Entertainment & Arts

Jubilee coverage: BBC receives more than 2,000 complaints

Diamond Jubilee state procession
Image caption The state procession attracted 6.2m on BBC One

BBC creative director Alan Yentob says it is "fair to criticise" some aspects of the corporation's coverage of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.

His comments come after some 2,425 viewers complained to the BBC about its programming over the Jubilee weekend.

The BBC also drew ire from the press, which called coverage of Sunday's river pageant "inane" and "tedious".

But in an internal email to staff, BBC director general Mark Thompson said he was very proud of the coverage.

"Our output has been impressive not only in its scale, but in its ambition, quality and outstanding journalism," he wrote.

"This was a weekend when most British households put understandable cares and anxieties aside and celebrated a moment of national reflection and thanks for the Queen's lifetime of service and devotion. I am very proud that the BBC was able to bring them together in such a unique and memorable way."

Mr Yentob said: "We will look at it, but I don't believe you can say in every aspect that this thing failed."

"Nothing gets a universal three cheers," he added. "Across the weekend, I can honestly say the BBC has never had a challenge as staggeringly big as this.

"No-one has complained about the tone of the parade or the church service."

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Media captionBBC and Daily Mail clash over TV Jubilee coverage

The majority of the criticism directed at the BBC was over Sunday's coverage of the Thames river pageant, which drew 10.3m viewers.

Actor and broadcaster Stephen Fry, called the four-and-a-half hour broadcast "mind-numbingly tedious".

"This is eggier and cheesier than a collapsed souffle," he wrote on Twitter. "Expected better of the Beeb."

Gillian Reynolds, the Daily Telegraph's radio critic, told Radio 4's Today programme she felt "deeply let down" by the lack of information given during the coverage.

"I couldn't reconcile the meticulous framing of the shots and beautiful photography with the words coming out," she said.

"Nobody explained what Dunkirk was and nobody explained that what these boats did was extraordinary."

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Media captionGillian Reynolds: I felt deeply let down

Even the BBC's former royal correspondent Michael Cole joined the criticism, saying the presenters were under-prepared.

"I think it's outrageous when you hear a person who's been paid to be a commentator refer to Her Majesty The Queen as Her Royal Highness," he said.

"No preparation, no homework. There was no gravitas. I don't remember one memorable phrase or evocative expression."

A BBC spokesman said 2,425 people had protested about its coverage over the bank holiday weekend.

Former BBC Radio 4 controller Mark Damazer said he thought the BBC had "tried too hard".

"All that went wrong was a conscious attempt to make the whole event informal and inclusive and warm," he said.

"The BBC is worried and nervous about being seen as too formal and stiff. It wasn't all a failure - there were many good things about the coverage," he added.

The corporation defended Sunday's coverage saying: "We're very proud of the quality and breadth of the BBC's coverage of this extraordinary event."

Mr Yentob said audience appreciation figures across the bank holiday weekend had been high.

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Media captionSome of the most memorable moments from the celebration

Despite the complaints, viewing figures were high.

The most-watched event was the lavish Diamond Jubilee pop concert, which had an average of 14.7m viewers and a peak of 17m.

That was higher than the Party At The Palace during 2002's Golden Jubilee, which was seen by an average of 12.5m viewers.

The Queen's five-minute message was watched by an average 5.6m on BBC One and 3.5m on ITV.

Tuesday's state service and procession attracted 4.5m and 6.2m respectively on BBC One, with a further 1.7m watching on ITV.

That compares with figures of 6.51m for the state service and 5.74m for the procession in 2002, with just under one million tuning in on ITV.

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