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Last Updated: Friday, 10 February 2006, 12:50 GMT
What happened to Reginald Molehusband?
The Magazine's Public Information Film festival

Parallel life
Each weekday 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.

Today's public information film has gone missing.

A classic of its genre, and quoted even today by people who fondly remember it, it featured a character called Reginald Molehusband.

He was a driver in an Austin 1100 who could not park his car properly. His name became shorthand for anyone whose driving skills were not up-to-scratch - Jeremy Clarkson is just one of those who has used the jibe, saying of Ralf Schumacher: "He just cruises around at the back, getting in everyone's way until he has a Reginald Molehusband accident."

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

Web discussion forums often mention Reginald Molehusband. But Reginald himself has gone missing.

The National Archives, the repository for all kinds of fascinating documents and files from the country's history, does not know what happened to the film. Neither does the Central Office of Information, which made the public information films (and whose 60th anniversary this festival is celebrating). A search through the BBC's own archives has also turned up nothing.

A spokesman for the National Archives said: "Anyone who finds a copy of Molehusband would be held aloft and carried through the streets by PIF [public information film] enthusiasts".

Someone somewhere must have a copy. With the promise of national hero status, now is your time to stand up for Reginald. Contact us using the form below, giving us your details, and we'll do the rest.

Meanwhile here is the script, courtesy of an audio file held at TVCream (see internet links).

    This is the story of Reginald Molehusband, married, two children, whose reverse parking was a public danger (brakes and gears crunching). People came from miles just to see it. Bets were laid on his performance. What he managed to miss at the back, he was sure to make up for at the front. Bus drivers and taxis changed their routes to avoid him. Until the day that Reginald Molehusband did it right (sound of reversing). Not too close, far enough forward... come on Reginald... and reverse in slowly... come on.... and watching traffic... (applause from watching crowd) and park perfectly! Well done Reginald Molehusband, the safest parker in town.

Just one of the clever aspects of this film is the way that, excuse the pun, it reverses the burden of proving you can park. Lots of people have trouble reverse parking, but by singling out Reginald, it portrays the overwhelming body of society as being people who can park. Reginald, in short, is the freak.

But since he has gone missing, here is another film to watch in his place. It's from 1977, is entitled Columbo, and is about getting television licences.

    (The style is a 1970s detective show, the scene a murky street - a TV detector van, which looks like a mobile home, is crawling down the street
    Cut to internal shot of the van - a middle-aged man with slicked-back hair, 'tache and the manner of a disapproving chief inspector twiddles at buttons in a pretty unconvincing manner)

    MAN: "Yes, there's a TV set on at number five. It's in the front room.... and they're watching Columbo."

    (Van stops and doors open)

    VOICEOVER: If you don't have a TV licence, it won't take us long to find you.

This is a short and sweet film, both for the clarity with which it gets its message across (ie we have the technology to find you) and also its "period drama" qualities.

Listen to the man roll his "r" in the words "front room". Admire the script - choosing Columbo as the programme being watched puts it right in its era and gives the air of a manhunt. Feel the foreboding. In its own way it's a slice of genius.

Stop Look Listen is compiled by Giles Wilson

Add your comments on this story, using the form below.

So that's where Mr Molehusband come from. My parents have always used his name to refer to a complicated act of parking, and I've never known why. Strangely, though, they always refer to him as Albert Molehusband. Did he have a brother who appeared in other films, or is it just mis-remembering ?
Elizabeth Wootten, Oxford

Can anyone confirm if Mr Molehusband also appeared in a another public information film about 'what to do if you have a burst pipe'? (and not the one that I believe he used to smoke).
Martin, Croydon, UK

It's true - all my family use the excalamation 'Well done Reginald' if someone parks the car in a tight space without having first spent hours trying!
Nici, Southend

Great - my wife and I still, as a matter of course, refer to a reverse parking manoeuvre as "doing a Reggi". We used it this week when we were in a friend's car and as he was looking for a space my wife said "you'll have to do a Reggi". He knew exactly what we were refering to.
Mark , Southport, UK

Nothing to do with R Molehusband Esq, but, on the subject of old Public Information films on television, does anyone else remember from the late 1950s, or early 1960s, a road safety advert which involved a very careless cyclist who set out for work each day, dressed the same way, until (and I can't remember the exact wording), "one day he set off for work dressed differently"? The same man came out of his house and rode off on his bike, but this time, he was in white robes, had wings and a halo, and was cycling through clouds. Pretty mild, now, but it gave me nightmares for months then.
Kit Griffiths, Sevenoaks, UK

It's funny, I was only referring to the Reginald Molehusband film in speaking to my children recently. Can anyone confirm that it was actor Peter Halliday who played the title role?
Alan Harrison, Sheffield

I can now exclusively reveal what happened to the tape. Reginald Molehusband accidentally reversed over it while filming the sequel on reversing round corners. For obvious reasons the sequel was scrapped. He's asked me not to reveal that he's been hiding in Slough ever since, so I won't.
John Airey, Peterborough, UK

Any plans to include the lovely Cyril Fletcher information film 'wash your hands now' about Gertie? She was drawn from the figure 8 and 'was taken out to tea - for a birthday treat by her auntie' When poor Gertie took ill 'the doctor said in general terms, on your hands are lots of germs. Before preparing food you orta, wash your hands in hot soapy water' I've never fogotten it or how ill poor Gertie was.
Jenny, Wonthaggi Australia

Of course I remember 'Until the day Reginald Molehusband got it right'. But did the script include 'Reginald Molehusband does it again'? Many a time and oft have my family and I used this last 'quote', if indeed it is a quote. He changed my life.
Martin Lang, Tokyo, Japan

This is my favourite! I can't believe that it's gone missing. Not many other people seem to remember dear old Reginald.......
lyn, hong kong

my fav public info film was the one with Petunia and her husband watching a man drowning in his 'Sailing Dinjy'
chris evans, gawler - south australia

I've never seen this bit but it sounds hilarious. I hope someone finds the missing clip because it'd be a joy to have it back in the public domain again. Who WOULDN'T love something starring a guy named 'Reginald Molehusband'? Sounds like something straight out of Monty Python! And now for something completely different....a man with a stoat through his head!
Anne, New Britain CT,USA

Does anyone remember an old public information cartoon from the late 60's early 70's regarding safety in the work place. It ran "a brick a bolt a bar a nut invariably falls down not up" clasic stuff. Bring back these classics.
Bill Sheppard, Chester

Don't worry if you come to Spain you will see it happening for real everyday !!
brian, fuengirola, spainb

I also recall the Cadbury ad "An award for Reginald Molehusband...the CDM, Cadbury's Dairy Milk"
Geoff Fenwick, Weston Massachusetts

If licence investigators can tell exactly where a TV is, and even what TV programme is being watched (as portrayed in this 1977 public information film) why knock on people's doors to establish whether they have a TV? I don't get it. Surely the government haven't been lying about what they can detect for nearly 20 years???
David McDowell, Lockerbie

Have you any plans to do the late Seventies/early eighties "Get yourself Seen" campaign? It used to be on a lot during the Saturday morning kids TV shows like Tiswas. I guess it must have had an effect on me, as I can still remember a lot of the lyrics: "If you're working for a living or just riding for your pleasure/let the world see your lights, it's something that you treasure/just get yourself seen..." I lead a sad existence However, I am still alive, as I did make sure my lights were bright, and that I wore reflective bands, so the campaign must have worked!
Stephen Buxton, Coventry, UK, thelbiq.co.uk

There used to be a lot of public information films about driving - the weaver bird being my favourite. Shame they aren't used any more because, as soon as they pass their test, many people seem to forget about things like when to indicate and what lane to be in on a roundabout.
Stephen Payton, Deeside, N Wales

I cannot be alone in believing that the only piece of high-tech equipment inside a TV Detector Van was and remains a notebook containing a list of addresses that don't have a TV licence.
O.G.Nash, Doha, Qatar

In the early 80s I worked in Bristol with a girl who hailed from Dundee and she said that the chap who played Reginald Molehusband in the film was the father of a friend at school. Perhaps the search for this lost masterpiece should centre on that part of Caledonia.
Steve, Wedmore, Somerset

Years before I was old enough to drive I watched the Reginald Molehusband character with as much amusement as anyone else. When I learned to drive I wasn't taught how to reverse park. After I passed my test I remembered Reginald and how he did it - and learned to reverse park perfectly every time, I have taught my wife using the same principles. I know Jeremy Clarkson has decried public information films as patronising but I'm grateful for them. By the way can anyone tell me where to find a film on forward parking - I'm hopeless at it!
Tony, Halifax

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