The BBC, Shakespeare and the Games…
You watch the rain as it falls outside the India Office Council Chamber of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) in London. But that does not detract from the enthusiasm rising in Amanda Farnsworth as she narrates details of what the BBC plans to do this year. Farnsworth is the BBC's project executive-London 2012, which is a broad hint of the job she has cut out for her in what promises to be an exciting season of sport and culture in Britain. She gives you a quick rundown of what the media organisation has on its list of do's once the Olympic Games get underway in the latter half of July this year.
And it is not merely coverage of the Games that the BBC has in mind. The year 2012 also happens to be the sixtieth anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II's ascension to the throne. And given the intense love of royalty Britons yet demonstrate in these days of republican sensibilities, one can be quite certain that the BBC means to be a full participant in the celebrations. And then, of course, there is Festival 2012, intended to be a huge accompaniment to the Games. The festival is aimed fundamentally at showcasing Britain's cultural legacy to the world as excitement builds up around the Olympics.
Indeed, the Olympics promise to be a powerful prop around which all the nations today part of the United Kingdom will demonstrate the dynamism the country means to promote in the times ahead before the world. It will all begin through a seventy-day torch relay leading up to the inauguration of the Games. The torch-carrying will set off at Land's End and traverse the entirety of the United Kingdom. The calculation is that as many as 95 per cent of people in Britain will experience the movement of the torch within ten miles of where they happen to be. That surely looks like near perfect arithmetic and, of course, a certain degree of luminosity, figuratively speaking.
The idea, then, is all about legacy. That is the point which is constantly being emphasised nearly everywhere in London these days. As the BBC would have you know, there will even be an Olympic storyline included in its popular soap “East Enders” -- another way of bringing home to people the thought that something of immense note is happening in the country. The connectivity between sport and culture takes on a new dimension with the BBC's plan of bringing in an Olympic History Series based on a diversity of themes through the Games season. Add to that two important cultural events, Hackney and BBC Proms, that are in the pipeline.
And Shakespeare? Well, his birthday was observed only the other day. But that was certainly not the end of the spirit built around the playwright. The BBC has on offer a Shakespeare Season, encompassed within which is the rather intriguing-sounding Shakespeare Unlocked as a theme. There is then the London Season, a means of showcasing before the globe a city which welcomes 20 million visitors every year. There is also a plan of putting up shows of the popular series “Ab Fab” (that is “Absolutely Fabulous”, in brief) where artistes like Joanna Lumley are to be spotted demonstrating the eccentricities of what once was class-driven Britain in all their comical splendour.
Rebranding Britain before the world is what the BBC means to do between now and the end of the Games. Or, more precisely, between the beginning and the end of the Games. And the personification of all this grandeur? Ah, there is Face Britain. It is the face of the Queen, in all her majesty.