Lots of chat over on Facebook today re the new BBC series The Queen's Palaces - some pretty astringent comments on Twitter as well, and I have decided to gather all my remarks together and post a Random Rant. So Rant Alert and if you don't want to be moaned at log off...now
OK here goes. Last year the BBC showed a documentary on Victoria and Albert and the art they commissioned for one another. After watching this programme I posted about it and entitled it Victoria and Albert and Fiona's Bum and you can read it here if you wish to refresh your memory. So last night I switched on with some trepidation and within five minutes was bouncing off the walls with irritation as the BBC treated to us to its usual all purposedumbeddownletstreattheproleswithcontempt type documentary. And the Queen of stating the Bleedin' Obvious is Fiona Bruce and here she was again. I find it hard to understand the BBC's obsession with this woman, just because she fronts the Antiques Roadshow doesn't mean she knows anything about Antiques or History and yet here she is again.
Now I am fascinated with history but hardly ever watch BBC or any other channel's progs on this subject as they treat all the viewers as if we had the attention span of a newt, but the Beeb is far and away the worst. Because this was a subject I was interested in I watched even though I knew what would happen.
NB: You can also pre-order a DVD I gather. Notice it is called The Queen's Palaces but who is that on the front?
Shot of Buckingham Palace and off we went. A bit of chat about palaces and then we are told that Henry VIII loved hunting. Blimey, did he? I am surprised. Pic of Henry VIII and then cut to shot of woman on horseback, yes you have guessed it, giving us a sound bite then shot of Fiona galloping across the park. And of course she is wearing tight white jodphurs.
OK now we are talking about the Duke of Buckingham. Not quite sure why, didn't know he was a King or even a Queen for that matter, but he had a palace. Long shot of palace and suddenly here comes our Fiona drifting across the screen in a fetching dress and up the steps she goes with a camera shot starting around her ankles just in case we miss her legs.
Next we are in the Queen's Gallery at Buck House - how did that happen? (pretty sure I missed a bit here as I was gnashing my teeth) And she has a pseudo-intellectual chat with the keeper of the Queen's pictures who I could have done with a bit more of (a) because they weren't showing his legs and (b) he actually knew what he was talking about. Anyway he buggered off and the camera zoomed in on a Canaletto pic of Venice which was acquired by George III. According to Fiona George didn't get out much and did not travel abroad, well he wouldn't would he, raving most of the time.... but he did like to buy pictures depicting scenes in other countries and, according to the Fragrant Fiona George said that 'Venice was the place to buy art'.
Cue long shot of the Grand Canal and we knew we were in Venice because along the bottom of the screen came the immortal words 'Venice, Italy' (don't think they put a comma in though) and then of my goodness surprise surprise here is Fiona sitting in gondola scooting along the Grand Canal. I am surprised they didn't have the Gondolier singing Just one Cornetto and whipping out his cone. Could not take any more of this total and utter crap so switched off. I had lasted about 12 minutes.
Spent the rest of the evening chuntering to myself and thinking What if George III had said 'Paris is the place to buy art' and not Venice? Expect we would have been treated to a shot of FB sailing down the Seine in a bateau mouche or whatever they are called with accordion music going in the background and the odd glimpse of an onion seller on a bike; if Berlin then we would have had lots of oompah music and men in lederhosen waving steins of beer about while FB sailed down the Rhine; if Spain then we would have had Rodrigo's Guitar concerto, a shot of Flamenco dancers and FB sailing down... sorry don't know a Spanish River. If you think I am being over satirical here, such a shot of jolly Germans with beer was shown in the V&A prog (see my earlier post linked above).
Now I know I am ranting and I know I am going on but the BBC make me spitting mad. The way they treat their viewers as if they are cretins really offends, particularly when we know the demographic of BBC viewers are 40 upwards and if we are that age, we can read and write and make sensible decisions. We do not need to be spoon fed sound bites backed up with little illustrations, it is like watching a walking Ladybird book.
The next two programmes feature Balmoral and Windsor and I predict the following:
Balmoral - Fiona will be walking across the highlands in tight trousers and boots, overhead the clouds will be scudding along, speeded up for dramatic effect and there will be lots of bagpipes.
Windsor - there will be a tracking shot a la Omar Sharif's entrance in Lawrence of Arabia as Fiona slowly comes into focus wandering delicately and fragrantly down the Long Walk. She will of course be wearing tight trousers.
You think I am being overly cynical? I shall force myself to watch the programmes to see if I am right. And though there were shed loads of letters after the V&A prog about Fiona's Bum and how awful it all was, no notice was taken and all views on same were dismissed. You can write to the BBC till you are blue in the face and they will take no notice of you whatsoever. If you are lucky you will get a reply full of bland speak blah blah blah and you know what they really want to say is Piss off you Boring Old Crone what do you know about anything?
OK that is it. I have vented my spleen and will comfort myself tonight with watching the Great British Bake Off secure in the knowledge that Fiona will not be there whipping up a batch of fairy cakes or fiddling with her macaroons.....
At least I hope so.
A couple of comments from the papers:
From the Independent
Ardent royalists may be a little disappointed by the fact that the current Queen makes no appearance at all, leaving the task of guiding Fiona Bruce around the house to the army of experts and housekeepers who look after the bling. But then again, Bruce is quite regal enough in her manner to satisfy anyone's need for condescending majesty, drifting across the screen like the reigning princess of middlebrow television. If you're in the market for her gazing in wonder at bits of chinoiserie or showing you every face on George III's astronomical clock then you'll be in heaven, because they certainly don't rush you. I perked up momentarily when it was explained that George IV needed 30 servants just to keep the candles lit during his banquets – a literally illuminating historical detail – but other than that it was tough going. No wonder Edward VII called it "the sepulchre".
From The Telegraph
In the BBC’s now entrenched tradition of assigning non-experts to subjects which require erudition, Fiona Bruce has written and presented the series. As ever, Bruce was blandly appealing, dressed in the same elegant but dull shirt dress throughout (a nod to cost cutting at Auntie?) and delivering both the bleeding obvious and the genuinely arresting as if both were a matter of revelation.
She took the time to explain, for instance, that a marsh was “boggy” with “pools of smelly, stagnant water” and to show us that chandeliers made a pleasant tinkling noise
See, it's not just me!