BBC: Belfast Proms in Park is '˜different concert' to Royal Albert Hall

The BBC has not said whether a deliberate decision was taken to omit the song Rule Britannia from its live Proms in the Park event in Belfast on Saturday night.

Tuesday, 11th September 2018, 9:57 pm
Updated Tuesday, 11th September 2018, 10:18 pm
BBC Proms In The Park at the Titanic Slipways in Belfast, in front of an audience of around 11,000 on Saturday. Picture William Cherry Press Eye

In yesterday’s News Letter deputy editor Ben Lowry, who attended the concert, voiced his concern that the NI crowd at Titanic Slipways had been “deprived of the joy” of Rule Britannia (‘Belfast crowd loved Last Night of the Proms but once again was deprived of Rule Britannia,’ September 10).

A BBC spokesperson – while not giving a direct answer to whether Rule Britannia was deliberately omitted – explained that the Belfast concert was a mixture of live performances and some televised content from other Proms events.

A spokesperson said: “BBC Proms in the Park in the nations is aligned to Last Night of the Proms at the Royal Albert Hall; however it is not a musical relay and is a different concert to the Royal Albert Hall.

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The hosts of Last Night Of the Proms in Belfast Noel Thompson and Claire McCollum. Pic William Cherry/Presseye

“The BBC Proms in the Park concert in Northern Ireland has always offered our local audience a diverse mix of live performances from home grown and internationally renowned artists, as well as some televised Last Night of the Proms moments across the evening. People attending the concert here in Northern Ireland are largely aware of this and it has been this way since it began locally in 2002.”

The spokesperson said: “BBC Northern Ireland are pleased to offer Last Night of the Proms from the Royal Albert Hall and Proms in the Park to our local audiences.”

In yesterday’s paper the deputy editor suggested Rule Britannia was dropped because it was too controversial.

His opinion piece came under fire on Twitter from some nationalists while there was also support for his viewpoint.

Baritone Gerald Finley and conductor Sir Andrew Davis during the traditional renditional of Rule Britannia. But it was not shown on the screen in Northern Ireland. Screengrab from BBC

Daire Toal tweeted: “Have you ever read the text? It is decidedly more problematic than the other songs. I’m a fan of the music but in a venue beyond Britain the colonial implications are rather overwhelming.”

Nigel Finlay said: “Lefty BBCNI wouldn’t show that in case they upset nationalists and republicans.”

Fergus Beatty wrote: “Most anthems and nationalistic songs are dull. The Soldier’s Song is bloodthirsty and jingoistic too. That being said, there were tricolours in the Albert Hall and they didn’t seem to mind hearing RB.”

There were plenty of Union flags being waved by the Belfast crowd, as is increasingly evident at the Northern Ireland event. The audience loved the traditional rendition of Land of Hope and Glory, but there was no Rule Britannia. Picture William Cherry Press Eye
People enjoy the evening at BBC Proms In The Park at the Titanic Slipways in Belfast