Sunday, December 09, 2007
BBC wants Vaughan Williams premiere
"One of television's most imaginative film-makers has condemned Mark Thompson's leadership of the BBC as a 'catastrophe' and accused the corporation of undermining its worldwide reputation by insulting the intelligence of viewers.
Tony Palmer, who has won more than 40 awards including Baftas, Emmys and, uniquely, the Prix Italia twice, criticised the director-general after the BBC turned down a documentary of his. The film, about English composer Ralph Vaughan Williams, has been produced by Five instead.
Palmer said he received an extraordinary rejection letter from a BBC commissioning editor explaining that, 'having looked at our own activity via the lens of find, play & share', it had been decided the film did not fit with 'the new vision for [BBC] Vision'.
Bizarrely, Palmer said, the letter concluded: 'But good luck with the project, and do let me know if Mr. V. Williams has an important premiere in the future as this findability might allow us to reconsider.' Vaughan Williams died in 1958."
This story in today's Observer may help explain why I, and many others, are so critical of today's BBC.
The fiftieth anniversary of the death of Ralph Vaughan Williams falls on August 26, 2008. I will be starting the celebrations on my Future Radio programme on Sunday January 6. Unlike the BBC I haven't looked for an important premiere by Mr. V. Williams. Instead, I'm making do with his overture The Wasps and 'Glorious John' Barbirolli's blazing account of RVW's magnificent Fifth Symphony - for me not just one of the composer's greatest works, but also one of the masterpieces of twentieth century music.
Header photo was taken in better times at the BBC, when Michael Tippett's Second Symphony was being rehearsed at their Maida Vale studios. From left Sir Adrian Boult, Michael Tippett, RVW, Ursula VW and John Minchinton. More Vaughan Williams here.
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