Sunday 29 May 2022

The BBC Descending

The one exception to my recent exorcism of the BBC has been listening to several episodes of Composer of the Week on Radio 3, which has been a month-long celebration of one of my favourite composers, Ralph Vaughan Williams. 

Though the programme and its long-time presenter Donald Macleod are understandably regarded as jewels of the BBC, even they aren't wholly immune to the failings of the modern BBC. 

The season began by trying to speak to its Islingtonian listeners by persuading them that RVW had a 'progressive' outlook. 

I've just rechecked now and the first episode was called 'The Young Radical'. 

They just have to filter it this way, it seems. 

For love of RVW, and beautiful recordings, I've stuck with it though. 

However, in a later episode Donald Macleod told listeners that RVW always voted 'Labour or Radical' in elections.
Vaughan Williams voted Labour or Radical all his life but his music, and Sancta Civitas is a fine example, seems to strive mightily above the shrill clamour of political dispute.
Now I've read huge amounts about RVW over the years and I was pretty sure that that's factually inaccurate and that RVW once voted Conservative [for Churchill against Attlee]. 

Indeed, I've just dug out my Cambridge Companion to Vaughan Williams which mentions this three times. 

Vaughan Williams voted Conservative in 1945 because he was 'so disgusted by what [he] considered the mean tricks of the Labour party in forcing an election'. 

That said, he voted Labour again in the 1951 election, though he added that 'in my heart of hearts I wanted the Tories to get in'. 

So my only significant encounter with the BBC for a couple of months has betrayed BBC political groupthink and factual inaccuracy even on Composer of the Week

Is any part of the BBC's output safe?

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