I’m starting with a disclaimer: I err on the side of republican. Ask me for my favourite royal, and I will tell you “Jersey”.
But putting spuds-I-like aside, I can appreciate the recent Jubilee marked a historical, emotional and joyous moment for many, especially the nation’s oft-neglected bunting manufacturers.
A shame then, that more than 4,000 people felt their enjoyment had been so incontrovertibly hampered, they were compelled to pen their distress.
And what abhorrence stimulated a greater reaction than a council election in Ladywood? Fearne Cotton. Fearne Cotton was that abhorrence.
Now, I can’t pretend to be a fan of Fearne: I’ve previously described her and her Radio One colleague Greg James as “two imbeciles in a fruitless search for a point”. But, throughout the UK media, she and her fellow Jubilee presenters on the nation’s broadcaster have been so roundly castigated, they could be mistaken for the pasty tax.
Yes, the BBC has found itself in the firing line of a right royal 21 gun salute, with national print news editors wielding the weaponry.
The BBC has received a slating for a supposedly disrespectful approach to the Jubilee, in particular the River Thames pageant. With the usual lack of camaraderie shown by the British media, the national press has taken turns in beating the Beeb as if it were a piñata. The midmarket tabloids have raged about the use of presenters under the age of the Queen herself; one red-top fumed that the Jubilee was for “a different sort of person they don’t much respect and don’t much like”; even one of the broadsheets representing the views of politically Left (the ideological stance the BBC is usually accused of being biased towards) reported that Jubilee composers “condemned” the BBC coverage.
Some of the more sober national headlines included “The BBC got the pageant so wrong because it holds those who love the royals in contempt”, “Biased & Botched Coverage” and “The BBC Ate One’s Jubilee Hamster”.
It’s the latest example of the national press trying to lobby for changes in our national broadcaster’s strategic direction, power and influence – a Beeb reduction, if you will. Like the preceding ‘Sachsgate’ storm-in-a-thimble, the press have collectively taken a modicum of outrage (the Jubilee coverage has attracted 4,500 complaints to date, a miniscule percentage of a 10.3 million audience) as a reason to call for change in the BBC – perfectly timed in a week that candidates for the BBC director general post are being interviewed.
The criticism over Jubilee coverage, however, is arguably unfair. Firstly, there was no way the BBC could please everyone. For the serious monarchist, there was never going to be enough emphasis on the constitutional aspects of the unfolding events. No doubt the BBC was right in this instance: better the day was treated with a light touch, than risk the harrowing possibility of an apoplectic Jeremy Paxman cornering an innocent pack of cub scouts for their failure to understand the correct protocol for addressing the royal corgi.