As Deputy Head of The BBC Radio Comedy Department I fought hard to launch our first podcast in September 2007. At that time BBC Radio was cautiously dipping its toe into the world of podcasts making a lot of Factual Content available in this format. We wanted to capitalise on the opportunity to distribute our shows in a different way in the hope that we might be able to reach younger audiences by doing so. Initially the BBC were reluctant to include comedy as part of their podcasting agreement as they did want want to start a negotiation with The Writers Guild & Equity around a change in fees due to new distribution platforms.
I persuaded the cast of the Now Show & The News Quiz to sign up for a short term non-precedential trial under the terms of their existing contracts & Radio 4 agreed to start a new feed in iTunes “Friday Night Comedy” thus ensuring subscribers received a regular feed of either the News Quiz or The Now Show all year round.
The Friday Night Comedy Podcast became a quick success, hitting number 1 in the ITunes Podcast Chart from the moment we launched. It is now the BBC’s most successful podcast with over 70 million downloads .
BBC Radio 4 have continued to podcast selections from their Radio Comedy portfolio.