Breaking: Panic-stricken BBC allows Rule Britannia to be sung at Last Nightmain
The public broadcaster has capitaluated to public opinion and political pressure, allowing several BBC Singers into the Last Night to deliver the allegedly objectionable words of Britain’s second-favourite anthem. The words had been denounced by ‘woke’ campaigners and upheld by traditionalists.
Here’s what today’s statement says:
The pandemic means a different Proms this year and one of the consequences, under COVID-19 restrictions, is we are not able to bring together massed voices. For that reason we took the artistic decision not to sing Rule, Britannia! and Land of Hope and Glory in the Hall.
We have been looking hard at what else might be possible and we have a solution. Both pieces will now include a select group of BBC Singers. This means the words will be sung in the Hall, and as we have always made clear, audiences will be free to sing along at home. While it can’t be a full choir, and we are unable to have audiences in the Hall, we are doing everything possible to make it special and want a Last Night truly to remember.
We hope everyone will welcome this solution.
This may be the most weaselly piece of equivocation ever to emerge from the BBC. If it was ‘an artistic decision’ not to sing the anthem, why betray an artistic principle in the face of public protest? And if it was a mistaken decision, why not come clean? And what of the conductor who objected to the words: will she conduct them through gritted teeth?
What a mess.
I suspect the turnaround was ordered by the new D-G Tim Davie, but I don’t yet have the proof. At any event, even the job-clinging bureaucrats in charge of BBC Music must realise that not ‘everyone will welcome this solution’.