Tuesday 20 July 2010

BBC Proms, Losing The Chord And The Picture

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.

For those that they do record or broadcast do not worry about when you might ever hear them again. Barely anything will ever appear on DVD or CD or other channels and any repeats will be scant. They will disappear into the bottomless pit of the BBC Archives lost to any of mankind and hidden from public sight and hearing forever more.

If you want to see how not to televise a major festival for the audience that is likely to watch it or others who might wish to try, then read below and wonder. Remember there are large numbers of highly qualified very expensive people organising and arranging this who have had more management training between them than had the entire population of Britain before 1980.

It is listed by the Prom number where TV is involved and DS is delayed start and NTG is no time given.

1 Live on BBC2 and HD
2 Live DS,
4 recorded for showing on BBC2 on the date of Prom 10 (Dr. Who) but NTG
6 recorded for showing on BBC4 at 4-7.30 on the date of Prom 9 which starts at 7.30.
8 Live on BBC 4
10 (Dr. Who) recording for showing on BBC3, “future broadcast”.
16 Live DS on BBC 4
18 Live on BBC 4
19 Live DS on BBC2
24 Mahler 3 recorded for showing on the date of Prom 26 on BBC4 directly clashing with the R3 broadcast of Mahler 4 and 5.
26 Mahler 4 and 5 recorded for showing on the date of Prom 29 NTG only with one on screen and one on the “red button” indicating that the full Prom will not be broadcast. Prom 29 (also below) is the National Youth Orchestra.
27 Live DS on BBC4
29 National Youth Orchestra, recorded for showing on the date of Prom 48 on BBC2, NTG which is the date for the Rotterdam Phil’ whose programme includes Mahler and which will attract an audience similar to that for Prom 29.
37 Live on BBC4
38 and 39 on what is Bach Day. Three Brandenburg Concerto’s at the Cadogan Hall will not be shown live or recorded. Another three later will be recorded at the Cadogan Hall for showing later in the day NTG. Prom 38 5-6.00 in the Albert Hall will not be recorded or shown live, but Prom 39 will be Live on BBC2.
42 recorded for showing on BBC 4 at 4-7.30 on the date of Prom 45 which begins on R3 at 7.30.
46 Live DS
49 (Rodgers & Hammerstein) recorded for showing on BBC2 NTG on the date of Prom 57 which has Beethoven’s 9 Choral Symphony.
54 Live DS on BBC4
55 Late Night following Prom 54 on the same date, recorded for showing on the date of Prom 56 on BBC4 at 7.30 when it clashes directly with the R3 broadcast of Shostakovich and Bruckner.
62. More Mahler plus Bruckner recorded for showing on BBC4 at 4-7.30 the date of Prom 65 which starts at 7.30 and features Simon Rattle with the Berlin Phil’ doing Beethoven and Mahler 1, which is not being shown live or recorded.
63 Live DS.
66.Live DS
67 The programme for the Last Night of 1910 running from 2.30 to 6.00 recorded for showing on BBC4 at 7.30 on the date of Prom 74 clashing directly with that and the R3 broadcast.
75. Live
76 The Last Night, first part for the intellectuals on BBC2, the second for the heaving masses on BBC1, with clipped in jollies from here and there. Other parallel Proms may be shown on BBC4 or regional, but who knows?

Enough, enough, I have begun to gibber and need cold compresses.

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