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NEWS FOCUS: British Military Tournament


ROYAL PRESENCE FOR THE BRITISH MILITARY


A VISIT FROM THE QUEEN ON THE FRIDAY OF 2011’S BRITISH MILITARY TOURNAMENT, WHICH OCCUPIED LONDON’S EARLS COURT TWO FROM DECEMBER 2-4, LEFT ITS HARD-WORKING PRODUCTION TEAM OPTIMISTIC ABOUT GAINING ROYAL RECOGNITION COME NEXT YEAR’S EVENT. PAUL WATSON WAS ON DUTY.


The British Military Tournament (BMT) was founded in 2010, as a celebration of all things military. A vast production, it fuses all of the major elements of the Royal Tournament (the world’s largest military tattoo which ran from 1880 to 1999) with a 21st Century twist. Featuring troops from the UK and the US, there are a total of 1,400 participants, 100 horses; and a string of military vehicles, including a British Army Apache helicopter. The storyline dates back to the American


Civil War, and goes on to cover World Wars I and II, revealing how Britain and America’s ‘special relationship’ developed, all the way up to modern day, portraying some of the scenes in Afghanistan, and confirming that the allies are still working ‘shoulder to shoulder’. To help depict the scenes, a string of


patriotic, powerful, and at times, even spine- tingling war-time songs and marches are played by the 32-piece house orchestra, positioned up in the bleachers at one end of the arena, often


14 • TPi JANUARY 2012


complemented by the various military bands that take to the arena floor. Production Director, Nick Mattingley, has


been involved in the BMT since its inception, and was even present on the initial site visit to London’s O2 Arena to appraise whether or not it was fit to hold the event. “My answer at the time was no, it’s not,”


smiled Mattingley, during a break in the Friday afternoon’s rehearsals. “Eventually, Earls Court was selected, as it had the right infrastructure, it was the right size, and it worked financially.” A total of 500 of the show’s participants


resided in the marquees backstage for the whole three days and nights, and the technical team was 200-strong, 30 of which were volunteers from the Portsmouth Field Gun Team, who helped out with the event’s Stage Management. “The field gunners are absolutely brilliant,”


Mattingley enthused. “When you’re making a subtle change, these guys actually get it better than some of the normal crew members; and


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