The 18-year-old schoolboy who was the inspiration for some of Benjamin Britten's music in the late 1930s has died in Australia at the age of 96. Wulff Scherchen, the son of the conductor Hermann Scherchen, first met Britten in Italy when he was only 13, and later developed an intense relationship with the composer, whose long affair with the singer Peter Pears had not yet begun. Scherchen described his feelings for Britten in an extraordinarily frank and touching interview in John Bridcut's 2004 film Britten's Children. He was shown re-visiting Britten's home in Suffolk, and sat on the floor as he remembered Britten playing Beethoven for him on the piano, which reduced him to tears of happiness. When their affair finally ended in the middle of the war, Scherchen married Pauline Woolford, took her surname, and from then on was known as John Woolford. Their marriage lasted 72 years until Pauline died earlier this year. His story was more fully documented in Bridcut's book Britten's Children, published in 2006. The book and the film are both available from the shop on this website.
Elizabeth at 90 – A Family Tribute achieved the biggest BBC audience of the month of April. The latest figures give the first transmission (on Her Majesty's actual 90th birthday) a viewing figure of 7.5 million, beating EastEnders. Its share of the total audience was 30%. The extended repeat on the following Sunday afternoon followed up with an audience of 2.4 million, making a consolidated figure for the week of 9.9 million.
Elizabeth at 90 – A Family Tribute has now been issued on DVD by BBC Worldwide, and is available from normal DVD retailers as well as on this website. It is also being distributed for international broadcast. The DVD contains the extended, feature-length version of the programme, as shown on BBC One on Sunday 24 April.
The Crux team has been celebrating its recent successes with its own label of Sauvignon Blanc from Marlborough in New Zealand. "This wine", the label says, "certainly lives up to its namesake by setting palates a-twinkle". We like to be thought of as "bursting with zesty lime and tropical fruit aromas to create a super-fresh flavour". It makes enjoyable drinking under the Southern Cross constellation apparently, though in Britain we would have to travel back to the fourth millennium BC to test that experience. Available to all Crux supporters at Morrisons: 3 bottles for £16
Crux Productions has now embarked on a film about King George III, based on his private papers held at the Royal Archives in Windsor Castle. Last April, Her Majesty The Queen launched a five-year project to digitise the Georgian papers and make them available to the public online. No more than about 12% of this archive has been previously published, and noone yet quite knows what it will reveal. The documentary, for BBC Two, will be presented by Robert Hardman.
Also underway are a long-term project about the history of the BBC, aimed at the Corporation's centenary in 2022, and a film about the classical music world's greatest tenor. Details to follow in due course.