BBC Songs of Praise producer who compared people who sing Rule Britannia to Nazis doubles down on her attack and calls for Proms anthem to be REWRITTEN
- BBC Songs of Praise producer Cat Lewis blasted the song Rule Britannia
- She compared it to Nazis shouting about not being forced into gas chambers
- Ms Lewis has now doubled down, saying ‘slavery was Britain’s holocaust’
- She has also called for a national competition to find new lyrics for the song
Cat Lewis said that singing about how Britons would ‘never be slaves’ during Rule Britannia was akin to Nazis shouting about how they would ‘never be forced into a gas chamber’
A Songs of Praise producer who compared singing Rule Britannia to Nazis singing about gas chambers has doubled down on he attack and called for the anthem to be rewritten.
Cat Lewis said that singing about how Britons would ‘never be slaves’ during Rule Britannia was akin to Nazis shouting about how they would ‘never be forced into a gas chamber’.
Her comments came amid the controversy over the decision to not sing the patriotic anthem, along with Land of Hope and Glory, at the Last Night of the Proms this year.
Ms Lewis, the CEO of Nine Lives Media, which produces the BBC programme Songs of Praise, has now expanded on her earlier comments, saying she thinks ‘slavery was Britain’s holocaust’.
She added: ‘We should apologise for it properly and yet at the moment, we have NO memorial to enslaved people in the UK. We should not celebrate slave owners.
‘And we should not sing in a gloating way that Britons will never be enslaved, when we were responsible for enslaving so many. We should have anthems which celebrate what is truly great about the UK, which we can all sing and this will help unite our country.’
Ms Lewis then said if she was producing the Proms, she would suggest a national competition to find new lyrics for Rule Britannia and Land of Hope and Glory to find ‘words which celebrate and unify our fantastic country, because the music to both is undoubtedly fabulous’.
The Royal Navy had been involved in the slave trade before the practise was abolished in 1807.
It had slaves working in Jamaican and Antiguan dockyards and had its ships escort slave vessels along Africa’s coast, supporting the heinous trade as part of its duty to protect British sea interests.
After the defeat of French Emperor Napoleon at Waterloo in 1815, British naval supremacy was secured, and the West Coast of Africa Station ‘preventative squadron’ was established, which operated against slavers for the next 50 years.
The lyrics to Rule Britannia
Rule, Britannia! Britannia, rule the waves!
Britons never, never, never shall be slaves.
When Britain first, at heaven’s command,
Arose from out the azure main,
This was the charter of the land,
And Guardian Angels sang this strain:
The nations not so blest as thee
Must, in their turn, to tyrants fall,
While thou shalt flourish great and free:
The dread and envy of them all.
Still more majestic shalt thou rise,
More dreadful from each foreign stroke,
As the loud blast that tears the skies
Serves but to root thy native oak.
Thee haughty tyrants ne’er shall tame;
All their attempts to bend thee down
Will but arouse thy generous flame,
But work their woe and thy renown.
To thee belongs the rural reign;
Thy cities shall with commerce shine;
All thine shall be the subject main,
And every shore it circles, thine.
The Muses, still with freedom found,
Shall to thy happy coasts repair.
Blest isle! with matchless beauty crowned,
And manly hearts to guard the fair.
Rule, Britannia! Britannia, rule the waves!
Britons never, never, never shall be slaves
Action was also taken against African leaders who would not agree to British treaties to outlaw the slave trade, such as ‘the usurping King of Lagos’, who was deposed in 1851.
Traditionally, Rule Britannia is performed at London’s Royal Albert Hall every year.
The anthem had started as a poem by Scottish poets James Thomson and David Mallet.
English composer Thomas Augustine Arne composed the music, with the first performance taking place on August 1, 1740, at Cliveden House, Maidenhead for a masque about Alfred the Great.
The BBC had initially considered dropping Rule Britannia and Land of Hope and Glory from the Proms following criticism of their supposed links to slavery and colonialism.
After a huge row bosses rowed back and announced they would be played instead, but not sung.
A BBC spokesperson said: ‘For the avoidance of any doubt, these songs will be sung next year.
‘We obviously share the disappointment of everyone that the Proms will have to be different but believe this is the best solution in the circumstances and look forward to their traditional return next year.’
Ms Lewis had also recently said that she ‘really misses’ Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, saying their departure was ‘such a lost opportunity to modernise the monarchy.’
She has also tweeted her support for Black Lives Matter and Michelle Obama standing to be President of the United States.
Ms Lewis has worked as a network executive producer since 2002 following a career as a producer/director and on screen news reporter for the BBC and Granada.
She is a BAFTA judge, Chair of the Royal Television Society in the North West, and ex-Vice Chair of the TV national trade body Pact.
It came after Boris Johnson condemned the BBC for ‘wetness’ as both Conservative and Labour politicians united to attack the corporation over its decision to drop the singing of Rule Britannia and Land of Hope and Glory.
Speaking on a visit to a Devon shipyard, the PM said he ‘could not believe’ the BBC’s decision to censor the much-loved anthems.
‘I think it’s time we stopped our cringing embarrassment about our history, about our traditions, and about our culture, and we stopped this general fight of self-recrimination and wetness. I wanted to get that off my chest.’
She tweeted: ‘Do those Brits who believe it’s OK to sing an 18th Century song about never being enslaved, written when the UK was enslaving and killing millions of innocents, also believe it’s appropriate for neo-Nazis to shout, ”We will never be forced into a gas chamber.” ‘
The BBC prompted a fresh row after announcing that traditional favourites such as Land Of Hope And Glory will be performed without lyrics at the Proms (pictured in 2014)
Ms Lewis had recently said that she ‘really misses’ Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, saying their departure was ‘such a lost opportunity to modernise the monarchy.’ She has also tweeted her support for Black Lives Matter and Michelle Obama standing to be President of the United States
Andrea Jenkyns, Deputy Chairwoman of the European Research Group and MP for Morley and Outwood, voiced her opposition to the BBC’s ‘woke agenda’.
Ms Jenkyns, herself a soprano singer and songwriter, told MailOnline: ‘The BBC’s metropolitan managers have been looking for any excuse to pursue their woke agenda.
What is the history of Rule, Britannia and Land of Hope and Glory?
Rule, Britannia originates from the poem of the same name by Scottish poet and playwright James Thomson, and was set to music by English composer Thomas Arne in 1740.
It gained popularity in the UK after it was first played in London in 1745 and became symbolic of the British Empire, most closely associated with the British Navy.
The song has been used as part of a number of compositions, including Wagner’s concert overture in D Major in 1837 and Beethoven’s orchestral work, Wellington’s Victory.
The song has been an integral part of the annual Remembrance Day ceremony since 1930, when it became the first song played in the programme known as The Traditional Music.
It regained popularity at the end of WWII in 1945 after it was played at the ceremonial surrender of the Japanese imperial army in Singapore.
Rule, Britannia is usually played annually during at the BBC’s Last Night of the Proms.
Left-wing critics claimed its inclusion has promoted controversy in recent years as it was deemed too patriotic.
The song ‘Land of Hope and Glory’ is based on the trio theme from Elgar’s Pomp And Circumstance March No. 1, which was originally premiered in 1901.
It caught the attention of King Edward VII after it became the only piece in the history of the Proms to receive a double encore.
King Edward suggested that this trio would make a good song, and so Elgar worked it into the last section of his Coronation Ode, to be performed at King Edward’s coronation.
‘Patriotic songs are a huge part of British culture, and coming together to enjoy them as part of events such as St George’s Day is traditional in communities around the country.
‘I totally support upholding those traditions. I’ll continue singing them, as I have for many years.’
Foreign Office minister James Cleverly wrote: ‘I’m black. My mum was black. I have black family. I have black friends. I have black colleagues. I have black constituents. Number of times that the Last Night of the Proms was raised with me as an issue before this BBC nonsense? Zero.’
Meanwhile, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer also weighed into the row, with a Labour spokesman saying the Proms was a ‘staple of the British summer’ and enjoying patriotic songs ‘was not a barrier to examining our past and learning lessons from it’.
BBC director-general Lord Hall said he backed the decision over the Proms. He told the BBC’s media editor Amol Rajan: ‘They’ve come to the right conclusion.’
Asked whether there had been a discussion about dropping songs because of their association with Britain’s imperial history, Lord Hall said: ‘The whole thing has been discussed by David (Pickard, the director) and his colleagues of course it has.’
North West Durham MP Richard Holden wrote: ‘Another stupid move from the BBC. Just let the people sing! At every turn the BBC just dig the hole they’re in a bit deeper. They need to stop with this attempt to appease the woke morons.’
Others mocked the corporation for its suggestion that singing the songs would be too risky due to the Covid pandemic, noting that the National Anthem will still be sung by a lone voice on the evening of September 12. Meanwhile, Nigel Farage and former Labour MP Kate Hoey called for the BBC to be ‘defunded’.
The BBC stood by its decision and suggested it came from within the corporation, rather than others involved with the event like the conductor, Dalia Stasevska. A spokesman said: ‘The decisions taken are the BBC’s.
‘We very much regret the unjustified personal attacks on Dalia Stasevska, BBC Symphony Orchestra Principal Guest Conductor made on social media and elsewhere.’
Business Secretary Alok Sharma told Times Radio: ‘I think the Last Night of the Proms brings a huge amount of pleasure to millions of people. I personally think it’s a very joyful occasion, I think it will be quite strange without a live audience there. We’ve heard the BBC’s position that they will maintain the traditions.
‘Personally I would like to see the lyrics sung and of course it is always possible to put lyrics up as subtitles on the screen so if people want to they can join in at home.’
Lord Digby Jones criticised the BBC today, while BBC TV presenter Simon McCoy also appeared to mock the decision, writing ‘There are no words’
Nigel Farage suggested the BBC ‘needs cancelling’ when reacting to the ongoing Last Night of the Proms row this morning
Kate Hoey, the former MP for Vauxhall, said the Proms was ‘not worth watching’ without the lyrics to the anthems
Tory MPs Andrew Griffith and Alexander Stafford both urged the BBC to row back on their decision not to sing the anthems’ lyrics
Lord Adonis said it was ‘laughable’ for the BBC to censor the songs, adding: ‘I haven’t got a clue what possessed them to think there was a problem with them.’
James Max, a trustee of the Royal Albert Hall, accused the BBC of ‘running scared’ from anti-British zealots, and added: ‘I do not want to see a woke agenda foisted upon the nation.’
Laurence Fox: Let’s get Land of Hope and Glory to Number One
The actor Laurence Fox has urged his 230,000 Twitter followers to help get Land of Hope and Glory to number one in the UK single’s chart.
Tweeting a version by national treasure Vera Lynn, he wrote: ‘Wouldn’t it be great if we could all come together to get Dame Vera Lynn’s version of ‘Land of Hope and Glory’ number one in the charts?
‘Would the @BBC then have to play it? What a beautiful day that would be. Please share widely. RT #DefundTheBBC.’
The post has already been shared thousands of times.
The actor’s tweet to his 230,000 followers today
The decision was also apparently mocked by BBC presenter Simon McCoy, who tweeted: ‘There are no words..’
Meanwhile, Laurence Fox told Talk Radio: ‘The BBC is run by the activists. It’s a naval-gazing, British-hating institution that needs to be massively defunded and have a complete root and branch reform because they are not representative of the country and extremely patronising.’
‘The BBC is run by the activists that we’re watching all of the time. It’s a naval-gazing, British-hating institution that needs to be massively defunded and have a complete root and branch reform because they are not representative of the country and extremely patronising.’
Fox also urged Britons to move Vera Lynn’s version of Land and Hope and Glory to number one, saying: ‘Wouldn’t it be great’.
The actor claimed the BBC had fallen victim to a ‘woke-ist takeover’, adding: ‘It doesn’t matter what colour or creed or religion you are, you can get behind a great song. The tune is fab, I think the words are fairly trite myself but as you say it’s a highlight and stop trying to erase our history.
‘I sincerely hope so, I think the BBC as they are at the moment – with notable exceptions – in a catastrophically London bubble of ridiculousness. This is utterly divisive.
‘There’s something wonderful about being British, whether you’re black, white or Asian. So if you don’t like being British, don’t be British. The BBC hate the nation and they hate everything about it, and I as a result feel that I hate them because I’m so proud of this country.’
Earlier he tweeted: ‘Defund this shameful, Britain hating organisation and start again. The lunatics are in charge of the asylum. #DefundTheBBC.’
The row over this year’s proms schedule began on Sunday, when it was reported that Rule Britannia and Land of Hope and Glory would both be dropped.
The conductor for this year’s Last Night, Dalia Stasevska of Finland, was among those reported to want to reduce the patriotic elements of the event.
She was said to believed that the lack of an audience was the ‘perfect moment to bring about change’.
Rule Britannia and Land of Hope and Glory are part of the final night’s finale, when thousands of flagwaving ‘prommers’ traditionally pack the Royal Albert Hall
But the news prompted a huge backlash, with Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden urging the BBC not to ‘erase our history’.
Meanwhile, Laurence Fox tweeted: ‘I feel so honoured to be British and part of the incredible and diverse modern nation we have become.
‘Without the past, we wouldn’t be where we are today. I wish the BBC would stop hating Britain so much. #DefundTheBBC’.
In a bid to defuse the row, BBC bosses finally announced that the Last Night on September 12 would still feature ‘familiar, patriotic elements’.
It said: ‘With much reduced musical forces and no live audience, the Proms will curate a concert that includes familiar, patriotic elements such as Jerusalem and the National Anthem, and bring in new moments capturing the mood of this unique time, including You’ll Never Walk Alone, presenting a poignant and inclusive event for 2020.
‘The programme will include a new arrangement by Errollyn Wallen of Hubert Parry’s Jerusalem alongside new orchestral versions of Pomp and Circumstance March No 1 ‘Land of Hope and Glory’ (arr. Anne Dudley) and Rule Britannia as part of the Sea Songs, as Henry Wood did in 1905.’
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