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Phone in Confidence

Learn how to report paramilitary activity in complete confidence with this shocking television advert by the Northern Ireland Office.

Public Information Filler 1978 1 mins

From the collection of:

Logo for Northern Ireland Screen


Prepare to witness a bomb explosion as the Royal Ulster Constabulary make a television plea for information. This is an early example of the advertising campaigns for peace beginning in the 1970s. The Northern Ireland Office created increasingly harrowing adverts showing the consequences of terrorism to encourage people to come forward. Broadcast on Ulster Television the confidential phone line reached an audience both sides of the border.

Later adverts encourage co-operation through dramatized experiences of sectarian violence. The most vivid tells the story of a son following in the paramilitary footsteps of his father set to the soundtrack ‘Cats in the Cradle’. In the mid 1990s the tone changed with a million pound campaign to promote support for the ceasefires. These used humour, optimism and Van Morrison songs to promote mutual respect, highlighting shared suffering. “Wouldn’t it be great if it was like this all the time?” is a stark contrast to the earlier slogans. This tradition of shocking imagery set to music continues through the DOE’s powerful drive safely adverts, now global exports. This material comes from the BFI collection. This government film is a public record, preserved and presented by the BFI National Archive on behalf of The National Archives, home to more than 1,000 years of British history.