“MAGGIE DEAD”, screamed The Sun.
“REJOICE!”, cried the Socialist Worker.
“Margaret Thatcher: 1925–2013”, led The Times, The Telegraph, and The Independent with rather more dignity.
News last Monday of the death of the former British Prime Minister started it all: a week in which the public were accused of bad taste, broadcasters were accused of bias, and (in my opinion) the state massively overstepped the mark.
Above it all, one phrase was used over and over again: that Baroness Thatcher is proving as divisive in death as she was in life.
What a poetic observation. And how witty. It’s all awfully clever.
But there’s something very unpleasant, I feel, about celebrating the death of somebody… anybody. Sure, she may have snatched the milk from a generation. And she may have ‘ripped the heart out of society’. Don’t mention the trade unions.
I’m sat on the bank of the River Avon in Warwickshire, on a glorious June afternoon. There’s the sounds of oars splashing in the water, children laughing, and a man ordering an ice-cream. Surrounding me are a large number of families and groups of friends, mostly sat on car-rugs enjoying picnics. A dog has just run past me, chasing his master on a bicycle. What’s wonderful is the vibrancy; so many people enjoying themselves and making the most of the weather. I am, of course, in Stratford: a town that owes so much to one of its former residents. It’s a fantastically English town and its high street still maintains several Tudor (and even more mock-Tudor) houses. Yet amid the old, the marvellously new: the stunning, newly-rebuilt Royal Shakespeare Theatre. It took four years to gut and rebuild both the Royal Shakespeare and the Swan theatres – at a cost of £122 million – but at last, the work is complete.
“I was the programme editor on the [2010 general] election and I thought that was big, but in terms of a UK broadcast event, the scale of the wedding will be unprecedented.”
— Ian Rumsey, director, ITV Daybreak
As a lad fascinated by media (through a family friend I’ve bagged myself a work experience placement at Virgin Media this summer – sorry Nick), I find it genuinely interesting – perhaps more than the impending wedding itself. I envy the people who are being paid to cover the events – I’d do it for free, Helen! That said, a tremendous responsibility lies on them. They are reporting the biggest wedding in history to the eyes and ears of an estimated two billion people across the globe.
I saw a great piece by the BBC’s excellent Nick Higham discussing the multitude of makeshift studios that have popped up around the capital. The most prominent of these (and with the best backdrop) are in front of Buckingham Palace. The BBC’s booked four of the studios for itself, but smaller European broadcasters are booking 20 minute slots in a shared one. Still, it’s not surprising they can’t afford a whole one – at £60,000 a pop, they’re not cheap. Strangely, the BBC’s allegedly even planning to allocate one to its radio people, and its audience don’t even get the view!
It’s an exciting time for all; I just can’t wait to see what our faithful Beeb brings us on 29 April!