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Gobbledygook on the BBC

On Monday 7 March at 7.30pm, BBC Inside Out East Midlands will be full of gobbledygook and jargon as BBC presenter John Holmes travels to Derbyshire for an update on the story of Plain English Campaign.

Chrissie Maher began the campaign in the back streets of Liverpool in the late 1960s. People were still struggling to rebuild their lives after the Second World War, unable to fathom out complex welfare benefit forms and other government information. And Chrissie, who'd left school unable to read or write, had learnt from bitter experience of the value of clear communications.

Chrissie says: "No matter what the time or situation, it's everybody's responsibility to communicate clearly, and it's everyone's right to have information they can understand."

With 30 years of fighting for crystal-clear public communications, Plain English Campaign has become one of the most powerful grass-roots movements in the UK, and a leading example for plain language groups worldwide.

And from their humble offices in New Mills in North Derbyshire, the campaign's influence is seen in the current police caution, the UK passport forms and the South African Human Rights Constitution.

In Monday's programme, John Holmes reports from the annual awards in Manchester where prominent examples of jargon and gobbledygook are named and shamed. Previous winners of these dubious honours include Germaine Greer and Peter Mandelson.

But the campaign also honours those who further the cause of plain speaking and Derby County Captain Robbie Savage gets a gong for his direct approach on the Five Live 606 radio show.

John Holmes even reinstates the campaign's award from its early days of dishing out tripe. With his own bucket of offal in hand, John quizzes the residents of Buxton on the real meaning behind some examples of gobbledygook - including an NHS document that took 229 words to define a hospital bed!

The programme will be available on BBC iPlayer for a further 7 days after the original broadcast.

Supporters of plain English will be distributing the Campaign's 'Jargon - you can stick it' stickers for the public to return gobbledygook to the sender with a request for plain English.

You can download a copy of these stickers to print out or attach to an email.

Gobbledygook sticker

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