Sunday, 22 August 2010

I'm Backing Britain

I'd completely forgotten about the 'I'm Backing Britain' initiative, until I re-discovered this single the other day. Apparently started by a handful of Surbiton secretaries in 1968 (a bit before my time to have experienced it first-hand), it was an attempt to get the UK's economy back on track. For some reason, these women took it upon themselves to work an extra 30 minutes per day, unpaid.

Of course, it was a gift to the government and it wasn't long before the media got involved. Shirts and badges were fashioned, Tony Hatch was commissioned to write a campaign theme song and 'I'm Backing Britain' by Bruce Forsyth was hastily recorded at Pye Studios. Featuring an absolutely relentless, rousing chorus, 'I'm Backing Britain' is a fascinating example of morale-boosting propaganda, unrivalled since Chairman Mao got his personal orchestra and chorus to press up The Internationale on 7" vinyl.

Brucie instructs us to work the extra half an hour without pay, he urges us to take holidays in Blackpool and buy a british car. However, I remain entirely unconvinced that the self-styled King of Light Entertainment himself took a pay cut to record the single.

The campaign was short-lived, though. The single was an epic fail, sales-wise and within a few months, the whole movement had become a bit of a damp squib. The original Surbiton secretaries had not only stopped their daily unpaid work, they started turning up late in the mornings. It also transpires that the t-shirts were made in Portugal.

As an aside to all this, you should definitely listen to the song. It's on iTunes as part of a Brucie Greatest Hits compilation, or you can have a listen to it here.

- Jb.

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