BBC names artists ‘ who will be brought to the fore’

BBC names artists ‘ who will be brought to the fore’


norman lebrecht

July 05, 2019

A wierd piece of policy making in today’s BBC Proms press release:

Jess Gillam, star of the 2018 Last Night of the Proms to go from stage to screen as she joins the BBC Proms television presenting line-up alongside Katie Derham, Suzy Klein and Tom Service.

– Clara Amfo, Cerys Matthews, Isata Kanneh Mason and Kwame Ryan to make their BBC Proms presenting debuts, alongside returning presenters Danielle de Niese and Petroc Trelawny.

– Isata Kanneh-Mason to make her TV presenting debut on the Prom in which her brother, cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason is the soloist in Elgar’s Cello Concerto.

– Nicola Benedetti, Fatma Said and Omer Meir Wellber confirmed as being amongst the musicians who will be brought to the fore across TV coverage, as more performers from the festival than ever before join presenters to provide their unique insight.

I have doubts about using performers as presenters.

It’s unfair promotion, a potential conflict of interest and a double act not many can sustain – like making love and watching themselves at the same time. Articulate as they may be, no artist is going to be full and frank about music and musicians. They have too much to lose.

The BBC has replaced informed comment on the Proms with tinsel and platitudes.


  • Caravaggio says:

    So true. I am reminded of the dreadful Metropolitan Opera in HD singer to singer interviews that are nothing but shallow, self promoting and nauseating. And stupid too often.

  • Pianofortissimo says:

    Or as a certain regular commentator in SD uses to write: ’Shut up and play!’

  • Maria says:

    The Americans use high flyers for presenting their operas to the worldwide Cinema from the Met
    – Deborah Voigt, Susan Graham, Renee Fleming, Christopher Maltman, Joyce DiDonato spring to mind. They work well but the culture and the level of confidence are so totally diffferent over there. But I can’t see our lot being so successful and looking awkward as it often appears when performers here are better at performing. All a load of something that doesn’t quite fit and a bit of a PC move as ‘auntie’ is so good at doing at times! You only have to look at the pairings of presenters, the card reading and the trying to make it all accessible to.people who aren’t actually musical morons on BBCTV4, the minority TV channel and late at night! What happened to the Katy Derhams and Alan Titchmarshs?

  • M McAlpine says:

    It is the idiocy of the BBC that they use singers – who are often a pain as presenters – rather than people who can actually do the job. This numbskull approach is driven by the fact they seem to think that celebrities attract audiences whereas they just put people off with their insane chatter.

    • Una Barry says:

      We are in a celebrity age, I’m afraid, and all Hello and OK readers, and distracting frocks as well! Ha, ha!

  • Anon. says:

    Well, Tom Service, will immediately make me turn off! For years the BBC had a dream team of Stephanie Hughes (whatever happened to her?), James Naughtie and latterly Charles Hazelwood. Bring them back I say!

    • Una says:

      Jim Naughtie really couldn’t stand the Promenaders by his reactions and used to get irritated rather than laugh at them or join in the fun. He was better on the Today Programme on Radio 4, and the one who famously and accidentally called Jeremy Hunt, Jeremy *unt before the 8 o’clock news one morning, which I heard live, and had the nation choke on their Cornflakes. Charles Hazelwood was okay but then another performing musician but at least he wasn’t a celebrity. You need people who understand teh culture of the Proms, and you need people who don’t just read thea autocues or bits of cards like you’d read the shipping forecast, and all the PC that does with it as well. It really is all tinsel and platitudes. Those who turn on BBC4 late at night know what they’re going to listen to or turn off – hardly a fraction of the country unless it’s the Last Night!

  • christopher storey says:

    It is grossly unfair ( but entirely typical of the BBC ) to force very young musicians into a “presenting” role . The disastrous consequences can already be seen with Jess Gillam in a Saturday Radio 3 programme which is quite excruciatingly embarrassing . I have no idea who Danielle de Niesse is, but at least we are forewarned when she is teamed up with Derham, Klein and Service

    • Robert Groen says:

      Danielle de Niese is a very accomplished opera singer, specializing in the likes of Monteverdi, Handel, Mozart and their near contemporaries. She is blessed with a beautiful voice and (never a bad thing if you’re playing Poppaea one evening and Aminta in IL Re Pastore the next) considerable physical beauty as well. Yes, I know, I know…

      I can see no reason why she shouldn’t be an interesting addition to the Katie Derham/Suzie Klein team

    • John Sorel says:

      Danielle de Niese is the future Lady Christie. She can be seen in 2 of the 3 Glyndebourne operas being live-streamed for free by the Daily Telegraph this summer. She created the role of Cleopatra in David McVicar’s production of Giulio Cesare in Egitto – to widespread acclaim. She’s a real-life Susanna who will become the Countess.

  • I can see exactly why BBC Proms is doing this and for my part, I actually enjoy listening to the younger generation of artists as much as I do those who have served our profession for many years and counting. Presenting skills cannot be easily taught: You either have them or you don’t. One man’s meat etc, comes into it too. Thereby lies a rub (at least one of them): In the lava stream of BBC concern to be politically correct in all departments, highlight young musicians and build younger audiences, please don’t relegate the rest of us to be ‘also rans’. That is a real danger and one we don’t deserve. Let’s have some balance here.

  • Norbert says:

    There is a much broader point here – which is the gradual drift of the Proms away from it’s uniquely classical context into jazz, modern, pop even…..when someone in an organisation sees something else over the fence doing really well, they want a bit of it for themselves, to boost their empire and portfolio……this is The Proms.

    Why can’t they just leave us classical bods alone and concentrate on their own part of ship?

  • Music Lover says:

    This is desperate…. Musicians are musicians, NOT presenters – which takes years of experience to hone and perfect – particularly in front of a microphone or camera.
    It seems the BBC are desperate to exploit young musical talent, in order to attract more ‘hip and happening’ youngsters to the middle class, elitist ‘posh’ audiences as The Guardian rightly describe them today.
    I’m all for attracting a younger crowd to classical music, but using cheap immature young instrumentalists, because they might have played with more energy for one Prom, and have regional working class accents, or dare I say, may have a darker skin than most, is NOT the way to go about it. Shame on those BBC Producers who think it necessary to tick all the boxes in their quest to update and make classical music of the moment in today’s multicultural ‘modern’Britain.

    • George Porter says:

      I disagree with just about everything in your comment. Anyway, some will be good and get to do it again, and other won’t and won’t.

  • Derek says:

    Nicola Benedetti, Fatma Said and Omer Meir Wellber are all intelligent and articulate and will have interesting views on the music being performed.

    If they are the kind of performers involved then I would say that is a good thing and am in favour of it.