This film is part of Free
A new start for Britain: this film tells us what to expect from a great new public service.
Just as World War Two needed its propaganda films to inform and enthuse the home front, so too was ‘peacetime propaganda’ required to proclaim and explain the new welfare state. Though taking the form of a scripted drama, films like this would have been classified at the time as documentary. This interesting example was filmed in South Wales, though set in places and hospitals with made up names – and containing performances by non-professionals playing not exactly ‘themselves’ but characters with the same professional role. Notably the main role of idealistic GP Dr Collins is played by a real doctor, Dafydd Thomas.
This ‘story documentary’ approach was a familiar format from wartime filmmaking. In truth, it's an engagingly odd film. The framework is disorienting: a flashback to an extremely recent past, but including dream-sequence flashes-forward to the present. And for a film celebrating the arrival of a great public service it's strangely downbeat. A brooding melancholy seems to hover over everything, undercutting the undoubtedly sincere idealism of the filmmakers. Look out at for a film industry in-joke at approx. 14:50: referencing John Grierson, founding leader of the British documentary movement. This government film is a public record, preserved and presented by the BFI National Archive on behalf of The National Archives, home to more than 1,000 years of British history.
Animation & Artists Moving Image 1948 9 mins
Long before the ‘Charley Says’ campaign of the 1970s and ‘80s, another cartoon Charley was used to demystify the newly created NHS.
Instructional film/TV programme 1951 55 mins
Kathleen Byron - of Black Narcissus fame - stars in one of the most ambitious recruitment films ever made.
Training film/TV programme 2002 18 mins
Imelda Staunton and Hugh Laurie as you've not quite seen them before: in a comedy training video for Britain’s National Blood Service.
Public Information Filler 1985 1 mins
A sense of 1980s stylistic sheen filters through this sci-fi-tinged anti-smoking advert.
Short documentary 2023 4 mins
Former Bristol Poet Laureate, Miles Chambers reads a poem specially commissioned for the 75th anniversary of the NHS at Glastonbury Festival.
Short documentary 2023 3 mins
Former Bristol Poet Laureate, Miles Chambers reads a poem specially commissioned for the 75th anniversary of the NHS.
Action and Adventure 1923 28 mins Silent Location: Tilbury
Plotting world domination, Devil Doctor Fu-Manchu steals plans for a new aero-torpedo in this earliest surviving thrill-a-minute serial instalment.
Inside Film 2024 16 mins
Filmmakers Jane Giles and Ali Catterall discuss their documentary Scala!!!, revisiting the legendary and inspirational cinema venue and some of the most notorious films that screened there.
Drama 2023 2 mins
A group of young Black boys run into a building. One of them is about to do the unimaginable.
Romance 2023 2 mins
A queercore romance - a visceral and immersive exploration of the power of the mosh pit and finding love in the most unlikely of places.
Charity appeal 1939 10 mins
Long thought lost, this Powell-directed promotional short for a veteran’s charity was only rediscovered in 2003.
Documentary 1941 6 mins
A poignant, stirring letter from a recently deceased pilot to his mother is read by John Gielgud.