Cheer up - we’re still world lead­ers in so many fields

Daily Express - - For Brexit - Tim Ne­wark So­cial com­men­ta­tor

SOME­TIMES we can take for granted the enor­mity of our na­tion’s cre­ative im­pact on the world. This week Bri­tish tal­ent has taken the Golden Globe nom­i­na­tions by storm. Six Bri­tish ac­tresses and eight ac­tors are up for awards cho­sen by the Hol­ly­wood Press As­so­ci­a­tion – awards that fre­quently point to­wards Os­cars as well. Not only that but many of the nom­i­nated movies are based on Bri­tish cre­ativ­ity too.

Nom­i­nee Emily Blunt stars in Mary Pop­pins Re­turns. based on the ever-pop­u­lar story by P L Travers, re­mind­ing us that fic­tion by a host of home-grown authors in­clud­ing Charles Dick­ens, Agatha Christie, JRR Tolkien and JK Rowl­ing con­tinue to en­ter­tain peo­ple around the world in money-spin­ning dra­mas.

Nom­i­nated best movie Bohemian Rhapsody, about Bri­tish rock band Queen, demon­strates the con­tin­u­ing global ap­peal of our pop­u­lar mu­sic ge­nius from The Bea­tles and Led Zeppelin to Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit. Singer An­nie Len­nox picks up a nom­i­na­tion for her orig­i­nal song in A Pri­vate War. TV hit of the year Body­guard is up for best drama se­ries.

Even our odd po­lit­i­cal his­tory can have an ap­peal be­yond our shores with Hugh Grant pick­ing up a nom­i­na­tion for his per­fect ren­di­tion of disgraced Liberal leader Jeremy Thorpe in A Very English Scan­dal.

IN A world where cur­rent af­fairs is seem­ingly be­com­ing cruder, Bri­tish cre­ative classi­ness still counts for a lot. I was at Fort­num & Ma­son in Lon­don this week buy­ing Christ­mas presents for my fam­ily and the el­e­gantly pack­aged clas­sic English food was just flood­ing out of the doors.

At a time when our high streets are be­ing bat­tered by Amer­i­can in­ter­net com­pa­nies, it was good to hear that Fort­num’s lat­est sales fig­ures were up 12 per cent, mark­ing their sixth suc­ces­sive year of dou­bledigit re­tail growth. Opened in 1707, it is still Bri­tish owned.

In nearby Jermyn Street and Sav­ile Row, tourists were sweep­ing up clas­sic Bri­tish clothes – an­other one of our world-beat­ing de­sign tal­ents. With echoes of James Bond, the Sav­ile Row suit it­self is now a star in the in­ter­na­tion­ally suc­cess­ful Kings­man movies. It was also in­ter­est­ing to see in the sur­prise hit com­edy Crazy Rich Asians, set mainly in Sin­ga­pore, that when some of the rich­est peo­ple in the world de­cide to spend their money they choose a Bri­tish ed­u­ca­tion for their chil­dren, pre­fer­ring a classy English ac­cent to an Amer­i­can one. Our ed­u­ca­tional ser­vices are big gen­er­a­tors of prof­its for this coun­try.

As far away as you can get in Mon­go­lia, Bri­tish cre­ativ­ity is hav­ing an im­pact. Not only do we sell enor­mous min­ing ma­chin­ery to the min­eral rich coun­try, but we have solved a lo­cal prob­lem with typ­i­cal Bri­tish in­ge­nu­ity. In a re­cent documentary about the For­eign Of­fice, our woman out there at the time, Am­bas­sador Catherine Arnold, helped a Bri­tish de­signer deal with the high pol­lu­tion in the Mon­go­lian cap­i­tal. Lo­cals didn’t want to wear nor­mal face masks be­cause they looked unat­trac­tive. Our an­swer was to de­sign ex­quis­ite masks, us­ing lo­cal pat­terns, that sud­denly be­came a hit in Ulan Ba­tor.

Our em­bassies abroad have to jus­tify the ex­pense of main­tain­ing their staff by help­ing gen­er­ate prof­itable deals for UK traders and cre­atives. When I was re­cently in China, it was great to walk into a lava­tory in a top ho­tel in Shang­hai and dry my hands with a Dyson ma­chine. Sir James Dyson was re­cently crit­i­cised for shift­ing man­u­fac­ture of some of his prod­ucts to Sin­ga­pore, but it is a sign of his global reach that his Bri­tish-de­signed goods need to be pro­duced closer to grow­ing mar­kets in Asia. He is also sink­ing mil­lions of his own money into en­gi­neer­ing a new gen­er­a­tion of elec­tric cars.

O‘Bri­tain grew rich on in­ge­nu­ity and tal­ent’

F COURSE our Royal Fam­ily con­tin­ues to be a great Bri­tish brand and their younger gen­er­a­tion is more than mak­ing its mark. Prince Harry’s In­vic­tus Games was a bold idea and this year it made for a won­der­ful event in Aus­tralia gath­er­ing more and more in­ter­na­tional sup­port and par­tic­i­pa­tion.

The im­por­tance of Bri­tish sport for pro­mot­ing our com­mer­cial in­ter­ests around the world can­not be un­der­es­ti­mated, said an em­bassy of­fi­cial re­cently in Nige­ria. In Africa’s rich­est coun­try Bri­tish­in­vented foot­ball is a na­tional ob­ses­sion and the English Premier League is the most watched sport­ing con­test. At least 260 mil­lion Africans watch it across the con­ti­nent.

Bri­tain has grown rich on its in­ge­nu­ity and cre­ative tal­ent, from en­gi­neer­ing to de­sign and per­for­mance. All we need is for politi­cians at home and in the EU to get out of our way and let our cre­atives get on with the job of sell­ing their bril­liant skills around the world.

We mustn’t for­get that it is not gov­ern­ments that trade with gov­ern­ments, it is in­di­vid­ual tal­ents and busi­nesses that ex­port them­selves and they are do­ing a pretty good job of it on their own.

We just need to be­lieve in our­selves as world-beat­ers and it seems we al­ready have enough great cre­ative tal­ents who do that now, just by look­ing at the re­mark­able list of Bri­tish Golden Globe nom­i­nees. Good luck to them all when the win­ners are re­vealed in Jan­uary.

In the mean­time this Christ­mas, I’m go­ing to slump on our sofa sip­ping English sparkling wine, nib­bling Fort­num & Ma­son bis­cuits while watch­ing a Charles Dick­ens box-set drama with the sound of Slade’s Merry Christ­mas Ev­ery­body play­ing in the back­ground.

God bless Bri­tish cre­ativ­ity!

PRAC­TI­CALLY PER­FECT: Emily Blunt as Mary Pop­pins

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