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

Service Desk Analyst- Desktop Support, Helpdesk, ITIL

£20000 - £27000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst- (Desktop Su...

Service Desk Analyst - (Active Directory, Support, London)

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Service Desk Analyst - (Active Di...

Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost, Data Mining

£30000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst - C++, Boost...

Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Learning, SQL, VBA)

£30000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Junior Quant Analyst (Machine Lea...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Letters: The West flounders in the Middle East morass

Independent Voices
David Tennant as Hamlet  

To vote no or not to vote no, that is the question... Although do celebrities really have the answer?

David Lister
All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

Florence Knight's perfect picnic

Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

Mark Hix's summery soups

Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

Tim Sherwood column

I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition