BFBS, the Forces Station, will join forces with BBC Radio 1 on Christmas Day, bringing some much-needed festive cheer to millions of listeners.
BFBS has a long and proud tradition of airing Christmas messages, whether it be audio or video, from serving personnel and their parents, children and loved ones – wherever they are in the world.
This year, those messages will be broadcast on BBC Radio 1 as well. With an audience of 10 million listeners, we think that’s something to celebrate.
Not being able to spend time with their families over Christmas is something Britain’s armed forces are familiar with, but the COVID-19 pandemic has added an extra level to that concern.
Because of this, Radio 1 will be handing over four hours on Christmas day to BFBS. Aled Haydn Jones, Head of BBC Radio 1, said:
“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.”
Between 10am and 2pm on Christmas Day, BBC Radio 1 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.
Nicky Ness, Director of Broadcasting & Entertainment for BFBS, said:
“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."
All four shows will be hosted by BFBS presenters.
BFBS Cyprus (10 – 11am)
Akylah Rodriguez and Ben Coley
BFBS Germany (11am – midday)
Elliot Darby and Rosie Da Costa
BFBS Brunei (midday – 1pm)
Hayley Hammond and Curtis Tyler
BFBS Gibraltar (1 – 2pm)
Danny Parkinson and Greg Burnet will team up for a co-host, with Danny broadcasting from Gibraltar and Greg broadcasting from Bahrain
Regular BFBS listeners will be very familiar with their local presenters but maybe you might want to learn a little bit more about the others?
Meet The Presenters
Akylah, 29, 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 said:
"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."
Akylah currently hosts the breakfast show for BFBS Cyprus, while Ben, who hails from Evesham in Worcestershire, hosts the afternoon show at the station. Ben said:
"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, 24, got involved with community radio before moving into student radio while at university. Originally from Torquay, Elliot is the current breakfast show host at BFBS Germany. He said:
“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, 36, 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 hosts the afternoon show at BFBS Germany. She said:
“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.”
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. She said:
“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.”
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. He said:
“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."
Danny, 27, is the host of the breakfast show at BFBS Gibraltar, while Greg, 28, 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. He said:
“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.”
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. He said:
“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.”