BBC strike: schedules torn up to make way for repeats

Rumour has it that Britain's fleet of Trident submarines are to treat the prolonged absence of Radio 4's Today programme from the airwaves as a sign nuclear war has begun.

If any of them had tuned in this morning they would have received a bit of a shock, for there was no sign of John Humphrys, Jim Naughtie or any of Today's familiar presenters.

But rather than signalling an impending armageddon, this was merely the result of a strike by BBC members of the National Union of Journalists.

They are staging a 24-hour protest in a dispute over compulsory redundancies at the corporation.

The strike has already had quite an impact on the BBC's normal schedules:

  • A reduced BBC Breakfast on BBC1 was broadcast from London by a single presenter, instead of its regular Salford team.
  • Shows including Cash in the Attic and Escape to the Country have been used to plug gaps in the schedule.
  • It's likely BBC1's news bulletins at 1pm, 6pm and 10pm will also be affected.
  • On Radio 4, all the usual news programmes have been dropped, replaced with repeats of programmes on topics ranging from Beethoven's Fifth Symphony to George Orwell
  • And on BBC 6 Music, Alan Dedicoat, best known as "the voice of the [Lottery] balls", has been enlisted to read the news.

Striking journalists have tweeting pictures of picket lines and protests, including outside BBC Scotland in Glasgow, BBC Radio Sheffield and BBC Radio Cumbria.

The comedian Robin Ince has tweeted: "In solidarity with the BBC strike, I will not do any topical jokes this evening, but is it OK to do anything about the weather?"

While the journalist Iain Martin imagined what Today listeners might have missed in the Thought for the Day slot: "Y'know, the bible has something to tell us about the horsemeat scandal..."

The BBC has issued a statement about the dispute, saying: "We are disappointed that the NUJ has gone ahead with today’s strike and apologise to our audience for the disruption to services.

"Unfortunately industrial action does not alter the fact that the BBC has significant savings targets and as a consequence may have to make a number of compulsory redundancies. We have made considerable progress in reducing the need for compulsory redundancies through volunteers, redeployment and cancelling vacant positions and we will continue with these efforts."

Keep up with the latest changes to today's BBC schedules.