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Public Information Films

Stop! Look! Listen! For decades public information films have been educating, persuading and above all warning us of hidden dangers.

Local authorities had long been using film to spread their public health messages. But the 'official' information film came of age in WWII, when it was used by government to guide the public through austerity and a life under fire. The 1960s and 70s saw a public information 'golden age', with hundreds of short films launched on to the small screen to cajole the British public into binning their litter, giving up smoking or driving carefully. Children of the 70s will remember a world of dangers - from roads and railway tracks to farmyards, ponds, electricity pylons and especially strangers - and a legion of characters including the Green Cross Code Man, Charley the cat and the chilling Spirit of Dark and Lonely Water. Sometimes witty, sometimes alarming, always memorable, these films are a priceless and entertaining record of 20th century British life. But please, be careful...

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Green Cross Code - He's GreatGreen Cross Code - He's Great

Public Information Filler1976 mins

David Prowse (the frame of Darth Vader) appears as the iconic Green Cross Code Man, heaping praise on a young GXC expert.

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Morecambe and Wise - Be Wise Don't Drink and Drive Morecambe and Wise - Be Wise Don't Drink and Drive

Public Information Filler19631 mins

Ernie tells Eric to ‘be wise’ and not drive home after their Christmas party

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Coughs and SneezesCoughs and Sneezes

Public Information Filler19451 mins

One of Richard Massingham’s most famous public information films, which lead to the ubiquitous mantra: "Coughs and Sneezes Spread Diseases".

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I Am a Litter BasketI Am a Litter Basket

Public Information Filler19596 mins

A heartfelt cry on behalf of the world's litter-baskets.

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Charley's Black MagicCharley's Black Magic

Animation & Artists Moving Image19499 mins

Cartoon propaganda short sweetens the pill of post-war coal prices by promising jam tomorrow

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Lonely WaterLonely Water

19732 mins

Terrifying public information film presenting the horrific consequences of playing in or near rivers, ponds and other water hazards.

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RicketsRickets

1944 mins

A hard-hitting WWII Food Flash warning about the dangers of rickets - and how to avoid them

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Playing with FirePlaying with Fire

Public Information Filler194710 mins

You're asking for trouble when you play with fire - and this public information film is the stuff of nightmares

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SearchingSearching

Public Information Filler19741 mins

John Krish’s haunting fire prevention film prowls through a carefully designed burned-out shell of a set.

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What's in a NumberWhat's in a Number

Documentary drama19481 mins

National insurance made amusing by the eccentric Richard Massingham.

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ApachesApaches

Documentary197727 mins

One of the most disturbing public safety films depicts six children being picked off one-by-one by deadly farming machinery.

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Drink Drive Office Party Cartoon Drink Drive Office Party Cartoon

Advert19641 mins

Quirky photo-montage film warning of the perils of drink driving.

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Be a Good CyclistBe a Good Cyclist

Public Information Filler19503 mins

Invaluable advice for the careful cyclist in a quintessentially British safety film.

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Traffic IslandTraffic Island

Public Information Filler196316 mins Location: London

The tyranny of traffic is given suitably rough treatment in this powerful film sponsored by town planner Colin Buchanan.

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The LosersThe Losers

Government sponsored film197516 mins Location: Fulham

Having your car nicked is one thing, but then you're branded a loser – by this unsympathetic crime prevention film about car theft

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Simply MetricSimply Metric

Public Information Filler197314 mins

Wouldn't budge an inch for a centimetre? This guide to the new-fangled system of metrication may change your mind.

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Copy Book PleaseCopy Book Please

Public Information Filler19491 minsSilent

Return to sender? A posh postie – in the shape of Terry-Thomas - appeals to the public to "address your letters clearly and correctly"

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Fair RentFair Rent

Documentary194711 mins Location: Aberdeen

Power cuts, housing shortages and exorbitant rents – Aberdeen man Norrie Williamson goes head to head with his greedy landlady

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In Which We Live Being the Story of a Suit Told by ItselfIn Which We Live Being the Story of a Suit Told by Itself

Documentary194413 mins

Wonderfully eccentric 'make do and mend' message from public information genius Richard Massingham.

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Get CrackingGet Cracking

Public Information Filler19441 mins

Bad eggs and cracking jokes put a frown on Hitler's face in this advert for National Savings

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Burns and ScaldsBurns and Scalds

Public Information Filler19471 mins

Hard-hitting depiction of the danger to children of burns and scalds

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How to Fit a Gas MaskHow to Fit a Gas Mask

Public Information Filler19392 mins

Matter-of-fact wartime instruction in how to fit your gas mask efficiently - leaving no margin for error.

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StrangersStrangers

Public Information Filler19731 mins

Who needs to talk to strangers when you're the only one who can understand the garbled mewling of your best buddy cat, Charley?

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Mummy Should KnowMummy Should Know

Animation & Artists Moving Image19731 mins

Killjoy, or conscience of a generation? Charley cat scuppers a playdate, but earns a fishy picnic through doing the right thing

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Falling in the WaterFalling in the Water

Animation & Artists Moving Image19731 mins

Kids don't always listen to their parents. But in the 70s they certainly listened to a giant ginger tabby cat...

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MatchesMatches

Animation & Artists Moving Image19731 mins

Home safety is child's play if you have the feline guardian angel of the 70s on hand

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TeapotTeapot

Animation & Artists Moving Image19731 mins

Charley's cat-astrophic teatime hijinks leave him with a burning message to share

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In the KitchenIn the Kitchen

Animation & Artists Moving Image19731 mins

If you can't stand the heat, Charley, get out of the kitchen and spread your message

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Peidiwch Mynd i ffwrdd Gyda Phobl Ddiarth (Charley - Strangers)Peidiwch Mynd i ffwrdd Gyda Phobl Ddiarth (Charley - Strangers)

Public Information Filler19731 mins

Children beware strangers is the message contained in this public information film. Charley the cat, acting as a young boy’s guardian angel, sounds the alarm.

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Adventures of Tom, Dick and HarryAdventures of Tom, Dick and Harry

School programme and Educational film19536 minsSilent Location: Burgess Hill

School children learn that mistakes made when cycling to school aren't always forgiven - in this instructional film made by their headmaster

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The BalloonThe Balloon

Children's198110 mins

A creepy clown brings balloons and death in this dreamlike road safety film, along with some not-so-subtle product placement

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Fe Dal I Chi Holi - yn Eich Pwll Nofio Lleol (Teenagers Learn to Swim)Fe Dal I Chi Holi - yn Eich Pwll Nofio Lleol (Teenagers Learn to Swim)

Public Information Filler19721 mins

Boy meets girl. Boy loses girl to another because he's no fish. Message to any boy viewer: learn to swim at your local pool and become a great catch!

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Sglefrio Rhew: Tair Rheol (Ice Skating: Three Rules)Sglefrio Rhew: Tair Rheol (Ice Skating: Three Rules)

Public Information Filler19701 mins

Public information film directed at children, who are advised, where ice-skating is concerned, always to let their parents go first!

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Dressed for DrowningDressed for Drowning

School programme and Educational film19657 mins Location: Worthing

A well-made and light-hearted instructional film which demonstrates how your own clothes can save you from drowning

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How to Use the TelephoneHow to Use the Telephone

Public Information Filler194819 mins

Hold please. Enter a distinctly British bureaucracy as the post-war Civil Service learns to be civil on the telephone

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Door to Door SalesmanDoor to Door Salesman

Public Information Filler19611 mins

Don't get caught cold by cold calling – this TV public information short advises caution before buying on the doorstep

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Rate Rebates 1969Rate Rebates 1969

Public Information Filler19691 mins

Zippy public information animation on how to keep up with the Joneses - by getting a rebate on rates.

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National Milk CocoaNational Milk Cocoa

Public Information Filler19440 mins

Drinking chocolate flashes before your eyes and makes an offer you can't refuse

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Phone in ConfidencePhone in Confidence

Public Information Filler19781 mins Location: Belfast

Learn how to report paramilitary activity in complete confidence with this shocking television advert by the Northern Ireland Office.

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Typing TechniqueTyping Technique

Government sponsored film194524 minsSilent

Dive into a typing pool of the 1940s and see the delightful Miss Brown learn to master her craft

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Women after the WarWomen after the War

Campaigning film194610 minsSilent

A provoking film on the place of women made by the inimitable Richard Massingham

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Women in IndustryWomen in Industry

Public Information Filler19481 mins

The Ministry of Labour exhorts women to return to industry – the post-war production drive depends on them.

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Mrs. T. And Her Cabbage PatchMrs. T. And Her Cabbage Patch

Public Information Filler194112 mins

Poetic tribute to Mrs Turner's vegetable growing prowess, plus the delights of "wartime steaks"

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Help Scotland's HarvestHelp Scotland's Harvest

Animation & Artists Moving Image19441 mins

Johnny Barleycorn issues a rousing call for help with the Scottish harvest in this woodcut-style animation

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Older Workers Are Still Wanted in Their JobsOlder Workers Are Still Wanted in Their Jobs

Public Information Filler19481 mins

At 65 Tom's still a better man than many a youngster - and decides that a tranquil retirement is not for him

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Agricultural Holiday CampsAgricultural Holiday Camps

Government sponsored film19471 minsSilent

The effortlessly comic Richard Massingham abandons the stress of his city job to work on a farm

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The Government of LondonThe Government of London

Public Information Filler197723 mins Location: London

From the Thames Barrier to Covent Garden, this public information film looks at the responsibilities of the GLC and future of London.

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Everybody's LondonEverybody's London

Public Information Filler197125 mins Location: London

Dramatic public information film exploring the role of the GLC and featuring numerous shots of London streets, people, parks and institutions.

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Looking After LondonersLooking After Londoners

Public Information Filler197224 mins Location: London

From schools to sewers, this film explores the roles and responsibilities of local councils, visiting almost every London borough in the process.

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Ballot Box Not the Bomb - Ulster Assembly ElectionsBallot Box Not the Bomb - Ulster Assembly Elections

Public Information Filler19738 mins Location: Belfast

This poignant Public information film from Northern Ireland publicises elections for a new Assembly.

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Ulster - Behind the HeadlinesUlster - Behind the Headlines

Public Information Filler19705 mins Location: Downpatrick

Will level headedness triumph? Hear how the peace and good neighbourliness of one town contrasts with the violence and tension prevalent elsewhere in Northern Ireland.

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Fear and Peter BrownFear and Peter Brown

Documentary194016 mins

Terror on the home front - literally - in this heady and eccentric brew.

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Never Go with StrangersNever Go with Strangers

Documentary197118 mins

Is this the scariest public information film ever? This hard-hitting warning against 'stranger danger' was considered too distressing to be broadcast on television.

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Safe or SorrySafe or Sorry

School programme and Educational film19504 mins Location: Tottenham

Policemen in mufti act out accident scenarios to an assembly of school children, while Safety Sam drives the road safety message home

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Help for the HouseboundHelp for the Housebound

Amateur film196111 mins Location: Reigate

Therapists from the East Surrey Mobile Physiotherapy Unit bring relief to many elderly patients in the comfort of their own homes

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New Lives for OldNew Lives for Old

Public Information Filler195721 mins Location: Croydon

Nonagenarian croquet players and Brighton day trips feature in this study of social services in Croydon, focussing on help given to the elderly, lonely, sick and disabled.

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Cold ComfortCold Comfort

Animation & Artists Moving Image19441 mins

A dancing radio stops partying to transmit an announcement on fuel conservation in this WWII cartoon short

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House That John BuiltHouse That John Built

Public Information Filler19287 minsSilent

Empire buying begins at home: John Bull gets a makeover in this cartoon promoting British farmed goods

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Coi: Seat Belts - Human CannonballCoi: Seat Belts - Human Cannonball

Advert19781 mins

A circus act – of sorts – combines with gallows humour in a shatteringly effective reminder to "clunk, click" even on the shortest trip.

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Pedal CyclistsPedal Cyclists

Public Information Filler19472 mins

A witty, eccentric guide to safety on two wheels under the watchful eye of a pedalling angel.

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Firework : EyesFirework : Eyes

Public Information Filler19741 mins

Stark 70s firework safety film which mixes the everyday and the uncanny

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Night CallNight Call

Fantasy197727 mins

Stylish 70s road safety film with a sting in the tail.

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After DarkAfter Dark

Documentary197914 mins

Careful Colin Welland warns hazardous Herberts of the dangers of night-time driving

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Trouble in ToytownTrouble in Toytown

Public Information Filler194614 mins Location: Poole

An immensely charming toy story in which a distracted pupil becomes an attentive teacher and explains road safety to dolls

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PenniesPennies

School programme and Educational film19519 minsSilent Location: Burgess Hill

The grim message of this film for youngsters shows how a lack of road sense combined with faulty bicycle brakes results in more than broken bones

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Good Cycles Deserve Good RidersGood Cycles Deserve Good Riders

Public Information Filler19503 mins

The car-free, Kodachrome streets of 1950s London offer an idyllic environment for acting out the 'wrongs' of cycling safety.

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War Rationing MilkWar Rationing Milk

Public Information Filler1941 minsSilent

Forthright reminder that children's milk rations are for their wellbeing, not the whole family's.

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Unguarded MomentUnguarded Moment

Public Information Filler19516 mins Location: Blackheath

The perils of Britain's roads are seen in this chilling 1951 film as the carelessness of Johnny, Fred and Mary results in disaster and death!

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Only a Fool Breaks the Second Rule - Pile-upOnly a Fool Breaks the Second Rule - Pile-up

Public Information Filler19751 minsSilent

A mysterious stranger foreshadows Death, but is good enough to give a handy driving safety tip along the way

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A Boy Goes CyclingA Boy Goes Cycling

Amateur film196315 mins Location: Catford

Pedal power saves a dad's day in this colourful cycling safety film set in a sunny 60s South East London.

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PolicedayPoliceday

Documentary197626 mins Location: Belfast

Ever wondered what it’s like to spend 24 hours in the RUC? Watch this 1976 recruitment film and decide if this was the career for you.

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Cadwch Gymru'n Daclus (Keep Wales Tidy)Cadwch Gymru'n Daclus (Keep Wales Tidy)

Public Information Filler19701 mins Location: Conwy Castle

Keep Wales Tidy! That’s the message for everyone, not just the children who are seen here attacking the litter in a Conwy Castle picnic area.

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Diogelwch ar y Fferm (Safety on the Farm)Diogelwch ar y Fferm (Safety on the Farm)

Public Information Filler19701 mins

A farm can be rife with danger so farmers must take safety seriously. This public information film has under a minute to ram the message home.

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Poenwr Defaid (Sheep Worrier)Poenwr Defaid (Sheep Worrier)

Public Information Filler19701 mins

Be aware: perfectly respectable dogs, gentle, friendly dogs, dogs who have never lifted a paw in anger are, when it comes down to it, dogs, and capable of worrying sheep.

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All HandsAll Hands

Public Information Filler194011 mins

A commercially produced Ministry of Information film, explaining how vital information could be carelessly leaked to prying enemy ears on the home front.

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Summer TravellingSummer Travelling

Animation & Artists Moving Image19451 mins

Delayed trains, crowded carriages, and standing room only: Blitz spirit makes a parent's nightmare commute a walk in the park

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Progressive HouseProgressive House

Public Information Filler19681 mins Location: Belfast

How can professionals get ahead in 1960s Belfast? Find out in this muzak-filled public information film.

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Yesterday Is over Your ShoulderYesterday Is over Your Shoulder

Industry sponsored film19408 mins

An enticing government call for men to retrain as skilled engineers to help with the war effort.

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Doing Our BitDoing Our Bit

Charity appeal193511 mins Location: Middlesbrough

Digging a way out of the 1930s Depression in the Cleveland Hills.

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If War Should ComeIf War Should Come

Public Information Filler193910 mins

With its soothing Elgar soundtrack and calm commentary, this retrospectively poignant public information film aimed to reassure a pre-war Britain.

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Clean Air at HandsworthClean Air at Handsworth

Public Information Filler19677 mins Location: Handsworth

Three Handsworth households get paid to breathe more easily in this jaunty promo about Sheffield's switch to smokeless fuels.

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Protect and SurviveProtect and Survive

Public Information Filler19754 mins

One of a series of animated films designed to provide instructions on how to survive a nuclear attack.

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Aids - MonolithAids - Monolith

Public Information Filler19851 mins

Portentous imagery and John Hurt’s grave voiceover define this key film from a £5 million campaign to combat the growing AIDs epidemic.

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Aids - IcebergAids - Iceberg

Public Information Filler19871 mins

Simple and devastatingly effective, John Hurt narrates a key advert from Sammy Harari’s 1986 AIDS awareness campaign.

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Jet-propelled GermsJet-propelled Germs

Documentary19481 mins

One of several highly entertaining films from Richard Massingham about the dangers of uncontrolled sneezing.

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Handkerchief DrillHandkerchief Drill

Public Information Filler19491 mins

Another of Richard Massingham’s snappy public information fillers finds the oafish everyman’s personal hygiene in question again.

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Mass RadiographyMass Radiography

Public Information Filler194310 mins

TB or not TB – that is the question travelling x-ray screening programmes are out to answer on a large scale

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Your Very Good HealthYour Very Good Health

Animation & Artists Moving Image19489 mins

Long before the ‘Charley Says’ campaign of the 1970s and ‘80s, another cartoon Charley was used to demystify the newly created NHS.

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Dusty No. 6 : Dusty Says Keep Britain TidyDusty No. 6 : Dusty Says Keep Britain Tidy

Public Information Filler1978 mins

Dusty the kangaroo catches a shadowy figure in the act of dumping an old mattress in this campaigning cartoon

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Allwch Chi Helpu Rhywun? (Could You Help Somebody?)Allwch Chi Helpu Rhywun? (Could You Help Somebody?)

Public Information Filler19701 mins

An appeal to the youth of the day to take into account the needs of the elderly when out and about. A role model is shown to be cool and yet also helpful and considerate.

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Cleanliness Is HappinessCleanliness Is Happiness

Public Information Filler193018 minsSilent

Melodrama and misery are washed away by a mix of soap and elbow grease

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Dusty No. 12: Dusty Says Keep Britain TidyDusty No. 12: Dusty Says Keep Britain Tidy

Public Information Filler1978 mins

Dusty the kangaroo patrols a train in this campaigning cartoon - until she comes upon a litter strewn carriage...

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Dusty No. 16 : Dusty Says Keep Britain TidyDusty No. 16 : Dusty Says Keep Britain Tidy

Public Information Filler1978 mins

Nothing beats a relaxing picnic on the beach – but beware Dusty the kangaroo

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The Story of John M'NeilThe Story of John M'Neil

Drama191122 minsSilent Location: Glasgow

Here in this tuberculosis nest lived the family of John M'Neil...

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Premium Bonds: Xmas 1959Premium Bonds: Xmas 1959

1959 mins

The Happy (Christmas) way to save! Santa plugs Premium Bonds in a 'prize-winning' 1950s TV ad.

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Premium Bonds: ClerkPremium Bonds: Clerk

Advert19601 mins

A cartoon city clerk escapes the binds of daily drudgery – thanks to a win on his Premium Bonds.

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Premium Bonds Prize Winner: Mr CampPremium Bonds Prize Winner: Mr Camp

Advert19581 mins

Mr Brian Camp, an engineering inspector from Gravesend, is a lucky Premium Bonds winner.

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Premium Bonds Prize Winner: Mrs BracePremium Bonds Prize Winner: Mrs Brace

Advert19581 mins

Buying Premium Bonds leads a Gonerby villager up the path to prosperity - and the local parish church.

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Premium Bonds Prize Winner: Molly ButtersPremium Bonds Prize Winner: Molly Butters

Advert19581 mins

Molly Butters hits the jackpot, winning £1,000 with one of her two Premium Bonds.

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Premium Bonds Prize Winner: Mr ShumPremium Bonds Prize Winner: Mr Shum

Advert19581 mins

Buy more Premium Bonds and maybe your ship will come in - it has for lucky winners Mr and Mrs Shum

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Abcd of HealthAbcd of Health

Instructional film/TV programme19429 mins

Healthy eating advice goes down easy in this fun public information film.

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Port HealthPort Health

Public Information Filler196723 mins Location: London

Rat traps, house boats and London’s ports all feature in this public information film looking at the work of the Port Of London Health Authority.

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Public Health ServicePublic Health Service

Documentary193114 minsSilent Location: Bermondsey

White-coated scientists, doctors, chiropodists, dentists, and midwives unite in their mission to eradicate disease and ignorance from Bermondsey.

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A-tish-ooA-tish-oo

Public Information Filler19416 mins

The face mask comes of age in this intriguing wartime guide to germ prevention.

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Your Children's PlayYour Children's Play

Children's195120 mins

Need some post-war parenting advice? Then this is the film for you.

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Swat That Fly!Swat That Fly!

Documentary19156 minsSilent

Warning - not safe for work lunch! This public health film on the common house fly is designed to make you squirm

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Blood Donor : Glenda and ErnieBlood Donor : Glenda and Ernie

Public Information Filler19813 mins

Glenda Jackson makes a song and a dance about giving blood – in a wise-cracking double act with Ernie Wise.

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The MagicianThe Magician

Public Information Filler19421 mins

Alakazam! The fuel demon conjures up some fuel-saving tips for a wasteful family to help the war effort

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Joe's WayJoe's Way

Public Information Filler197513 mins Location: Rotherhithe

Road safety film, or warning of the dangers of flared trousers – you decide

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Peter and the Moon ManPeter and the Moon Man

Children's192914 minsSilent

The man in the moon learns about hygiene in this 1929 public information short promoting the benefits of all-electric mod cons.

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A Record of AchievementA Record of Achievement

Advert19312 minsSilent

The National Mark is marching on - for progress and prosperity!

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The Finishing LineThe Finishing Line

Instructional film/TV programme197721 mins

In this surrealist short, John Krish and Michael Gilmour tell a perilous tale at the railway station. Mind the gap - this is going to get scary.

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Compost HeapCompost Heap

Government sponsored film19422 mins

A talking cabbage plant will win you over in this Second World War cartoon trailer, which has a surprising charm.

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The Photographs Are WatchingThe Photographs Are Watching

Government sponsored film19442 mins

‘Keep on saving’ – A plea to avoid waste during the Second World War.

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ScabiesScabies

Government sponsored film194336 mins

Burrows, baths and benzyl benzoate – advice is shared on how to understand and treat the scourge of scabies.

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Buy in BulkBuy in Bulk

Government sponsored film19491 mins

The British tradition of queuing is parodied in this amusing short trailer, an ingenious piece of advertising by the General Post Office

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Mother and ChildMother and Child

Public Information Filler194010 mins

While Jack Crawford is serving at sea his pregnant wife Alice has access to all the care she needs at the local North London welfare centre.

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Cyclist Turning RightCyclist Turning Right

Instructional film/TV programme19831 mins

Two young BMX-ers nearly come a cropper in this short and shocking cycling safety film.

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Storing Vegetables OutdoorsStoring Vegetables Outdoors

Government sponsored film19419 mins

Building a larder using soil and straw: this age-old method was a boon to home-front gardeners

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Butter Information Council: Scrambled EggsButter Information Council: Scrambled Eggs

Advert19590 minsSilent

In the bitter butter war against margarine, this short TV ad suggests that a bit of butter’s better with eggs

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Dr. Wise on InfluenzaDr. Wise on Influenza

Public Information Filler191918 minsSilent

A hard-hitting public information film made at the height of the Great Influenza 1918-18.

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Silver LiningSilver Lining

Animation & Artists Moving Image19471 mins

Bread today and jam tomorrow? Cheerful puppet cartoon with a catchy song sweetens the pill of post-war austerity.

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SPLINK - Derek GriffithsSPLINK - Derek Griffiths

Public Information Filler1 mins

An animated Derek Griffiths fronts the road safety campaign gone wrong

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Swimming - David WilkieSwimming - David Wilkie

Public Information Filler19792 minsSilent

The Olympic champion heads a fondly-remembered public information film

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Telephone (Abstract)Telephone (Abstract)

Advert19342 minsSilent

Early avant-garde short from the GPO, encouraging use of the telephone in an emergency.

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Women's Munition WorkWomen's Munition Work

Industry sponsored film191722 minsSilent

Your country needs you! An appeal for more women to take up munitions work.

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Food for ThoughtFood for Thought

Government sponsored film19405 mins

Grumpy Grandma is put in her place during wartime food demonstration