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Signed Sealed Delivered: Inside the Post Office, TV review:

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Signed Sealed Delivered: Inside the Post Office, TV review:

Post by TrueBlueTerrier »

Signed Sealed Delivered: Inside the Post Office, TV review: A sad tale of a much-loved institution forced to put profits before people

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The sobering documentary revealed that more than two-thirds of branches are losing their government subsidy and must diversify to compensate

You can pick up all sorts in the Post Office these days. In my local, they sell pet food, and you can get your phone fixed, alongside buying the more usual envelopes and parcel tape. As we learnt in this sobering documentary, there is a reason: more than two-thirds of branches are losing their government subsidy and to compensate, postmasters must diversify, or bow out. Watching people's livelihoods on the line did not make for uplifting telly, however the network’s employees tried to dress it up.

The cameras followed executive staff as they advised on the “modernisation” process. The plan: embrace retail or “bugger off”, as Ian, a disgruntled postmaster in Audley, Staffordshire, put it. His branch was surrounded by convenience stores, including a newly-converted newsagents. The competition sealed his fate after 26 years.

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Entrepreneur Elliott has two successful PO franchises and is on the hunt for more (BBC) Entrepreneur Elliott has two successful PO franchises and is on the hunt for more (BBC)

Given the extensive access granted, perhaps the Post Office really believed in their own management speak and heavy-handed methods. Methods such as forcing thinly-stretched staff to watch PowerPoint presentations in back rooms at the same time they were supposed to be serving. The flashed-up postcode of each branch highlighted the disparity between the gleaming, minimal head office (EC1V 9HQ) and the cluttered backrooms in the likes of Cromford, Derbyshire (DE4 3QF).

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End of an era: Carol, the outgoing postmistress in Cromford, Derbyshire End of an era: Carol, the outgoing postmistress in Cromford, Derbyshire (BBC)

There was another low in Norton-in-the-Moors Staffordshire. Locals were up in arms about the Post Office moving to the petrol station and aired their grievances at a meeting. The “transformation” team sat at a table on a stage, in front of a curtain of gold streamers discussing out-going postmaster Steve’s decision to leave the network: “Steve doesn’t want to convert,” “I can assure you, it was his choice to leave,” they insisted. You half expected Steve to pop out in a cloud of dry ice, Stars in Their Eyes style: “Tonight Matthew, my post office is going to be…” Alas, he never put in an appearance. The garage it was, then.

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Network Transformation Area Manager Caroline took to the stage in Norton-in-the-Moors, Staffordshire during a public consultation Network Transformation Area Manager Caroline took to the stage in Norton-in-the-Moors, Staffordshire during a public consultation (BBC)

Of course, these “transformations” can work. We met Elliot, an entrepreneur who had opened one franchise in his stationery store in East Finchley and was snapping up more. His initially dubious customers were happy, change not the devil they’d feared. But for every Elliot there may be two Carols (Cromford’s postmistress). She wept as she signed exit forms, more worried about keeping the service going for the village than her own future.

I’m not sure I could stomach two more hours of this (it’s a three-parter). But I might buy one of those tins of dog food next time I stop by my branch – and I don’t have a dog.
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Re: Signed Sealed Delivered: Inside the Post Office, TV revi

Post by TrueBlueTerrier »

Doomed village post offices and the saddest show you'll ever see: CHRISTOPHER STEVENS reviews last night's TV

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Signed, Sealed Delivered: Inside The Post Office



A sub-committee in the Fun With Titles department at the Beeb has had endless amusement from their documentary about the ailing Post Office Ltd.

The producers must have considered The Beatles’ hit Please Mr Postman as a name. Perhaps they weighed up Elvis’s Return To Sender and even that Buddy Holly obscurity, Mailman Bring Me No More Blues.

But they opted for a Stevie Wonder smash — Signed, Sealed, Delivered — and, in case we didn’t get the pun, subtitled it Inside The Post Office (BBC2).


It’s a sure bet that there’s no frivolous wordplay or silly song title games in the high echelons of Post Office Ltd. Instead, their meetings are devoted to churning out anodyne jargon like this: ‘The network transformation programme is not a closure programme but a modernisation programme.’

Departmental heads were taught to parrot these soulless statements as they rang the death knell for hundreds of village post offices.

This was a depressing hour’s viewing. It’s sad to see the slow death of a national institution.


Our affection for post offices is inexplicable. They used to be tyrannical places: you’d stand in a queue for 40 minutes because you had to renew your car tax or get a dog licence, and as you neared the counter that red roller blind would bang down like a fist on a table: ‘Position Closed.’

A second-class letter could take a week to arrive, even if the sorting office wasn’t on strike. It was illegal, a criminal act, to buy a stamp anywhere but a post office. And every Wednesday afternoon, the sub-postmaster shut up shop altogether.

Yet we love them, and we’re going to miss them. For all the positive noises this documentary made about alternative operational practices and the challenges of change, it’s pretty obvious the community post office is doomed.

Its monopoly is long gone: not only can we buy stamps in the super- market, but many other transactions, such as paying for car tax, can be done online. The dogged souls who run village offices are barely scraping by, even with a £10,000 annual subsidy.

An air of defeat hung over the whole programme. The most interesting segment featured a protest meeting at Norton-in-the-Moors, Staffordshire, with a beleaguered lady from head office called Caroline trying to fend off fury on all sides.

The High Street post office was unviable, and to the disgust of many it was closing, to be replaced with a counter at the local filling station.

Caroline got a hammering, but the anger was not all caused by the loss of the post office. Villagers had seen corner shops, greengrocers, pubs and butchers, and bus services, all shut down.

A lugubrious voiceover made it all seem utterly hopeless, though the penny didn’t drop until the credits: the narrator was Tom Hollander, who played the disintegrating vicar in Rev. Parallels between the decline of the Post Office and the ebbing of the Church of England suddenly became obvious.
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Re: Signed Sealed Delivered: Inside the Post Office, TV revi

Post by osgoody1970 »

watched it last night, Elliot driving around in his gleaming Porsche, was asked twice by a union rep how much he intended to pay his staff, twice he refused to answer, the man is a parasite off the backs of working people, not an entrepenaur!!!!
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