LONDON (AP) — The BBC on Wednesday reversed its controversial decision to scrap the lyrics of two patriotic songs during its annual end-of-summer concert, saying it had found a way around the problem a day after its new director-general took office.
Britain’s publicly funded broadcaster said last week that the orchestra would perform instrumental versions of “Rule, Britannia!” and “Land of Hope and Glory,” instead of the traditional audience singalongs on the final night of its Proms concert series.
That decision sparked a backlash from people who said it was an example of political correctness run amok at a time when the Black Lives Matter movement has led to a re-examination of the British Empire, which the songs celebrate.
The BBC initially said the decision reflected events of this “extraordinary year,” including the fact that there would be no live audience for the concert due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But the broadcaster announced a U-turn on Wednesday, saying the songs would be performed by a select group of vocalists.
“We hope everyone will welcome this solution,’’ the BBC said in a statement. “We think the night itself will be a very special moment for the country — and one that is much needed after a difficult period for everyone.”
The decision comes a day after Tim Davie, who previously led the BBC’s primary commercial unit, succeeded Tony Hall as the corporation’s director general.