Big Ben’s bongs are back! Live chimes of Britain’s most iconic clock to play on BBC Radio 4 again – after five years of recorded clanging
- From Monday the live chimes will be broadcast just before 6pm news bulletin
- Restoration work starting in 2017 silenced the famous clock’s bells
- Will also be broadcast live on Armistice Day to mark the two-minute silence
They are arguably among the most familiar sounds in British broadcasting.
Now the live chimes of Big Ben will return to BBC Radio 4 from Monday, having been replaced by recorded ‘bongs’ in recent years.
Restoration work on the Palace of Westminster’s Elizabeth Tower, which houses the 19th century clock and bells, silenced the famous chimes when restoration work started in 2017.
But after a five-year gap the bells returned to regular service and are heard daily within earshot of the Palace of Westminster.
From Monday, the live ‘bongs’ will be broadcast just before the 6pm news bulletin and again before midnight and will air at these times daily from then on.
Live chimes of Big Ben will return to BBC Radio 4 from Monday, having been replaced by recorded ‘bongs’ in recent years
On Sundays at 10pm, listeners will also hear the live chimes just before Radio 4’s Westminster Hour political discussion programme.
Radio 4 has used live chimes in recent years for special events such as Remembrance Sunday and New Year’s Eve, which will be the case again this year.
The bells will also be broadcast live on Armistice Day to mark the two-minute silence and on Christmas Day before the broadcast of the King’s speech.
Big Ben will also help Radio 4 listeners ring in the New Year, with 12 chimes broadcast live at midnight to signal the beginning of 2024.
The tower, as well as the clockwork and bell mechanism within it, underwent the biggest repair and conservation project in its history during the recent work.
It was repaired from the gilt cross and orb at its tip to the bottom of its 334-step staircase.
The clock was installed in 1859 with the aim of creating the most accurate public timepiece in the world.
In 2008, Big Ben was named as the UK’s favourite landmark after beating Stonehenge into second place amid a poll of 2,000 adults. It has also been named as London’s most iconic film location, largely due to the 1978 movie The Thirty Nine Steps – which features a climactic scene showing actor Robert Powell hanging off the clock face.
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