29 December, 2005

He'll never sell any ice creams going at that speed

Papers from 1975, de-classified today, reveal plans for a "Brighten up Ulster" campaign designed in the wake of a disastrous 1974, during which the government collapsed after a general strike, the IRA bombed Birmingham pubs, and more than 300 people were killed.

One suggestion for raising spirits from government's Information Policy Coordinating Committee was to see Morecambe and Wise perform their trademark Bring Me Sunshine dance routine on the lawns of Stormont.

In a letter to committee members on March 18 1975, just over a month after the IRA declared an indefinite ceasefire, Michael Cudlipp stressed the need to "think really big" in organising a campaign of "morale-boosting" events.

Thirty years on it's easy to sneer at this seemingly naive approach. Public-schooled Whitehall types thinking that a dash of music hall fun would cheer the proles, then the Foreign Office's annual Gilbert and Sullivan for the chaps.

But dammit isn't it worth a try? We owe it not to ourselves but the beleaguered people of Iraq to give them the chance to see James Blunt doing a tap-dance routine in a minefield.

Is there an entertainer more likely to raise spirits in Kabul, Aceh or Beslan? Please let us know your top line-ups. Perhaps Joss Stone and Dido duetting in a Turkmenistan nuclear reactor core, Jim Davidson entertaining our boys in South Georgia (please!) or who could resist David Blaine doing some of his trademark street magic in Fallujah?

6 Step to the white courtesy phone:

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