Monday, 11 October 2010

Public Information Fear

Public information films were part of my childhood. Commissioned by The Central Office of Information (COI) it wasn’t so much the government telling us what to do; they were all about the dangers of everyday life.The golden (or should that be beige) age of the PFI was the seventies

The general low-budget quality and the infamous static "crackle" before them gave them a Hammer Horror style aura. Some of them were graphically terrifying and remained ingrained in children’s psyche well into adult years. Don’t go out and play in the woods you might get electrocuted or drown. Don’t try and cross the road you might get run over, don’t drive you might go crashing through the windscreen. Don’t buy a motorbike you might get hit by a giant fist at a junction. Don’t go on the escalators you might get ground between its teeth. Don’t polish the floor you might go arse over tit. Don’t go on the swings you might get abducted by a stranger. Don’t go near fireworks you might end up with only three digits.
PFI horror medley

Particularly nightmare inducing was Lonely Water a PIF warning children of the dangers of stupid behaviour around lakes and ponds. The film was shot in true Twilight zone style with the Grim Reaper’s brother, chillingly voiced by Donald Pleasence ("I'll be back-back-back...!)
lonely water
On a lighter note we had  the animated Joe and Petunia getting involved in all manner of dangerous and anti social behaviour.Also animated but quite sinister was Charley the cat of the 'Charley says' series.

Aside from the horrors of day to day life the most chilling example of the PFI is the Protect and Survive series of films advising the British public on what to do in the event of a nuclear attack. They would have been shown constantly on all television channels in the build up to a war. Voiced by Patrick Allen (later sampled by Trevor Horn for Frankie goes to Hollywood’s Two tribes) these films are truly frightening as the reality of melting eye balls and pestilence felt all too real then.

Funny how we children who were exposed to these mind warping films all turned out okay though…or did we?
This Excellent website has a plethora of PIFs from the sublime to the ridiculous

1 comment:

  1. It's seems rather weird to me but I have absolutely no memory of ever seeing one of these films. I continue to find your blog one of the best around. I think people like us who travelled across London on the 19 bus are natural born bloggers.


having said that;