Royal Moments in Broadcasting


Royal Visit, 1939

Here comes the Royal Family now. The automobile has now stopped....
Oh, there's the King -- he's stepping out, followed by her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, nattily attired in a silver coat.
Mr. King is now shaking hands with the King and introducing Mr. Queen to the King and Queen and then Mrs. Queen to the Queen and King.
They are now proceeding up the steps to the well-decorated City Hall, the King and Mr. King together with the Queen being escorted by Mrs. Queen. The King has now stopped and said something to Mrs. Queen and goes to Mrs. Queen and the Queen and Mr. King and the Queen laughed jovially. The King leaves Mr. King and goes to Mrs. Queen, and the Queen and Mr. King follow behind....

- From CBC Radio report of the 1939 visit of King George VI and Queen Elizabeth to Winnipeg, where they were greeted by Prime Minister Mackenzie King and Winnipeg Mayor John Queen and Mrs. Queen.



Royal Wedding, 1981

When Horace rolled out the Redcar pet

By Nancy Banks-Smith

With hindsight you seem to see Princess Diana's wedding and her funeral like a double exposure. The golden coach and the gun carriage. The cheering and the weeping.

You Had To Be There (BBC 1) was devoted to the euphoria of the wedding day. Nothing increased the gaiety of the nation more than the BBC's experiment in subtitling, and this was bravely included. They had hoped to increase the enjoyment of the deaf, and I don't doubt they did.

The subtitling computer, bless it -- and I never thought to say that about a computer -- was supposed to translate Tom Fleming's florid commentary. Happily, subtitling was still in its extreme infancy. I immediately thought of the computer as Horace. Horace was the baby in Harry Hemsley's radio show whose burbling ("What did Horace say, Winnie?") was only intelligible to his little sister.

Horace's humble vocabulary of 8,000 words was hardly up to his heroic task, but you could not fault his enthusiasm. "Heer the seen!"he cried. "What a po No plee of colour!" At the BBC's subtitling department Isla Beard "knew something was going wrong from the indrawn breath of the rest of the team".

Horace plunged on, boldly going where no subtitling computer had been before. Like a tipsy toastmaster he introduced the arrivals at the royal wedding. The Queen, sparkling with quistls, and the Dew of Edinburgh. Princess Anne, very sump with a big firll down the sid, and her then husband, Canon Lips. The Queen Mother with a cloud of S prays round her face. And udder members of the royal fasmli.

By now the Prince of Wales had ascended the Redcar pet. When Horace caught sight of Lady Dja ana he lost all power of coherent speech. She foamed out of the class coach in hundreds of jarts of veil and a gate big skirt. And didn't she just.

The bells were wringing as the happy pear drove down Fleet Street past the printers pup. With a premonitory sense of dread I felt myself pray "Dear God, don't let him try to say 'Oranges and lemons say the bells of St Clements.'" Too late! Horace plunged in like a hero. "O wnjn js . . ."

I phoned this garble over to a copy taker. To this day I can remember with awe the stoic heroism of that remarkable man, and hear my own cry "Don't let them correct it!" The Guardian had something of a reputation for literals and was quite likely to choose this very day to be word-perfect.

Afterwards I got a very stiff letter from the BBC saying I had put back subtitling for the deaf 10 years, and they hoped I was happy. And, of course, I was. We all were.