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Radio 2 fans get ready to roll up for reggae show

Listeners to BBC Radio 2 are to sample the ganja-scented atmosphere of the reggae dancehall for the first time when the station launches a late-night, weekly "spliff hour".

The 11pm shows will celebrate the "best in reggae, roots, ska and rocksteady from the Sixties to the present day". David Rodigan, 60, the recognised authority in reggae broadcasting, will present the shows, which begin on Thursday night.

The programmes might startle Radio 2 listeners more used to tuning in for shows such as Nigel Ogden's The Organist Entertains. Rodigan, who began broadcasting his Roots Rocker shows on Capital Radio in 1979, has agreed not to drop the heaviest instrumental "dub plates" into the early programmes.

"I did give some thought about playing some of that but I have to be careful," the DJ told The Independent. "I don't want to frighten the horses. If you go too heavy, you might alienate casual listeners.

"I'll be taking the audience through reggae's original form of ska, to bluebeat and rocksteady," he added. "We'll be playing Prince Buster and the sound of Trojan Records."

While it does not condone drug use, the BBC accepts that some listeners will choose to accompany the late-night shows by smoking something pungent.

"These are going to be programmes for chilled-out audiences," Rodigan promised. "I'm not about to play anything that has a 'medicinal' suggestion. There are guidelines."

Rodigan, a white English DJ, became "hooked on reggae" after hearing Millie Small's "My Boy Lollipop" as a schoolboy when it was released in 1964.