Downing Street urged to ‘come clean’ on vaccine documentary costs

Emma Bowden and Sam Blewett, PA
·2-min read

Downing Street has been urged to “come clean” about how much it spent producing a documentary on the UK’s vaccine rollout.

No 10 insisted the film, which is titled A Beacon Of Hope: The UK Vaccine Story and understood to be half-an-hour long, was produced in-house at no additional cost to the taxpayer.

Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner questioned the “purpose” of the film after a trailer was uploaded to the Prime Minister’s official Twitter account.

Dramatic music plays in the background of the 51-second clip, which features interviews with familiar faces including England’s chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty.

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Posted shortly before 3pm on Wednesday, text alongside the video, which has been viewed more than 240,000 times, said: “Coming soon.”

Ms Rayner said: “The Government must come clean about how much taxpayers’ money was spent making this ‘documentary’ and for what purpose.

“Surely the money would be better spent on pay rises for the NHS staff who have been saving lives throughout this pandemic and are now rolling out the vaccine.

“Sorry for the spoiler, but we already know the plot twist will be the Prime Minister choosing to cut the pay of the same nurses delivering the vaccine to the British people while handing out billions in contracts to Conservative Party donors and cronies.”

The film, expected to air later in the week, comes after an almost six-minute-long video was posted by Chancellor Rishi Sunak in the run-up to last week’s Budget, in which he reflected on his past year in No 11.

A No 10 spokeswoman said: “This is a thank you video for everyone involved in developing and distributing vaccines in the UK. It was developed in house by No 10 staff at no additional cost to the taxpayer.”

A Downing Street source went further, saying: “Are Labour saying that it’s wrong to thank the brilliant scientists, medics and NHS staff who have vaccinated more than 22 million people?”