‘No news is good news’ according to the French author, Ludovic Halevy, and he may have had a point – life looks much cheerier when you’re not being reminded of the wickedness of the world every news bulletin.
And so it was yesterday when the BBC journalists walked out in a 24-hour strike to protest at possible compulsory redundancies.
I’m a regular listener to BBC Radio Five and it was very odd to hear stand-in presenters trying to make the most of what little news they could lay their hands on and recycling old news when they couldn’t.
For example, there was a repeat of an interview with Prof Brian Cox talking about his Wonders of Life series that was originally broadcast last week. Of course Cox used to be better known as keyboard player for D:Ream on Things Can Only Get Better, but they didn’t, at least not for the presenters.
They had to dress up re-runs of Saturday night’s football phone-in as news, as well as an old interview with Paul Hollywood from the Great British Bake Off on the therapeutic benefits of kneading dough and spelt loaves.
What saved the day was the death of Richard Briers which pretty well became the major news story of the day as the Beeb wheeled luvvie after luvvie to attest to what a wonderful person he was even though they didn’t actually know him very well.
Not that this is the first day in history without news. Above is a cutting from the Hampshire Chronicle of 1822 that was comprised entirely of advertisements, apart the short paragraph that read:
The past week has been productive of no occurrence, either foreign or domestic, of sufficient public interest to claim particular notice.
And famously on 18 April 1930, a BBC presenter announced ‘Good evening. Today is Good Friday. There is no news.’ It had been judged that nothing newsworthy had happened at all that day.
But for non-BBC watchers and listeners, here is the BBC news from yesterday: