Today’s announcement by Radio 4 confirms the decision, made by BBC Radio early last year, to scrap the 15-minute drama slot incorporated into Woman’s Hour since 1998. This is a cut in commissioning – primarily of original work – of over 60 hours every year.
The announcement is a further blow to the commissioning of original work on Radio 4, with the reduction of the Saturday afternoon 60-minute drama from a high point of 40 original commissions to just 12. The Saturday Drama is now The Monthly Drama. At the same time the weekday Afternoon Drama has lost 15 minutes per week, which may not sound like much, but amounts to a further 12 hours of lost commissioning – again, primarily of original work. Whilst the BBC is still committed to producing audio drama, there remains a question about how much of this will be original drama on Radio 4.
The Archers remains as does the Sunday Drama, which is largely untouched, although this latter slot is, according to the BBC’s own commissioning guidelines, “almost exclusively the home of dramatisations”. Meanwhile, what remains of the Afternoon Drama is increasingly devoted to series and serials which tend to go to more experienced writing talent.
WGGB has repeatedly challenged BBC decisions to cut original drama slots on broadcast radio at every stage of the process. To get more involved, email email@example.com