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Wednesday, April 1, 1998 Published at 11:21 GMT 12:21 UK


Britannia's 'committee for cool'

Panel 2000 aims to make the British bulldog a trendier beast

The UK Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, is to announce the names of the men and women chosen to help give Britain a 'cool' image abroad.

The committee of politicians, business leaders and celebrities, called Panel 2000, will advise the government on how best to promote Britain around the world in the run up to the Millennium. The initiative is part of an attempt to promote the 'Cool Britannia' label worldwide.

The team will establish a partnership between the private and public sector and includes:

  • Minister without Portfolio, Peter Mandelson
  • Independent MP and former BBC journalist Martin Bell
  • The Chairman of British Airways, Sir Colin Marshall
  • Broadcaster Zeinab Badawi
  • Athlete and former TV "Gladiator" Judy Simpson
  • The head of the TV production company Planet 24, Waheed Ali
  • Clothes designer, Stella McCartney, daughter of Paul McCartney of Beatles fame.

They will consider all aspects of how Britain's identity is projected to other countries.

The government is keen to dispel what it sees as Britain's old-fashioned image abroad, without sweeping away tradition. For example, ministers would like to encourage pop stars like the Spice Girls or the Royal Shakespeare Company to visit the British embassy on overseas tours.

On Tuesday, the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, set his seal on a Design Council report on 'Creative Britain'.

"I am determined that we use the strengths of our history and our character and build on them for the future - not discarding tradition, but building on it," he wrote in the forward to the report which he commissioned.

The Design Council report outlines ideas and initiatives to help harness the country's creative talents and show a fresh face of Britain.

Among them are plans to boost the impression of Britain that visitors from overseas receive when they arrive at the country's seven principal entry-points: Heathrow, Gatwick, Manchester, Birmingham and Stansted airports, the port of Dover and Waterloo rail terminal.

On Thursday, the prime minister opens the 'powerhouse::uk' exhibition which is a display of the best of Britain's creativity and innovation.

It will be housed at Horse Gurad's Parade in Whitehall, London, in a four inflatable pods showing the work of British designers like fashion guru Alexander McQueen.

The exhibition will host receptions for Asian leaders attending this week's Asian-Europe Meeting (ASEM) which begins on Thursday.

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