Television: On the box
Friday 14 June 1996
To commemorate the 80th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme, BBC Scotland is mounting The Big Picnic. A sweeping, two-hour production, written and directed by Bill Bryden and broadcast on Saturday 22 June, it mirrors The Deer Hunter in portraying a carefree wedding before a war. The joy of the nuptial festivities in Govan is followed by the horrors of the war on the Western Front. The venue for the recording captures some of the epic scale of war: the Harland and Wolff Engine Shed by the River Clyde houses a space two-thirds the size of a football pitch.
As the astronomical sum paid recently by BSkyB for the rights to the Premiership shows, football on television sells. This is borne out by the viewing figures for the week ending 19 May. In the supposedly fallow period between the end of the Premier League season and the start of Euro 96, two programmes from BBC2's night of George Best celebrations made the channel's Top 10. The Manchester United Family Tree, made by Jim White, netted 4.34m, while The Best Thing scored 3.92m. And BBC2 isn't even the BBC's usual footy channel.
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