Midweek (BBC Radio 4)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

GenreDiscussion & Talk
Running time45 mins (09.00)
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Home stationBBC Radio 4
Hosted byLibby Purves
Original release23 November 1978 – 29 March 2017

Midweek was a British weekly radio magazine series broadcast on BBC Radio 4.[1] It was aired on Wednesday at 09.00 and repeated later the same day at 21.00. For most of its run it was presented by Libby Purves and each week several guests discussed various topics with her. Start the Week and Stop the Week, also broadcast on Radio 4, employed similar formats. The programme ended in March 2017 as part of a schedule change.[citation needed]


The first edition, initially billed in the Radio Times as Mid-week (billed as Midweek from October 1981), was broadcast on Thursday 23 November 1978.[2] The programme moved to Wednesday mornings in October 1979. The original presenter was television documentary maker Desmond Wilcox. Other presenters between 1979 and 1983 included Russell Harty, Benny Green, Des Lynam, Elaine Stritch, Valerie Singleton, Ned Sherrin, Mavis Nicholson, Pete Murray, Noel Edmonds, Henry Kelly and Clare Francis.

Purves had originally joined the programme in 1982 to conduct the birthday interview[3] and became the main presenter from January 1984.[4]

In December 2016 it was announced that Midweek would end the following March and be replaced by two new arts programmes.[5] The final edition was broadcast on 29 March 2017.[6]


In 1986, then-producer Victor Lewis-Smith employed cockney comedian Arthur Mullard as stand-in for Purves who was on holiday. The result was a unique hour of broadcasting which polarised the opinion of its listeners. Lewis-Smith later said, "it was intended to break talk show conventions in a humorous way." 25 years later iPM ran a programme profiling what Purves described as "a piece of post-modern neo-dada performance art subverting the entire genre of Radio 4."[7]

On 19 October 2005, a blazing argument between comedian Joan Rivers and broadcaster Darcus Howe, who were both guests on that week's edition, erupted live on air, after Howe suggested Rivers was offended by the use of the term 'black'. Rivers angrily rejected his suggestion, accusing him of implying she was a racist and called him a "son of a bitch". According to a Radio 4 spokeswoman, around twenty people contacted the station, subsequent to the live broadcast, some critical of the swearing, but most "called to say they really enjoyed the debate".[8]


  1. ^ Donovan, Paul (1991). The Radio Companion. Harper Collins. p. 178. ISBN 0-246-13648-0.
  2. ^ "BBC Genome Project". Mid-week with Desmond Wilcox. Retrieved 2 March 2019.
  3. ^ Elmes, Simon (2007). And now on Radio 4. Random House. pp. 74–75. ISBN 978-1-905-21153-1.
  4. ^ "BBC Genome Project". Midweek. Retrieved 2 March 2019.
  5. ^ "BBC Radio 4 gives arts and theatre centre stage in new shows as the station bids farewell to Midweek". BBC Media Centre. 1 December 2016. Retrieved 2 March 2019.
  6. ^ "Libby Purves: Midweek has been 'a blast'". BBC News. 29 March 2017. Retrieved 2 March 2019.
  7. ^ "BBC Radio 4 - iPM, 03/09/2011".
  8. ^ "Race row disrupts Radio 4 debate". BBC News. 19 October 2005.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]