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Sunday 23 January 2011

Spinmeister Versus Naked Boy

It might be thought that seasoned masters of spin would not let distractions get in the way of their mission to get the message across. But perhaps Alastair Campbell, Tone’s former communications chief, wasn’t aware of the background yesterday when he did a piece to camera outside Broadcasting House in Portland Place.

Big Al was commenting on the resignation of Young Dave’s very own spinmeister Andy Coulson, and the interview was recorded opposite the entrance to the Beeb’s original 1930s headquarters. Problem is, the camera angle meant that Campbell’s head – the one doing the talking – appeared right next to Eric Gill’s sculpture of Prospero and Ariel (characters from Shakespeare’s The Tempest), which is positioned above that main entrance.

Prospero, Ariel ... and Pundit

The carving, showing Prospero sending Ariel out into the world, invoked controversy from the beginning, as the latter figure was naked. A local MP said in Parliament that the figures were “objectionable to public morals and decency”.

Nowadays, Gill’s sculpture may not cause offence as it may have done 80 years ago, but it can’t have helped Big Al to have to compete for attention with a seven foot tall naked boy, even if it was inanimate.

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