Those with memories longer than a politician’s promise will recall a time when the launch of the BBC Proms was a feast of wit and wisdom, delivered without notes and with a sparkle in the eye.
So it was under every controller since 1985 – first John Drummond, then Nick Kenyon and, until last year, Roger Wright. Sadly, no more.
The new head of Radio 3, Alan Davey, who has general responsibility for the Proms, began his address as follows: ‘This morning, as I was in my bath….’ A room full of artists, writers and managers cringed with embarrassment.
He continued: ‘… I realised that I had been at the BBC for 100 days and can now call myself a broadcaster.’
It got worse. From that point on, Davey read his introductory notes from a text in front of him. It was dreary, flat and unilluminating, adding nothing to the sum of public entertainment. The cringing intensified.
Edward Blakeman, who programmed the 2015 Proms season, tried to add a note of levity by referring to himself and Davey as Morecambe and Wise, or perhaps Ant and Dec. The attempted joke splattered like a rotten egg on a windowpane.
This was the glummest Proms launch in three decades.