Insight article

Storytelling: to provide all people

To celebrate the 70th birthday of the National Health Service (NHS), BBC Wales produced an emotional film named ‘To provide all people’. The poetic script weaves together real-life stories of staff and patients punctuated by the historical birth of the NHS. The film is a perfect example of the power of visual storytelling. It turns the organisation’s birthday celebration into something more meaningful.

Writer, and acclaimed poet, Owen Sheers masterfully interwove over 70 hours worth of interviews to create the script. The stories include a father nearly losing his wife and child during a difficult pregnancy to a nurse going above and beyond to fulfil the final wish of a patient to die back home. The film doesn’t shy away from the challenges faced by the NHS, a subject always on the agenda of the national news and politicians. Combining stories of celebration with the current reality stop cynical viewers from seeing the film as propaganda. The choice to develop the script into a poem adds another layer of emotion. It adds musical quality to the script making the words memorable and amplifies deep feelings.

Here’s the thing. How exactly… does an idea begin? Where does it all start? In one woman’s brain, in one man’s heart? It doesn’t seem likely… all of us are fuelled by the thoughts of others, by what we’ve read, gleaned or seen.

The medium of film brings the poem alive. The cinematography is gritty and authentic with scenes filmed in Neville Hall Hospital. The direct dialogue to camera and intimate framing strengthens the connection with the viewer. The diverse cast reflect the NHS core purpose: to provide free healthcare for all.

At The Storytellers we shape our creative campaigns around employee stories of success and best practise to inspire people to learn from their peers and make connections to their own role, giving them the means to challenge their mindsets, shift their behaviours, and generate their own stories of success. We have seen that our clients make greater impact when producing a film as part of their campaign collateral. For example, we created an epic film for a large supermarket chain to galvanise the organisation’s employees and achieve service excellence. By conducting focus groups and interviews, building trust came out as the core message of the strategic narrative. The ambassador network, who’d champion the Story, were filmed collaborating to literally build the word ‘trust’ across the Peak District. The exercise not only established trust within the ambassador network during the film’s production but meant the rest of the organisation’s people were inspired by the amazing results which can be achieved through building trust with their teams and customers.

‘To provide all people’ is a powerful example of visual storytelling. The musical language, beautiful visuals and emotive acting make for a memorable television experience. Each creative element is carefully designed to amplify the strong emotions of the narrative, touching the heart of the viewer. The power of seeing every day people with their different backgrounds and dialects celebrating the NHS is a powerful way to reconnect the public with the organisation. It reminds us that in challenging times the organisation is still a national success.

‘To provide all people’ is a must-watch and is currently available to watch on BBC iPlayer. You can watch it here.

Sana Iqbal
Creative Consultant

Sana Iqbal

Sana Iqbal

Creative Consultant