Friday, 15 July 2011

The First Botch Of The Proms

Last year, 2010, in July I commented on the BBC Prom’s TV programming. Tonight the new season begins yet the botching of the TV work continues. The BBC now has six channels available, four in digital, 1, 2, 3 and 4 together with two HD channels. The HD are still random common screenings or repeats of those on the other four.

Tonight is The First Night, supposedly a Big Start. BBC1 is out, it does not fit the required market segments and nor does BBC3. So we have 2 or 4. But the Open Golf is on 2 and could possibly over run. Consequently, the Prom TV start is delayed from that in the Albert Hall and if the golf goes on will have to wait.

Meanwhile on BBC4, beginning at 7.30 we have the “Life of Peter Maxwell Davies”, a leading British composer. That this might constitute some kind of clash has escaped the programmers. To clash with the opposition may be a misfortune but to clash with yourself is carelessness.

It does not end there, because the TV running is short of the timing in the Hall by half an hour. Clearly the interval with the chat and comment is being dumped, but so is one of the pieces in first half.

Last year I did a full scale workout of all the barmy clashes and errors made in the TV programming and it was a very long list. Trust me; it is just as bad this year.

Yes the BBC have all these “managers”, layer upon layer going back to The Cretaceous. They have all the focus groups and the full battery of modern management and digital facilities.

Yet year after year they botch the basic TV programming and presentation of their major music festival that has a world market and a strong following in the UK. Last year this was the comment:


The 2010 Proms have begun. It took the BBC forty years after it took over this festival of music to begin broadcasting it in a regular and reliable fashion on the radio. It has taken even longer for the BBC to come to terms with this new fangled TV thing that has so upset their ordered universe.

At first the only TV item was the Last Night second part that was put on to feature Sir Malcolm Sargent, a celebrity conductor. One disastrous effect of this was to fasten a completely false image on a complicated and broad based music festival.

It was something that the BBC resolutely refused to shake off until very recently despite the evidence under their eyes. Yet another case of BBC image being totally at variance with the facts.

At present and in recent years with the BBC Proms team in tandem with R3 it has been possible to know what was happening and why on radio. Unluckily, when it comes to TV this falls into other hands. Too many of them with too many distinct organisational and internal political interests to be able to sort out what they are supposed to be doing and why.

The TV programming has become a hit and miss business that both ignores its audience and the real purpose of the festival. This year it is a Mahler anniversary and there is a big Mahler audience out there, not only in the UK but internationally. When you see the grotesque mess they have made of this it is astonishing.

Tonight we will skip the TV and stick to the steam radio.

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