Poor Jubilee coverage from the BBC
Over the years, the general public have learnt to expect exceptional live coverage from the BBC. Its broadcasts from Wimbledon have always been nothing short of first-class, it handled the royal wedding with ease, and Proms always inspires and educates its audiences in equal measure.
The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee has been one of the most highly anticipated events of 2012. The BBC has presented it as such. And yet, the BBC did not live up to its reputation and provided sub-standard, celebrity presenter-driven nonsense, not in-keeping with the marvelous event.
The Thames flotilla was an impressive sight, with small rowing boats to larger elaborately decorated vessels, to the wonderful royal boat. When the BBC’s cameras focused on the river, they showed an amazing sight of boats stretching across the full width of the Thames. The weather was poor, but it was nonetheless incredibly enjoyable to watch.
The BBC, however, sadly lost the plot during much of its coverage.
There were technical problems, particularly with the music from the London Philharmonic Orchestra towards the end of the event. Huw Edwards said the weather interfered with the technology. This should not excuse the fact that the Beeb should have been all too aware of the possibility of rain, and made sure their technology was well-protected to enable excellent, consistent coverage. It rains every year at Wimbledon, but they successfully handle their sound and video quality then.
From the start, the BBC made sure its favourite presenters were in prime positions, including Sophie Raworth, Matt Baker, Tess Daley and Alex Jones. Indeed, they did what they were instructed to do. Unfortunately, these instructions involved interviewing the parents of Jubilee babies, a discussion of coronation chicken, and constant ramblings about the rain.
There were some truly wonderful boats on the Thames, including one manned by Sir Matthew Pinsent, Sir Steve Redgrave and disabled servicemen and women, which Clare Balding wonderfully introduced. These moments, on board this boat, highlighted what the Jubilee was supposed to be about; stories. Yes, there is the story of the Queen and the royal family. But underlying that, were the stories of Great Britain. Those rowing and sailing down the Thames each had their own stories. Stories were largely neglected in favour for the BBC’s presenters each getting some pointless and needless air time.
It would have been impossible for the BBC to have a camera on every boat. But it would not have been impossible for them to have done some research on the people on-board the boats and even carrying out some interviews with them over the last few weeks to fill spaces during their coverage. It would have been fascinating to hear the stories of the injured servicemen and women, for example. To hear the horrors they faced in Iraq or Afghanistan and to learn why they were selected to row down the Thames for the Jubilee. They probably could have even cut to a few clips of the Queen down the years without taking away from the atmosphere.
It would have taken more time and effort than sending a few comedian onto a boat to crack a few awful jokes, but it would have been befitting of the event and made it more engaging.
The commentary was equally awful, and even Stephen Fry commented on it.
Has the BBC ever presented a more mind-numbingly tedious programme in its history? “HRH the queen” said the first ignorant presenter. HRH?
— Stephen Fry (@stephenfry) June 3, 2012
In truth, the commentators were filling gaps and had nothing to say. Instead, the audience were consistently and reliably informed that it was raining, and that it was a spectacular event.
One commentator even had the gall to say that the only way you could appreciate the atmosphere was to actually be there, in London. It seems they didn’t believe they were capable of conveying the atmosphere to their television audience, and instead indicated that perhaps the audience shouldn’t even bother with their coverage at all.
As the Orchestra boat reached Tower Bridge, we were reliably informed that they had been playing all afternoon. Had they? Really? The BBC only allowed us to glimpse that boat once until it got to Tower Bridge. It would have been wonderful to cut out some of the presenters’ constant chatter and replace it with the wonderful sounds of the London Philharmonic Orchestra.
A spokesman for the BBC said: ‘We’re very proud of the quality and breadth of the BBC’s coverage of this extraordinary event.’
Unfortunately, they have very little to be proud of. Large numbers of people indicated on Twitter than they had switched from the BBC to Sky.
The BBC simply believed its own hype. It believed its presenters were more important than the stories of ordinary people rowing down the Thames. They chose cheap gimmicks over making the effort to do some research.
They need to up their game before the Olympics start, because then, there will be no Sky for the audience to turn to.