BBC South East

Last updated

BBC South East
TV transmitters Bluebell Hill
Radio stations BBC Radio Kent
BBC Radio Surrey
BBC Radio Sussex
Headquarters Tunbridge Wells
Area Kent
East Sussex
West Sussex (part)
Surrey (part)
Regions South East
Key people
Quentin Smith

BBC South East is the BBC English region serving Kent, East Sussex, part of West Sussex and a small part of Surrey.


The BBC region was created in September 2001 by the joining of the Heathfield transmitter (formerly part of the BBC South region) with the Bluebell Hill and Dover transmitters (from the then BBC London and South East region) to form a new regional TV service. Unlike ITV Meridian (East), it does not serve southern Essex (received from a Bluebell Hill overlap), this area being part of the BBC London region instead.



BBC South East's television output consists of the flagship regional news service South East Today and its main programme is broadcast weeknights at 6:30 pm, with short bulletins throughout the day and during the weekend. A half-hour opt-out during Sunday Politics is produced by an independent production company. In 2020, South East Today joined forces with BBC London News during the Covid pandemic to keep viewers in both regions informed with the developments about the virus in their areas, although it didn't affect their separate main evening programmes. The joint venture happened again in January 2021.


The region is the controlling centre for BBC Radio Kent, BBC Radio Surrey and BBC Radio Sussex.

Radio Kent carries local programming between 6 am and 7 pm from the Tunbridge Wells studio, then simulcasts networked programming along with stations in the BBC South and South East regions until 1 am every night. Radio Sussex and Radio Surrey each carry three hours a day of local programming for each county from 6 am to 9 am, sharing the remainder of their output between 9 am and 7 pm, then joining with other stations in the BBC South and BBC South East regions at 7 pm.

Online and Interactive

BBC South East also produces regional news and local radio pages for BBC Red Button and BBC Local websites for each county. It also provided regional information for the BBC Ceefax service until its closure in October 2012.


Prior to 2001, London, and the whole of the South East had been considered part of the same editorial region by the BBC, and as a result, received a single regional service, including news programmes London Plus (1984–1989) and Newsroom South East (1989–2001). London had not been afforded the same 'regional' status as the other BBC regions as the bulk of the national content was produced in the capital. This was reflected in the fact that since the launch of regional TV news bulletins in 1957, there was no specialist division within the BBC tasked with producing South East opt-outs.

As a result, the region had fewer local bulletins. Town and Around, the BBC's first attempt at a South East news programme, was gradually integrated into Nationwide , whose production team produced the local bulletins, presented for many years by Bob Wellings. This issue was addressed to a degree with the launch of South East at Six on Monday 4 January 1982 and later, on Monday 3 September 1984, by London Plus – which saw the introduction of short daytime bulletins of the type seen in other BBC regions. Production teams based within the BBC's Current Affairs department continued to produce London Plus until a dedicated South East operation was finally introduced on Tuesday 28 March 1989 with the launch of Newsroom South East from a dedicated news centre at Elstree Studios in Hertfordshire. Despite the changes throughout the decade, the large region and fewer regional operatives meant the service was still far from ideal.

The size of the region was gradually reduced in stages, starting in 1993 when the Heathfield transmitter serving East Sussex was switched from BBC South East to BBC South. On 16 October 2000, the areas served by the Oxford transmitter were transferred from BBC South East to a new opt out service from BBC South's South Today .

Following the BBC's South East Review of 2001, the London and South East arrangements changed, with BBC London split off as a separate entity and Heathfield viewers rejoining Bluebell Hill and Dover in a new smaller BBC South East region, launched on Monday 3 September 2001 and based in Royal Tunbridge Wells.

Following digital switchover in the south on 7 March 2012, the Whitehawk transmitter in Brighton transferred from the BBC South region to BBC South East. The network had been broadcasting around the fringes of Brighton and Hove prior to switchover and has always been part of the region's remit since 2001; BBC South East now broadcasts terrestrially to the whole city extending along the coast into West Sussex as far as Worthing.


The Great Hall, Tunbridge Wells The Great Hall Arcade - - 1299540.jpg
The Great Hall, Tunbridge Wells

The regional broadcasting centre is based in Tunbridge Wells, Kent with local radio studios and television bureaux located in Brighton and Guildford and smaller offices in Hastings, Chatham and Dover. BBC South East is the only one of the BBC regions not based in a major city.

The Tunbridge Wells studios are located in The Great Hall, a historic building previously used as public rooms, photography studios, a performance venue, a cinema, a dancing school and until 1980, a nightclub called Carriages. In 1980, the building was severely damaged by fire. It was renovated and bought and now contains an arcade of shops, a hidden car park and the headquarters of BBC South East and BBC Radio Kent. The studios, as is now the trend with most modern developments, can be viewed by the public through tours or through the display windows into the offices from the public areas. Until late 2015, the complex contained a BBC Shop.

See also

Related Research Articles

BBC London

BBC London is the BBC English Region producing local radio, television, teletext and online services in London and parts of the surrounding area. Its output includes the daily BBC London News and weekly Sunday Politics on television, the BBC Radio London radio station and local coverage of the London area on BBC Online and BBC Red Button. The region's headquarters are situated in the new eastern extension of the BBC's Broadcasting House.

BBC Radio Kent Radio station in Royal Tunbridge Wells

BBC Radio Kent is the BBC Local Radio service for the English county of Kent and parts of southeast London.

BBC Southern Counties Radio was the BBC Local Radio service for the English counties of Surrey and Sussex. The station also covered a large part of North-East Hampshire. It was the first BBC Local Radio station to introduce an all-speech format. It broadcast from its studios in Brighton and Guildford on FM, AM and on DAB on the NOW Sussex Coast multiplex.

BBC West Midlands

BBC Midlands is the BBC English Region producing local radio and web content for Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Warwickshire, the West Midlands, and Worcestershire. Although the region has been unofficially called BBC West Midlands since BBC East Midlands became a separate region in 1991, it retains the BBC Midlands name and brand, with its history dating from 1927, for public use.

BBC Home Service British radio broadcasting service from 1939 to 1967

The BBC Home Service was a British national radio station that broadcast from 1939 until 1967, when it was renamed BBC Radio 4.

<i>South East Today</i>

BBC South East Today is the BBC South East regional television news programme, serving Kent, East Sussex, part of West Sussex and a small part of Surrey. Prior to its launch on 3 September 2001, most of the viewers in the region received Newsroom South East, though some had been receiving South Today.

ITV Meridian Holder of the ITV franchise for the South and South East of England

ITV Meridian is the holder of the ITV franchise for the South and South East of England. The station was launched at 12:00 am on 1 January 1993, replacing previous broadcaster Television South, and is owned and operated by ITV plc, under the licensee of ITV Broadcasting Limited. Meridian Broadcasting Ltd was one of several ITV plc-owned regional companies to have its legal name changed on 29 December 2006, when it became ITV Meridian Ltd. This company is, along with most other regional companies owned by ITV plc, listed with Companies House as a "Dormant company".

Crystal Palace transmitting station Telecommunications site in Bromley, England

The Crystal Palace transmitting station, officially known as Arqiva Crystal Palace, is a broadcasting and telecommunications site in the Crystal Palace area of the London Borough of Bromley, England. It is located on the site of the former television station and transmitter, operated by John Logie Baird, from 1933.

Heart Sussex Independent Local Radio station in Sussex, United Kingdom

Heart Sussex is an Independent Local Radio station which is owned by Global Radio and plays commercial, chart-oriented popular music. Broadcast and managed from studios and offices in Portslade, Brighton and Crawley, the station plays a mix of pop, rock and RnB with the overall tag line being 'The station for Sussex and Surrey' - replacing Mercury FM.

<i>BBC London News</i>

BBC London News is the BBC's regional television news programme for Greater London, Surrey and east Berkshire. Its local competitor is ITV News London, which is produced by ITN for ITV London.

<i>South Today</i> BBC regional television news programme

BBC South Today is the BBC's regional television news service for the south of England, covering Hampshire, Isle of Wight, West Sussex, much of Dorset and parts of Berkshire, Surrey and Wiltshire.

<i>ITV News Meridian</i>

ITV News Meridian is the evening news programme produced by ITV Meridian and broadcasting to the South, South East and Thames Valley. It broadcasts for thirty minutes each Monday to Friday from 18:00, covering regional news stories, features, sport and weather. It is presented by Sangeeta Bhabra, Stacey Poole, Amanda Piper, or Fred Dinenage. Shorter bulletins air at other times.

BBC East Midlands

BBC East Midlands is the BBC English Region covering Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Nottinghamshire, Rutland, South Kesteven in Lincolnshire and some northern parts of Northamptonshire.

BBC South

BBC South is the BBC English Region serving Oxfordshire, Hampshire, Isle of Wight, Dorset, Berkshire and parts of Gloucestershire, Buckinghamshire, Northamptonshire, Surrey, West Sussex and Wiltshire, with geographic coverage varying between digital, television and radio services.

<i>Coast to Coast</i> (British TV series)

Coast to Coast was the flagship regional news programme produced by TVS, covering the south and southeast of England with separate news services for both parts of the dual-region between January 1982 and December 1992.

BBC Sussex BBC Local Radio service for the English county of Sussex

BBC Radio Sussex is the BBC Local Radio service for the English county of Sussex. It began on 14 February 1968 as BBC Radio Brighton, later becoming BBC Radio Sussex and then part of BBC Southern Counties Radio, adopting the BBC Sussex name on 30 March 2009. BBC journalists Jeremy Paxman, Kate Adie and Des Lynam started their careers at BBC Brighton. On 30 March 2020 the name reverted to BBC Radio Sussex.

BBC Radio Surrey BBC Local Radio service for the English county of Surrey

BBC Radio Surrey is the BBC Local Radio service covering the English county of Surrey, along with North-East Hampshire and the northern fringes of West Sussex including Crawley, East Grinstead and Gatwick Airport. It began on 14 November 1991 under the name BBC Radio Surrey, later becoming part of BBC Southern Counties Radio, before becoming BBC Surrey on 30 March 2009. The original name BBC Radio Surrey was restored on 30 March 2020.

Bluebell Hill transmitting station

The Bluebell Hill transmitting station is a broadcasting and telecommunications facility located at Blue Bell Hill between Maidstone and Rochester in the English county of Kent.

This is a timeline of BBC Local Radio.

Heart South British radio station

Heart South is a regional radio station owned and operated by Global as part of the Heart network. It broadcasts to the south and south east of England from studios in Fareham, Hampshire.