In a week or so’s time, BBC Parliament is going to be repeating Election ’87.
Fair enough, it’s 20 years (and a bit) since Mrs Thatcher told Robin Day she could well be “twanging a harp” by the year 2000, prompting David Dimbleby to remark on how at least she was “absolutely convinced she’s going to heaven one day”. But the channel has shown Election ’87 before (in 2005) and there are surely other epic transmissions from the archive that could be marched out to fill its schedules before Westminster opens for business.
Thatcher’s resignation, for instance. The launch of Operation Desert Shield (or, if that’s not exciting enough, Operation Desert Storm). If the 1981 Royal Wedding is still deemed out of bounds (“Throw a handful of good wishes after them”) how about the Royal Fireworks from the night before (“The Queen and twenty craned heads from other lands…bonfire built by Boy Skates…”) or even the 1973 Royal Wedding (“You’re gonna doublet? I doan believe ya!”).
Maybe there could be a By-Election Bonanza, with an entire weekend devoted to some of history’s most famous one-off counts, linked with special commentary from David Butler (he’s still alive, y’know). There’s even one whole general election yet to be aired: Election ’59, which, with Richard Dimbleby at the helm, was surely a majestically gregarious affair.
Basically there are loads of gems waiting for re-airing, which makes the second coming again of Election ’87 rather underwhelming. Alternatively, and to shut up all those whinging about “BBC cuts”, why not replace BBC3 with BBC+30: a real-time re-run of exactly what was appearing on BBC1 30 years ago to the day. It’d get the Daily Mail’s hackles up, but also the viewing figures. A win-win situation!