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UK and international broadcasters mark death of Queen Elizabeth II

Queen Elizabeth II (photo: Joel Rouse/Ministry of Defence via CC)

Broadcasters in the UK, the Commonwealth and other parts of the world have revised their schedules following the death yesterday of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, aged 96.

The BBC has made wholesale changes to the programme schedules for BBC One and BBC Two today, with rolling news on its flagship channel all day as the nation begins a period of mourning to mark the death of the longest reigning monarch in its history.

Richard Sharp, BBC chairman, and Tim Davie, director general at the pubcaster, both signed a message of condolence to the Royal Family on behalf of the BBC board yesterday, calling Her Majesty “the absolute embodiment of public service.”

Sharp and Davie added: “She was a unifying figure across generations, communities and borders, who represented the very best of our nation. We are grateful at the BBC to have witnessed, recorded and shared so many of the special moments in her long life and reign. She will always be remembered with the greatest affection and admiration.”

The pubcaster has also given programming about Queen Elizabeth II a prominent position on the landing page of its streaming service iPlayer, with documentaries including The Longest Reign: The Queen and Her People, The Queen and I, and When the Queen Spoke to the Nation being made available.

The death of Queen Elizabeth II was announced at around 18.30 on September 8, with a statement from Buckingham Palace coming after BBC One suspended its regular programming following news that the Queen was under medical supervision at Balmoral.

Commercially funded public service broadcaster ITV is currently airing an extended ITV News Special, without commercial breaks for the time being, while feature-length documentary Queen Elizabeth II: The Longest Reign, presented by Jonathan Dimbleby, is due to air this evening. Further programming will be announced in due course, ITV said.

Last night, ITV aired Queen Elizabeth II, an hour-long obituary programme narrated by Mary Nightingale, looking at the life of the Queen and featuring interviews with relatives and commentators.

The schedules of Channel 4 and Channel 5 today remain unchanged at the time of writing. Alex Mahon, C4’s CEO, issued the following statement: “On behalf of Channel 4, we are deeply saddened by the death of Her Majesty The Queen and our thoughts and condolences are with her family and the whole country.

“For over 70 years, she has united this nation, supporting the right of everyone to have the opportunity to succeed and celebrating the rich diversity of our communities.”

Netflix, meanwhile, is reportedly set to pause filming on season six of The Crown, which began production last month, out of respect for the Royal Family.

Elsewhere, broadcasters around the world, and particularly in the Commonwealth, have scheduled programming to mark the life of Queen Elizabeth II, who served as head of state in the UK for more than 70 years.

Broadcasters have been readying Royal Family-orientated programming for their schedules for such circumstances, with many already having aired content celebrating the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee earlier this year.

The Queen was also head of state of 14 other countries including Australia, Canada and Jamaica.

In Australia, live coverage of the death of Queen Elizabeth II has continued throughout the day, with a two-hour special set to air this evening.

“Regular programming has been suspended as we reflect on her life and death,” the Aussie pubcaster said.

Network Ten has also been airing extended news updates throughout the day, with the following programming set to air this evening: The Queen: In Her Own Words, Her Majesty The Queen: A Gayle King Special, Elizabeth & Phillip: Royals Revealed and The Queen: A Royal Life.

In New Zealand, TVNZ1’s regular schedule has been replaced by breaking news coverage as the pubcaster commemorates the life of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

Elsewhere, in the US, ABC News is airing special coverage celebrating the Queen’s life including live coverage from London and Scotland and three primetime specials. Last night it aired Queen Elizabeth II: A Royal Life – A Special Edition of 20/20, which is also streaming on Hulu today.

Meanwhile, the new monarch, King Charles III, will deliver a televised address to the UK today in his first speech since the death of his mother, with the Royal Family observing a period of mourning from now until seven days after the Queen’s funeral. The date of the Queen’s funeral, set to be watched by millions around the world, has not yet been confirmed.

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