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Colin Nugent is a fictional character created in 2009 by the writer Geoff Atkinson to engage politicians, bankers and other notable figures in correspondence and explore their thoughts and feelings in the midst of the recession. Similar to Henry Root, Colin Nugent offered tips and advice to those he corresponded with. Notable penfriends to Nugent included Bill Clinton, Alan Greenspan, Sir Fred Goodwin, Mervyn King, Sir Stuart Rose, David Miliband, and a number of MPs and business leaders.
Colin Nugent was featured in a six-page cover story in the Sunday Telegraph magazine on 27 December 2009. Thereafter in The Daily Mail, The Independent, The Scotsman, Yorkshire Post, and Scottish Record. A book, Colin Nugent Saves Britain, was published to coincide with this.
Questions raised by the experiment focused on the vulnerability of the ruling class to flattery and a realisation that their feelings were as simple as those in lower classes. In particular the press focused on Sir Fred Goodwin, who swapped flowers and gifts with Nugent. Goodwin had remained a recluse after his appearance at the Select Committee earlier in the year and the realisation that his only known dialogue had been with a fictional stranger drew comment.
Colin Nugent also raised questions about the role of the letter in a society dominated by texts and emails and suggested the old-fashioned letter still had a place and enjoyed a charm absent in other forms of communication.
Colin Nugent succeeded in presenting Alan Greenspan with an 'At Least I Tried' badge, won a favourable response from David Miliband after a plea for him to show his left wing side and attend more military parades, and received a Christmas card from Goodwin after sending him a bag of chocolate money as a present.