Love was is in the air in London today as the people of Stockton-on-Tees sent an early Valentine's card to the makers of Channel 4's Benefits Street.
Proud Stocktonian, Mike McGrother, delivered the card, containing a simple "Happy Valentine's Day" message, to the Holborn headquarters of Love Productions.
After a spot of busking, Mike presented the card, some flowers and a Cadbury's Wispa - a playful reference to the forthcoming "Loudest Whisper" event - to bemused Love Productions supremo Kieran Smith.
The positively romantic gesture was carried out as part of the Positively Stockton-on-Tees campaign, which was launched as a light-hearted response to Benefits Street.
"The whole nature of our response to Love Productions is that we have made a decision to mirror what they do, but as a 'lovelier' production," said Mike. "They chose to come to our hometown uninvited and work in a way that they choose.
"We are simply starting our response by visiting them uninvited and reminding them, Valentine's style, that things can be done in a 'lovelier' way - and that will continue to underpin our planned response."
Attention will soon shift to the campaign's centrepiece event, "The Loudest Whisper", which will see a whispered message passed around the entire Borough!
It will take place over the two days of Friday, March 13 and Saturday, March 14 and will also raise money for Comic Relief.
A message will be passed from person to person, making use of human chains as well as all kinds of transport, from jet-skis and rowing boats to buses and bikes!
Details of the full routes that the whisper will take will be unveiled later this month but there will be exciting opportunities for the public to get involved, as follows:
- Friday, March 13, 12.15pm at the Infinity Bridge, Stockton
- Friday, March 13, 5.30pm at the area near ARC and The Storytellers pub, Stockton
- Saturday, March 14, 12.20pm in Ropner Park, Stockton
- Saturday, March 14, 1.15pm at Preston Hall, Eaglescliffe
Mike said: "There's an abundance of community pride in Stockton-on-Tees - it's just not our style to go shouting it from the rooftops! But if we're faced with a series that seeks to paint us in an unfair light on national television, we shouldn't take that lying down.
"Through the Loudest Whisper event and all the other parts of the Positively Stockton campaign, we can dispel the myths that will inevitably be trotted out using the sense of humour, community spirit and understated manner people in our Borough are renowned for.
"And it's all for Comic Relief - our voices - though quiet, will be heard!"
The Positively Stockton-on-Tees campaign was launched in November as a counter to what is expected to be a less than flattering portrayal of the Borough when the series airs.
People across the region and beyond are being encouraged to show their love for the Borough by sharing photographs, videos and stories.
To find out more about the Positively Stockton-on-Tees campaign, and how to get involved, visit: www.positivelystocktonontees.co.uk