In September 1986 a new programme called The Bottom Line presented by Mike Edgar made its debut on BBC Radio Ulster. The programme was an early champion of new music from Northern Ireland and wider afield, often giving bands and artists their first radio play, interview or live performance.
Fast-forward to 2016 and the programme is now the long-running award winning Across The Line - BBC Radio Ulster’s home for new and emerging music.
To mark three decades of the programme both on radio and TV a special one-hour documentary for BBC One Northern Ireland charts the history of the show through a mix of interviews, superb archive and new bespoke performances.
Across The Line At 30 is on BBC One Northern Ireland on Monday 12 December at 10.40pm. Narrated by Colin Murray, the film features fresh interviews with some of rock and roll’s biggest names sharing their memories of the programme and how it helped define the sound of Northern Ireland over four decades. Interviewees include U2’s Adam Clayton, Snow Patrol’s Gary Lightbody, Neil Hannon from Divine Comedy, Therapy?, The 4 Of Us, Ash and singer/songwriter David Gray.
The programme also talks to Mike Edgar, original presenter and long-time producer, alongside the team that led the way towards its successful longevity – including Davy Sims, Donna Legge, Barry McIheney, Mary Carson, Paul McClean, and the programme’s current presenters Rigsy and Stuart Bailie.
Across the Line (originally known as The Bottom Line) presented by Mike Edgar started life on September 8 1986 on BBC Radio Ulster. After a few years the programme also moved onto BBC National Radio Five.
The programme was BBC Northern Ireland’s first weekly network radio programme championing new music from Northern Ireland. Indeed the programme had many firsts in that it was the first programme in Northern Ireland to stereo simulcast live concerts on television and radio; the first programme to broadcast concerts from Northern Ireland visually on the internet and radio; and as the world moved into the digital era, the programme even played the first compact disc to be heard on the BBC Radio Ulster airwaves in Northern Ireland.
The programme is widely credited for its friendship and support in the early days of Ash, Snow Patrol, Divine Comedy, The Four of Us, Therapy?, Hothouse Flowers, Two Door Cinema Club and many more.
The Across the Line radio team also made the transition to television in the 90’s with Across the Line’s sister TV programme, Beyond the Line, and produced the legendary Irish Rock and Pop Awards attracting some of the biggest names in music to Belfast. Later, under producers Feargal O’Kane and Paul McClean, Across the Line’s television ambitions grew further with new music series such as ATL TV, ATL Rockschool, ATL ViTal and bespoke music specials.