Mourning Show



I spoke to a lot of people last week that said they are are fed up of hearing about the death, twenty years ago, of someone they never knew, never met and didn’t have any effect on their life at all.

There were special programs on TV and radio every day last week dedicated to the sad events of that day in 1997. One-off programs would be fine but some networks have been running entire series about it. It’s just like twenty years ago when the news media got the balance, and I have to say some of the facts, wrong about the nation’s response to the tragedy.

When the news came in about Diana’s death, I lived in Bournemouth on England’s South Coast. It’s a royalist stronghold, but the effect on the everyday lives of the people there was minimal.

When I turned on the telly that Sunday morning, I was shocked by the news of her death. I worked at the local commercial radio station, 2CRFM and although I wasn’t rostered on that day, I drove into work. Traffic was about what you’d expect for that time of the morning, people were going about their Sunday morning business. I didn’t see a single person crying.

That night Julie and I went to the cinema and watched “Men In Black”. Once again the roads were as busy as normal for a Sunday and so were the bars and restaurants on Westover Road and the cinema was full.

That week, like most people I went to work as normal and on the following Saturday, the day of Diana’s funeral, I went to a wedding. None of the guests decided to stay away and nobody thought having a five piece rock band at the reception while Diana’s funeral played out on the telly, was inappropriate. In fact there were no TVs at the reception.
But when I turned on the television that week, all I saw was pictures of people wailing at palace gates and seas of flowers. Newspapers talked about, “A nation in mourning”.

I presented the Breakfast Show on 2CR and was told to play it cool. The playlist was changed to reflect the nation’s somber mood. We dropped all contests but we still reported on traffic problems, because life continued as normal for most people on their daily commute.

By the Tuesday, I’d had enough and we went back to normal programing. Every other radio station was still wallowing in it and playing panpipe music but 2CR, broadcasting to the royalist South Coast was playing The Rembrandts, Oasis and The Spice Girls. People called in to guess “The Secret Sound” and win money on “The Birthday Wheel”. We didn’t get a single complaint.

Meanwhile, the news media continued to report on events in a parallel universe where the death of the Princess had stopped the nation.

The death of Diana was a tragedy but the bigger tragedy was the news media’s death of the truth. And if they’re not careful they could also be responsible for the death of historical accuracy.


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