There are precious few august Anglo-Saxon traditionsthat can be said to have survived unsullied for nine centuries. One of them is the musical tradition of England's Winchester Cathedral, celebrating its 900th anniversary this year.
A television special about the Winchester Catherdal Choir of boys and men as they work in their majestic edifice that dates from 1079 A.D. - that's 13 years after the Norman Conquest and almost a century and a half before the Magna Carta - airs tonight 10 on Channel 4.
Such a show gives promise of great visual possibilities for the television screen. For Winchester was for centuries the capital of England, before London began to overtake it. Here 30 kings were crowned and 28 kings are buried.
An as WRC's Jim Hartz mentions in his narrative, Winchester is where King Alfred is buried and where King Arthur's round table is located.
But it is in the fact that such things are only mentioned, but never shown, that the central flaw of the show lies. Instead of treating the viewer to an evocative hour of the sights and inhabitants of one of the world's great cathedral towns, the show is in a rush to join the choir on an anniversary tour of the United States. Instead of shots of the grand stained glass, we have shots of the choir boarding a plane and touring the Mall in a Greyhound bus. It becomes predominantly a travelogue of Washington, of all things.
The music, though, is lovely.And in a rare event by a network station, it will be simulcast in stereo on WGMSFM (103.5).