All together now, let's all do the anniversary waltz

'The 50th anniversary of Orwell's death was in 2000. That's why it went unnoticed. It was the millennium year'

Share
Related Topics

Yesterday I tried to explain how we get so many of these anniversary programmes - on the Coronation, George Orwell, the climbing of Everest etc - by bringing you a transcript of a secret meeting of broadcasting heads. This took place when they all got together last year to allocate all the anniversaries and centenaries for 2003. I think it might be instructive to bring you more of this little-known session...

Chairman: Well, I think that's got the Coronation stuff sorted out. Any more offers for the death of Stalin?

Russian delegate: Don't forget the death of Sergei Prokofiev. We shall be doing a lot on that.

Chairman: Oh, yes, and the death of Prokofiev, which also took place in 1953. Poor Sergei. It was a bad time to choose. Radio 3, I expect you will be wanting to do something on that?

Man from Radio 3: Yes, we're always very grateful for a few anniversaries. It's amazing how difficult it is to fill up even a week of Radio 3 without falling back on a few dates and birthdays. We've actually discovered another Russian composer whose centenary falls due in 2003.

Russian: Really? Who is that?

Radio 3: Aram Khachaturian. He was born in 1903.

Russian: Oh, him. He is not so important. He wrote nice film music, but...

Radio 3: Well, we're making him Composer Of The Week in the month of his birth...

Chairman: Ah! Now, this is very important, gentlemen! It is vital that we try to keep these anniversary programmes, not just to the year, but to the month as far as possible.

ITV man: Why is that?

Chairman: Because otherwise we get bunching. Everyone is tempted to put their programmes either in the first month of the year, to jump the gun, or at peak viewing times, to catch the audience. But we must try to space it out. For instance, next year is the centenary of the birth of Malcolm Muggeridge...

Russian delegate: Who?

Chairman: An English broadcaster who went to Moscow in the 1930s and told the world that Stalin's Russia was a failure.

Russian: My goodness. Is he still alive?

Chairman: No.

Russian: I am not surprised.

Chairman: his birthday is in March, so I'd be grateful if all Muggeridge tributes could be done then. Ditto for Django Reinhardt in May, and Bix Beiderbecke in March...

Russian: Who is Bix Beiderbecke?

Chairman: He is an American jazz trumpeter who died tragically young. He was born in 1903.

Russian: And Django Reinhardt?

Chairman: He is a gypsy jazz guitarist who died tragically young in May 1953.

Russian: Do all jazz musicians die tragically young?

American: If they have any sense.

Chairman: On the other hand, George Orwell is such a major figure that I don't think that we can restrict him to any one month.

Russian: Who is George Orwell?

Chairman: You are joking, surely?

Russian: Yes, I am joking. I know who George Orwell is. George Orwell is the writer of Animal Farm, which comes out in the 1940s. Fifty years later, Communism collapses. This prove the power of satire.

Chairman: Yes, well, that's very droll, but Orwell has proved very prophetic in what he wrote, and in the 50 years since he died...

Radio 3: Not 50 years. He died in 1950. That's 52 years ago. It's his birth centenary that comes up in 2003. The 50th anniversary of his death was in 2000. That's why it went a bit unnoticed. It was the millennium year.

American: Although many of us still think that the millennium should have been in 2001...

Chairman: Oh, for heaven's sake! Don't let's open that can of worms again! So George Orwell was born 100 years ago...

BBC 1 man: And didn't leave a single foot of film behind, and no record of his voice.

Chairman: What?

Radio 3: Same is true of Django Reinhardt. A couple of seconds of film, without sound. But no speaking at all. Unless you count what he said on his records.

Chairman: What did he say on his records?

Radio 3: Well, you can hear him saying "Yeah!" Also, "One more time!" But I think that's all.

Chairman: Gentlemen, you all have a hard time ahead of you. Go forth and memorialise. I wish you luck. We meet again this time next year.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an excellent, large partially ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Primary Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

Ashdown Group: Lead Web Developer (ASP.NET, C#) - City of London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Lead Web Develo...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Kylie has helped to boost viewing figures for the talent show  

When an Aussie calls you a ‘bastard’, you know you’ve arrived

Howard Jacobson
The number of schools converting to academies in the primary sector has now overtaken those in the secondary sector – 2,299 to 1,884 (Getty)  

In its headlong rush to make a profit, our education system is in danger of ignoring its main purpose

Janet Street-Porter
Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee