BBC News

It's the end of the world, and the BBC feels fine

By Anthony Zurcher
Editor, Echo Chambers

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And now on BBC, it's the end of life as we know it …

Earlier this month we covered the revelation that Ted Turner, founder of the news channel CNN, ordered a sign-off video ready to air in case the apocalypse were nigh.

His pick? Rather pedestrian footage of a US Army band playing Nearer My God to Thee.

Convinced there were better choices out there, we asked readers what they would select as a farewell song for the BBC, which (as far as we know) doesn't have anything cued up in case of imminent doomsday.

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image captionSorry, Spice Girls, no one wants your songs as a global farewell

Our suggestion, God Save the Queen, was one of the more popular choices, for obvious reasons, although the particular version sparked a bit of divergence. Dylan M Clayton from Kentucky prefers Brian May's electric guitar rendition, while several other readers chose the more subversive Sex Pistols classic by the same name.

Despite being an American band, REM gets several plugs with It's the End of the World as We Know It (and I Feel Fine). The very British group Queen gets Ran Yakumo's nod with their Don't Stop Me Now. "A proper send-off for an Earth that wasn't ready for the end."

"Whenever I imagine the BBC signing off whilst nuclear weapons rain down on London (which is surprisingly often), I picture Abide With Me, sung by the Kings College Choir, being played," writes another reader. "This is the only song which can truly capture the end of the world; it is mournful, hopeful and quintessentially British."

Amy Soyka envisions some kind of global epitaph, transmitted into space for a future society to stumble upon. "I think something like the Voyager spacecraft plates would be best," she writes. "Summarising the laws of evolution, maths, geography ... things like that."

Brian Tilbury of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, also has a non-musical choice, picking the old BBC standby, the Shipping Forecast. "Nice, peaceful, unemotional monotone," he writes.

Barney Scott agrees that a BBC-specific option would be best. He writes: "Either from a programme the BBC made, such as What a Wonderful World, which The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy used as its end tune, or what the BBC uses every day - Sailing By, which rounds off the Radio 4 day."

Hal Coyle of Cambridge, Massachusetts, says he was "disappointed by the blandness" of CNN's offering. He'd opt for something a bit more satirical: "My suggestion is the closing to the old Warner Bros. Looney Tunes cartoons, complete with its wacky music and Porky Pig's sign-off: 'Th-th-that's All, Folks!'"

There was one suggestion that stood apart as the clear winner, however. Steve Fanning of Australia, Chris Cope of Wales and Marcel Malherbe were among those who picked the old Monty Python standby, Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.

"Quintessentially British and perfect for the Beeb," writes Peter Drennan of Hampshire.

"It's the beauty of Vera Lynn with the humour of Rowan Atkinson," Jude Kirkham of Vancouver, Canada, writes. "So possibly an image of Mr Bean waving the flag while not wearing pants if you need a video accompaniment."

So that's how the world should end. Not with a bang, but with a jingle. Cheerio!

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