Saturday Night Theatre

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Saturday Night Theatre was a long-running radio drama strand on BBC Radio 4. The strand showcased feature-length, middle-brow single plays on Saturday evenings for more than 50 years, having been launched in April 1943.[1] The plays featured in the strand included stage plays, book adaptations and original dramatisations. For most of its history, programmes ran for 90 minutes and were largely entertainment-centred, such as thrillers, comedies and mysteries.

Saturday Night Theatre was noted as the major drama of the week on BBC Radio 4, until it was scrapped as a programme strand in 1996. Shorter plays continued to be broadcast on Radio 4 on Saturday evenings from 1996 until the relaunch of the channel's schedule in April 1998 by James Boyle, when single dramas were removed from the Saturday evening schedule.[2] Since 1998, the main weekly play on the station has been The Saturday Play, a daytime programme that runs for 60–90 minutes.

There have since been campaigns to bring back Saturday Night Theatre,[3] but in the context of BBC budget cuts, that have included the 2010 axing of Radio 4's Friday Play (established in 1998, when Saturday Night Theatre was abolished),[4] any return looks unlikely.


  1. ^ "Saturday Night Theatre Home Page". 1993-04-03. Retrieved 2011-04-02.
  2. ^ "BBC revises new Radio 4 schedule - News". The Independent. 1998-09-17. Retrieved 2011-04-02.
  3. ^ "Saturday Night Theatre Home Page". 1993-04-03. Retrieved 2011-04-02.
  4. ^ Matthew Hemley (2010-03-10). "The Stage / News / Exclusive: Radio 4 to axe Friday Play". Retrieved 2011-04-02.

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