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Friday Night is Music Night is a long-running live BBC radio concert programme featuring the BBC Concert Orchestra, broadcast most Fridays on BBC Radio 2 at 8pm. The programme is the world's longest-running live orchestral music radio programme.[1]

The programme features many types of music, including classical music, light music, film music, theatre music, songs from the musicals, and opera and operetta. It is also notable for its arrangements of popular standards swing, jazz, and folksongs. One of its biggest appeals is its unpredictable playlist, which is left unrevealed until broadcast.

The programme usually features guest artists between the orchestral pieces, who sing with full orchestral accompaniment. Occasionally, artists such as Donny Osmond and Alanis Morissette perform in the larger venues. The programme also showpieces certain sections of the orchestra and features guest instrumentalists, for example the BBC Big Band.



Friday Night is Music Night traditionally begins with the orchestra playing the first bars of an adapted version of Charles Williams's High Adventure. After the fanfare, the compère (today usually Ken Bruce, Paul Gambaccini, Clare Teal or Russell Davies, but formerly Kenneth Alwyn, Richard Baker, Aled Jones, Jimmy Kingsbury, Robin Boyle[2] or Brian Kay) gives a summary of the programme, before reciting the slogan of the title. This happens again at the close of the programme, with the announcer usually ending on "I hope that once again we have proved that Friday Night is Music Night"

It is broadcast live from many theatres and concert halls throughout the UK, although regularly from the Mermaid Theatre in London or the Watford Colosseum, or the Hackney Empire. The show is not broadcast live every week, but instead previous shows are repeated later in the year when the orchestra is on tour.


The programme has been running since 1953, first on the BBC Light Programme and now on its successor, BBC Radio 2, making it the world's longest-running live orchestral music radio programmes. Many attribute the programme's format to the composer and conductor Sidney Torch. In particular, it is notable for now being one of the few programmes to feature light music on Radio 2.[3]

From the early 70’s onwards it was fronted by the aforementioned Robin Boyle; ‘Boyle came to be the linchpin of the programme’[4]Robin Boyle possessed a public voice and persona that took listeners of a certain age gracefully back to another era, perhaps more leisurely, perhaps with fewer tensions and uncertainties, perhaps where righteousness prevailed more often (though perhaps not); certainly more yearned-for.[1]

In 2005, the programme was televised for the first time on BBC Four as part of a 1940s' and 1950s' theme night, with a playlist concentrating on classic light music by composers such as Eric Coates, Trevor Duncan, Ronald Binge and Leroy Anderson. The compère was actor and comedian Roy Hudd.[5] On Friday 19 March 2010, the programme was broadcast from the BBC Television Centre in Shepherds Bush for the first time. Singers John Lawrenson and Cynthia Glover for many years were the programmes resident musical artists.


  1. ^ "Friday Night is Music Night" at
  2. ^ McDonald, Tim (15 October 2003). "Obituary: Robin Boyle". the Guardian. Retrieved 15 November 2018.
  3. ^ Show History at Radio Rewind.
  4. ^ McDonald, Tim (15 October 2003). "Obituary: Robin Boyle". the Guardian. Retrieved 15 November 2018.
  5. ^ The Lost Decade, BBC Four, accessed 16 November 2010

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