At the beginning of Oranges are not the only fruit, Jeanette talks about listening to the radio with her mother as a child.

Sunday was the Lord's Day, the most vigorous day of the whole week; we had a radiogram at home with an imposing mahogany front and a fat Bakelite knob to twiddle for the stations. Usually we listened to the Light Programme, but on Sundays always the World Service, so that my mother could record the progress of our missionaries.

I assume that this is referring to BBC programmes, but I am confused about the detail of how the characters listened to the radio for "the progress of [their] missionaries." This is made more explicit in a slightly later passage:

… we had to listen to the World Service. It was always the same we sat down on either side of the radiogram, she with her tea, me with a pad and pencil; in front of us, the Missionary Map. The faraway voice in the middle of the set gave news of activities, converts and problems. At the end there was an appeal for YOUR PRAYERS.

Am I right in assuming that there was such an evangelical segment on the World Service? Or am I misinterpreting the passage, or is the narration here purposely misconstruing what the characters were actually listening to?

These days, the BBC programmes that I've heard are strictly secular in nature; I imagine that there may be some religiously-themed broadcasts for special services, but I doubt that they're aggressively evangelical like this. I've tried looking this up online, but my Google-fu is coming up short.

  • Possibly a reference to Family Favourites? en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Family_Favourites This included both music requests from the commonwealth forces (i.e. ex colonies) and brief family messages/greetings. Not necessarily in a religious context though.
    – MiguelH
    Jun 24, 2019 at 14:52
  • For context, Winterson was born in 1959 so this would presumably be mid-1960s.
    – Stuart F
    Jun 24, 2019 at 14:54
  • The BBC still broadcasts a daily act of Christian Worship and a longer Sevice on Sunday's.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006qnds
    – Sarriesfan
    Jun 24, 2019 at 14:58
  • The BBC also broadcasts the dreadfully patronising 'Thought for the Day' on Radio 4 at 07:45 every week day en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thought_for_the_Day Jun 25, 2019 at 17:40

2 Answers 2


Yes, the BBC still has "BBC Radio 4 Sunday Worship" and has broadcast other religious programs, especially but not always on Christmas. From 1938 the BBC broadcast Elder Lightfoot Solomon Michaux's "Radio Church of God" in some markets. Per Wikipedia:

There have also been religious programmes, of mostly Anglican celebration and often from the Church of St. Martin in the Fields,

I couldn't identify the Sunday show being mentioned in the quote, but clearly it had company.


Not specifically after but during WWII, Christian author and Oxford Fellow CS Lewis’ book Mere Christianity grew out out of a series of talks given during the war.



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