Analysis: Sailing along on a tide of gushing banality

IT TRULY was a historic day. The day when the expression “like watching paint dry” was finally superseded: from now on, anything dull will be compared with “watching the Queen go up the Thames on a boat, very slowly”.

I doubt many watched the whole thing, no matter how patriotic; it went on for hours and the actual spectacle will be much better condensed to a montage of a few minutes.

The BBC coverage boasted “an army of reporters”, from John Sergeant quizzing Richard E Grant about his Union Flag underpants at Westminster to Anneka Rice literally watching paint dry with some artists (until all their pictures were soaked into mush). Each had only about a minute before we were whisked on to the next, for fear our modern attention-deficit generation could get bored.

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No one, however, reported from the republican gathering outside City Hall, which would at least have provided a jolt of controversy. Instead, everything was gushingly upbeat, from John Barrowman enthusing wildly about bell-ringing to Tess Daly promising “a competition to build the world’s biggest cake!” Even a pantomime horse galloping along at the National Theatre was solemnly greeted.

Paul Dickenson, voice of The World’s Strongest Man, provided obligatory banalities throughout. A canoeful of Maoris, he noted, were scary-looking but all “very nice chaps”, while repeated references to an Italian painter got “Canaletto moment” trending on Twitter.

As the weather worsened, presenters were visibly gritting their teeth as they tried to stay positive. The big helicopter finale was scrapped, with only a few greyish fireworks as a choir of women with sodden hair sang God Save The Queen. Random celebrities, pointless chatter and lots of rain: it was certainly very British.

• Andrea Mullaney is The Scotsman’s TV critic.

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