25th Jul 2013

Mediated Badgering: For England & King George!


TV (BBC, Sky) coverage of the royal birth – or make that, the royal pregnancy, labour, birth, baby, bath water, what’s its goddamn name! – was farcical bordering on ludicrous.

The most revealing dimension to this media circus-without-an-act was a conspiracy cooked up by bored journalists and royal-family fanatics to badger the happy triumvirate into opening the doors of the Lindo Wing of St Mary’s Hospital and showing us all what we, the British public (not just the fruitcakes who’ve been squatting outdoors for the last three weeks), want to see. The Royal Baby! Cuckcoocachoo!

Pulling teeth doesn’t do justice to the painful viewing experience accompanying this sort of news manufacture - making news from no news. Even the daily palaver known as Changing the Guard was spun to look like an integral prelude to the long-awaited arrival. And the waiting went on, and on, and on, and the longer it went on, the more desperate and dull the coverage became. Sometimes people complain about the high salaries enjoyed by news presenters, especially the public service variety, but by golly they earnt their crust trying, albeit failing, to sustain the suspense.

‘We want to see the baby!’ cried the fanatics. ‘We want to hear William speak!’ pleaded the presenters. ‘We can’t stand on these ladders much longer!’ screamed the journos. ‘Actually, we’d like to know what else is going on in the universe, or failing that, a weather forecast would be nice’ reflected the discerning viewer.

But this is not an occasion for the discerning viewer; not an occasion to broadcast news for a broad public interest. Oh no! This is news to suit the raving monarchists, the mothers and grandmothers, the midwives and health visitors, the Americans and one or two Commonwealth folk who’ve not yet defected.

So why don’t I just switch off and watch something less boring instead? The truth is that I, too, became fixated by the Lindo Wing front entrance. When were those double doors going to open? Wait, here we go! Ah never mind, just some random bloke wearing a Pringle jumper. But wait! Signs of movement behind the glass, someone waving, lights on, lights off, last-minute backstage adjustments before the curtain comes up. Who knows what goes on behind closed doors? No one, but one can do one’s best to sneak a peep.

Wait for it… wait for it… wait a bit longer… put the kettle on… pour the tea… now reheat the tea… wait a bit more… you’ll never get this time back, you know… wait for Kate, wait for William, wait for baby, wait for Godot if you like but he’s not coming…. and then, hoorah! They happy triumvirate arrive! Flash photography, I feel dizzy, time to press the remote. Ah, that’s much better – the joys of watching the test card.

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