But enough Dirty Harry digressions: of course, we are in the silly season. And we are always in the BBC bashing season. The two have now come together in a confected shitstorm over the Last Night Of The Proms, an occasion when a significant minority of the Gammonati pretend to know marginally more than Sweet Jack about classical music.
"Very light programme this morning ... please play this tune as though you never heard it before"
Sadly, for those who actually do know their classical music, almost all of this year’s Proms season - which the BBC has sponsored for decades - has been lost because of the Coronavirus pandemic. But a scaled-down Last Night will go ahead, with performers spaced well apart and no audience. What’s not for the TV audience to like?
Most likely very little, but the need to score sales and clicks, plus the iron law of the right wing press - bashing the Beeb at every opportunity - mean that there is outrage to whip up over the event. After the Times’ music critic wrote last month that pieces like Rule, Britannia! and Land of Hope and Glory were an anachronism, the fuse was lit.
And the charge was duly detonated by the Daily Brexit, still called the Express, yesterday as it thundered “FURY AT BBC BID TO AXE LAND OF HOPE AND GLORY”. But there was no such bid. No matter: breakfast shows were full of the story. Former Screws and Daily Mirror editor Piers Morgan worked himself up to the Gammon Max for the occasion.
Over at Murdoch property TalkRADIO, Julia Hartley Dooda invited the loathsome Toby Young to pass judgment, which he duly did in no style at all, claiming that the words to Rule, Britannia! were really about ending slavery. Sadly, the words were written almost a century before slavery was abolished. And they let him in to Oxford University.
Then came news that the programme for the Last Night would indeed include Rule, Britannia! and Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance March #1 (that’s Land of Hope and Glory, but without the words). There would also be Jerusalem, and Vaughan Williams’ The Lark Ascending. The Express was cheered: “BBC BACKS DOWN IN LAST NIGHT OF PROMS BATTLE … Land of Hope and Glory will stay after PM steps in”.
PM had not stepped in, the programme had clearly already been finalised, but details, eh? The increasingly desperate and downmarket Telegraph, though, was not placated. “BBC Proms row as it plays Rule, Britannia without the words”. And the Daily Mail, not for the first time, reverted to Full Dacre mode as its hacks climbed aboard the Spite Express.
“SURRENDER! It’s the patriotic finale to Last Night of the Proms. But now BBC says Rule Britannia won’t be sung this year - after row over ‘Britons never shall be slaves’ lyric”. One does not call the words to Rule, Britannia! lyrics. Also, this is total crap.
The whole point of the words being sung to Rule, Britannia! and Land of Hope and Glory at the Last Night is that it’s an audience participation thing. But there will not be an audience this year. This is a nothing story from a failing press. It should be treated accordingly.
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