PY Gerbeau Kicks Off New “Rules of the Game” TV Series

June 18, 2002

A Swindon company dubbed the ‘happiest workplace in Britain’, a Cambridgeshire hospital, and the Coventry-based Jaguar car company are the latest organisations to feature in the BBC TWO television series PY Gerbeau’s Rules of the Game.

Presented by PY Gerbeau, the charismatic Frenchman who achieved celebrity status as the trouble-shooter who rescued the ailing Millennium Dome, the Open University series looks at economic issues in an entertaining and viewer-friendly way.

The first programme in the series investigated the financial crisis affecting football’s £10.5 billion-a-year business while programme two What Workers Want, to be broadcast on Saturday June 22, looks at happiness at work and explores the economic concept that the happier staff are, the more productive they will be.

The programme features Cellular Operations in Swindon that has been called the ‘happiest workplace in Britain’ due to the amazing architectural design of its building. It has been designed to make staff and visitors smile from the moment they step through the doors.

Hinchingbrooke Hospital in Huntingdon’s work/life balance project is also investigated along with the National Theatre’s dignity at work scheme that aims to improve workplace culture.

Economist Will Hutton, chairman of The Work Foundation, believes that a happy, engaged workforce leads to higher productivity, greater wealth and people more willing to get involved in community activities:

“You get people who are more engaged in their local community, in their neighbourhood, in the political process and who are more willing to give to charity, and so you get into a virtuous circle. I think that one of our problems at the moment is that the British workforce is more disaffected and disconnected than it’s been for some decades.”

The final programme, Reinventing the Wheel on Saturday June 29, looks at the economics of innovation in the car industry from Ford’s production line, to the Sinclair C5 and the cutting edge designers at IDEO. With 700 million cars in the world (42 thousand new ones every day) the automotive industry is booming and this programme investigates if innovative car designs will have a place in the future, or if we are all destined to drive the same types of vehicles for years to come.

Among those interviewed are Dick Elsey and Jonathan Bethal from Jaguar Cars where innovation is closely linked to technological developments.

“As we look to the future to give customers more features, we are fighting for space on the dashboard and we could ultimately end up with hundreds of buttons and the dashboard ends up looking like the flight deck on a 747,” said Dick Elsey, director of product development.

Sir Clive Sinclair, whose revolutionary electric car ultimately failed, believes car manufacturers are focussing too heavily on hi-tech, in-car gadgets, instead of looking at radical alternatives to the car as we know it. He also believes the large manufacturers are too scared to take risks with new car development.

Dr Paul Anand, director of research at the OU’s department of economics, says the series is designed to show how important – and interesting – economics can be:

“People always think economics is dull and boring and it’s not. Economics is all around us and it’s vital to everyone’s wellbeing. By looking at topics such as innovation, the work/life balance and football’s financial crisis we hope viewers will understand what a dynamic and interesting subject economics can be, and how it can affect the way we live our lives.”

What Workers Want, will be broadcast at 1.30pm on June 22nd and Reinventing the Wheel at 11.30am on June 29th. These transmission times are correct at present but are subject to change depending on the World Cup football draw.

A website to accompany the series is accessible at www.open2.NET.

Photographs, preview tapes and interviews can be arranged through Fiona Leslie (see below).

The series was made for the Open University by Just About Productions. It explores economic issues covered in the OU courses Economics and Changing Economies (DD202), and Understanding Economic Behaviour: households, firms and markets (D319).

PY Gerbeau is the former chief executive of the Millennium Dome. He is currently chief executive of the Xscape sport, leisure and entertainment group.

Contact details

OU Media Relations

Fiona Leslie

01908 653256