Stand Up and Cheer


The Guardian describes a recently recovered chapter of Northern Ireland's history:

Papers from 1975, released today, reveal proposals for a "Brighten up Ulster" campaign designed to put a smile back on people's faces in the wake of a disastrous 1974, during which the devolved government collapsed after a general strike organised by loyalists, the IRA bombed Birmingham pubs, and more than 300 people were killed in Northern Ireland.

One suggestion for raising spirits made by the chairman of the government's Information Policy Coordinating Committee was to see Britain's favourite comedy double act 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. "Why not have big variety stars?" he asked, suggesting Morecambe and Wise, who were then at the peak of their careers, and who he hoped could be persuaded to "give their services for more or less free as part of an attempt to boost Ulster"….

Other ideas for themed events included a "Miss Good Cheer" beauty pageant, a special "Sociable Week" with the message "Don't Let's Be Downhearted" in which Rotary Clubs and the Women's Institute could run "Good Cheer conferences". One committee member wrote: "The theme tune of the effort could be based on the song 'Pick Yourself up, Dust yourself down, start all over again.'"