This Sunday, 11 June 2006 at 730PM, the ABC will begin transmitting the BBC two part series, “The Queen at 80”. This is sure to attract far more attention and interest than the predictable republican stunt timed for the official Queen’s Birthday in all states and territories, except for Western Australia, which will celebrate the birthday on 2 October 2006. (I shall return to that republican stunt in my next column-but I assure you it will be of no more interest than that embarrassing fiasco, the “mate for a head of state” campaign.) The ABC’s transmission on 23 April 2006 about Rolf Harris and his painting of The Queen attracted a record nationwide TV audience of 1.28 million. This was the largest audience for this slot this year, and larger than any ABC audience for any programme in that week.
Last year, on 12 April 2005, we reported that, against the predictions of the commentariat and the attempts of the republicans to denigrate them, an enormous nationwide TV audience had watched the wedding of Prince Charles and Camilla. This was early on Sunday morning when most Australians are usually in bed or they are not at home. This programme, about a Sovereign who has reigned for more than half the life of the nation, whom we never pay and who will never receive a golden handshake or generous superannuation, and who has always done her duty, is sure to attract a very large audience.