Switched on, Plugged in, 1989

Educational documentary produced for ESB explaining the technical aspects of electricity generation and distribution.

Documentary is presented by a male and female presenter divided into six parts with explanatory voiceovers throughout by ESB personnel.

Part One: Power – Presenter begins with explaining how electricity works and the differences between hydro and thermal stations. Scenes of 1970s oil crisis and people queuing in their cars for fuel. Explains ESB’s strategy following the oil crisis and the change from oil to coal and gas stations. Explains the transmission and distribution of electricity before reaching the customer and scenes of ESB staff working on overhead power lines.

Part Two: Pioneering Power – Begins with the historical aspect and what life was like before electricity and the establishment of ESB. Includes 1920s footage of the construction of Ardnacrusha providing key facts and figures on the development and 1930s footage of people in their homes switching onto electricity.

Part Three: Muscle Power the Heavy Work – Details the construction of power stations, noting that the average generation station takes six years to complete. Includes construction footage with key facts and figures from Turlough Hill, Co. Wicklow and Moneypoint, Co. Clare. Notes Moneypoint station was a £715 million project and £35million was invested in environmental protection in the area.

Part Four: Staying Power Keeping up Connections – Details key facts about electricity consumption both domestically and in industry. Explains ESB’s metering process, noting that it involves 700 personnel. Includes footage of metering, billing and post room. Notes that the average domestic household uses 3,500 units a year. Shows ESB repair crews fixing transmission lines in all weathers and aerial views of this work including snow scenes. Includes news report from Anne Cassin on ESB crews helping restore storm damage in England with footage of ESB staff in England. Notes in ten days ESB crews restored electricity to 40,000 customers.

Part Five:  Power Plus – Details the operations and management from ESB’s Head Office. Notes that ESB is unique in the utilities world as it is a self-sufficient company managing all aspects internally. Footage of staff in Head Office and notes that ESB  markets its in house expertise, through development of its consultancy overseas (ESB Internationals). Includes footage of ESB operations in Africa, Middle East, Far East and America. Includes ESB farm fishing producing salmon and eels for commercial markets; notes how ESB IT Department designed software for Moneypoint Maintenance now in demand by other utility companies; notes Finance Department of ESB provides financial expertise externally also.

Part Six: The Power Factor – Details how everyday life has become dependent on electricity. Begins with footage of 1930s ESB print advertising and moving footage from 1920s and 1930s. Moves to modern scenes of everyday life showing how electricity has modernised Ireland noting what one unit of electricity can do in a home. Includes footage of the presenters surveying people on Grafton Street on what electrical appliances they use most and notes the results.  Notes that ESB continually plans for the future.

Concludes with ESB’s contribution to the economy and how our everyday lives are dependent on electricity. Ends with tagline ‘Where would you be without it?’

The programme featured a specifically constructed soundtrack and original music score and was commissioned for ESB by Public Affairs.

It won six awards at the Seventh Annual International Association Awards at the Gresham Hotel. Including The Award of Excellence; the Merit Award in the Education category and craft awards for soundtrack, producer/director, editing and graphics.

Duration: 00:25:50


Producer/Director: David Youell and Paula Downey, Diverse Image Dublin

Editing: Jim Duggan and Mark Quinn, Screen Scene

Graphics: Maria Quigley, Screen Scene

Soundtrack: Pat Stokes of Tommy Ellis Studios