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Last Updated: Tuesday, 21 February 2006, 12:11 GMT
Charley says
The Magazine's Public Information Film festival

Every day in February, the Magazine is featuring a classic public information film from the past 60 years, concluding with a vote to find the nation's favourite.

Considered by some as the best public information films ever, the Charley Says series is legendary.

The animated cartoons feature a little boy and his wise cat, Charley. Six films were made in 1973 and feature the dangers of matches, falling in the water, the kitchen, teapots, strangers and one called Mummy Should Know.

In each the moral of the story was told by the cat in a strangulated, feline miaow - voiced by the late Kenny Everett - and then translated into English by the little boy.

Stop Look Listen is the Magazine's festival of Public Information Films, with the National Archives and the COI

The phrase "Charley Says" became such a cultural reference point that it was used in a dance record in the early 1990s.

The films also developed such a cult following they were reissued on DVD.

    (Scene: Charley and a young boy are sitting at a table taking it in turns to stack toy building blocks)

    Boy: Three

    Charley: Miaow

    Boy: Five

    Charley: Miaow

    Boy: Six

    Charley: Miaow

    Boy: Seven

    Charley: Miaow

    (The boy puts a box of matches on the top of the pile of building blocks)

    Boy: Eight.

    (Charley then leaps on the blocks, knocking down the tower. The shot cuts to a close up of the matches. The cat tells the boy off through a series of miaows)

    Boy: Charley says that if ever you see a box of matches lying around tell mummy because they can hurt you.

    (Charley miaows in agreement and the pair walk off)

Enter our competition

Could you do better yourself? Here's your chance to try. The Magazine is inviting readers to make your own 60-second films.

Your brief is to celebrate the art of the public information film. This means you can make a film which warns of modern danger in a contemporary style, or you can produce one in the style of films of old. It's up to you.

You've got until the end of the month to make the film and get it to us. Instructions for sending them to us are at the bottom of the page.

For those of you looking for tips on how to make your film work, BBC Video Nation editor Rosemary Richards says the key thing to consider is what the audience would like to see.

Ms Richards says it's always best to get out to different locations and take lots of pictures so you can illustrate your film well - but don't overdo it.

"Keep it simple," she says. "For example, you might want to use actors but perhaps your friends and family are not great actors. It might be best to just speak straight into the camera yourself. "You should also make sure you don't film your subjects next to windows and that you use the microphone(s) appropriately. And while hand-held camera can be used to good effect, it's usually best to make sure you have a good supply of steady shots.

"However great your creative idea is, the film can't be used unless we can see and hear what's on it," she says.

Also, if you want to get your film on the web or on TV, you must make sure all the work - including the music - is your own or copyright cleared.

So keep it simple, make sure the images and sounds are clear and, of course, get a good story.

Instructions for sending films

Films should be 60 seconds maximum. Please submit your films to us via e-mail or by post.

E-mail attachments should be sent to the.magazine@bbc.co.uk, subject line STOP LOOK LISTEN COMPETITION. Attachments should be no bigger than 10Mb - you may be able to compress the file by zipping it.

If your film is above 10Mb, you can either upload it to your own personal webspace or free online storage sites (such as www.ourmedia.org) and send us an e-mail telling us its address.

Alternatively you could use free online file transfer services - see this Creative Guy blog posting for a list of 50 such services). Again, please address these to the.magazine@bbc.co.uk, subject line STOP LOOK LISTEN COMPETITION.

If you want to post the file to us, please burn them on to a DVD or put them on MiniDV, and send them to:

The Magazine
BBC News Interactive
Room 7540
Television Centre
W12 7RJ

Here's some small print.

Terms and conditions If you submit an image, you do so in accordance with the BBC's Terms and Conditions.

In contributing to BBC News you agree to grant us a royalty-free, non-exclusive licence to publish and otherwise use the material in any way that we want, and in any media worldwide. This may include the transmission of the material by our overseas partners; these are all reputable foreign news broadcasters who are prohibited from altering the material in any way or making it available to other UK broadcasters or to the print media. (See the Terms and Conditions for the full terms of our rights.)

It's important to note, however, that you still own the copyright to everything you contribute to BBC News and that if your image and/or video is accepted, we will endeavour to publish your name alongside it on the BBC News website. The BBC cannot guarantee that all pictures and/or video will be used and we reserve the right to edit your comments.

At no time should you endanger yourself or others, take any unnecessary risks or infringe any laws.

Stop Look Listen is compiled by Giles Wilson

Here is a selection of your comments.

"Charlie says" used to frighten the hell out of me as a child in the 70s. I found it extremely menacing and disturbing. Especially when the cat turned the fish into bones in one fell swoop. Disturbing, but very memorable cartoons.
Richard Paynter, London

Surely the mere transcription "Charley: Miaow" does no justice to the wonderful and imaginative range of cat-talk produced by the late Kenny Everett! He made Charlie come alive and be very lovable - even still - I had a tear in my eye just watching it just now.
>Cailean MacAulay, Glasgow. UK

Classic! I've been waiting for this film to be on here... I remember the Charley Says about strangers. they are instantly recognisable and a good way to get the message across. I never knew that it was Kenny Everett who voiced Charley! Do we get to see all the Charley Says films? Please...?
Heather Bingham, Wolverhampton

This series of PIFs has been great. But one that I seem to remember but nobody else I've mentioned it to does, is the electrocuted DIY man. He's in brown overalls, plugs his electric drill into the socket by twisting the loose wires around a couple of matchsticks and putting the matchsticks in the socket holes. As he drills the matchsticks work loose and the wires touch. I remember seeing this as a boy and having nightmares about it! My drills have ALWAYS had properly fitted plugs.
Dave, West Wiltshire

Great Page, Great Idea, has anyone brought up the short animation for wearing Hard hats at work, It starts off "Sir Isaac Newton told us why an apple falls down from the sky."
John Tennick, Sunderland

How can you write about the Charley films and not mention The Prodigy's rave anthem 'Charley' which sampled the quote, "Charley says always tell your mummy before you go somewhere?" A defining moment in recent music history.
Keith, London, UK

Personally I found Charley deeply frightening. I think this must have been a successful series as I was terrified that Charley would come and scold me!
Kevin Pearson, Baton Rouge, LA, USA (ex-pat)

To me, these were the quintessential example of public films! I loved these as a child! I remember this one, but I particularly remember the one about strangers! I was actually hoping that you would show that one!
Andy, Andover, UK

Ah! The great "Charley Says" series. In one episode he is about to go off with some friends but he hasn't told his mother so he goes back and tells his mother where he'll be going and his friends have gone off without him. He ends up playing with his mother instead. Great! Just what every growing lad wants.
Danny, Kendal, England

I very much doubt the phrase "Charley Says" was used in a dance record in the early 1990s (Charly by Prodigy) because of it being "a cultural reference point". More likely is that it's because Charly is slang for cocaine!
N Brown, Sussex, UK


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