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27 May, 2021 15:51

Brits overjoyed as BBC confirms ‘Rule Britannia’ and live audience to return for Proms after 2020 ‘colonial’ row

Brits overjoyed as BBC confirms ‘Rule Britannia’ and live audience to return for Proms after 2020 ‘colonial’ row

The BBC has committed to a full Proms schedule with “all the traditional elements” and Brits appear to be over the moon – although many haven’t forgiven the broadcaster for its 2020 faux pas and racism row over patriotic songs.

The BBC’s announcement on Wednesday evening that the eight-week music festival, known as the Proms, would feature much-loved traditional songs has been widely applauded by Britons on social media. 

“Excellent news. They’ll be sung with more gusto and louder than ever this year,” one person tweeted.

Last year, a fierce row erupted after the BBC considered axing the songs ‘Rule, Britannia!’ and ‘Land of Hope and Glory’ amid concerns over the colonial inferences of the music. It was first proposed that the music be played but not sung, so as to avoid drawing attention to the lyrics, but the songs were eventually returned to the programme with just a handful of vocalists singing. The songs are traditionally belted out by the entire Royal Albert Hall audience on the last night of the concert series. 

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It appears many Britons still haven’t forgiven the BBC for its unpopular move, however. “The singing of these songs never really mattered much to me. It was the BBC deciding to remove the songs to avoid offending migrants that I found untenable,” one person wrote.

Another insisted “the BBC’s behaviour last year was inappropriate” and blasted the state broadcaster for adopting “anti-British” views and failing to stand up for the country’s cultural heritage.

One person said he was glad to see the “woke BBC” had learnt the error of its ways and that it should “honour more British composers” in future.

Amid a flood of posts delighting in the news, others were less convinced by the BBC’s renewed commitment to ‘traditional values’. “Will the BBC be issuing EU flags to all in attendance, following on from previous years?” one jested, adding “#DefundTheBBC”. In previous years, campaign groups had handed out EU flags outside the venue, with some Brexiteers accusing the BBC of being complicit with the stunt. 

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Among the revellers, there were a few people unhappy to see the BBC backtracking. One threatened to stop paying his licence fee, noting: “Landed gentry celebrating the empire. No thanks. Singing about not being slaves but had no problem enslaving others.”

Another person accused the BBC of “pandering to snowflake nationalists” who had a meltdown at the thought of traditional songs not being sung.

This year, along with the return of crowds and the much-loved traditional songs, the BBC promised a more British line-up, due to issues with international travel and Covid-19. “Normally we’d probably have 10 or 12 touring orchestras in the Proms, but this year we have just one,” said Director of the Proms David Pickard.

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