British TV criticized for blanket coverage of Prince Philip’s death

It appears that British TV, especially the BBC, decided to go to wall-to-wall coverage of Prince Philip’s death and viewers were not pleased, flooding them with complaints about it all being a bit much.

Viewers switched off their TVs in droves after broadcasters aired blanket coverage of Prince Philip’s death, audience figures revealed on Saturday, and the BBC received so many complaints it opened a dedicated complaints form on its website.

BBC One and BBC Two cleared their schedules of Friday night staples including EastEnders, Gardeners’ World and the final of MasterChef to simulcast pre-recorded tributes from the Duke of Edinburgh’s children.

TV viewers were not pleased. BBC One, which is traditionally the channel that Britons turn on at moments of national significance, was down 6% on the previous week, according to analysis of viewing figures by Deadline. For BBC Two the decision was disastrous – it lost two-thirds of its audience, with only an average of 340,000 people tuning in at any time between 7pm to 11pm. ITV suffered a similar drop after it ditched its Friday night schedule to broadcast tributes to the duke.

The death of a 99-year old man is hardly shocking news. This whole business of ‘official mourning’, where the media pretends that the entire nation is highly upset over the death of someone and is collectively mourning has always been a fiction, to be used as cudgel to beat one’s political opponents with. In reality, apart from close members of the dead person’s family, most people may feel some momentary pangs of sadness but then go on with their lives. They dislike being pressured to be feel something they do not feel.


  1. Bruce says

    As Trump and Stalin said, the death of one man is a tragedy, but the death of 575000 is just a statistic.

  2. sonofrojblake says

    The BBC response at least is understandable. They’re rightly scared of the scum running the country who have it in for them. No amount of coverage would be enough, and indeed the usual suspects have lambasted the beeb for making it easier to complain about the blanket coverage, while giving them no credit for said coverage.

    Personally I don’t see the fuss. It’s not like it’s 1997 or something. I haven’t watched a show at the time it was broadcast since Peter capaldi was the doctor. What kind of luddite loser doesn’t just turn over to Netflix or Disney+ or bittorrent when conventional channels disappoint?

  3. komarov says

    Ah, yes. the Royals. If they’re having a wedding, bring it on. Any excuse to party. But a death? A bit morbid and not something people like to dwell on, especially not 24/7, on TV, when Eastenders should have been on instead. Since we are talking about the BBC, one dedicated channel would indeed have been understandable and sufficient. Maybe what they should do instead would be to create an entirely new channel just for the occasion. Stream it online, maybe put it on TV if that’s possible at such short notice, and leave the regular channels alone. That would be an argument against the “not enough” camp among the critics, too: “Look, new channel just for this.”

  4. Matt G says

    Surely someone has assembled a collection of his numerous insensitive and bigoted remarks.

  5. Rob Grigjanis says

    Matt G @5: Google and ye shall find. I came across a sizeable list some time ago. About half insensitive and/or bigoted, but also some pretty good one-liners.

  6. Holms says

    This seems a pretty good bit of evidence that even Britons are losing interest in the royals.

  7. Holms says

    Although it occurs to me that the reaction to the queen’s death is likely to be very different. She actually seems kind of respectable.

    Prince King Charles will cause royal stock to tumble though.

  8. polishsalami says

    Here in Australia, my mum was furious that they took off “Vera” when the old git croaked. It was pretty ridiculous as the the ABC — the public broadcaster — has a dedicated news channel of its own.

  9. lucifersbike says

    A Brit writes: Holms, around a quarter to a third of us would prefer the UK to be a republic. If we have to have head of state, I’d settle for somebody chosen by lot to serve for at most three years.

  10. blf says

    Another opinion column at Al Jazeera (in addition to @11), Rich, old prince dies — the media, on cue, loses it:

    Then the audience switches off the TV.

    Apparently, discerning BBC viewers have had enough.

    Britain’s public broadcaster gave a famous 99-year-old, pampered, rich prince’s long anticipated passing the kind of coverage sensible editors usually reserve for much more profound and consequential news.

    So, viewers did the wise and, I suspect, in the myopic minds of BBC editors, shocking thing — they turned off their TVs in droves.

    Then, scores of ticked-off Brits reportedly forced the BBC to set up a “dedicated complaints form” on its website to help the public register its outrage that their favourite TV shows and sports have been pre-empted in favour of a 24/7 funeral dirge.


    The column goes on an some length, and includes examples of the current nauseating memorials & whitewashing, and the reality.

  11. blf says

    And more (related), Visually impaired users complain after rail websites go greyscale for Prince Philip:

    Gesture backfires as customers highlight accessibility issues, with one saying UK has ‘completely lost the plot’

    A leading sight charity has stressed the need for inclusive web design after rail websites switched to black and white to mark Prince Philip’s death, leaving partially sighted people struggling.

    Network Rail and National Rail websites [and others] turned from colour to greyscale on Monday morning in a tribute to the Duke of Edinburgh. The gesture backfired after customers highlighted accessibility issues and complained they could no longer use the website.


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