The BBC cancelled its television coverage of the Laurence Olivier Awards after the 2003 prize-giving, which prompted a change of format for the UK’s most prestigious theatre awards, which are now held as a private function, with a formal black-tie, sit-down dinner at Grosvenor House Hotel (See News, 15 Jan 2004).

At the time, the official line was that the Beeb’s discontinuation of the dedicated Oliviers TV programme, which had been a staple since the early 1980s (prior to which television coverage was incorporated as part of a special arts series) was part of a wider review of arts programming, in which the corporation decided it wanted to limit its broadcast of one-off events.

But eight years later, the BBC is dipping its toe back into Olivier waters. Announced today, the Oliviers ceremony, held on Sunday 21 March 2010 and hosted by Anthony Head, will for the first time be broadcast live on BBC Radio 2. A special two-hour programme, presented by Radio 2’s Paul Gambaccini, will air from 8pm to 10pm, live from the Grosvenor House. Radio 2 coverage will include reactions from the winners and red carpet arrival interviews care of Jodie Prenger.

The radio tie-up comes on the back of news that the Oliviers website will also host live video streaming of the event for the first time this year. Perhaps with the BBC’s renewed interest, next year they’ll be back on mainstream television too.

Of course, you can always stay tuned to all things theatrical here on your favourite theatre website! Whatsonstage.com will be out in force for this year’s 34th annual Laurence Olivier Awards, with full coverage leading up to and including the big night itself...