Tales from the Cultural Wilderness - Journal

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2002-04-03 Entry: "Death Of A Queen"

I braved Reading Saturday morning, and, as I'd guessed, everyone else decided it was a good day to do something else, so the traffic (and crowds) were bearable. Stocking up on blank CDs (and carry cases), followed by a trip to PC World for more CDs (not for me this time), and still back early afternoon for the Grand Prix qualifying.

Foraging for food saw home delivered pizza, again. This is becoming a bit too much of a habit, but it is damned convenient. The pizza was followed by Sleepwalkers, which would have been fine if the Sci-Fi channel hadn't kept putting up a big "Newsflash - turn to a news channel to see what we're on about" message every five minutes. And note that they only showed this during the programme. Nothing was mentioned during breaks, or over adverts. Shows what they think of their own programming.

Anyway, I flicked over to the BBC, thinking if the Sci-Fi channel were plugging a news flash, the BBC must have some coverage. Well, they had - in fact, three of the terrestrial channels had suspended regular programming for the forseeable future. And all because we'd lost a queen. Well, okay, she hadn't been a queen for quite a few years now, but she still, allegedly, held a special place in the hearts of the nation.

My initial reaction to the news was "Oh no! It's going to be like Diana," but I was pleasantly surprised. Not only had we only lost three channels (BBC 1, ITV, and Channel 5), but Channel 5 went back to normal programming after about an hour. As there's nothing watchable on BBC 1 or ITV on a Saturday night anyway, I didn't actually notice when they went back to regular programmes.

Meanwhile I stayed with Sci-Fi, and ten minutes later, there was another big "Newsflash" plastered across the programme. Slightly annoyed at this point, I flicked over, and quickly commented to siblings "No, she's still dead!" Sci-Fi proceeded to stick up the newsflash every ten minutes throughout the programme, without fail. And amazingly, the news didn't change. She was as dead after the last "Newsflash" as she was after the first one.

Now, the above may give the impression that I don't care. That's not entirely true. The monarchy are important to this country, and this is another nail in their coffin - television coverage wasn't extensive, there aren't any of them left with decent public presence, and a lot of people have come out complaining at the amount of TV coverage it did get. The last thing I want to see is this country give up its monarchy and become a republic (which seems to be the only alternative). Becoming a republic necessitates the election of a President, and we've got enough of that with Fozzy Blair in power at the moment. We don't need to make his style of government the norm instead of a horrible aberration.

And, having bounced around channels throughout the evening, I felt coverage was about right. The two main channels stayed with the non-news of her death (it's not as if it was surprising - she was 100 and something), while the other three carried on with their usual eclectic mix. This was a vast improvement over the Diana debacle. That day we lost all five channels for about twelve hours, which was totally unacceptable for the death of an ex-royal. If Diana, why not Dudley Moore (who was probably more useful to the world)? I'm guessing we won't have to put up with some terrible rewrite of a reasonably good Elton John song for this one though!

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