BBC now has two classes of Proms queues

BBC now has two classes of Proms queues


norman lebrecht

August 30, 2017

From a letter to the Guardian:

For over 100 years you could queue up for the arena or the gallery at the Albert Hall, taking your chances to see great music at a budget price; one of the best cultural deals in London, if not the world. Now those who go online can “pre-book” for a “small fee” and go into a guaranteed access queue, leaving ordinary Promenaders to take their chances for the leftovers in a second queue.

And they have raised the price from £5 to £6.



  • Prommer says:

    This is nothing to do with the BBC as you well know. They do not manage the queue for the Proms or the bookings. The new system increases access to concerts which are already very accessible. I cannot see anything wrong with this. And the price has been £6 since 2016. Other than these points, this is an excellent piece of journalism.

  • Halldor says:

    What Prommer said. It’s always seemed odd to me that the on-the-day tickets are so often held up as the epitome of the Proms’ “accessibility” when in fact they’re the most exclusive part of the whole enterprise – only available to those who live close enough to central London to get there sufficiently far in advance, and who have the leisure to queue. (And quite apart from the stories one hears of some Arena regulars “policing” the behaviour of newcomers, and behaving in an unwelcoming and cliquey fashion). This sounds more fair, and more genuinely accessible, in every way.

    • Craig says:

      Quite right. I have abandoned the Arena permanently firstly because of this very distracting shushing behaviour, much more so than the shushees, and secondly because even in my late 20s I find standing for long pieces very uncomfortable (Gurrelieder absolutely wrecked me a couple of weeks ago). Standing in a queue all afternoon in addition to this just seems like too much. Pre-purchased gallery for me from now on, much more chilled up there.

      • Una Barry says:

        Perhaps you should get a £7 to £10 seat and avoid standing? I stood last night for Titus and queued, and I’m your age multiplied by more than 2, and I live in Yorkshire!

      • SVM says:

        I find Craig’s impression to be most erroneous. I used to do the day queue for the Arena quite regularly (so much so that some of the season-ticket holders mistook me for one of their own) until a couple of years ago, and I stopped going because I had become disillusioned with the anarchy of the audience behaviour in the Arena. In other words, the experience had become inaccessible to me because some members of the audience were intolerably distracting (taking photographs, texting, playing on a games console, eating, drinking, whispering, &c. *during* the music). Given that context, I would say that if some of the regulars have since become more forthright in their “shushing”, that is most welcome.

        I am sick and tired of people going on about “accessibility” without considering those who want to enjoy the music in peace, and how *inaccessible* so many concerts have become for us as a result of such a /laissez-faire/ attitude. The nadir has to be the time when one person had the nerve to accuse me of being “rude” because I had pushed her camera (without in any way touching her) downwards (without causing her to lose hold of it and without causing any damage) to prevent her taking a photograph during the music. Upon pointing out to her that photography is prohibited (as had been announced prior to the concert), she suggested that I could have “talked” to her to explain that, in response to which I pointed that that this would have been impossible *during* the music.

        As for this new online initiative, it rather defeats the point of the “turning up on the day” spirit of the Arena and Gallery tickets. It discriminates against those travelling from outside London just as much as the previous system, with the additional effect of privileging those who have internet access on the move. If the reason is “security”, that is just absurd — if (as “Music Lover” below suggests) the police cannot cope with a peaceful queue forming on a plentifully wide pavement of a public highway in an organised and predictable manner, why do we pay our taxes?

        If it were not for the fact that I already do not bother for the reasons set out in the first paragraph, I would propose a boycott of the online system — it is rotten, and does indeed remind (as Una Barry suggests) one of Ryanair.

        • Music Lover says:

          Actually, its not about keeping the queue in order. Following recent events in this country and abroad it appears that the Met and Westminster Council do not want large groups of people congregating for hours on end outside the hall.

          This is also the reason that the hall is now surrounded by concrete bollards which will be staying there after the proms season comes to an end. You can now arrive, collect a queue ticket and then leave. The lines assemble 1 hour and 15 minutes before the concert begins. So even if you turn up on the day ‘as normal’ you don;t need to stand in line. I think there is some confusion here about online tickets and an abolition of queues. They are two different issues.

          I totally support your comments regarding the use of phones and talking during the concerts. But I do believe that the BBC and the hall are moving with the times regarding tickets. Even the arena heavies don’t sit outside the hall every day anymore! And lets not forget, its not an unlimited number of online tickets that are sold, its actually a very small allocation.

  • What Prommer and Halldor said.

    In my opinion, this new rule definitely makes the Proms more attractive and accessible to the general public living outside London.

    I just want to know the quota ratio between online booking and the local box office. If they always reserve a reasonable amount of tickets for spontaneous concert-goers, then I don’t see a problem here.

    • Una Barry says:

      Sounds like priority booking and Ryan Air. In tge 51 years I have been going to the Proms, about 38 years,were spent proming, and never Did I not het in. Granted I lived in London in those days until five years,ago, and now only Prom if I can’t get a seat as it’s not that much more to do so.

      • Music Lover says:

        I have known plenty people not able to get in if they have been at work or unable to get to the hall before 6pm. This new system allows those people to do so. If it allows more music lovers access to one of the greatest festivals in the world I am all for it.

        The Albert hall was instructed by the met not to have lines of people outside the hall all day this year, hence the new system.

        Let’s not forget that these ticket holders are just joining the season ticket line which has always been there.

  • Music Lover says:

    There are never more than 50 online tickets sold (certainly for the gallery). There is no queuing during the day for security reasons. This if anything opens up the festival to more people. If you are working you can now buy online an still enjoy the tremendous atmosphere of promming.

    What is a problem for the few is greatly appreciated by others. There are frankly worse things in life to be worried about.

    Enjoy the music folks.