And so it began. At 9:55 on BBC1, David Dimbleby popped up on our screens looking like a startled mole at the start of what was to be a long night. There is nothing like a good election show to lose half a night’s sleep. The BBC are certainly getting value for money out of their election set, having now used it for the Scottish Referendum, the General Election and now the EU Referendum. Within the election Bat Cave we had; Batman…sorry, Dimblelby as the safe per of hands anchor at the doughnut desk in front of a huge screen which presumably he normally uses to talk to Commissioner Gordon, but tonight he just spoke to an army of political reporters ; Robin…sorry, Jeremy Vine scampering around his virtual studio and Cat Woman….sorry, Emily Mathis sat upstairs (for some reason) chatting to MP’s who seemed to stroll in and out as if they had nothing better to do on a Thursday evening. In the corner was Alfred the butler who they kept turning to ask for election stats. (For some reason, even though he was on live TV, he didn’t bother cleaning his glasses. Shoddy). ITV had Tom Bradbury in the usual news studio. I get the impression ITV weren’t really making an effort for this one.
10 minutes in though, Batman and co hit a problem. The only things that make election night coverage bearable are; the endless speculation; the crazy graphics; the swingometer; the fringe party candidates stood behind the returning office with huge rosettes declaring themselves members of the “Black Pudding and Haggis Party”; watching an established MP losing their seat (or “doing a Portillo” as they call it in the business). This programme only had 2 of the above; the endless speculation and the graphics. The problem was every vote was either “Leave” or “Remain”. No seats lost. No MP’s dethroned. No graphics of how the result affected a virtual parliament. No big rosettes.
From many years of watching these result shows I know that the first constituency to declare is always Sunderland, however on this occasion the first result was from Gibraltar. Now I have never know Gibraltar to figure in the General or Local Elections, so I can only assume that that they have snook in like Australia did to Eurovison (More on that here). They unanimously voted to remain and so the speculation and graphics went onto overdrive declaring that we would remain. Then half an hour later Newcastle declared. (This was not Sunderland’s night. First they lose their crown to a great big rock, then then they are pipped by their Geordie neighbours and arch rivals.) They also voted to remain, so that was it, job done…or so we thought. When Sunderland eventually got their finger out and got their result in, they categorically voted to leave. Well at least there were now two sides to speculate about. Then I went to bed.
That’s the problem with election programmes. They are on at the wrong time of the day. I think this referendum has illustrated that we need to completely overhaul the voting system. I suggest that we use the new system that they introduced to Eurovision. We now have televised debates so why don’t we have a Saturday night show that combines them all. For fairness it would be across all the major channels (except for BBC 2 which would still how a repeat of Dad’s Army); we have a debate where all the parties put forward their ideas; we then have the National Lottery Draw and then open the lines to vote. We could have an interval act, perhaps Nicola Sturgeon and he younger sister Edith Bowman could do some Highland dancing and Boris could do a karaoke version of Land of Hope and Glory. We then end the voting and Ant and Dec announce the result (with Graham Norton talking all over them from his commentary booth). We would have the result before final orders and we could all celebrate or commiserate knowing that we don’t have to get up for work the next day. Whatever you made of the result there is one thing for sure; under the EU Working Hours Directive, we shouldn’t be making a 77 year old man work a 14 hour shift. Time to go to bed David.
Meanwhile, in Somerset, 175,000 “Remain” voters were enjoying this year’s Glastonbury. The headliners on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights were Muse, Adele and Coldplay respectively. Much was made of the fact that Muse had now played all 3 nights, but no indication was made as to which was best. I suppose on Sunday you close the whole festival, but you have to go on early as people need to get up for work the next day; Saturday is, well Saturday; and on Friday you are the opening headliner act. So which is best? Anyway, Muse have played them all. I really like Muse, but at times they do go a wee bit Spinal Tap. In their introductory VT when they were talking about their set being 7 Stonehenge like stones which moved I really hoped they had got the dimensions correct. (If that joke means nothing to you, watch this clip from Spinal Tap here. NB may contain language which may offend…not to mention using little people in a way that may offend, but hey, it was 80’s).
Saturday night belonged to Adele. She has been wowing audiences with her arena tour all year and I suppose the big question was is the maudlin singer from Tottenham what the Glastonbury crowd really wanted on a Saturday night? The answer was a resounding yes. It’s a tough gig for a solo performer to play the pyramid stage but she managed it with her personality and voice. She appeared on stage in typical flouncy dress (I have never seen her not in a big long dress. Do you reckon she wears that to go to the shops?) with huge sleeves. I later realised that the reason that she has the big sleeves is because her stage presence basically involves her wafting here hands around a lot. It’s very effective. I plan on getting myself a shirt that does the same thing ready for the Christmas party. I’m hoping that my flouncing arms will detract from the fact that my legs are moving like Andy Bell from Erasure. Adele comes into her own though when she talks to the crowd. She gets people on stage and starts with “Hello darling, where are you from…” (in a Barbara Windsor style) but frequently exclaims “F********ing ‘elllllllll…..” (like Catherine Tait’s Nan).
There was no such language from Chris Martin andColdplay on Sunday night, although he did like to talk a lot. You could tell they were the last act on as they appeared to have trashed the stage. Instruments, microphones and the stage itself were covered with graffiti and stickers so it looked like an explosion in a Hindu Temple. They also seemed only prepared to do half a set. For one number they played along to a video. (Taking my cynical hat off for a moment, that was actually a nice touch letting Viola Beach headline after their tragically premature deaths earlier this year). Then they dragged remaining Bee Gee, Barry Gibb on stage to do a couple of numbers and then ended up getting their kids on stage to sing backing vocals! Just when you thought they couldn’t do any less, their finale was 80 year old Michael Eavis (local farmer and organiser of the festival) doing a karoke version of My Way! I’ll say one thing the past few days on the telly….we have been working our old folk. Still, if they will vote Brexit……