Justin Webb, Sally Wainwright, Samira Ahmed, Jeff Pope, Alan Yentob, Ann Cleeves, Angela Rippon and Peter Kosminsky - to nominate the most memorable radio and TV programmes of the past 100 years.
Radio Times was first published on 28th September 1923. To mark the occasion, this week's commemorative issue (with listings covering Radio Times's birthday) continues Radio Times's long tradition of illustrated covers with a cover designed by Peter Horridge. The issue has a choice of one of four Radio Times logos from the last 100 years: the original design from 1923; Radio Times's post-war logo which ran between 1946 and 1960; Radio Times' longest running logo, which graced the front page from 1972 to 1994; and the current logo, introduced in 2004.
The commemorative issue also features Simon Schama on how the programmes featured in Radio Times over the last 100 years have shaped Britain’s cultural and social history. From the birth of TV, the outbreak of war, the Beatles, to Eric and Ernie, the Olympics and Covid, Melvyn Bragg, Professor Brian Cox, Angela Rippon, David Dimbleby and many more, celebrate 100 years of history as told through the unique prism of Radio Times front covers, plus Gyles Brandreth on his personal history of Radio Times.
As Radio Times reaches its 100th birthday, here are 20 facts about the history of Radio Times.
20 Radio Times Facts:
- Radio Times was the first, and remains the longest running, television and radio listings magazine in the world.
- Radio Times was first published on Thursday 28th September carrying listings for six radio stations, it now carries listings for 149 channels (86 TV channels & 63 radio stations).
- The phrase "back to square one" originates from Radio Times. To help listeners with early football commentaries, Radio Times published an image of the pitch divided into squares for the FA Cup fourth-round tie between Corinthians and Newcastle United, played on Saturday 29th January 1927. The commentators on the radio would refer to the diagram, the listener kept the magazine handy as the ball went from square to square – and when it went out for a goal kick, it was "back to square one".
- Radio Times first published television listings on 5th January 1934.
- 2nd November 1936 marked the start of a regular 405-line high-definition television service and Radio Times became the world's first television listings magazine.
- Radio Times helped create the term "viewer". In the earliest days of television, nobody knew what to call people who watched it. Some tried "glancers", others "observers" or "lookers in". It was Radio Times that first pushed the abbreviation of "televiewer".
- The late Queen has featured on the cover more than anyone else (47 times), followed by Sir David Attenborough (38) and David Tennant (29 – 12 as Doctor Who).
- In 1955, it was suggested that the BBC should register the name 'TV Times' but the general manager of BBC publications rejected the idea on the grounds that television wouldn't catch on.
- In 1960, the 'programme week', which for 37 years had started on a Sunday, changed to the now familiar Saturday-to-Friday.
- In July 1967, BBC Two became Britain's first colour television channel, and 'colour' annotations started to appear alongside programme listings and the magazine's cover, for which colour was usually reserved for Christmas and other special occasions, was printed in colour on a regular basis.
- The 1988 Christmas edition was in the Guinness Book of Records for being the biggest-selling magazine in British history: 11,220,666 copies: a record which remains unbroken to this day.
- On 16 February 1991, the deregulation of television listings began, and Radio Times started to cover all services, including ITV, Channel 4 and satellite networks. Full complete listings of the four main channels and satellite began on Friday 1 March.
- RadioTimes.com was launched in June 1997, the site now has 20 million visitors a month.
- Radio Times has been published by Immediate Media since November 2011.
- In November 2013, Radio Times Vote Dalek cover was voted Cover of the Century by a public vote by the Professional Publishers Association (PPA), after a nine-month online vote. 'Vote Dalek' was released to mark the return of the return of the extra-terrestrial villains to the BBC show after two decades, and coincided with the 2005 general election.
- Radio Times has more weekly subscribers (253,000) than any other magazine in the UK.
- The 100th anniversary issue is the 5173rd edition of Radio Times.
- The Radio Times centenary issue cover was designed by Peter Horridge, who also designed the emblem for the Coronation of King Charles II. Other artists to design covers for Radio Times include: Peter Blake, Eric Frazer, Edward Ardizzone, Nick Park, Judith Kerr, Raymond Briggs and Grayson Perry.
- Writers who have contributed to Radio Times include: Kingsley Amis, Tom Stoppard, Fay Weldon, Sheridan Morley, Paul Theroux, Tom Stoppard, Ian McEwan, Fay Weldon, Joan Bakewell, James Burke, Ann Cleeves, Kenneth Williams and Jack Lundin.
- Leonard Crocombe was Radio Times first editor – he was also a stand-up comedian and BBC Today Programme presenter Justin Webb's grandfather. Radio Times has had 20 editors in its history, including the current editors, Tom Loxley and Shem Law, the first time the magazine has had joint-editorship.
Try Radio Times magazine today and get 10 issues for only £10, PLUS a £10 John Lewis and Partners voucher delivered to your home – subscribe now. For more from the biggest stars in TV, listen to The Radio Times Podcast.