Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Where's Richard Dimbleby When You Need Him?

I have heard it said that no one does pageantry like the British. But I watched the memorial services for President Ford and the pomp and ceremony surrounding his burial, just as I had watched the even more elaborate trappings surrounding the funeral of Ronald Reagan in 2004, and I must admit that the protocol and the split second timing of the proceedings were second to none. Only one thing was missing: Richard Dimbleby.

We are so used to the phalanx of reporters, analysts, color commentators, statisticians, background commentators, in-depth observers, presidential historians and research assistants, all with pages of notes and laptops at the ready, that it is hard to believe that the BBC rolled all those functions into one job description and the person doing the job was Richard Dimbleby. He had begun as a radio reporter and there are audio files of his war-time reporting, including the liberation of Bergen-Belsen. But he came into his own describing the pageantry of the British Royal family, first on radio, later on television. Here he is describing the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in his “warm and mellifluous voice”.

He was called “the voice of the nation”. I would love to have heard him tackle one of these state occasions single handed.

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