'Despite occasional interference ...': Simon Armitage's poem 'Transmission Report' celebrates 100 years of the BBC

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The poet laureate, Simon Armitage, has published a poem to mark 100 years of the BBC. ‘Transmission Report’ was broadcast on the BBC’s The One Show, which was rebranded The 100 Hundred Show for a week. The poem, below, is performed in a video by Armitage, along with Jodie Whittaker, Professor Brian Cox, Carol Kirkwood, Clara Amfo, Jay Blades, Huw Edwards, Ralf Little, Craig Revel Horwood, Romesh Ranganathan, Fiona Bruce, Adrian Dunbar, Michelle Visage and stars of Ru Paul’s Drag Race UK Krystal Versace, Ella Vaday and Kitty Scott-Claus, Ross Kemp, Chris Packham, Clive Myrie, Sir Michael Palin, Liz Bonnin, Alex Scott, Ade Adepitan, Zoe Ball, and Dame Mary Berry accompanied by composer Patrick Pearson and The BBC’s Concert Orchestra.

Armitage’s poem says that despite “occasional interference”, the Beeb produces “deep vibrations in my brain cells, tear ducts and funny bones”. He adds, or rather news and Question Time presenter Fiona Bruce does in the video:  “As a bonus, it annoys the hell out of tyrants and moguls.”

I found the poem and video extremely moving. For all its faults, and its current nervousness concerning those that try to control it, those politicians that regularly traduce the BBC will never have or understand its warmth, its wit, its humanity.  Long live our BBC!

 

https://www.bbc.com/mediacentre/2022/bbc-centenary-poem-poet-laureate-simon-armitage

 

TRANSMISSION REPORT

by Simon Armitage

 

It’s the year two thousand and twenty two

on planet Earth, apparently, and I’m careering

through time and space, careening

between galaxies, scanning the frequencies.

The weather is mostly cosmic drizzle,

and the media mostly celestial drivel,

but for a century now I’ve picked up a station

called ‘the BBC’. And despite occasional 

interference

have experienced

deep vibrations

in my brain cells, tear ducts and funny bones.

As a bonus,

it annoys the hell out of tyrants and moguls.

But what is it, this BBC, this corporation

with nothing to flog, this soul of the nation?

If there’s some world order it’s trying to favour

then it’s a complete failure:

just recently I learnt all there is to know

about the sex life

of the natterjack toad,

then witnessed war,

then considered the meaning of meaning of life,

then deep-dived beneath Antarctic ice.

Then watched a pride of lionesses

make a football stadium’s grassy plain

its natural terrain.

Above gridlocked airwaves

and channels jammed with cross-talk and static

I set my clock and steer

by a signal that pulses keen and measured and 

clear.

 

PHOTOGRAPH: BBC

 

 

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Comments

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Stephen Gospage

Fri 28th Oct 2022 16:54

I think he has done the BBC proud. Some of the content may annoy us from time to time but in the end you can't beat public service broadcasting, free from adverts and media moguls.

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