Police PR drama Babylon: the verdict from a real police comms chief

Amanda Coleman, director of corporate communications at Greater Manchester Police, reviews the pilot episode of Babylon, the latest TV show to portray the inside workings of a high-pressure comms operation.

Actress Brit Marling as Met Police head of comms Liz Garvey in Babylon
Actress Brit Marling as Met Police head of comms Liz Garvey in Babylon

It is often said that fact is stranger than fiction. The events and scenarios are familiar – the incident, the response, the politics.

But what Babylon lacks is some of the real humour and pathos that can be found in any police PR office.

The Danny Boyle-directed programme seems to be unsure what it really is – a documentary or dark comedy. If it is comedy it needs some more laughs, and if it wanted to be a documentary, trust me, there would be more laughs.

I wasn’t expecting The Thin Blue Line or Operation Good Guys but I did want more of The Thick of It or 20/20. Judging from the response on Twitter I don’t think I was on my own. And no, I haven’t ever had a senior officer ask me to shut down the internet or social media.

I am not sure anyone other than journalists or those working in police public relations are going to be that interested in the minute detail shown in the programme. Still, it might help increase the applications the next time we go to recruit police press officers.

Watch the Babylon trailer:

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