'Blair: the movie' seeks a director

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Molly Dineen, one of Britain's most critically acclaimed documentary makers, has been approached to make an election broadcast about Tony Blair, the Labour leader.

Ms Dineen is one of a number of star film-makers who may be called upon to promote Mr Blair's image in the next election, in a move that recalls the ground-breaking party election broadcast made about Neil Kinnock - later dubbed "Kinnock the movie" - by the maker of Chariots of Fire, Hugh Hudson.

Labour sources said yesterday that the new project would be different, since Mr Blair's popularity ratings are vastly higher than Mr Kinnock's were in 1987.

"Kinnock, the movie", which focused on Mr Kinnock's background, home life and values, was so successful at boosting the opinion poll position of the then Labour leader that it was shown twice in the campaign.

Ms Dineen's style is very different from that deployed successfully by Mr Hudson on Mr Kinnock. She has made her mark with a series of documentaries including BBC2's In the Company of Men, focusing on army life in Northern Ireland.

Ms Dineen, 37, last week confirmed that an approach had been made by Labour but described the project as "embryonic", saying commitments made it uncertain the film will go ahead.

Sources said a number of people had been approached by the party's advertising agency, BMP, and that Labour might still use its in-house film-maker, Mark Lucas. However, some figures in the party believe Ms Dineen would be the ideal person to bring out the human qualities of the Labour leader.

Despite Mr Blair's generallyfavourable poll position, research undertaken for the Labour Party in Scotland and leaked last week found that some voters believe the Labour leader to be "smarmy" and detached.

Labour also has more difficulty reaching women voters, particularly those who are older, than men. A female perspective on the Labour leader might help close this gender gap.