BBC unveils a Coronation celebration season

Date: 03.05.2013     Last updated: 18.03.2014 at 18.01
Today, BBC Television and Radio announce a season of programming to mark the 60th anniversary of The Queen’s Coronation, celebrating all that is great about Britain.

The BBC's Coronation commissions will celebrate and showcase the history behind the memorable day of 2 June 1953, the first Coronation to be televised and the year that began the reign of Queen Elizabeth II.

To mark the 60th anniversary of The Queen’s Coronation, BBC Parliament will for the first time broadcast a digitally re-mastered version of the Abbey Coronation Service in full on Sunday 2 June, 2013.

The original footage has been restored by BBC Studios and Post Production and the clarity of the picture is significantly improved. The broadcast will follow the exact times of the original Coronation, airing from 10:15 to 17:20 on BBC Parliament.

In the build-up to The Queen's Coronation anniversary, BBC One has commissioned The Queen: A Passion For Horses, a one-off special about Her Majesty The Queen and her lifelong love of horses. Presented by Clare Balding, and featuring exclusive behind-the-scenes access to The Queen as she interacts with her horses in training and their new-born foals, this intimate film will chart Her Majesty’s 65 year career as one of Britain’s leading breeders.

“The Queen is one of the most accomplished and respected breeders in Britain, with an especially impressive knowledge of thoroughbreds; she has bred the winners of over 1,600 races. This is a wonderful chance to tell the story of The Queen’s abiding passion for horses and her astonishing career in racing,” said Clare Balding, whose own grandfather, father and brother have all trained horses for The Queen.

Over the course of one spring season, from the births of foals at Sandringham to the thrill of race day at Newbury, the film will reveal The Queen’s expertise and close personal involvement in producing top class racehorses - as well as her work to preserve the native pony breeds of Britain. The programme features new interviews with The Princess Royal, Zara Phillips, cousin and childhood friend Margaret Rhodes, stud managers and trainers including ‘Horse Whisperer’ Monty Roberts, coupled with archive footage and photographs.

BBC One’s The People’s Coronation will see David Dimbleby recalling history by revisiting the 1953 Coronation through the people who took part and who celebrated it across the country.

From the young Fleet Street photographer keen to make a name for himself on the London streets that day, to the Sussex brewery, which 60 years on is remaking their potent coronation brew. This is not just the story of The Queen and her courtiers, but also of the people who joined together to mark the momentous day.

For David, who was a teenager at the time of the Coronation, it’s also a very personal story. His father, Richard Dimbleby, had the huge responsibility of presenting the TV broadcast from Westminster Abbey. Against the wishes of the establishment, the people of Britain were eager to be granted access to this centuries old tradition. And so on 2 June 1953, people gathered around their televisions to watch this spectacular historical event which was once the preserve of the aristocracy.

Meeting people who were there at the time and using newly discovered film archive, much of it in colour, David tells the story of the events of the day, from the places where they happened, as well as recalling his own memories.

BBC Two has commissioned a four part series on British music and monarchy, which sees David Starkey present his first authored television series for the BBC - David Starkey's Music And Monarchy.

David Starkey will show how the lives of our greatest composers and musicians are inextricably linked to the destinies of so many of our monarchs – and demonstrate how much history can be read from some of the nation’s best-loved works, including Rule Britannia, God Save The Queen, and Land of Hope And Glory. This is the music of ceremony, pageantry, and power - music composed for Coronations and Jubilees, thanksgiving and political expediency.

On BBC Radio 4, Choristers Of The Coronation will explore the memories of one-time choristers who sang at the Coronation ceremony 60 years ago. The programme will uncover how the boys were selected, examining their widely differing, cross-class backgrounds, and describe how they were trained in the run-up to the event. They will give the choristers’ eye-view of the famous ceremony itself, recall the fabulous musical feast of which they were a part, and also tell their stories of what happened to them after the big day.

BBC Radio 4 Extra will delve into the archives and mark the Coronation anniversary by broadcasting two shows that haven’t been heard since they were first broadcast. In A Royal Gala Programme Of Radio Variety 1953, a special variety show given in the Concert Hall of the BBC on 27 February 1953 in front of The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh, compere Ted Ray introduces some of the finest radio stars of entertainment of the time including Peter Brough, Ben Lyons, Bernard Braben, Hermione Gingold, Alfred Marks, Kenneth Horne, Richard Murdoch, Al Read and Jimmy Edwards all performing special versions of hit radio shows such as Life With The Lyons, Educating Archie and Much Binding In The Marsh.

Radio 4 Extra will also air the Coronation Day Across The World, which was originally broadcast on the evening of Coronation Day, and gave a world-wide view of the celebrations. At the time of the first broadcast, the programme was described in the Radio Times as “a living, instantaneous, sound picture of rejoicings and celebrations, with song and dance, with ceremonial drums and loyal messages on a scale as great anything ever attempted in the history of broadcasting.” In addition, 1953: Those Radio Times will explore some of the programmes that went out 60 years ago to give a flavour of life in Britain in the Coronation year.

BBC Radio 3 will reflect The Queen’s Coronation anniversary as part of its month-long Celebration Of British Music. Related programming includes Composer Of The Week, which will broadcast Parry’s rousing I Was Glad (performed at the original Coronation) as part of its composer focus, while The Early Music Show will showcase music associated with the Royal Courts from earlier centuries.

The BBC Coronation programming aims to educate, entertain and bring the nation together this summer by allowing everyone to join in with the Coronation celebrations.


Notes to editors

The People’s Coronation - BBC One
Produced and Directed by: John Hayes Fisher. Executive Produced by: Philip Dolling.
Press contact: BR

The Queen: A Passion For Horses - BBC One
Produced by: Ian Leese. Executive Produced by: Lisa Ausden
Press contact: SS2

David Starkey’s Music And Monarchy – BBC Two
The programme is an Oxford Film and Television Series, Executive Produced by: Nick Kent and Greg Sanderson for the BBC.
Press contact: MC4

Choristers Of The Coronation – Radio 4
An Andrew Green production for BBC Radio 4
Press contact: LZ

A Royal Gala Programme Of Radio Variety 1953 - Radio 4 Extra
Produced by: Tom Ronald
Press contact: LZ

Coronation Day Across the World – Radio 4 Extra
Produced by: Laurence Gilliam and Michael Barsley
Press contact: LZ

1953: Those Radio Times - Radio 4 Extra
Testbed Productions for BBC Radio 4
Press contact: LZ

Celebration Of British Music – Radio 3
Editor: Andrew Kurowski
Press contact: LZ

The Early Music Show - Radio 3
Produced by: Chris Wines
Press contact: MC4