This TV review was first published in The Andersonstown News
David Dimbleby was the behind-the-scenes voice at REMEMBRANCE SUNDAY (BBC ONE) this year, with the camera occasionally cutting away from lines of marching men to Sophie Raworth, who would briefly interview some of the veteran soldiers or sailors or RAF chaps. I’ll say this for the B(ritish)BC : they know how to put on a show.
There wasn’t the remotest sign of distancing or mask-wearing, but what the hell – this was Remembrance Sunday. Dimbleby identified the different regiments going past, or representatives of same, all of whom had ‘served’, many of them in Afghanistan. One group, each man with a guiding carer, was composed of men blinded in the course of ‘serving’ overseas. Sophie interviewed one of these – the guide and the man blinded in ‘action’ , and both were very cheerful and clearly good mates.
Dimbleby, who of course is broadcasting royalty – his father used to voice-over things like coronations – tossed in little gobbets of information. Commenting on some Royal Navy marchers, he noted that they sailed in very powerful ships – “They have the same engine as Concorde had’ – which Dimbleby clearly saw as a bonus. And when the Scottish Black Watch regiment strutted by, Dimbleby noted that they were originally raised to patrol the Highlands. They also were sent – or maybe it was another regiment – to help William of Orange, who was busily fighting one King James.
Sophie talked to a man called Robbie Stewart. “How was it for you?” Sophie asked, which for a moment took me aback until it became clear she was talking about his ‘service’ in Afghanistan. Apparently Robbie was bombing a runway, and next thing a missile hit his plane. He landed but with a shattered leg, and some friendly Iraqis tied a head-scarf round Robbie’s bleeding leg.
Was this a sombre Remembrance ceremony? Not really. More chin-up-lads-be-proud-of-what-you-done-lads. There were occasional references to those who had died and those who were wounded, but the general tone was pride in the regiment and the ‘service’ it had rendered. The brass band played, but it was mostly tunes like ‘Roll Out The Barrel (We’ll have a barrel of fun)’.
So no weighing up of why so many men died thousands of miles from home, or lost their sight, or other faculties. It was all pride, keeping the spirit alive.
I would say it was the glorification of violence, all stops pulled out, live on telly. But we know the B(ritish)BC would never allow that.