The Peterborough Effect: MP calls for city to defend itself

Actor Roy Kinnear famously portrayed a Roman centurion in adverts to attract people to come to Peterborough in the 1980s.
Actor Roy Kinnear famously portrayed a Roman centurion in adverts to attract people to come to Peterborough in the 1980s.
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PETERBOROUGH’S MP has called for a public relations campaign to be launched to counter misleading perceptions of the city.

City MP Stewart Jackson claims Peterborough should fight back against recent negative national press by highlighting its good points.

In recent weeks national newspapers have highlighted squalid migrant camps in the city and alleged Peterborough is “overrun” with immigrants who are stretching city schools and services to breaking point.

In his column in the ET tonight, Mr Jackson says: “Peterborough needs to hit back hard with a positive and compelling narrative about the city’s strengths.”

He has called on Peterborough City Council, regeneration body Opportunity Peterborough and development organisation the Greater Peterborough Partnership.

He said: “To the city council, OP, GPP and others the message is clear: find the money necessary to get our message across.”

He referenced the iconic 1980s “Peterborough Effect” television adverts, which saw actor Roy Kinnear dressed as a centurion learning about the changes in the city.

Leader of Peterboorough City Council Cllr Marco Cereste said he agreed with an advertising campaign but said it would not be compatible with the economic climate.

Cllr Cereste said: “I understand that advertising campaigns cost £2 million.

“The council budget is stretched tight and we would have to raise rates by five or six per cent to bring in something like that.

“I remember the Peterborough Effect advert well – you couldn’t switch on a TV without seeing a centurion talking about the city.

“But I agree it would be a great idea and would love Mr Jackson to speak to the chancellor about finding some money for us to do this.”

Neil Darwin, director of economic development at OP, claims that despite the media reports the city is attracting new businesses and jobs.

Mr Darwin said: “We are working hard to ensure that Peterborough is seen as an attractive place to do business.

“Our work is clearly having an impact, with more than 3,000 new jobs announced for the city already this year.

“This includes new companies coming to the city and existing businesses that are clearly supporting the city’s aspirations.

“Bearing in mind the impact of the recession that all businesses have suffered, this shows that Peterborough is not only doing something right but also that it makes sense to do business here.”

A spokeswoman for the GPP said: “We will continue to work with the key partners in the city and facilitate decisions they make.

“We will talk to people and organisations to help our shared vision of a bigger and better Peterborough.”

Roy Kinnear

IN the 1980s an advert showed actor Roy Kinnear in Peterborough dressed as a Roman centurion.

The 30-second advert mocked people who did not understand how the city had moved on since the Roman times.

It included footage of Cathedral Square, the recently opened Queensgate shopping centre and put a spotlight on schools in the city.

Kinnear, who died in 1988, is also known for playing Veruca Salt’s father in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

The video can still be found online at or by searching for “Roy Kinnear (1934-1988)” on YouTube.