Mark Frauenfelder at 3:44 pm Mon, Oct 13, 2008
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The hooded, death-dealing "spirit of dark and lonely water" who stars in the first video on this medley of British safety PSA's is plenty creepy, but he's no match for the horrific hairstyle sported by the gent at 1:38 in the video.
Scary British public information films from the 1970s
Mark Frauenfelder is the founder of Boing Boing and the editor-in-chief of MAKE and Cool Tools. Twitter: @frauenfelder.
Come and hear Mark speak at the ALA conference in Chicago on July 1.
Eurovision 2013: An American in London
The technology that links taxonomy and Star Trek
If that guy had red eyes he’d be a shoo-in for Elric of Melnibone in one of his various Multiverse incarnations.
allegedly the father of modern two-deck DJ’ing
More than that, he invented the nightclub as we know it – before his Grand Records Ball, no one had thought of combining a dancefloor with recorded music. (Though I prefer to credit the true invention of the nightclub to Dave Mancuso: he might’ve been twenty-odd years later than Sir Jimmy, but he had much better motives!)
The man at 1:38 is the eccentric DJ, TV presenter and charity fundraiser, Jimmy Saville
i wonder how many kids actually remembered what splink stood for when they crossed the street.
#2….. and his hair’s still like that!
What these are missing is the serious sounding continuity announcer voicing over the freeze at the end with ‘That was a public information film’
I remember all these – and they worked!I was s### scared of roads, ponds and electricity sub stations.
Love the Young Ones parody of the Think Once, Think Twice, Think Bike campaign .. “Imagine this squashy ripe tomato is a young girl crossing the road and this cricket bat is a big truck …”
About 3 mins in is a bit about driving and motorcycles.
The Young Ones did a satire of this series- “Think once. Think twice. Think don’t drive on the pavement!”
The gentleman – more accurately “knight of the realm” – with the unfortunate barnet is none other than Sir Jimmy Savile OBE, KCSG with whom Louis Theroux spent a Weird Weekend: http://video.google.com/videosearch?q=louis+theroux+weird+weekends#q=louis%20theroux%20jimmy&emb=0
The scariest one I recall is of a group of young boys arriving at a freinds house. After saying ‘Wotcha’ they trash the house. I remember thinking what what excellent role models! Nobody took it seriously because ‘Wotcha’ was never used in real life.
Awesome. Thanks for sharing, I remember most of these from my childhood, especially the frisbee one and the Green Cross Man.
I just realised that they’d dubbed David Prowse who played the Green Cross Man, which is ironic as they did the same to him when he played Vader. In reality he has a very thick Bristol/Cornish accident.
I don’t know what was scarier – Jimmy Saville or the woman with the rearranged face.
The chap at the 3m 10s mark is the actor Edward Judd, best-known as the star of ’60s sci-fi films like The First Men in the Moon and The Day the Earth Caught Fire.
I remember the one with the frisbee from my schooldays! The other one that remains etched on my memory featured a youngish Duncan Preston as a child predator. Anyone remember that one?
And anyone know who did the voiceover in the first film? Very creepy.
They didn’t even let David Prowse keep his own voice as the Green Cross Code man, in real life, I clearly remember, he has a distinct West Country accent.
The voiceover for the Spirit of Dark And Lonely Waters was provided by Donald Pleasance, of course…
And I’ll see your classic public information films and raise you Northern Irish road safety ads. These are pretty rough:
but this is in a whole league of its own IMHO:
During The Troublesâ„¢ the local police, the RUC, used to run ads for a confidential telephone line they operated for people to supply information on terrorism; when things started getting really crazy in the early 1990s, these turned into bizarre little Scarface-style mini-epics full of slow-motion machine-gun massacres in pubs. Can’t seem to find them on Youtube, sadly.
S P L I N K !
Let’s see, that’s Stop, something about Pavement, Look, um…If, No, then Kross. Okay, confusing mnemonic to be sure.
BEEP BEEP Richie! They all float down here. When you’re down here with us, you’ll float too!
Wasn’t that Jon Pertwee at the end? One of the best actors that ever played Doctor Who.
Duncan Preston as the Stranger, Cheggers telling us always to say no…
To all of you mentioning the Young Ones… thank you for that context. I wouldn’t have drawn the connection without you.
The substation video has a Boards of Canada-like soundtrack. I like! The lake video would have given me nightmares as a kid. I am the right age to have seen it then, but I am in the US.
Crubellier @ 11 – your adult 1980s/90s PI films certainly can beat up our kids 1960s/70s PI films.
Are you proud of yourself?
@Lizzle: Ha! Brilliant. I remember being terrified by a doctor who explained that “this man has had to have his leg amputated because of gangrene. From smoking!” I was convinced both my parents would end up with only two legs between them.
They must have sorted out a cure, you never hear about this happening nowadays.
@ #11 This is the only Confidential Telephone ad that I seem to remember, I’m sure there were plenty of others though… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WN0mRJGLcpM
i think i saw the spirit of dark & lonely water vid at Fazed a year or two ago. apparently it didn’t get the coverage it deserved
Dave @9: The voice-over in the first is the amiable Donald Pleasence, who you may know from his Ernst Stavro Blofeld in You Only Live Twice and many other cheerful roles.
Recent public info films in the UK are getting creepy in a different way. The one reminding drivers to pay their ~Â£100 annual road tax features a threatening black monolith following the tax dodger, getting closer and closer….
Splink!! Ah, hahaa! Hilarious!
Excellent! Irish t.v. didn’t have Dr Who or Darth Vader to help us across the road, but we did have some rockin’ country tunes:
Nelson C @ 19 …and the TV licence ads telling us that we can’t escape from their database…
TV licence ad – http://www.tvlicensing.co.uk/mediaandcommunity/mediatvcs.jsp
“More than that, he invented the nightclub as we know it – before his Grand Records Ball, no one had thought of combining a dancefloor with recorded music. ”
Much as i’d love to credit sir jimmy with the invention of many things, including the marathon: i can’t tell if you’re being sarcastic, but record dances have been going on since c. 1918, either using a gramophone or pianola (or various other bits and bobs). can we settle for ‘inventing the light-up dancefloor’?
Splendid stuff. The one I’d really love to find is the one about where a promising young footballer tries to retrieve his football boots that have been thrown over the railway overhead wires. Cue much electricity and a shot of his boots hanging on the bedroom door, never to be used again…
Anyone seen this anywhere out there on the interwebs?
The really terrifying bit was the wallpaper at 2:55 and 3:05.
Wow, Jon Pertwee, Donald Pleasance, and of course Sir Jimmy Savile, who is allegedly the father of modern two-deck DJ’ing and still sports the same haircut (and his trademark cigar)
I particularly like the fact that the kids nearly get splattered by the car that defines British Leyland in the 70′s – the Austin Allegro
I think I am getting old. I remember the Green Cross ads with the superhero-typed guy.
The spirit of the water one is amazing.
Charlie Says…, anyone?
spinning around @ 23 … and may you continue to get older :) – do you remember the kevin keegan green cross code PI films?
that should be: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MVPcoZ3Mxhs (youtube)
Charlie sez …
http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=eKLHlNvOQyQ et al
… charlie voiced by kenny everett!
“And it’s going to happen to a lot of you ladies.”
Whilst all these YouTube links are convenient, the connoisseur of Public Information Films will head to the National Archives website:
… and then drink in the absolutely incredible atmospheric cold-war fear-fest that is Protect And Survive.
Kids these days have it too easy – from a young age we were taught that Russia could kill us all at the press of a button – that put us in our place. I still remember the air-raid sirens being tested at the police houses in our neighbourhood every other Sunday morning in the early 80s… Terrorists are for pussies in comparison with the Big Bad we had then.
That dark and lonely water bit was so wonderfully Gothic, evoking Poe’s “Telltale Heart” or maybe a mournful Dylan Thomas ode. I think they could have made it a TV series in the same vein as “The Fugitive” or “The Incredible Hulk”, with each suspenseful (yet repetitive) episode revolving around who would get (or not get) drowned this week.
I never would have missed an episode…
I still have occasional nightmares about JIMMMIEEEEE! and his exploding trousers – that ad was a real low-point of my early childhood, when my family lived next door to a small electricity sub-station.
There were some other awesomely terrifying Public Information films in the 70s – I remember one particularly horrific one where a mother dies through slipping on a rug she’s placed on an over-polished floor, cracking her head open. I used to beg my Mum not to clean the lino in the hallway, and it’s doubtless contributed to my own sluttish attitude to housekeeping now I’ve grown up.
Had seen some of these sent up on Russell Brands excellent “Ponderland” episode on children, esp ‘Spirit of Dark And Lonely Waters’, and with the even more creepy “Mac and Hat” man..
After watching that,I’m not so much afraid of water,I’m afraid of television