Doctor Who's in the queue ...
I'm writing this in the Radio 3 Production Office in the basement of the Royal Albert Hall. In the backstage café earlier I stirred my tea watched by a quartet of glamorous vampires, one of them managing to nibble a chocolate bar despite her costume teeth.
In the food queue later, I watched two Cybermen, headgear temporarily removed, debate the merits of beef stroganoff verses Thai chicken curry. Meanwhile Matt Smith, one of television's hottest properties, calmly queued with the rest of the production team for his dinner.
It's Dr Who Night at the Proms - the hall sold out for the first of two musical celebrations of the Time Lord and his gang. There will be an interesting mix in the arena: seasoned veterans of dozens of Prom seasons, alongside newcomers visiting for the first time. Let's hope the glorious experience of music making in the Royal Albert Hall soon brings them back again. Maybe the time-travelling Tardis will help sow the seeds for a new generation of Prommers ...
I can't believe we are already more than a week into the 2010 Season. It seems like the blink of an eye since Sean and I welcomed a host of Proms stars to the Royal College of Music Concert Hall for the First Night In Tune special.
Since then the Royal Albert Hall has become a second home. I brought a friend to hear Semyon Bychkov conduct the WDR Symphony Orchestra. My friend lives abroad, and had never been to the Proms before. Afterwards he raved about the music-making, the quality of the performers, the respect the audience showed the artists, and above all the sense of community that exists around this concert series. It's something foreign performers say to me all the time when we talk about the Proms on In Tune, but for those of us who are season ticket holders, or are lucky enough to come here through our work, it's easy to become blasé about the uniqueness of this annual musical gathering.
I was back the next night to hear Paul Lewis launch his Beethoven Piano Cycle. The golf ball cameras surrounding the piano looked a little incongruous - for all of three minute - by which stage I'd completely forgotten they were there. They enabled a fresh approach to the TV coverage, which I watched this morning on the iPlayer. It was somehow thrilling to see the action of the piano as Lewis manipulated it; to watch his fingers at work on the keys, and to have a close-up view of his interaction with conductor Jiri Belohlavek. An exciting development in Proms coverage.
An hour to go until Dr Who takes to the stage. Two thoughts to finish, unrelated to music:
a) Why has the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea chosen this moment to dig up the pavement that several thousand concertgoers will traverse every night on their journey from South Kensington Tube to the Albert Hall and back?
b) Why use South Kensington Tube at all ? On Wednesday night a friend suggested using Lancaster Gate instead. This is, I think, the 13th season at which I've presented the Proms. Why has this thought never occurred to me? It's just as close, you get to wander past the stunning fountains of the sunken gardens, and then a gentle stroll through Hyde Park. Fighting past the crowds in the South Ken tunnel is now a thing of the past. Result!