Last Night of the Proms
Sunday, 8.40pm, BBC UKTV The mayor of London, Boris Johnson, wrote during his recent visit to Australia, that ‘‘ we British are more deeply connected with the Australians — culturally and emotionally — than with any other country on earth’’. While his sentiments were undoubtedly heartfelt, after watching the BBC’s Last Night of the Proms, you may be questioning their veracity. The Proms — short for promenade concert — is the finale of an eight week summer season of classical music concerts at the Royal Albert Hall in London. They have been held since 1895, and are considered one of the world’s great classical music festivals. However, during 31/ hours on the final night, members of the audience, festooned with Union Jack hats, flags and paraphernalia, are given to increasingly eccentric displays of patriotism. As the program reaches its climax with Rule, Britannia!, Elgar’s Land of Hope and Glory, topped off with God Save the Queen, British reserve is abandoned in favour of a mass singalong. It delivers chills up the spine and side-splitting mirth in equal measure. It may be going too far to compare this to the Eurovision Song Contest, as the quality of the music is serious business. But in this respect it is identical: I wouldn’t miss it for anything.