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

Web Application Support Manager

£60000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Reigate...

Music Teacher

£85 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chester: Job Opportunity for Secondary ...

Maths Teacher

£85 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chester: Job Opportunity for Secondary ...

C# asp.net Developer - West Sussex - permanent - £40k - £50k

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum + excellent benefits package: Clearwater People Solu...

Day In a Page

Read Next
“You're running away!” Nick said to me the other night as I tried to leave the hospital  

In Sickness and in Health: ‘There’s nothing I want more than to have you at home, but you’re not well’

Rebecca Armstrong
 

Daily catch-up: Ed Miliband on low pay; Alan Johnson on Betjeman; Tom Freeman on editing

John Rentoul
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments