the media and entertainment union
a sector of Prospect

15 February 2010

Geoffrey Goodman, former industrial editor, columnist and assistant editor of the Daily Mirror, offers his own appreciation for the life of Jack Amos. Jack, who was active in BECTU and its predecessor unions for over 40 years, died on 30 January 2010.

By any standards Jack Amos, who has died too young, was a remarkable man. Nor do I use that adjective as a routine cliché since Amos possessed qualities that were indeed of unusual substance.

 Jack Amos addresses delegates at the TUC in 2008. Pic: Jess Hurd/ Amos addresses the TUC in 2008. Pic: Jess Hird/

He was a superb film technician as I discovered when  working  with him and Rob Wright producing a recent documentary on the history of the Transport & General Workers Union before the merger to become Unite.

'Quiet but brilliant professionalism'

I scripted that DVD and had a day-to-day working relationship with Jack and Rob for over a year. I had not previously met either but it quickly became apparent that Jack’s Red Flag Productions was something special - it specialised in trade union history and documentaries on the Labour Movement. That in itself is unusual. More to the point, it was Jack’s quiet but brilliant professionalism as a film maker that I found so impressive.

Initially I believed he had been doing that work all his working life; but that was wrong. In fact he started as a film projectionist in the 1960s and worked in almost every area of  film and television production. As a researcher Amos earned national respect across the entire media trade,  in Britain as well as abroad.

When he finally became a documentary film producer in the 90s, the name Jack Amos was an established label of excellence, dedicated professionalism and true quality.

None of this was reflected in his personal demeanour which remained guardedly modest in its quiet sociability, full of friendly humour rarely  revealing, even under pressure, the breadth of his work or his private commitments.

The one thing that did become powerfully clear in my  working relationship with Jack was his loyalty to his trade union - BECTU - and to the wider trade union movement as well as his socialist ethic. Little wonder his friends called him ‘Union Jack’; they might also have dubbed him  ‘Red Flag’.  He was all that - and very much more.

Geoffrey Goodman
13 February 2010.