STOP LOOK LISTEN
The Magazine's Public Information Film festival
As the finale to our festival of public information films, Reginald Molehusband has got back in his Austin 1100 and is parking again. Plus the best of the films you sent in.
Reginald Molehusband, the character in the classic public information film from 1967 which has mysteriously gone missing from the archives, lives to park another car.
Molehusband, played by actor Ian Gardiner, became the unlikely star of the Magazine's film festival, as people all round the world offered ideas of where the missing film might be located. All leads came to naught.
But thanks to our colleagues at BBC Breakfast who have re-enacted the film with Gardiner once again in the driving seat, this little historical gap has been plugged. You will be able to see this film and an interview with Ian Gardiner on Breakfast on BBC One on Saturday morning.
And they are not the only people who have been creative. We also invited you to send in your own films as tributes to the genre. We have been inundated with budding directors, so thanks to everyone who took the trouble, and apologies to those we couldn't include.
So here, now, are the Top 10 films you made.
1. Driving Backwards is Dangerous
Made by Steve Baines, Matthew Rivers-Latham and Jonathan Pittock of Saffron Walden, this uses some simple techniques to good effect. And it's authentic to the tone of many public information films in that the protagonists are indulging in their activities blithely unaware of their fate.
2. Pylon peril
Made by Rex Crowle and John Silke, this film uses some thoughtful details - the Morris Minor, the young man with pipe - which put it definitely in its era. As does the terrible but random injury the character Alan suffers.
3. Don't standby
Ross Breadmore and Andrew Laughlin have produced a strangely haunting animation, which seems somewhere between Terry Gilliam and 1970s Eastern European experimentation. Its accompaniment takes it from Postman Pat sunniness to something very sinister. And their subject matter - the waste of electricity caused by devices on standby - is spot on.
4. Stop Look Zombies
With a cast of thousands, and submitted by Duncan Bowles, an enormous amount of effort has been put into this film. With a debt to Shaun of the Dead, it is nevertheless creative and amusing, if you will pardon the mild graphic horror. (Only zombies injured in the making of this film.)
Steve Watson was first off the blocks to submit his film. He says it took him about 40 minutes to make, which means if he ever has a spare weekend he could come up with something feature length. Particular merit points for controlled enthusiasm in voiceover, and for Splink! style approximation of acronym.
6. Unattended baggage
With some beautiful animation, this really has a feel of an authentic public information film. Submitted by Cath Elliott, it somehow feels as if it could have been made at any time from the 1930s onwards. It's only the modern style of the luggage which identifies it as a current production.
7. Dame attacks
Perhaps the most original of all the possible threats to safety, this film, submitted by Andrew Gallagher and featuring a long list of credits, is well written and acted, with some impressive fancy dress thrown in too.
8. Identity theft
Alan Brown, Andrew Bawn and Jane Bushell made this film about identity theft, and cunningly built in a secondary danger, mentioned here in the closing moments. Also a truly inventive use of acronyms.
9. Read the label
Peishan's silent animation about the dangers of not reading the labels on pills is short and exquisitely crafted, yet troubling at the same time.
Submitted by Philip Lickley of York, this film combines those twin characteristics of unconsidered dangers and unusual acronyms. Also has the additional benefit of a man in a lab coat which is vaguely reminiscent of Vision On.
Other special mentions go to Phil Barker, Rachel Reed, Chris Thomas, Colin Hives and Paul Faulkner, and Andrew Summersgill. Thank you to everyone who took part.
Stop Look Listen is compiled by Giles Wilson
Add your comments on this story, using the form below.
Brilliant, show us some more! The zombies were my favourite.
Brilliant! If only I'd seen "Driving Backwards is Dangerous" when I was learning to drive I wouldn't have driven 2 miles backwards along the A2 during my test. It's all so obvious to me now! Great effort by all concerned, it certainly brightened up my day.
Gary Hinton, Dartford, UK
Funniest thing I've ever seen on bbc.co.uk. Ten minutes on and I've still got tears in my eyes. Up until now I've always laughed at the phrase, 'Charlie says...', I even remember Reginald Molehusband and Dave Prowse dressed up as the Green Cross Code man. Well this short video has spoilt all of my childhood memories as I now want any future government information films to be just as shocking and to the point. Poor old Alan, but you can't say he didn't have it coming. The UK population, especially children could learn a lot from this film...
Steve Kelly, Thatcham
I'm now so much better infomred thanks to the world of Public Information Films! These top ten are great. Are there any more you can put up? what about a top 20 instead?
Paul Adams, Portsmouth
My son (10) liked the driving backwards, mainly as it was so stupid as to be true. Personaly I preferred the textsafe. Reminiscent of SPLINK and equally confusing.
Martin Willoughby, Stevenage, UK
Brilliant! all hilarious, especially driving backwards. Would really like to see any more entries there were - people obviously put a lot of effort in. Can we see those 'special mentions' films??? If these 10 are anything to go by - I'm sure they're great too.
Giles Jones, Guildford, Surrey
Thanks to everyone for the PIFs. My neighbours now think I'm even stranger than before for laughing out loud in the middle of the day.
Martin Willoughby, Stevenage, UK
Jonathan Pittock - you're a public information film legend. Never laughed so much!!
How fab! I particularly love the "driving backwards" and "kebab warning" ones. Well done everyone who contributed because they are all really excellent. They have a real feel of the originals. Homage at its best.
Sue Whitfield, Bedford, UK
Please please put them all on a CD or DVD and sell them ! All of them !! Not just the best, but the good, the bad, the ugly, and the worst of them too!
Mike Irwin, Lumberton, NJ, USA
What happened to the country code PIFs with the red faced farmer 'waving' at the townies leaving litter and gates open. I'd love to see those again
Tracey Batterbee-Spires, london
Does anyone remember the Blood Transfusion Service films that featured 70's celebrities like Ernie Wise and Glenda Jackson ('what about the tea Ern?'), Sue Barker (who dropped her tennis ball), Noel Edmonds('feet feel normal, hello fingers'), and a folk group from Liverpool called the Spinners ('in my Liverpool home')
They were shown a lot in Northern Ireland when there wasn't much else on telly on a Sunday afternoon, but not sure whether they were ever shown on the mainland.
Paul, Manchester, UK
No point in voting without "Bedtime Routine" - simply the best - what an omission.
I still drive a Morris 1100 and even today people say to me, "wasn't that Reginald Molehusband's car?" I also remember the 1100 featured in a film telling you not to mix radial and crossply tyres, the car rolled over...I believe.
J, MK UK
I distinctly remember the one about the dangers of playing by railway lines, with the boy loosing his balance and falling into the path of an approaching express train. It certainly frightened me!
Tim Drew, Hong Kong
Couldn't the BBC run a season repeating these classic films? One a day before EastEnders ir something? It would be cheaper than filming new ones, the nostalgia element would grab the attention and each one could have a black screen at the end saying with some text bringing the information up to date with the latest figures or whatever.
Richard Ryan, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
What happened to my favourite Public Information Film?
It was about road safety urging us all to wear something light at night - a light/white coat or scarf for example (white was rhymed with night).
It probably in use in the late 1950s or early 1960s, but might be as late as 1971 when I cam to London to study at Imperial.
I am not sure if it was on early commercial television or broadcast on Midlands BBC. My home at the time was Stoke-on-Trent and we watched Midlands ITV and ATV but not Granada.
Alan Bartley BSc, ARCS, LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM
Anyone remember the woman burgled by a stream of visitors claiming to be tradespeople, to an increasingly shrill doorbell? "I've come to read your gas meter..."
David McMahon, Naklua, Thailand
Does anybody remember the "Don't go with Strangers" film from around the late seventies early 80's? Duncan Preston was the actor playing the "stranger". I love Victoria Wood but Preston was a regular in her "As seen on TV" (and dinnerladies) and just the sight of him used to make my skin crawl because of this harrowing clip. Poor man, I am sure he is very nice in real life!
Oh you missed the safe driving distance one - we used to drive my dad mad as kids, counting and reciting..."Only a fool breaks the two second rule"
Naomi, West Sussex UK
Meet Mike, 'Hello' he swims like a fish. I wish, I wish, I wish I didn't keep losing ma burds..... learn to swim young man, learn to swim.
MDM, Penicuik, Scotland
What about the one anbout putting your chain on the door? Various cartoon characters were trying to get in including a loving husband and a "mad, mad axeman who is deep in sin", and a salesman selling garden gnomes. It was great, really jazzy tune too!
The cartoon car after having had a traumatic day driven by a hopeless drive saying "I wake up in my garage every night - it's terrible" gave us a catch phrase that is still in use in our house whenever a disaster occurs. This surely should be in the top ten. (Where can I get a copy?)
Laurence Rothwell, Paignton UK
I'm with Kim - let's have some of those "Trade Test Transmissions" again. BBC2 used to show them (unscheduled) on and off through the day, so that engineers had something other than the test card to tune in when your new colour TV was being delivered. One of them was called "Transportability" and was about transporting nuclear fuel, and showed (for about 2 seconds) a display panel at Sellafield that my late father had helped design. When I was a kid we always had to watch that until his panel had been on. Wonder if that's why I followed his footsteps into the nuclear industry, where I've worked for over 20 years? I'd pay good money to see that film again after so long!
Adrian, Manchester, UK
My favourite is a late 50's PIF about car theft which has a stern voice over intoning 'This one was n't even locked' as two sub James Dean like toughs emerge shiftilly from a shop doorway, one tossing away a cigarette butt, and while he slips into the driving seat of a big Humber, the other lifts the bonnet to hot wire it. 'And these boys know how to start the car without using an ignition key' warns the astonished voice over as the big Humber squeals away. Another scene has a spivvy looking character prizing open the window of a Vauxhall Victor. His gloved hand is seen from the inside of the car inching down to release the lock with a delicious ker-click. The final injunction is 'Always lock your car - better still fit an immobilising device' as a well dressed woman clicks a mysterious switch in the glove compartment of her Morris Oxford.
David Birley, Broxbourne Hertfordshire
This is an excellent piece. Please lobby the government to spend more money on public information films. They are the key to so many things . Sincerely please please please make this a big issue, not just in Britain but worldwide. The TV is becoming a solely entertainment device.
Inform. Educate. Save lives. Please
Shame not to have the "Isaac Newton" safety helmet one in. I'm surprised only one other person has mentioned it. I loved it as a child. "Don't think to go without is brave. The effects of gravity can be grave!"
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