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“What would Barry do?” for Channel 4

Making health and safety messages memorable.

“The song stuck in my head, and I remembered it when there was a real safety incident!”

Channel 4 had a problem. Health and safety training was too boring for their 'born risky' culture.

All new joiners attended face-to-face health and safety training as part of their induction. It covered basic information like fire exits and emergencies. But the Channel 4 team was concerned that these sessions weren’t working.

“If we asked new joiners a question 15 minutes after they'd done the old training, would they remember the answer? Probably not.” said one Health and Safety manager. “We'd only see them again after they’d had an accident.”

The broadcaster was set up to push boundaries, take risks, and to go where others fear to tread. So how could we help them stay true to this riskiness while ensuring everyone took health and safety seriously?

The Channel 4 Health and Safety team partnered with Acteon to create a campaign designed to build engagement and drive behaviour change.

Unexpected, funny and memorable

The training involved four key elements:

1. The music video

At the heart of the campaign is a high-impact music video.

We worked with a Barry White tribute act who captured the soul singer's characteristic style – a mix of singing and speech – which suited this project perfectly. He represents an “acceptable authority figure” who can tell people what they need to do.

The music was an entirely original composition in the style of Barry White. We mixed a catchy chorus with a spoken introduction and verses to create a fun – and crucially, memorable – music video, filmed in Channel 4’s Manchester office. The lyrics emphasised key actions and basic health and safety knowledge.

Collage of photos from Channel 4 Barry filming

2. The online module

The video was at the heart of a short and punchy e-learning module. We added interactive scenario screens to reinforce key messages and check understanding.

Photos from the video shoot provided a library of images for the module and for future material. We made all content as accessible as possible, adding subtitles, descriptions, and screenreader compatibility.

Images from Channel 4 elearning asking What would Barry do

3. Learning management

Making the video part of an e-learning module made it easy to track usage. We delivered content through Acteon’s learning management system, Breeio, which is integrated with the Channel 4 intranet to provide seamless access without logging in. Using the platform also gives valuable reporting information, and helps meet audit requirements efficiently.

4. The communication campaign: What would Barry do?

We used Barry in an ongoing communication campaign, developed in partnership with the Channel 4 internal comms team. This included:

  • Posters on digital noticeboards.
  • Message of the day, displayed when someone logs in to their computer.
  • All-staff emails and intranet.

And Barry can be used across messaging by the Health and Safety team, bringing a human face and sense of humour to information that might otherwise struggle to get staff engagement.

Health and safety poster for Channel 4 featuring Barry

And the results?

The music video, online module and learning campaign successfully changed behaviour across Channel 4.

  • Accidents are down by an impressive 24%, a significant impact making staff safer.
  • Calls to the Health and Safety Helpdesk are up, and colleagues are more aware of their responsibilities.
  • 10% of the organisation had completed the training within 24 hours of launch.
  • The course achieved its critical audit requirement of 90% completion ahead of schedule.
  • The Channel 4 Health and Safety team reports increased and continuing awareness of health and safety across the business.
  • The Health and Safety team is no longer seen as “the safety police” - Barry has made the team approachable.

"What would Barry do?" is now the key question when it comes to getting health and safety right.

The responses from Channel 4...

“Amazing” - Alex Mahon, Chief Executive, Channel 4

“The best Health & Safety induction I’ve ever seen” - Channel 4 employee

“Probably the only e-learning course that employees talk about outside work!” - Channel 4 employee


On top of the business impact, we’re delighted that the ‘Barry’ project won a bronze award at Learning Technology Awards 2019!


Graph showing reduction

- There has been a huge reduction in accidents, with a whopping 24% drop.

- 10% training completions within 24 hours of launch.

- Achieved audit requirements of 90% completions well ahead of schedule.

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