Sarah Harry Isaacs

On 15 November, the British Council launches a global campaign to celebrate 20 years of Selector Radio, its international radio show broadcasting the best new UK music to the world. 

For the past two decades, the award-winning show has connected emerging UK artists to a global audience, showcasing the UK’s vibrant music scene, from grime and indie to dance and soul. Before they shot to fame, household names including Dizzee Rascal, Elbow and Amy Winehouse all featured on Selector and benefitted from its global platform, which was recently nominated for an Audio & Radio Industry Award (ARIA) in the Best Specialist Music Show category against mainstream stations like BBC Radio 1Xtra and BBC Radio 6 Music. 

Selector has won multiple accolades, including a ‘gold award’ at the Sony Royal Academy Awards for ‘Weekly Music Show of the Year’ in 2005 and ‘World’s Best Online Music Radio Show’ at the 2015 Mixcloud Awards. The weekly two-hour online broadcast is hosted by BBC Radio 1Xtra’s Jamz Supernova and produced by Folded Wing. On air since 2001, Selector currently broadcasts in over 30 countries worldwide. Most recently, it went live in New Zealand, Sudan and Argentina, bringing its estimated weekly listenership to over four million. In 2020, the show expanded its reach to independent and unsigned artists with ‘Selector Isolation Creations’ in the UK and the ‘Selector Competition’ in Wider Europe, which invited artists to share their music at a time when live performances and touring were restricted due to Covid-19.

The global ‘Selector at 20’ campaign will feature a livestream music event, curated and hosted by Jamz, showcasing brand new work from some of the UK’s most exciting new acts: grime from Nottingham’s DJ Snowy, one of Jamz’s ‘Ones to Watch’ in 2020; Leeds-based post-punks Yard Act, about to release their debut album and already ‘favourites’ of Elton John; recent BBC Radio 1 Artist-of-the Month Connie Constance, fresh from her first UK tour; and singer-songwriter Sans Soucis, bringing her unique blend of electronic, R&B and alt-pop.

The exclusive show, pre-recorded at music space Total Refreshment Centre in London, will be streamed live to the public at 6pm CET via YouTube Premiere on 24 November. Listeners can subscribe to the British Council’s Arts YouTube channel to watch here.

Other highlights of the ‘Selector at 20’ campaign include:

  • A special Spotify playlist showcasing show highlights from the past 20 years, including tracks from Dave, Arlo Parks and Gorillaz among other stars who first made their names on Selector  
  • Two new climate-focussed Selector Sessions, exploring sustainability in the music industry with artists linked to climate change, available on the British Council’s Arts YouTube channel and inspired by the British Council’s global initiative, The Climate Connection
  • Exclusive video content from Jamz providing tips for young people to break into radio, hosted across British Council social media channels (listed below)  

Cathy Graham, Director Music, British Council, said: “I’m very proud of the remarkable achievements of the British Council’s Music team and the UK’s exceptionally talented music sector as we celebrate Selector’s 20th anniversary. The programme has ensured that emerging voices who would not otherwise travel globally have been heard in a multitude of countries as diverse as Mexico, Cuba, Vietnam, Spain and China. It has done so each week for the past 20 years without exception. Selector has showcased countless artists, and steadily contributed to the British Council’s commitment of building relationships between the UK and the rest of the world. Happy birthday, and congratulations to every single person who has been involved in the Selector success story since its inception”.

Jamz Supernova, Selector Radio Presenter, said: “Presenting such a ground-breaking show as Selector, which truly has the power to change the music scene for the better, continues to be an honour. Reflecting on the past 20 years, I’m so grateful to have been a small part of Selector’s many great successes, from being nominated for awards to platforming musicians who went on to become household names. The next 20 years promises to be just as exciting, and I hope to be able to visit the global Selector family in person soon. Happy birthday Selector!”