The BBC was only months old when in January 1923, John Reith, the BBC's first director-general, received an ultimatum from the Newspaper Publishers' Association warning him that if the corporation didn't pay a hefty fee, none of the NPA's publications would carry radio listings.


The embargo was short-lived, but long enough to give Reith the idea of publishing a dedicated listings magazine. The first edition of The Radio Times, "the official organ of the BBC", duly appeared on newsstands on 28th September 1923.

The publication emerged onto the British media landscape, forever changing the way the nation engaged with entertainment. The inaugural issue of the Radio Times marked the dawn of a new era in broadcasting history. A century later, we fondly look back on that momentous debut that set the stage for a publication that would become an integral part of British culture.

First edition of RT (cover)

On the first ever Radio Times cover, the BBC's Director of Programmes Arthur Burrows welcomed readers and set out plans for the corporation and its exciting new publication.

"Hullo, everyone," he wrote. "We will now give you The Radio Times. The good new times. The Bradshaw of Broadcasting.

"May you never be late for your favourite wave-train. Speed 186,000 miles per second; five-hour non-stops. Family season ticket: First Class, 10s. per year."

Some of the "special contents" inside the first ever issue included "gossip about artistes", "wireless humour" and, of course, "letters from listeners".

Fast forward to the present, and Radio Times has evolved into more than just a guide to radio schedules. Over the decades, it has expanded its coverage to include television, cinema, podcasts and the ever-growing landscape of digital streaming.

From royal weddings to moon landings, from the iconic Doctor Who to the gripping Happy Valley, Radio Times has stood witness to the changing tides of entertainment, chronicling the moments that have shaped our cultural zeitgeist.

Radio Times has grown beyond its modest beginnings, but its essence – the joy of discovering, the thrill of anticipation, and the power of shared experiences – remains as potent as ever.

Radio Times Rugby World Cup cover
Nearly 100 years on – the very latest cover of Radio Times magazine.

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 entertainment, listen to The Radio Times Podcast.