AA Gill’s Television Review of Glastonbury. Tells it like it is.

AA Gill Television Review of Glastonbury.  Tell's it like it is.

“When exactly did Glastonbury morph into being part of the season, along with Ascot, the Chelsea Flower Show and Henley? Last week the BBC’s two big outside broadcasts were Wimbledon and the hippie festival. This is how the Establishment works – younger democracies and unpopular autocracies observe and learn. You don’t put down the opposition, you don’t lean on it or threaten it, you co-opt it, you fold it into the great liberal, knowing embrace of the Establishment.

And the BBC is the Establishment’s pimp. Nothing turns the rebel into the courtier as easily, as smoothly, as an invitation to the last chair on Question Time, or the ultimate national accolade of a date with Kirsty on her Desert Island; so Glastonbury has become the thing it thought it was the alternative to. Just wait, in a couple of years it will be a club and have its own tie.

The BBC production was schizophrenic, the right hand pretending not to see what the left hand was smoking…

…Then there were the presenters. There isn’t actually any need for on-screen presenters. It could be done more low key, like Wimbledon, but the BBC wants to brand Glasto, make it their own, so we get the DJs, who, like the cast of The Archers, are best unseen. They made the event look and sound like Blue Peter. Enthusiastic and avuncular, it was a holiday challenge, and nobody mentioned the drugs – just as Val and Peter never mentioned the pissing elephant or the fact that Shep was dead. A hundred thousand middle-aged, middle income members of the new Establishment wigging out to the Stones from a K-hole that could be seen from space, and the DJ presenters are mincing Famous Five dialogue, mentioning the occassional half-pint of tasty cider in the naughty tent.

The way you can tell Glasto has passed over to the Establishment is when you watch it and know it doesn’t feel like being there. If makes you feel excluded, with your nose pressed up against the small glass window in the green beige door. We’re getting a glimpse from the servers’ quarters, as the ‘jeunesse doree’ gambol in that last long hot summer of indolence and privilege before the start of the Great War centenary.”

AA Gill
The Sunday Times, 7/7/13

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