Stand up for the National Anthem! BBC's 'banal' song for England gets a panning

08:13 by Editor · 0 Post a comment on AAWR

At state occasions and major sporting events, most of us find the National Anthem more than adequate to express our feelings. 

But the BBC thinks it can do better. 

It has teamed up with Arts Council England to create a song for England. 

This will be given its first airing on St George's Day and, if liked, could be offered as an alternative to God Save The Queen. 

The new song, which is 'intended to reflect English customs, ideas and creativity in contemporary times', is still in the process of being completed. 

But a couplet from the chorus, seen by the Daily Mail, gives a glimpse of its quality. It goes: 

'I am England - England is inside of me 

'I am England - England is what I want Her to be.' 

The anthem is the work of Sam Dunkley, a folk musician in his 20s, who has written the music and lyrics after talking to the old and young about England. 

It will form part of The Full English - a selection of artistic performances ranging from sketches to singing and dancing. Much of it will take place on a train journey between Luton and London. 

The event, which will air on regional TV, is inspired by John Betjeman's 1973 BBC film Metroland, which concentrated on suburban life to the north west of London. 

It is also part of a wider programme of events about Englishness under the banner Made In England. 

The performance will culminate on April 23 in the first public rendition of the anthem by a 150-strong choir of schoolchildren at St Pancras train station, where there is a statue of Betjeman. 

Shown the extract from the chorus, Tory MP Ann Widdecombe said: 'As far as I am concerned the National Anthem should stay exactly as it is, which is fine. 

'Secondly, those lines are so utterly banal that even an 11-year-old would disown them. 

'I am perfectly happy to be British and perfectly happy with the National Anthem as it is. I certainly don't aspire to rewrite anything.' 

Sir Roy Strong, art historian and broadcaster, who is writing a book about Englishness, said that while it was 'not exactly T.S. Eliot' he was not offended by the couplet. 

'I quite like it in a funny sort of way because I am sick to death of England being downtrodden. I think it is very assertive.' 

Sir Roy added: 'I would like to see the whole context of it really. It depends what else there is. 

'If it has all gone politically correct and in accordance with health and safety and everything else we could do without, it might be just dreadful.' 

He also said the anthem should recognise England's contribution to gardening, painting and sportsmanship as well as visionaries such as William Blake and Shakespeare. 

Janet Robertson, creative director of The Full English, said: 'It was decided that music is the single greatest unifying force, something to which everyone - regardless of race, creed or class - can respond.  continues here

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