On Friday evening we were on BBC4 TV although you had to be very fast and to know precisely where to look to catch a glimpse. It was the 7.30 programme running the Mozart Piano Concerto No. 23 from The Proms of 2006 and we were in The Arena with the other great unwashed.
Checking the diary I was reminded that it was one of those nights when the train broke down on the way home. It could have made a TV programme, “Homeless At Hither Green” with a mob of people who were far from happy with their lot.
For years it has been impossible to understand the management of the TV relays from The Proms. Radio 3 have done a reliable capable job in covering all of them and has great experience. But why the BBC could not combine its radio coverage with the different TV channels deployed is a mystery.
To put it commercially, The Proms are a premium product, flagship and major event and the rest. Yet the TV coverage hops about from channel to channel, with cut and shuffle and little rational explanation of why these few things are covered but not others. Some of those ignored would certainly command a wide audience.
Even that untypical and unrepresentative Last Night is split between two channels. This may have been logical in the 1970’s but has become less and less so down the decades. In the age of the internet when it is possible to put all live on screen and world wide the BBC still fumbles and bumbles its coverage.
Worse still, the archive containing many rare and wonderful items is inaccessible and unused save for bits and pieces that turn up in other programmes or the odd one or two that have escaped and are seen on satellite channels. There is one of the worlds great music archives here, if not the greatest and it is better hidden than a Pharaoh’s tomb from a lost dynasty.
What is strange and we have been at many Proms is that during a season the BBC are constantly coming and going to do the few that are screened. All the kit need for a performance comes in, goes out and then another lot or the same lot returns a few days later. Merry go round it may be but by no stretch of the imagination is it management.
Given this example of BBC organisation, or rather disorganisation going on, literally under my nose, it is no surprise to discover that in other areas of its activity things do not happen as they might or as they should. Nor that what does happen is difficult to explain.
Yet this is a state entity, substantially funded by a form of poll tax. But today, there seem to be an increasing number of people who avoid it. It has survived as it is largely because it is main media entwined with our political and governmental bodies and other central media like snakes in a barrel.
And all the snakes have started to bite.