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BBC’s excessive coverage of Prince Philip’s death misjudged the public mood

·5-min read
 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

I want to put forward an alternative view to that described by Rupert Hawksley (‘Who actually has time to complain to the BBC about its royal coverage?’, 12 April). I can understand why the BBC devoted the whole of one channel to coverage of the Duke of Edinburgh’s death. As these things often are, it was a little repetitive as we heard the same or similar stories and opinions about the Duke from a variety of people. It was not something which greatly interested me after the first half an hour, but I can see why the death of the Queen’s husband merited such coverage on the national television service.

I have more difficulty understanding why exactly the same coverage was broadcast on BBC One and BBC Two, and why all the programmes on BBC Four were cancelled. Or why BBC Radio 4 Extra had to broadcast the same programmes as Radio Four all weekend.

People grieve in different ways, and I thought of all the people who have lost loved ones this year, many of whom weren’t allowed the opportunity to be with them, or to say goodbye as they would have wished. I wonder how this outpouring of respectful grief made them feel? I wonder if for some of them it might have made them angry, as if the death of one 99-year-old was more important than their loss? I wonder if the programmes made some people sad and mournful, and whether after several hours they wanted something easy and cheerful to watch or listen to, only to find their favourite programmes weren’t available?

Many are having to manage complex feelings while living alone and TV and radio programmes have become a way of feeling connected to other people. To deny them this comfort and make them appear frivolous for wanting to watch and feel part of a larger community seems cruel.

Sarah Kelly

Wellington, Somerset

I would like to take issue with Rupert Hawksley’s piece on Monday in which he expresses surprise at the number of complaints made to the BBC about the corporation’s blanket coverage of the Duke of Edinburgh’s death last Friday.

I belong to that section of the populace that believes the monarchy is long past its sell-by date and should be removed from its role of head of state, so you might expect me to be annoyed at the BBC’s actions. But even an avid supporter of the royal family must have scratched their head at the disproportionate reaction to the albeit sad news.

It would have been sufficient, surely, to have provided blanket coverage on one of the BBC’s channels, say BBC One and/or Radio 4, and to have continued with normal service on BBC Two and BBC Four. To have shut down BBC Four entirely for the day was the most irritating as, for me at least, it has become the go-to BBC channel, completely devoid of the propensity of the other two main channels to tirelessly trot out the government line now that the corporation is headed up by a right-wing former Tory donor who will ensure that the corporation will become nothing more than Boris Johnson’s mouthpiece.

I did not write in to complain because I did have better things to do with my time but I was not surprised that many people did.

J Wells

Alresford

Rupert Hawksley says he is surprised people have the time to complain to the BBC about blanket coverage of Prince Philip’s death. I didn’t complain until I found out, from Tom Peck’s Twitter feed, that an online form was available, which took about 30 seconds to fill in. Most people have time for that.

All of the channels I watch most often (BBC One, Two and Four) were unavailable to anyone not interested in the Prince Philip coverage. I was particularly annoyed about missing Have I Got News For You, which is a topical programme and soon becomes out of date. It was one of the few decent programmes available that evening.

So, I did as Rupert suggests and picked up my book.

Alan Lammin

Dumfries

How I agree with Rupert Hawksley. There were other programmes on Friday evening, not to mention streaming services. There was even another excellent gardening programme on Channel 5. Though maybe cancelling CBeebies was a step too far...

Linda Pratley

Cumbria

A big thank you to Rupert Hawksley for his article about BBC coverage on the death of Prince Phillip. He put into words exactly what I had been thinking, and he says it clearly and in a non-combative way.

Sue Oldrey

Address supplied

Behaviour best consigned to the past

You provided a fine crop of thought-provoking letters on 11 April, leaving me in total agreement with Alan Brown’s contribution, explaining why he “would have to disagree with the view that a hereditary monarchy is compatible with a fully democratic society”.

Whereas there was nothing to admire in the trenchant, laddish views on the late Duke of Edinburgh expressed by Rev Dr John Cameron in his letter (‘A royal bloke – and much better for it’), which would do nothing to ease the everyday concerns held by women: “In contrast to the wet-eyed self-indulgence of uncle Edward or the empty gestures and virtue signalling of today’s hand-wringing eunuchs, Philip had a steely gaze, dynamism and charisma. He was an unequivocal success as the ‘Royal Bloke’.”

Many women will have met men exhibiting the “qualities” he attributes to Prince Philip, and are unlikely to welcome the Reverend’s remarks.

Eddie Dougall

Bury St Edmunds

Couldn’t make it up

Sorry, but did I really read that Boris Johnson, serial philanderer, bender of truth and role-model for the Bullingdon Club, is calling on people to “behave responsibly”? That’s like Evel Knievel telling us to drive sensibly.

Colin Burke

Cumbria

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