The Central Office of Information - (COI)



Following the end of World War 2, there were many changes made within the British government. The now defunct Ministry of Information became the Central Office of Information (COI), the government’s new marketing and communications agency.

In February 1946, the Cabinet decided that the British Council must do all of its ‘production and procurement’ through the COI. Whilst the Council could order new films as it pleased, production was largely in the hands of the COI, and bureaucracy meant that films took far longer to complete than before.

At the same time, the British Council cut its budget for film, and many staff from the British Council’s Film Department chose to migrate to the newly-expanded film department at the COI whilst others quit entirely. This, coupled with the hefty fees the COI charged the Council for its work, crippled the British Council’s film output.


The radical changes of 1946 took their toll, and the British Council produced only eight films, all made through the COI, between 1947 and 1950. A far cry from the clear cultural propaganda of the war years, they focus on dance, music, foreign culture, medicine, and the teaching of English - foreshadowing the future work of the Council.

The only film sponsored by the British Council in 1950, Cricket , was the last film sponsored by the Council until 1958.


Despite the changes of 1946, the British Council retained the right to distribute its films abroad in a non-commercial capacity. As such, these wartime films continued to be shown to thousands of people in dozens of countries for the following decade.



List of British Council Films Produced Through the COI

1947
Lincolnshire Poacher
Pacific Ocean
Widdicombe Fair

1948
Indian Ocean
Steps of the Ballet

1949
English by Radio
Techniques in Plastic Surgery (Series)

1950
Cricket