Old TV

UK television adverts 1955–1990

Public information films

These films are not strictly advertisements (not least because they were usually shown on the BBC!)

This list does not attempt to be comprehensive, as there are already good websites devoted to Public Information Films (or Public Service Announcements, as they are called in the USA).

See some of the films on Darren Meldrum’s site (RealPlayer required), or on the National Archives site

Census: 1971

From time to time through history, the greatest need has been for facts: facts to know where to build new schools, new houses, hospitals, factories, roads. We need facts to help fight sickness and disease, and that is why on April 25 we are asking you to fill in the 1971 census. An army of men and women with light blue satchels will deliver and collect them from every household in Britain … with no exceptions.

The form is secret. There is nothing to fear from completing it. When its contents have been analysed, it will be locked away for a hundred years under guard, and all these officials are pledged to secrecy. Identify them by the blue satchel. It’s the big form with the big job to do. We need the facts … from YOU.

Children at home: c.1973

Narrator: Have you got children at home?

[Gives advice to parents to keep an eye on children all the time]

Under your feet is better than under a car

Cleaning your teeth (1)

Child: “Look Mum, crocodile!”

Mother: “I wonder if he’s a good boy like you and cleans his teeth every night and every morning?”

[child blushes]

Cleaning your teeth (2)

Up and down, up and down, till they’re clean and sparkling!

Cleaning your teeth (3): 1970s

Lion in the jungle roars with pain

Hippo: Jeremy’s got a roaring toothache again.

Tiger: I’m not surprised, he eats too many sweets and never cleans his teeth.

Giraffe: Tut tut tut, you’ll have to go to the dentist.

Crocodile: Poor Jeremy. His mum should have taught him to clean his teeth every day. They could have been as nice and clean as mine. Look!

Voiceover: Have a crocodile smile. Clean your teeth every day.

Coastguard: 1968

(With cartoon characters Joe and Petunia at the seaside)

Petunia: Oh it’s ever so nice and peaceful up here, Joe. Nice view, too!

Joe: Aye, very nice Petunia. And look at that nice little boat. He’s ’aving a lot of fun out there in his nice little dinjy. That’s what they call them you know, sailing dinjies.

Petunia: Aren’t they nice people at our hotel, Joe?

Joe: Heh heh! Hello! Now he’s splicing his mainbrace!

Petunia: Though I don’t think the man on table number six is very nice.

Joe: Ey, do you think he’s in trouble, Petunia?

Petunia: Ooh no, Joe, he’s just enjoying himself on ’oliday.

Joe: Oh, he’s decided to ’ave a swim. Now he’s going to climb back again. I expect that water’s a bit cold, don’t you? Oh, oh, he’s changed his mind. Now he’s waving to us. COOOEEE! I can’t say I recognise him, though.

Petunia: Well he must know us. Maybe it’s the gent on table number six?

Joe: No it’s not him, he’s much…. Oh now he’s shouting. LOVELY DAY, I’NT IT?


Joe: I can’t hear a word he’s saying, you know! Dial 999 … and … ask … fo r… the … coast … guard…. Well I never!

Voiceover: If you see a boat you think may be in distress, dial 999 and ask for the coastguard!

Coughs and sneezes

Music!Coughs and sneezes spread diseases,
Catch the germs in your handkerchief!Music!

[Tony Hancock’s rendition of a poster, rather than an actual advert]

The Country Code: 1971

(Cartoon characters Joe and Petunia are sitting in a field surrounded by litter from their picnic)

Petunia: Oh Joe, I have enjoyed our country walk!

Joe: Yes, we’ve come a long way Petunia. Look, you can see our tracks right across that yellow cornfield!

Petunia: Oh yes! It’s ever so nice in this field … but I’m glad those cows have gone!
Joe: Aye, they’ve taken themselves off for a walk down t’road … look … through that gate I opened … the one marked ’Private’.

Petunia: Oh yes!

(Woof-woof, woof-woof, woof-woof ….ba-a, ba-a, ba-a)

Petunia: Our little Bingo’s having a lovely time playing with those sheep! The exercise’ll do ’im good.

Joe (throws a stone) Heh-heh! I’ve hit that bottle Petunia! Heh! It smashed up a treat!

Petunia: Oh, very clever!

Joe: Do you know there’s a farmer down there with a purple face?

Petunia: I expect it’s all that sun and the open-air life, Joe.

Joe: No he’s doing one of those country dances!

Petunia: Well, I don’t think he looks very friendly!

Joe: Mebbe you’re right — can’t be anything we’ve done!

Petunia: No-o! But I won’t stay where we’re not wanted … c’mon Joe!

Farmer: When folk come out to the country, why oh why won’t they follow the Country Code?!

Decimal Coinage — The Decimal Currency Board (1): 1971

Thirty-one-and-a-half, thirty-two, thirty-three, thirty-five, forty, and ten is fifty, and fifty — is a pound.
At first when you are given change in new money it may sound rather odd, so if you’re puzzled by:
Thirty-one-and-a-half, thirty-two, thirty-three, thirty-five, forty, and ten is fifty, and fifty — is a pound.
Think decimal!
Now there are one hundred new pence in a pound.
Think decimal!
That way you’ll find shopping simple.

Decimal Coinage — The Decimal Currency Board (2): 1971

Two of the five “Decimal Five” songs about the new decimal coinage sung by the Scaffold

Music!The decimal point is small and round,
The decimal point is funny,
It divides the pence from the pounds
When you write down money.Music!

Music!Decimalisation, decimalise,
Decimalisation won't change your lives,
Decimalisation, decimalise,
Decimalisation, Decimal Five,
(fading) Decimal Five, Decimal Five.Music!

Fireguards: c.1970

Cartoon squad of soldiers as fire guards, the main characters being the archetypal comedy Sergeantt Major and the cheeky private.

Private: ’E don't look too friendly, do ’e, Sarge?

Sergeant Major: I'll be expecting you later.

“I’m backing Britain” campaign: 1968

Music!I’m Backing Britain,
Yes I’m Backing Britain.
We’re all Backing Britain today.
The feeling is growing,
So let’s keep it going,
The good times are blowing our way.Music!

Keep Britain tidy: 1975

Music!… till we have built Jerusalem, in England’s green and pleasant land.Music!

Voiceover: Britain is a beautiful country, not a litterbin. Keep Britain tidy!

[Tune: Jerusalem]

Litter (1)

Find a bin
To put it in.

Take your litter home.

It doesn’t take a minute
To bag it and bin it.

Litter (2): 1968

With Roy Hudd

Public Enemy No 1 — hunted all over the world. Messy job!
Call on LDV (Litter Defence Volunteers) — spotless, clean, tidy!
With good humour they strike against Public Enemy No.1 wherever he operates.
Litter costs you money!
Litter Defence Volunteers stop litter!
Save the cost of picking it up.
With more public help, they do even better!
Keep litter to yourself!
Put it here!

Litter (3)

A shifty looking man walks through Trafalgar Square past one of the lions, and furtively drops some litter. The lion becomes animate and in suitably stentorian leaning voice booms

Pick it up!

The sequence is repeated until the litter is indeed picked up.

Rabies Outbreak: 1976

Can you imagine being frightened of every friendly animal you meet?
Imagine rabies, in Britain.
All dogs will be leashed and muzzled, foxes will be destroyed, wildlife at risk! No animal may be moved in or out of the infected area! All cats will be restrained!
Just one animal — smuggled in — could lead to all this.
So if you suspect anyone of smuggling, tell the police.
If rabies breaks out, any animal found loose will be seized, taken away, and if it is not claimed, destroyed.
Rabies is a killer!
We must keep rabies out!

Vandalism: 1976

Woman 1: Why do they do it?

Woman 2: I know what I’d like to do to them!

Man: If they see anything nice, anything decent …

Woman: They just have to spoil it!

Man: It’s the same in the park.

Woman: They knocked out all the lampposts. And who pays out? We do!

Man: I watched them doing it!

Woman: Didn’t you say anything?

Man: What’s the point?

Woman: Kids do as they please now!

Man: Look at the new underpass!

Woman: What about the bus shelter?

Man: And how long had that been up?

Another man: About a week!

Woman: If that!

Another woman: The police ought to do something!

Woman: It’s the parents, isn’t it?

Man: We’re parents and our children don’t go round vandalising!

Woman: We hope they don’t. We don’t always know where they are, all the time, do we?

Another woman: If I thought one of mine was behaving like this I’d …

Man: I blame the schools.

Woman: It makes me so angry!

Another woman: Try telling them off and they laugh in your face.

Man: You certainly can’t reason with them!

Woman: If there’s nothing we can do … I just don’t believe it!

Voiceover: There is something you can do. Ring the police immediately. You need not give your name, but dial 999. You might save someone’s property. You could save someone’s life!

TV Licence:1977

TV Licence official: Yes, there’s a TV set at No 5. It’s in the front room. And they’re watching … Colombo.

Voiceover: If you don’t have a TV licence, it won’t take us long to find you!

Wearing protective head gear and shoes at work

Sir Isaac Newton told us why
An apple falls down from the sky,
And from this fact, it’s very plain,
All other objects do the same.
A brick, a bolt, a bar, a cup
Invariably fall down, not up,
And every common working tool
Is governed by the self-same rule.
So when you handle tools up there,
Let your watchword be “Take Care “.
If at work you drop a spanner,
It travels in a downward manner.
At work, a fifth of accidents or more
Iillustrate old Newton’s law,
But one thing he forgot to add,
The damage won’t be half as bad
If you are wearing proper clothes,
Especially on your head and toes.
These hats and shoes are there to save
The wearer from an early grave.
So best feet forward and take care
About the kind of shoes you wear,
It’s better to be sure than dead,
So get a hat and keep your head.
Don’t think to go without is brave;
The effects of gravity can be grave….

Right to Buy (1984)

There are nearly five million council tenants in England and Wales, many with families like yours – they go on paying rent every week. But if you've been a council tenant for two years or more, you now have the legal right to buy your house or flat. Discounts range from 32% to 60%! And remember, buying on a mortgage can often cost little more than paying rent. In the next few days, you'll get a leaflet through the door with all the facts. And when you've read the facts, you can decide whether to turn your home into your house.

Swimming (1)

Teach them to swim. [Rolf Harris]

Backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly and crawl.
Doggypaddle, bellyflop — you can do them all.
Learn to swim!

Swiming (2)

Learn to swim young man, learn to swim


Watch out,
There’s a thief about!

Transmission breakdowns

Do not adjust your set — normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.


Public Information Films (2): Danger on the roads

© Stephanie Jenkins
& Joan Williams

Visitors since January 2006: