The theatre's stage viewed from the balcony
|Former names||The Concert Hall|
|Operator||British Broadcasting Corporation|
|Architect||George Val Myer|
Originally named The Concert Hall, the theatre was designed by George Val Myer as part of the BBC's new Broadcasting House building. The hall is 106 feet (32 m) long, and tapers from 48 feet (15 m) wide at the rear to 36 feet (11 m) wide behind the stage. The room's height is 31 feet (9.4 m), taking up three storeys of Broadcasting House. Upon original specification, the hall had a reverberation time of 1.7 seconds.
Broadcasting House was opened on 14 May 1932 by Queen Mary of Teck. The theatre's first performance was held on 15 October 1932; at this time the hall's capacity allowed a large orchestra and an audience of 550. On 10 March 1933, the hall hosted a memorial concert to the BBC's former Director of Music, Percy Pitt.
In 1933, the BBC Yearbook described the hall's acoustics and architecture:
|“||In the design of public concert halls a difficulty frequently encountered is the variability of the reverberation time according to the size of the audience, owing to the sound-absorbing properties of the latter [...] This difficulty has to a very large extent been avoided by providing heavily upholstered seats for the audience and by carpeting the space occupied by the orchestra. The upholstery and carpets provide sufficient sound absorption in themselves, and conditions are not greatly altered when the upholstered seats are occupied.||”|
|“||Wakened by sirens at 6.50 a.m. in Broadcasting House, I scrambled into some clothes and went to the concert hall now being used as the main shelter for those on duty. One end of it had been converted into a dormitory, in which twenty or thirty people were asleep. The other was filled with people sitting and standing around in groups, dressed in all sorts of garment: girls in dressing-gowns of various hues, some thirty or more charladies, some with their mops and buckets, and engineers and programme staff on duty, like myself. We sat there for two hours before the 'All Clear' went; then there was a stampede to the canteen for breakfast, and of course nothing was ready.||”|
In 1966, the BBC commissioned a report into sound propagation between spaces inside Broadcasting House, entitled Acoustic Tests in Broadcasting House, London: The Anomalous Sound Transmission between Studio S2 and the Concert Hall. The investigation found that Studio S2—situated in the sub basement below the Concert Hall and used for small orchestras and pop groups—leaked sound into the auditorium above due to inadequate sound insulation and lack of a floating floor; this occasionally distracted musicians in the Concert Hall although it could not be heard on transmissions or recordings.
In 1994, the Concert Hall was renamed the Radio Theatre.
On 16 June 1933, the BBC unveiled the Concert Hall's Compton organ. To celebrate the event, the corporation broadcast a concert featuring George Thalben-Ball, G. D. Cunningham, and Walter Alcock. The organ featured 2,826 pipes in 35 ranks.
Musical artists to have performed in the venue include David Bowie (for his Bowie at the Beeb album). The Radio 2 In Concert series is broadcast from the theatre; contributing artists include Stereophonics, Jeff Lynne's ELO, James Morrison, Emeli Sande, Ed Sheeran, and Paul Weller.
- Beckwith, Roger. "Lower Ground Floor". www.orbem.co.uk. Old BBC Radio Broadcasting Equipment and Memories. Retrieved 11 November 2019.
- "BBC - History of the BBC, Broadcasting House opens 14 May 1932". BBC Online. BBC. Retrieved 12 November 2019.
- Jennifer Ruth (1999). The BBC and Ultra-Modern Music, 1922-1936: Shaping a Nation's Tastes. Cambridge University Press. p. 467. ISBN 978-0-521-66117-1. Retrieved 11 November 2019.
- Beckwith, Roger. "The Sub-Basement". www.orbem.co.uk. Old BBC Radio Broadcasting Equipment and Memories. Retrieved 12 November 2019.
- Gilford, C.L.S.; Burd, A.N. (21 January 1966). "ACOUSTIC TESTS IN BROADCASTING HOUSE, LONDON: THE ANOMALOUS SOUND TRANSMISSION BETWEEN STUDIO S2 AND THE CONCERT HALL" (PDF). BBC Online. BBC Research Department. p. 1. Retrieved 12 November 2019.
- Mark Hines (2008). The Story of Broadcasting House: Home of the BBC. Merrell. p. 121. ISBN 978-1-85894-421-0. Retrieved 11 November 2019.
- May, Steve (7 August 2012). "Super Hi-Vision: 2012 Olympics in ultra hi-def - Inside CI". www.insideci.co.uk. Insideci. Retrieved 12 November 2019.
- Zubrzyki, John (1 August 2012). "The Olympics in Super Hi-Vision". Research and Development. BBC. Retrieved 12 November 2019.
- May, Steve (1 February 2016). "Super Hi-Vision: inside the 8K future of television". t3.com. T3. Retrieved 12 November 2019.
- Guy Starkey (9 October 2013). Radio in Context. Macmillan International Higher Education. p. 167. ISBN 978-1-137-30224-3. Retrieved 12 November 2019.
- Nicholas Parsons (18 August 2014). Welcome to Just a Minute!: A Celebration of Britain’s Best-Loved Radio Comedy. Canongate Books. p. 201. ISBN 978-1-78211-248-8. Retrieved 12 November 2019.
- "I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue – 30th Anniversary Special" (PDF). BBC. 4 April 2002. p. 6. Retrieved 12 November 2019.
- Dave Thompson (16 November 2010). Hallo Spaceboy: The Rebirth of David Bowie. ECW Press. p. 357. ISBN 978-1-55490-271-2. Retrieved 12 November 2019.
- "BBC Radio 2 announces In Concert series for 2019". www.bbc.co.uk. BBC. Retrieved 12 November 2019.
- "James Morrison". Radio 2 In Concert. BBC. Retrieved 12 November 2019.
- "Emeli Sandi". Radio 2 In Concert. BBC. Retrieved 12 November 2019.
- "Ed Sheeran". Radio 2 In Concert. BBC. Retrieved 12 November 2019.
- "Paul Weller". Radio 2 In Concert. BBC. Retrieved 12 November 2019.