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Waddell Media's Documentary 'Ads on the Frontline' to Air on BBC NI This Week
22 May 2018 : Nathan Griffin
Narrated by Eamonn Holmes ‘Ads on the Front Line’ is a fascinating look at a controversial and violent series of commercials produced by the Northern Ireland Office during the last 10 years of the troubles.

This one-hour documentary was produced by Waddell Media, Ireland’s largest factual independent production company for BBC NI and airs this Wednesday (23 May) in the peak time 9pm slot.

Speaking ahead of the show airing, Jannine Waddell, Managing Director, Waddell Media says:

“I was working as a producer in London at the time these commercials aired and I was home one weekend in Northern Ireland and I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw them on UTV how graphic they were, quite shocking for their time. As the Good Friday Agreement anniversary was approaching this year, these ads came back to me and I felt the story of how they came about needed to be told. The film set out to be a history of the troubles told by the time line of the ads being commissioned and aired.  Each ad was made on the back of some pivotal event.  I believe it is important for us to remember this unique piece of British history and thankfully BBC NI felt the same.”

Richard Weller, Director, Waddell Media added:

“Every advertising trick in the book was used to try and encourage people to ring a confidential police phone line and share information. The purported purpose of the adverts was to save lives by preventing paramilitary violence, but many people remain convinced that they were little more than British government propaganda, designed to promote the security forces and paint republican and loyalist groups as criminals. After the IRA and Loyalist ceasefires of 1994 the adverts moved on to promote the peace process right up to the good Friday Agreement in 1998. Political advertising is banned in the UK but many of these adverts sailed very close to the line and we cover all these angles in this timely programme.”

Jannine Waddell added:

 “Around 25 commercials were produced by the Northern Ireland Office at a cost of more than 3 million pounds. The commercials ran throughout some of the most violent years of the troubles and the start of the peace process. The adverts provide fascinating cultural snap shots of Northern Ireland’s brutal past and its aspirations for the future. Ads like “I Wanna Be Like You Dad” won awards around the world but at home the makers had to keep a low profile and most of the filming took place in other parts of the UK for security reasons. 

“As well as talking to a variety of people from all sides of the debate, we look in detail at the thought processes that went into the adverts and the different psychological techniques employed. The documentary is aimed at being both entertaining and thought provoking looking at how the British Government tried to win the hearts and minds of the public and change the course of history.”

‘Ads on the Front Line’ airs on BBC NI this Wednesday, May 23nd at 9pm.

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