BBC Radio 1 to hand over airwaves to armed forces radio station on Christmas Day

BBC Radio 1 have revealed plans to hand over the airwaves to military charity and media organisation BFBS on Christmas Day, giving troops the opportunity to send Christmas messages to their families and friends back home in the UK.

As the continuing pandemic means that many members of the forces will be unable to return to the UK to spend time with their families this Christmas, Radio 1 will be handing four hours on Christmas day to BFBS. Between 10am and 2pm, the station will broadcast four one-hour shows from military bases in Cyprus, Germany, Brunei, Gibraltar and Bahrain, with each of the shows featuring messages from members of the forces and some surprise guests, plus plenty of Christmas music to soundtrack the celebrations of families around the world. 

All four shows will be hosted by BFBS presenters. Akylah Rodriguez and Ben Coley will kick off the takeover at 10am from Cyprus, followed by Elliot Darby and Rosie Da Costa broadcasting from Germany between 11am and midday. From midday to 1pm, Hayley Hammond and Curtis Tyler will broadcast from Brunei, and for the final hour of the takeover (1 – 2pm), Danny Parkinson and Greg Burnet will team up for a co-host, with Danny broadcasting from Gibraltar and Greg broadcasting from Bahrain. 

29-year-old Akylah from Ashford in Kent joined BFBS in 2019 after starting her radio career at Wandsworth Radio as a newsreader, while 23-year-old Ben’s radio career began in hospital radio before he joined Bournemouth University’s student station Nerve. Akylah currently hosts the breakfast show for BFBS Cyprus, while Ben, who hails from Evesham in Worcestershire, hosts the afternoon show at the station. 

24-year-old Elliot got involved with community radio before moving into student radio while at university. Elliot, who is originally from Torquay, joined BFBS in 2019 and is the current breakfast show host at BFBS Germany. 36-year-old Rosie from Lincoln started out in student radio, volunteering at Newcastle Student Radio, and later Westminster University’s Smoke Radio. She joined BFBS in 2017 and is current host of the afternoon show at BFBS Germany.

Originally from Kettering in Northamptonshire, 30-year-old Hayley started out in hospital radio aged 17 and later joined the University of East Anglia’s student station Livewire, where current Radio 1 Breakfast host Greg James volunteered as a student. She went on to join BFBS in 2017 and is now the host of the drivetime show at BFBS Brunei. Curtis started out volunteering at a community radio station in his hometown of Chelmsford in Essex before joining BFBS in 2017. Now aged 28, Curtis is the current host of the breakfast show at BFBS Brunei.

27-year-old Danny is the host of the breakfast show at BFBS Gibraltar, while 28-year-old Greg is the current host of the breakfast show on BFBS Falklands. Danny, who is originally from Bradford, joined BFBS in 2018 after starting out at commercial station Radio Yorkshire. Greg, who hails from Flitwick in Bedfordshire, started his broadcasting career from his bedroom aged 13 when he first got involved in internet radio. He later joined a local station in Milton Keynes before joining BFBS last year.

Akylah says:

“I know how excited our audience in Cyprus will be to connect with their friends and family in the UK via Radio 1, especially since a lot of people haven’t been able to go home this year and will be staying in Cyprus because of COVID. To know that they can listen at the same time as their loved ones back home and hear the same songs, just brings us that little bit closer together. “ 

Ben says:

“Radio 1 is the station that made me love and appreciate radio. I think it’s the absolute pinnacle for what radio can offer, with some of the most talented broadcasters in the world. The phrase ‘dream come true’ gets thrown around a lot, but the opportunity to present even for an hour on Radio 1 really does hit that mark for me. I also can’t wait to connect our armed forces community from all over the world to their loved ones back at home after this awful year, so to be doing this in the world we currently live in is an opportunity like no other. 

Elliot says:

Christmas can be tough for our armed forces, especially on Ops. This year will particularly tough because of the pandemic, so I’m excited to give them an even bigger platform to connect to their family and friends back home.

Rosie says: 

“Working for the armed forces is quite different to anything I’ve done before. It has given me a real appreciation of what the British military does for our country, the different environments they work in and the different roles they take on – and how their families cope with things too. It’s a bit of a dream come true to be involved in the Radio 1 takeover because I’ve always been a huge fan and it’s a great opportunity to showcase the work that BFBS does.  Our audience is unique and I can’t wait to share what we do around the world with those closer to home and show off our services – all while bringing a bit of festive cheer! It’s my favourite time of year and I will definitely be wearing a Christmas outfit.

Hayley says:

“I am looking forward to showing the Radio 1 listener exactly what we do, not just in Europe but all over the forces world. That and I haven’t got my mum and dad a Christmas present yet so I’m hoping hearing me on Radio 1 whilst eating their Christmas dinner will be enough – it’s hard thinking of a gift that will be better than a life-size cardboard cut-out of me (which is what they got last year!)” 

Curtis says: 

If it’s not their sense of humour, endless banter or ability to play as hard as they work, then you can’t discredit any single member of the UK military for how incredibly passionate they are about their jobs, their country and their muckers. I’ve never met a single member of the forces who won’t stick their neck out for you as much as they can. It really is one big family. I’m looking forward to showcasing how amazing the British armed forces are, not just overseas, but in the UK as well, and hopefully make some smiles this Christmas. 

Danny says:

I can’t wait to shine a spotlight on some of the great work that the forces do around the world that often goes untold. Being able to connect the forces with their families as they work away during Christmas day is a special privilege. To do that on a Radio 1 will be an unbelievable experience.”

Greg says:

“Since joining BFBS I’ve enjoyed seeing the determination of our armed forces first-hand, especially how they’ve handled 2020 and I think it’s great giving them an avenue to share and talk about what they do and actually show off a bit as they deserve to! I can’t wait to share all our audiences’ unique stories and way of life on Radio 1 on Christmas day, as well as a few of my own!” 

Aled Haydn Jones, Head of BBC Radio 1, says:

Throughout this year Radio 1 has been striving to ensure the voices of young people are heard during the pandemic. This Christmas, with so many young troops unable to return home, I’m pleased we’re able to do something to put a spotlight on them and help connect them to their families over the holiday period.”

Nicky Ness, Director of Broadcasting & Entertainment for BFBS, says:

“At BFBS we work tirelessly to entertain and inform our armed forces, and to keep those serving overseas connected with family and friends at home. So, in a year where many people have been missing their loved ones, we’re especially thrilled to be working alongside Radio 1 on Christmas Day to help us connect our forces with home.”

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