STOP LOOK LISTEN
The Magazine's Public Information Film festival
The hunt for Reginald Molehusband, a 1960s film Public Information Film about bad parking, has been an underlying theme of Stop, Look, Listen: the Magazine's Public Information Film festival marking 60 years of such works.
Ian Gardiner was paid £10 for playing Reginald Molehusband
The search for Reggie Mole, as he became affectionately known, has been picked up by network TV and the national press. Yet despite several promising leads, a copy of this classic film still eludes us (and we don't mean the audio file on the TV Cream website).
One unexpected result is the man who played Britain's worst parker can now be revealed - retired actor Ian Gardiner. His nephew Toby Hart Dyke, of Pennsylvania, US, spotted our original story and put us in touch with Mr Gardiner... and he too is keen to find a tape of his greatest career moment.
"I was a jobbing actor all my life; Reginald Molehusband is my sole claim to fame. Even my grandchildren have heard of it," says Mr Gardiner.
STOP LOOK LISTEN
Stop Look Listen is the Magazine's festival of Public Information Films, with the National Archives and the COI
Mr Gardiner, who is 77 and lives in London, says the fabled Public Information Film won him more recognition than anything else, although it wasn't always of the welcome kind.
Even while appearing in West End plays or out on the streets, members of the public would shout out "Mr Molehusband", often to the annoyance of his fellow theatre staff.
Complete strangers would approach Mr Gardiner and tease him about his driving skills.
"There was an amazing reaction. I was recognised in the streets for years after. People used to shout 'Oh, you are Mr Molehusband'."
The name "Reginald Molehusband" became shorthand for anyone whose driving skills weren't quite up to scratch. Jeremy Clarkson has been known to use Molehusband in driving put-downs, saying of Ralf Schumacher: "He just cruises around at the back, getting in everyone's way until he has a Reginald Molehusband accident."
The film was broadcast hundreds times during the 1960s and 70s, but while Reginald Molehusband made Mr Gardiner a household face, it didn't make him a fortune to match.
"I was paid the princely sum of £10," says Mr Gardiner. "It was the only one I did and it went out for years, my agent tried to get repeat fees for me but I don't recall getting anywhere.
"After time Equity changed contracts so anyone who did a COI [Central Office of Information - the government information service] film had to be paid the same as ordinary films."
Even now, Mr Gardiner remains surprised by the interest in the film, and is at a loss to explain why Reginald Molehusband captured the public imagination.
The actor says he would love to see the film again after all these years to understand why it had such an impact.
"I'm so cross they have lost it," he says, "I think the only way [we could get it] is if someone had taped it. I wish I could have. It would be fantastic if it did turn up."
AN ACTOR'S LIFE
Made his West End debut in a play with Thora Hird and Arthur Askey
Had parts in Howard's Way, Z-Cars and The Avengers
Married to Janet Davies, who played widow Mavis Pike in Dad's Army
And in that sentiment, he's not alone. A spokesman for the National Archives says anyone who finds a copy of Molehusband would be "held aloft and carried through the streets by public information film enthusiasts".
So where is it? With the promise of national hero status and the chance to help a retired actor revisit his most glorious role - can you help find Reginald?
If you think you can, contact us using the form at the foot of this page and we'll do the rest.
But until the film itself surfaces, 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.
Does anyone know if it has been broadcast since 1982? I have off-air recordings going back that far, and if it just happened to be shown immediately before or after something I recorded, then there's a tiny chance I have it. Just let me know the transmission dates.
Come on Reginald!
Paul Simpson, Chessington, UK
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