Queen Mothers Death, How TV Reported The Sad News

IT was hardly unexpected so the BBC should have been fully geared up for the death of the Queen Mother at the grand old age of 101.

Veteran anchorman Peter Sissons was on Easter Saturday news duty.

But when he interrupted normal programmes to break the sad news to the nation he came over as a bumbling novice. He was clearly never a Boy Scout or he would have been much better prepared.

With just the brief announcement from Buckingham Palace to go on, he was completely lost.

If he quoted from the 40-word statement once he quoted from it a dozen times as the schedules were torn up and he played for time.

Royal correspondents Jennie Bond and Nicholas Witchell were rounded up but were just as bad at ad-libbing. They were both guilty of stating the blatantly obvious.

Yes, we all knew that given the Queen Mum’s age her demise did not come as a shock and yes, the death of her daughter Princess Margaret must have been a blow.

Sissons took a controversially aggressive stance pressing for details of the death bed scene.

The Queen Mother’s niece the Honourable Mrs Margaret Rhodes, who was present when she died, ticked him off twice on air.

Fortunately there was more than enough archive footage to fall back on although most of it was of course in black and white. Young viewers must have thought there was something wrong with their sets.

Jennie Bond came to the rescue with a list of the Queen Mother’s ailments over the years. It was clearly one she had prepared earlier.

When l

Updated: Monday 1 April 2002
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