Prince Philip back home for his birthday

Celebrations at the palace, but the BBC is still in the dock for its 'mind-numbing' jubilee coverage
  • @MattChorley

As the Duke of Edinburgh returned home yesterday he had a lot to catch up on with the Queen, five days after being taken to hospital with a bladder infection.

Everyone else has had their say about the BBC's coverage of the Diamond Jubilee. Now it is his turn.

The Duke celebrates his 91st birthday today and will continue his convalescence at home, Buckingham Palace said.

Spending the final two days of the celebrations without the Duke would have been "quite testing" for the Queen, Princess Eugenie said in an interview with Sky News during which she described her grandparents as a "power couple".

Prince Philip was taken to hospital after braving the elements during the four-hour river pageant last Sunday, which doctors suggested may have exacerbated his condition.

The BBC has been heavily criticised for its coverage. Eric Pickles, the Communities Secretary, today becomes the most senior minister to lambaste it, telling The Independent on Sunday it was "mind-numbingly stupid".

The former newsreader Laurie Mayer called for the channel's incoming director-general to open an investigation into the coverage, which he likened to a "mindless happy party, with people baking cakes and waving flags".

Aside from the presenters apparently knowing little or nothing about the craft on the water, there were also complaints about wrong dates, dodgy camerawork and cutting away to inane, celebrity-driven items. Mr Mayer said that presenters had "not done their homework", exposing a gulf between the older and new generations of TV anchors. "The idea that you can just transplant someone from an entertainment channel and put him into an anchor position is entirely inappropriate," he said.

Mr Pickles spoke of his exasperation at the BBC's coverage, which he watched while at a Downing Street party before switching to Sky News when he got home.

He said he hoped the BBC's Olympics presenters would be better informed. "I do hope they have taken this to heart and that, when we get the 100m final, we've got somebody on who knows something abut running," he said.

And Andrew Marr, one of the BBC's most respected broadcasters, told the Hay Literary Festival: "It's very easy to commission a bit too much, and it goes on for hours and hours. Most of the cameras didn't work because of the rain and, if you are an editor sitting there you are panicked and think 'how am I going to fill this time?'.

"I think they put in too many films and I think there was too little information. Sometimes there is a failing in broadcasting where people think what the viewer wants to hear is how the presenter feels, when actually the viewer doesn't. The viewer, most of the time, wants facts and information. I didn't think the bits I saw were quite as bad as the volcanic eruption of wrath, synthetic or not, suggested. Was it our finest hour? Is it going to be the BBC's Bafta nomination? I think not."