The Documentary: The Naked Diplomat

Tuesday 25 August



Matthew Teller travels to Beirut to meet Britain’s mould-breaking ambassador to Lebanon, Tom Fletcher. Appointed at only 36 at the height of the Arab uprisings in 2011, Fletcher calls himself the ‘Naked Diplomat’ - a title that suggests a new brand of 21st-century statecraft: flexible, transparent, engaged with the public as much as with political decision-makers.

Recording on location, the BBC World Service meets Fletcher in his last few days in Lebanon, as he completes his posting. From handling the minutiae of embassy admin meetings to national policy discussions at ministerial level, Fletcher is present as British foreign policy flexes to accommodate fresh challenges almost weekly - including encroaching so called IS jihadis and the fall-out from clashes between Syrian government forces and rebels. In striving to buttress Lebanon’s shaky social and political stability, this unusual ambassador has embraced a new weapon: social media.

How is tech changing traditional ambassadorial roles? What do his diplomatic counterparts - and Beirut’s outspoken bloggerati - think of Fletcher’s ‘naked’ diplomacy: inspiring, or inhibiting? We gather opinion, and accompany Fletcher to UK-aided refugee clinics, high-society parties and soft-power business roundtables, to assess the effectiveness of ‘naked diplomacy’ in action.