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

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

Recruitment Genius: Bathroom Showroom Customer Service / Sales Assistant

£14560 - £17680 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Even though their premises have...

Recruitment Genius: Finance Manager

£44000 - £48000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Marketing company based in cent...

Recruitment Genius: IT Installation / Commissioning Engineer - North West

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An IT Installation / Commission...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive - OTE £25,000

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will maximise the effective...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

If I were Prime Mininster: I would legislate for abortion on demand and abolish VAT on sanitary products

Caroline Criado-Perez
 

Election catch-up: Just what the election needs – another superficially popular but foolish policy

John Rentoul
Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence