Public Information Films



My british childhood, and the british childhoods of everyone aged 30-45 were haunted by the strange brown nylon dystopia of the public information film. For some reason I have a memory of them seeming to be on TV all the time, although on reflection it may just have been that they were always on at 5am when I ran downstairs to watch television and build forts out of sofa cushions.
I particularly like this one for its spooky voiceover (Donald Pleasence?) and its frowning upon of 'showing off' - something that was very seriously frowned upon if I recall, second only to murder in its social stigma. I wonder if parents these days ever tell their children to stop showing off? I was always denied soft drinks in case they led to over-excitement and shameful showing off.


Anyway, I was just wondering why it is that we all hark back to an earlier time, free of the tyranny of 'health and safety', when it turns out we are no longer bombarded with endless nightmarish scenarios of children in velour tracksuits barbequing themselves to death on powerlines? Why does our modern nanny state no longer subject us to all these films? You'd think we'd now have double the amount of films...Has the danger of powerlines subsided, or do they just not have to warn children about the dangers of playing because no children are actually allowed to play outside by themselves anymore?


5 comments:

Gaw said...

What a bizarre and in some ways well-made little film (it was Donald Pleasance), You're right - logically there should be more of these films now. But then does a wariness of being patronising or preachy overwhelm the urge to reduce risk? It's an interesting question.

Have you seen the Armstrong and Miller parodies of these old public information films? Some are very funny, such as the one telling you to dispose of your fridge safely as children can lock themselves in: be sure to throw it in the river.

BTW I like the building forts from sofa cushions line. And the point about showing off: it was so totally deflating to be told by Mum: 'stop it now, you're just showing off'. In fact, a post packed with interesting stuff!

worm said...

I haven't actually seen a whole episode of armstrong and miller - but I've watched some of their sketches on youtube and they do seem to be a cut above the usually dire (and out of fashion) sketch show format! I'll see if I can find some of these spoof clips!

re. the showing off - my most cringeworthy memories involve me coming downstairs during dinner parties, thinking I was being entertaining, and then being sent back upstairs to bed for 'showing off' - eek it makes me squirm just thinking about it 25 years later!

Brit said...

I think the Government leaves all the patronising nanny advice for BBC Breakfast to deliver. Did you see them this morning about de-icing your car? Jeez.

Armstrong and Miller are a cut above - 70% hit rate I reckon. Their public info film parodies were great - loved the drink driving one.

Gaw said...

I find BBC Breakfast unwatchable. It's as if their audience is the same age as Nick Jr, which is what we actually do end up watching.

worm said...

oh for the luxury of morning TV! I have to shower and get dressed and leave the house with great haste and stealth every morning, lest I get roped into some kind of cleaning by the german hausfrau. This means I actually get to work an hour early every day