Farewell, COI

Tomorrow the Central Office of Information quite literally closes its doors.

In a turn of a key, 66 years of government and public sector communication experience comes to an end.  To be replaced by, well who knows really?

Since the official announcement last June there has been much analysis and comment on the COI elsewhere in broadcast, print and online.  I had the pleasure of a long association with the COI as a freelance.  I can only write in a personal capacity.

I am profoundly sad.

The COI did not produce propaganda; it produced campaigns with a message and a purpose.  The Civil Service Code expressly forbade it from producing anything ‘Political’.  I was caught up in arguments with Whitehall politicos on exactly this point on more than one occasion.  If you excuse the rather Orwellian name, the belief that the COI was the epitome of nanny-state brainwashing is laughable, especially when you compare its output to some of the insidious and damaging advertising from today’s commercial brands.  The truth is the COI was …

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Bon Voyage RMS St Helena

Flicking through a recently copy of Wanderlust, I read that the RMS St Helena has set sail for the final time from Portland in the UK.  Now, if you didn’t know, St Helena was the regular mail and cargo lifeline for the islands of St Helena and Ascension which still survived alongside the fairly regular RAF flights to the latter.

Several years ago I was lucky enough to spend some time on the tiny, volcanic speck that is Ascension filming green turtles (amongst other things), and experienced the buzz of the ship coming into port.

Not only did the mail and vital supplies get delivered, but most importantly bacon was on the menu at the (only) hotel for at least a week afterwards.

Aberdeen-built and entering service in 1990, RMS St Helena also carries passengers (128 of them) and I’ve always been rather taken by the prospect of slow-travel to the genuinely remote places on the planet.  I’ll admit the prospect of a cruise makes my blood run cold, but there is something rather alluring about barrelling …

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Gold Rush in Alaska

Uncharacteristically, the lack of blogging action on this site hasn’t been a result of my usual laziness. Instead, I find myself in the wilds of SE Alaska for the best part of two and a bit months working as shooting PD on the second series of Raw Television’s, GOLD RUSH for Discovery.

Now, obviously I can’t say much – well anything really – about what we’re up to, suffice to say it’s breathtakingly beautiful here, with a fantastic crew and contributors, no phone reception and far too many insects that seem hell-bent on biting us.  In a word, brilliant and the sort of stuff I love working on.

Outside work, I’ve yet to crack out the stills camera, but I will. In the meantime, here’s a rather nice phone picture from my flight from Juneau to Haines. You don’t get that with easyjet…..

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Words of Wisdom?

I recently got an email from a sixth form student asking for me advice on how to get in to the media work and ‘do what you do’.  Now, putting aside for a moment the fact that sometimes I’m not even sure what it is I do and that defined roles in our industry are changing so quickly, the email filled me with some trepidation.  The fear came from the prospect that I might actually be qualified enough to have any advice worth passing on to anyone starting out… especially in the current climate.  Undoubtedly these are tough times for most if not all of us and personally 2010/11 will go down as the Year of Spectacular ‘Almost’ Projects, and the daunting prospect of having to start out now may have been enough to put me off if it were me.  However, I get a few such emails each year and make a point of answering.  I remember writing similar letters when I was a teenager and it always meant a lot when I got a response.  So I started …

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