The BBC, ITV and Sky News will go head-to-head with live coverage of the Duke of Edinburgh‘s funeral tomorrow as all three broadcasters plan an afternoon of special coverage to attract millions of viewers across Britain.
The BBC will start its six hours of funeral coverage at 11am on BBC One with The Duke: In His Own Words, one of Prince Philip’s last interviews, which was conducted by the Daily Mail’s Robert Hardman.
Huw Edwards will front the coverage, with JJ Chalmers and Sophie Raworth reporting from ‘key locations’, after a week that saw the BBC receive nearly 110,000 complaints about the amount of coverage it gave to Philip’s death.
Edwards will host live coverage at Windsor Castle from 12.30pm to 4.20pm on BBC One, and a show on BBC Two reflecting on the day’s events from 8.10pm. He will also host HRH The Duke of Edinburgh Remembered tonight.
ITV’s funeral coverage from 1.15pm will be fronted by Tom Bradby and Julie Etchingham. Prince William recently ended his long-standing friendship with Bradby because of his concerns he sided with Prince Harry.
Sky News will have dedicated live coverage of the funeral from 12.30pm to 5pm from Windsor, with breakfast with Jayne Secker, mid-morning Sarah Hewson, special coverage by Dermot Murnaghan, and Mark Austin from 5pm.
Huw Edwards (left) will front the BBC’s funeral coverage from Windsor Castle with Sophie Raworth (right) also appearing
JJ Chalmers, pictured with Prince Harry in Florida in May 2016, will also be appearing on the BBC’s coverage tomorrow
Anna Botting will host Sky’s coverage in the evening. In addition, royal commentator Alastair Bruce, who is close to members of the Royal Family, will be on Sky along with India Hicks, who is the second cousin of Prince Charles.
But the BBC’s and ITV’s programming will mean further schedule changes which could again spark complaints.
How to watch Prince Philip’s funeral tomorrow
- 11am-12pm: The Duke: In His Own Words
- 12.30pm-4.20pm: The Funeral of HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh
- 8.10pm-9.10pm: The Funeral of HRH the Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh (review programme)
- 1.15pm-4.30pm: Prince Philip – A Royal Funeral
12.30pm-5.30pm: Prince Philip’s Funeral
Meanwhile the BBC revealed it had received a record 109,741 complaints about the amount of coverage it had given to Philip’s death, which is believed to be the record for complaints in British television history.
The BBC cleared its schedules last Friday, the day of the Duke’s death, to simulcast special programmes on BBC One and BBC Two, with episodes of shows such as MasterChef and EastEnders dropped from that day’s TV guide.
After the duke’s death at Windsor Castle on Friday, viewers tuning into BBC Four were greeted with a message urging them to switch over for a ‘major news report’ while BBC Radio 4 and BBC Radio 5 Live also aired programmes about the duke.
The BBC said in a statement: ‘The passing of HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh was a significant event which generated a lot of interest both nationally and internationally.
‘We acknowledge some viewers were unhappy with the level of coverage given and impact this had on the billed TV and radio schedules.
‘We do not make such changes without careful consideration and the decisions made reflect the role the BBC plays as the national broadcaster during moments of national significance.
‘We are grateful for all feedback and we always listen to the response from our audiences.’
The BBC also received complaints from viewers about the inclusion of the Duke of York in its coverage despite his association with the convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein. Andrew stepped down from royal duties over his friendship with the late financier in 2019.
ITV’s funeral coverage from 1.15pm will be fronted by Prince Harry’s friend Tom Bradby (left) and Julie Etchingham (right)
Bradby hosted an ITV documentary in South Africa in 2019 which Harry used to publicly confirm a feud with his brother
Sky News will have dedicated live coverage of the funeral, presented by Dermot Murnaghan (left) then Mark Austin (right)
The BBC said: ‘All of Prince Philip’s children gave a tribute to their father following his passing, which we have covered in our news programming.
Jeremy Vine is blasted for turning Prince Philip’s funeral into ‘race issue’ by pointing out that all the guests are white
Jeremy Vine was accused of turning the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral into a ‘race issue’ after he pointed out that the guests at the ceremony would all be white.
Speaking on his Channel 5 show yesterday, the presenter questioned whether this lack of diversity was a ‘problem’.
But his remark sparked claims the presenter was focusing on a ‘divisive narrative’.
Yesterday Vine said on his morning talk show: ‘We are going to see a group of 30 people who are going to be at this very restricted funeral and I’m imagining it will be 30 people who are white.
‘I’m just trying to think whether there’s anybody of colour in there and I don’t think so.’ He then asked a guest: ‘Do you think that’s a problem?’
But Calvin Robinson, a senior fellow at the Policy Exchange think-tank, criticised the remarks.
Posting the clip on social media, he wrote: ‘Jeremy Vine even manages to turn HRH Prince Philip’s funeral into a race issue.
‘I’m so tired of this divisive narrative. Identity politics has taken over and it’s insidious.’
‘We have fully reported on the allegations against Prince Andrew and we have also made it clear that he has not been charged with any crime. We consider we have appropriately covered his comments.’
Also yesterday, Andrew Marr apologised after comparing Prince Philip to an ‘Indian bride’ in the way he used to walk ‘two steps’ behind the Queen at events.
The BBC released a statement saying the presenter accepted that the comment last Friday – the day of the duke’s death – had been ‘poorly phrased’.
The BBC News Special, on which it aired, received 433 complaints about the remark and the fact that an obituary for the duke was ‘negative’.
The BBC said: ‘When reflecting on the life of HRH The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, Andrew Marr gave his analysis of Prince Philip’s role within the monarchy and relationship with the Queen.
‘While doing this, Andrew made a remark which he accepts was poorly phrased, for which he apologises.’
There were another 119 complaints for Saturday’s news special amid claims it was ‘inappropriate’ to commentate over the 41-gun salute. The same day, BBC Breakfast got 130 complaints that the presenters were not appropriately dressed to mark the death.
The broadcaster set up a dedicated webpage for viewers to lodge their dissatisfaction at its coverage after it cleared its schedules to cover Philip’s death.
The form is a standard BBC approach when dealing with volume complaints on a temporary basis, the corporation said.
BBC News reported that the 109,741 complaints figure makes the ‘coverage of Prince Philip’s death the most complained-about piece of programming in BBC history’.
Some 63,000 people complained about the BBC’s screening of Jerry Springer: The Musical in 2005.
In March, Piers Morgan’s comments on Good Morning Britain about the Duchess of Sussex’s interview with Oprah Winfrey drew a record number of complaints for TV regulator Ofcom.
Episodes of the ITV breakfast show on March 8 and 9 sparked more than 57,000 complaints.
It later emerged that Meghan had also made a formal complaint to the watchdog about the TV host after he dismissed her account of suffering suicidal thoughts and experiencing racism at the hands of the Royal Family.
Media work at a temporary media facility set up by Windsor Castle today, ahead of the funeral tomorrow
A temporary media facility is set up by Windsor Castle today on the eve of the funeral which takes place at 3pm tomorrow
The funeral of the Duke of Edinburgh is likely to attract one of the largest television audiences of the year – though perhaps not the biggest.
Biggest British TV audiences of 2021 so far
1) 25.1million: Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s third lockdown announcement – January 4 (five channels)
2) 13.9million: Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s interview with Oprah Winfrey – March 8 (ITV)
3) 13.1million: Line of Duty first episode of new series – March 21 (BBC One)
That honour currently belongs to Prime Minister Boris Johnson, whose televised address on January 4 announcing a new national lockdown was watched by 25.1 million people across five channels.
Some 14.1 million watched on BBC One alone – the biggest TV audience for a single channel so far this year.
In second place is the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s interview with US broadcaster Oprah Winfrey, broadcast by ITV on March 8 and watched by 13.9 million.
BBC One’s police drama series Line Of Duty is in third place with an audience of 13.1 million for the launch of the latest series on March 21.
The last royal funeral to be extensively televised in the UK was that of the Queen Mother on April 9, 2002. An average of 5.1 million people watched BBC One’s coverage, while 2.7 million tuned to ITV.
The event took place on a Tuesday morning whereas the duke’s funeral is on a Saturday so it could attract a bigger audience.
The funeral service of Diana, Princess of Wales on September 6, 1997 was watched by 19.3 million people on BBC One and 11.7 million on ITV. It remains one of the most-watched live events in television history.
Ratings data is published by the audience research organisation Barb. All figures quoted are consolidated ratings, meaning they include people who recorded and watched a broadcast up to seven days later – the industry standard for measuring TV audiences.