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RDJ2,612 posts since 25 Oct 2003
Central (South) Midlands Today
Mary Nightingale's big moment was surely the Queen Mother's death, because she happened to be on duty that day. The backlash to the BBC's shambolic news flash meant she received high praise.


Whereas I wouldn't say it was shambolic, I would say Peter Sissons didn't handle it particularly well.

Intriguingly in the Newsflash documentary, Mary describes as being lucky that she wore grey for the prior bulletin as she wouldn't have had time to change regardless of what she was wearing. However in a later bulletin that day, as per the below video she did actually change into black. Peter kept with the burgundy tie for the rest of the night so I understand.

Central News South
January 9th 1989 - December 3rd 2006
JKDerry1,335 posts since 15 Oct 2016
UTV Newsline
The Queen Mother was 101 years old by 2002, you would have thought the BBC would have had plans in place for announcing her death properly with dignity, instead they had Peter Sissons staring into the camera, as if he had been in the toilet, and was dragged out of it mid-way and rushed into the studio with the news report shoved into his hand.
noggin14,095 posts since 26 Jun 2001
The Queen Mother was 101 years old by 2002, you would have thought the BBC would have had plans in place for announcing her death properly with dignity, instead they had Peter Sissons staring into the camera, as if he had been in the toilet, and was dragged out of it mid-way and rushed into the studio with the news report shoved into his hand.


Don't infer from what happened that the BBC didn't have plans...

Instead infer from what happened that the BBC decided not to follow them.
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JKDerry1,335 posts since 15 Oct 2016
UTV Newsline
The Queen Mother was 101 years old by 2002, you would have thought the BBC would have had plans in place for announcing her death properly with dignity, instead they had Peter Sissons staring into the camera, as if he had been in the toilet, and was dragged out of it mid-way and rushed into the studio with the news report shoved into his hand.


Don't infer from what happened that the BBC didn't have plans...

Instead infer from what happened that the BBC decided not to follow them.

Why didn't they follow them?
Markymark6,230 posts since 13 Dec 2004
Meridian (North) South Today
The Queen Mother was 101 years old by 2002, you would have thought the BBC would have had plans in place for announcing her death properly with dignity, instead they had Peter Sissons staring into the camera, as if he had been in the toilet, and was dragged out of it mid-way and rushed into the studio with the news report shoved into his hand.


Don't infer from what happened that the BBC didn't have plans...

Instead infer from what happened that the BBC decided not to follow them.

Why didn't they follow them?


Rather like air crashes, or cruise liners that sink, there's often no single cause, but rather a series of procedures that have not been followed properly or checked, that combined lead to catastrophe (Not that I'm suggesting this was a catastrophe, or compares in anyway to my examples ) .
Steve Williams2,595 posts since 1 Aug 2008
The Queen Mother was 101 years old by 2002, you would have thought the BBC would have had plans in place for announcing her death properly with dignity, instead they had Peter Sissons staring into the camera, as if he had been in the toilet, and was dragged out of it mid-way and rushed into the studio with the news report shoved into his hand.


I would highly recommend you read Roger Mosey's book as he talks at great length about this from his perspective of Head of Television News. He says that as much as any death of a 101 year old woman can be expected, it was unexpected, because right up until that point - and they had clearly been preparing for it for many years - the accepted version of events was that the Palace would say the Queen Mother was in hospital, and they'd report that, and have Nicholas Witchell at the hospital and suggest things were looking grim, and so on, and eventually they'd report her death, by which point everything would be in place*. But as it turned out, none of that happened, and the first they knew was that she was dead.

Mosey says that the other problems that weekend were that a) they'd just done a royal death rehearsal the previous weekend which meant that everyone who'd done that was now having the weekend off and b) it was a Bank Holiday weekend and everyone was on holiday so for most of the first bit of the coverage they weren't really concentrating on what was going out on air because they were busy trying to get hold of Lorraine Heggessey in Canada. Mosey also says the big mistake they made was to treat it as breaking news and go straight to phone interviews and haphazard OBs when they should have just run the obituary and spent the next half hour sorting out what happened next.

Peter Sissons also says in his book that although he saw various execs running in and out of meeting rooms all afternoon, he wasn't told anything about it until half an hour before the announcement, so he was pretty much plunged straight into it.

* That's the reason behind the tie, the presumption always was that the announcement of the death would come during a programme that was already on air, and they decided that, if they had to change to black to announce the death, the audience would be distracted from the announcement by the fact they'd just changed clothes (and they'd presumably have to change in about thirty seconds). So they decided if they were suitably sober, that was alright.
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JKDerry1,335 posts since 15 Oct 2016
UTV Newsline
The Queen Mother was 101 years old by 2002, you would have thought the BBC would have had plans in place for announcing her death properly with dignity, instead they had Peter Sissons staring into the camera, as if he had been in the toilet, and was dragged out of it mid-way and rushed into the studio with the news report shoved into his hand.


I would highly recommend you read Roger Mosey's book as he talks at great length about this from his perspective of Head of Television News. He says that as much as any death of a 101 year old woman can be expected, it was unexpected, because right up until that point - and they had clearly been preparing for it for many years - the accepted version of events was that the Palace would say the Queen Mother was in hospital, and they'd report that, and have Nicholas Witchell at the hospital and suggest things were looking grim, and so on, and eventually they'd report her death, by which point everything would be in place*. But as it turned out, none of that happened, and the first they knew was that she was dead.

Mosey says that the other problems that weekend were that a) they'd just done a royal death rehearsal the previous weekend which meant that everyone who'd done that was now having the weekend off and b) it was a Bank Holiday weekend and everyone was on holiday so for most of the first bit of the coverage they weren't really concentrating on what was going out on air because they were busy trying to get hold of Lorraine Heggessey in Canada. Mosey also says the big mistake they made was to treat it as breaking news and go straight to phone interviews and haphazard OBs when they should have just run the obituary and spent the next half hour sorting out what happened next.

Peter Sissons also says in his book that although he saw various execs running in and out of meeting rooms all afternoon, he wasn't told anything about it until half an hour before the announcement, so he was pretty much plunged straight into it.

* That's the reason behind the tie, the presumption always was that the announcement of the death would come during a programme that was already on air, and they decided that, if they had to change to black to announce the death, the audience would be distracted from the announcement by the fact they'd just changed clothes (and they'd presumably have to change in about thirty seconds). So they decided if they were suitably sober, that was alright.

Well, it was not good enough. If you are a 24 hour news channel and news company which BBC News is and was back in 2002, there is no excuse for not being prepared. You are a rolling news channel and should always be prepared.
Brekkie30,694 posts since 4 Jan 2003 Recently warned
HTV Wales Wales Today
Well, it was not good enough. If you are a 24 hour news channel and news company which BBC News is and was back in 2002, there is no excuse for not being prepared. You are a rolling news channel and should always be prepared.

Well that's them told. You clearly know better than a broadcaster who at that point had been reading the news for 25 years and a producer of 22 years who a decade later would oversee the biggest broadcast in UK television history.


The explanation is there and actually quite interesting to read. Yes, the BBC stuffed up that day, but in the pressure of a 24 hour newsroom that is going to happen from time to time. ITV showed though as they do time and time again that they can match the BBC when it matters, even if they don't get the credit. I think actually though on that day C4 got there first as they were on air when it broke - I just remember the BBC being on hold for ages on either BBC1 or BBC2 whilst they waited for the news report to begin, so channel hoping furiously to try and find out what was going on. Presumably the archive thread is around here somewhere too (and possibly one about the 2001 underwhelming revival of News at Ten too).
Last edited by Brekkie on 9 March 2019 9:35pm
Shouldn't that have been posted in the "John Logie Baird has Invented Television" thread?
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Steve Williams2,595 posts since 1 Aug 2008
Well, it was not good enough. If you are a 24 hour news channel and news company which BBC News is and was back in 2002, there is no excuse for not being prepared. You are a rolling news channel and should always be prepared.


They've all admitted it wasn't the Beeb's finest hour. But if it was so easy to do it well, don't you think you would have done it like that?

Whatever you prepare it doesn't compare to what it's like in reality. There's the story about JFK dying and the Beeb getting it in the neck because they decided to show an episode of the Harry Worth show half an hour after the announcement. But that was because the Head of Presentation was following the agreed procedure to the absolute letter which said that when a foreign leader died you broke the news and then continued with normal programmes until the Prime Minister had made a statement. That was what they had been prepared to do, and that's what they did. The problem was the procedure didn't make any differentation between the President of the USA being shot and the President of ther Central African Republic dying peacefully in their sleep. But the Head of Presentation wasn't going to deviate from the agreed procedure because it was more than his job was worth.

Mosey and Sissons both explain at great depth in their books about the decisions they made on the day, and frankly I am more likely to be on their side, having been there at the time, than someone on the internet telling them they should have done it better.

To be honest, having to do this kind of thing is the most terrifying thing I can imagine.
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woodnorton3 posts since 29 Sep 2018 new member
London London
Unlike the Home Service where Radio Newsreel reported JFK as the news came in, and the producer/editor can't remember which my dad was, called presentation and said they had authority to stay on air. (And the panic on a family picnic when we heard the Queen Mother had swallowed a fish bone was palpable and a rush back so the obit could be updated, although I am sure by the time it was used it was a complete rewrite)
1
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Brekkie30,694 posts since 4 Jan 2003 Recently warned
HTV Wales Wales Today
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y7QJ2oEXYBU

Quite alot going on in that clip. Firstly how much nicer was the purple Granada endcaps than the look of ITV at the time - if they'd tweaked the hearts idents to finish with something that looked just so much classier maybe they'd be more fondly remembered.

Secondly they're very specific there with the start time of The Premiership. You'd think they'd say 10.35pm, or just 10.30pm and accept it'll air 4 minutes late - TV convention has long been it's fine to start a couple of minutes early or up to 4 minutes late anyway. I wonder if something in the contract at the time meant that under no circumstance would ITV air it at 10.35pm or later.

Finally a glimpse of the unused idents layout in the ITV National Weather sting there.
Shouldn't that have been posted in the "John Logie Baird has Invented Television" thread?