Tuesday, 5 June 2012

The Jubilee - Part 1

Dear Reader, 

Being British I have been enjoying a longer than normal weekend courtesy of the Queen. She has officially inhabited the throne for sixty years and thus there must be a diamond jubilee. As a result we get an extra two days holiday to enjoy the festivities. There were many festivities, not all of which I managed to observe, but sat in front of the TV, I certainly observed some. Given the occasion, it only seems right that I share some of my observations.

I considered venturing into the metropolis that is London for this. As it turned out, the weather on the day was atrocious so I declined. Instead myself and the Dear Lady Wife strapped ourselves in on the sofa and prepared for what was to come.

For those who don't know the pageant was water-based. A thousand boats, of varying size and purpose would make their way down the Thames, pass the Queen, salute and move on. It was a wonderful idea, it was spectacular, it was covered, in spectacular fashion, by the BBC.

This was the big idea.
The BBC tend to make this sort of event their own. They had reporters on every bridge, boat and vantage point they could think of along with an anchor team in the studio. Everything seemed to be planned to within an inch of its' life, but this is live television, 4.5 hours of it, something was bound to go wrong. Of course, this is part of the fun.
This was what it looked liked, not bad, not bad.
An insight into the life of a BBC live event director follows...

Director: "Pan to Westminster Bridge where someone isn't ready and in position, no, switch to that small barge thing with Chris on it, what do you mean he can't hear us? OK, go to Anneka who is on the art bridge, what do you mean they have all packed up because of the rain? Oh for christ sake. Fine, move to Clare, can she hear us, she can! Do it, focus."
Clare Balding [conducting an interview, sound feed entirely obliterated by the horn of a large boat]: ""
Director: "Well that's no good is it? Right, back to the studio... I don't care if they are not ready they will just have to fill until someone else can talk to us. Where the feck is Griff Rhys-Jones?"
Studio: Picture of two presenters stone-faced not knowing they are on camera.
Director: "THEY ARE LIVE! Someone tell them, oh my God, get me another coffee."
Studio: "Ah, it would appear there have been a couple of technical problems with the fourteen live broadcasts we just tried to provide you with over the last ten minutes. Sorry about that. Did you know it it the Queens' Jubilee? They are releasing a thousand ducks into the Thames to celebrate."
Director: "BOATS, NOT DUCKS. Christ alive, where do we get these people from? Do they not read the script at least once before they stare into the camera like a pair of paralysed goats?"
Studio: "Of course I was joking, when I said ducks I meant goats..."
Director: "BOOOAAATTTSSS!!!"
Studio: "Ahem, boats, thousands of boats are being released into the river as we speak."

And so it went on, much to our amusement. I believe, if you squint at Tower Bridge from a certain angle you will be able to see the entrails of the BBC Live Event Director now displayed for all to see, very traditional (and completely made-up).

The BBC blamed the weather, and there certainly was some, quite a lot in fact. It wasn't just me who found the coverage a little lame, as this article attests. 

This day wasn't about the coverage though, it was about the Queen, who for the best part of two hours, at the tender age of 86, stood in the pouring rain (granted under a royally appointed gazebo) waving at the fruits of two years worth of planning. There were to be several crescendos to this event (or wow moments if the BBC were to be believed) including helicopters flying in a diamond formation, cancelled due to the weather. A Red Arrows fly-past, cancelled due to the weather. A number of historic smaller planes flying past, cancelled due to the weather.

This left the Philly, otherwise known as the London Philharmonic Orchestra who were bringing up the rear of the flotilla. They, ably accompanied by Royal College of Music Chamber Choir, swung round to play and sing a number of rousing classics at the Royal party. The Philly, had sensibly, camped out in the lower, covered portion of the boat. The Chamber Choir, without any precious instruments to protect, had drawn the short straw and stayed outside. My heart goes out to them, especially the girls. Dressed in their finest black evening wear, with hair that I am sure, four hours earlier looked fabulous, were presented to ten million plus people on what could be the single greatest stage of their lives, as drowned rats. This link encapsulates the rather damp, but all the same rousing finale.

Bless their cottons, watch the video, they were amazing, if a little bedraggled.

One hopes your day was not too damp Dear Reader, if I am really lucky, I will return tomorrow with day two.

More soon Dear Reader.


PS: It's probably worth mentioning in the same breath as this post that the Philly are booked to do something at the opening of the London Olympics. As with all things related to the Olympics, there is a committee, on this occasion called LOCOG. They say that the Philly can't play live, regardless of their play live in any situation credentials, amply illustrated above. One would hope that sanity is allowed a breath of fresh air in that particular argument.  


  1. The Chamber Choir were indeed at there best. it would not have been the same if they were neat and dry and gave the appearance of effortlessness in there task. But us plucky brits when faced with the cold wet driving rain of a classic British spring/summer are indeed at our best.

    And if you think the weather was bad for that just wait till the Olympics when British rail and the BBC may be forced to announce, it is the wrong sort of rain.

  2. Oh, yes there will be submarines on the Underground and everything. At least the "drought" appears to be over, so there will be enough water to fill the swimming pools. Wouldn't fancy high-diving without that, wouldn't fancy high-diving at all in-fact, scare the willies out of me :)

  3. I really like the content you had shared..It's good that The BBC blamed the weather, and there certainly was some, quite a lot in fact.