Tom Sutcliffe: It's not that easy to talk when your lips are blue and barely moving

TV coverage

Related Topics

"Well – it's not often that we can say that we are witnesses to the making of history," said Huw Edwards, introducing BBC 1's live coverage of the inauguration speech. And don't think for a moment – he might easily have added – that we aren't going to make the most of it.

"Expectations are at unprecedented levels," he continued, "as President Obama prepares to replace – let's face it – the most unpopular incumbent in recent history". And don't look to us – he might also have added – to do anything to dampen that expectation down.

If there was a word that competed with "historical" for most overused adjective in the hour leading up to Obama's oath-taking, it was "extraordinary" – used by nearly all of the BBC's reporting team.

Adam Brookes was on the upper slopes of the Capitol, while Jon Sopel and Clive Myrie staked out different sections of the Mall – vigilant for photogenically-tearful faces.

"Matt Frei," said Huw, turning to his panel, "your perspective on what is likely to happen in the next hour?" The true answer was a lot of very cold people would have to produce large quantities of hot air to fill the gap.

The VIPs filtered through the Capitol – President Bush Snr, Jimmy Carter, Bill and Hillary (not exactly looking as if they'd been swept up in the near universal exhilaration). Then for a surreal moment, we switched to the Bernie Grant Community Centre in Tottenham so a reporter could interview Baroness Young about Obama's impact on diversity programmes.

Then back to Washington. "There's certainly at least one growth area in this economy, which is the sellers of Obama memorabilia", said Jon Sopel, not a bad line, but one which didn't take account of how difficult the last two words are to say when your lips are blue.

Then a wary George Bush Jnr appeared , and Dick Cheney was wheeled past as if he thought it was a costume affair and had come as Dr Strangelove. Finally, it was Obama's turn – walking the corridors of power alone, his face a little strained and unsmiling, but his gait still that odd, easy, saunter.

Aretha Franklin sang "My Country, 'Tis Of Thee" in a way that got more and more gospel as it went on. To hear that sound letting rip – at the inauguration of a man whose father would have been turned away from restaurants only a few decades ago – was a genuine bit of soul. But given the tasks he faced, it really should have been "Say a Little Prayer".

React Now

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

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Labour leader Ed Miliband unveils Labour's pledges carved into a stone plinth in Hastings  

Election 2015: Smash two-party system! Smash the voting system!

Armando Iannucci
Tactical voting is a necessary evil of the current first-past-the-post system, where voters vote against what they do not want rather than in favour of what they do  

Election 2015: Voting tactically has become more fraught in the new political order

Michael Ashcroft
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power