BBC Proms U-turn: Insiders claim new boss may OVERTURN Rule, Britannia! ban

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Mr Davie takes over from the outgoing director-general Lord Tony Hall on Tuesday and insiders say he will be keen to make an early impression. BBC sources said the new chief believes the controversial Proms decision has caused “terrible damage” to the corporation’s reputation and could order an immediate reversal of the policy.

Tim has a chance to do a big, crowd-pleasing U-turn on a policy that is wildly unpopular

BBC insider

One insider said: “Tim’s immediate priority will be to undo the terrible damage done by Tony.

“Tim has a chance to do a big, crowd-pleasing U-turn on a policy that is wildly unpopular.

“Tim has already insisted on an announcement making clear that Rule Britannia will be sung at next year’s Proms.”

Lord Hall earlier insisted the move to play orchestral versions of Rule, Britannia! and Land Of Hope And Glory that do not feature singing was “the right creative decision” given they will be performed to an empty Royal Albert Hall because of coronavirus restrictions.

He said: “When you haven’t got an audience it’s going to feel very, very flat”.

The traditional songs, which some find controversial because of their perceived ties to imperialism, will be played without lyrics at this year’s Last Night, although the BBC has confirmed they will be sung again in 2021.

Lord Hall’s comments come after composer Errollyn Wallen, who has written a new arrangement of Jerusalem which will be played during the Last Night performance, hit out at Boris Johnson for his intervention on the issue.

She branded the Prime Minister’s comments “irresponsible”.

Mr Johnson said he found the decision to remove the lyrics difficult to believe.

He said: “I think it’s time we stopped our cringing embarrassment about our history, about our traditions, and about our culture, and we stopped this general bout of self-recrimination and wetness.”

Ms Wallen said: “I think that is the first step, certainly cringe with embarrassment, and then go further and let’s open up the history that we are all part of.

“So that is the first step.

“I think he was being irresponsible at a time when the arts gets so little support.

“It has been hung out to dry, especially with all that’s happened with COVID-19.

“His remarks weren’t at all helpful.”

Ms Wallen she was “dismayed” that so many politicians waded into the row.

There is a “hullabaloo” over the Last Night, she said, adding: “Some of that was whipped up, to be honest.”

Earlier this week, Lord Hall confirmed the issue of dropping songs because of their association with Britain’s imperial past had been discussed.

The live music leg of the BBC Proms kicked off on Friday with a performance at the Royal Albert Hall.

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At the beginning of the BBC Two coverage of Friday’s performance, Stephen Fry, who was presenting, said it was “extraordinary” to be there.

He said: “It is exciting, as a Prom always is, except without the audience it’s exciting for other reasons because this is such a great moment in the cultural history of our nation, that the grass is growing back up through the concrete and finally there’s live music.”

The Last Night of the Proms will be performed on September 12.

During the classical musical festival there will also be performances held in locations including Salford Quays and Cardiff’s Hoddinott Hall.

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