625: Andrew Wiseman's Television Room (2K)
625 - Public Information Films (14K)

Introduction

Last Major Revision  We 4-May-05

Thanks to Gareth Randall for the info on Peter Hawkins and Threads.

Public Information Films are commissioned by the government to tell the nation about things they should know, how to behave and generally state the bleeding obvious. I remember when I was growing up in the Seventies, watching Saturday morning television (bring back Tiswas!) and being subjected to these gems in the commercial breaks. Nowadays, of course, children's television is rubbish and ad breaks are filled with adverts for crap toys, sweets and burgers. To see a PIF today you have to watch the breaks late at night or very early in the morning on ITV1 and Channel 4 when they can't sell the advertising space!

Charley Says...

Charley Says...

Perhaps the best well known PIFs were the series of animated cartoons featuring a little boy and his wise cat, Charley. Six films were made (Matches, Falling in the Water, In the Kitchen, Teapots, Strangers and Mummy Should Know) in 1973. In each the moral of the story was told by the cat (voiced by the late Kenny Everett) and then translated into English by the little boy. "Charley says you shouldn't go off with strange men or ladies you don't know."

Joe and Petunia

Another well known cartoon series, probably the most hilarious, featured the amazingly ignorant Joe and his wife Petunia. These became so popular (they should have been given a series!) that they were killed off in their last film. There were four films made between 1968 - 1973 (Coastguard, Water Safety (Flags), Acceptance of the Country Code, Worn Tyres). The voices were Wendy Craig (Butterflies) and Peter Hawkins (Original voice of the Daleks, Bill and Ben the Flowerpot Men and Captain Pugwash). Brigit Forsyth took over the role of Petunia for their last outing. By the way, the VHS and DVD releases of "Charley Says..." listed the characters as "Jo and Petunia". This convention was also previously followed at this website.

Joe & Petunia

PIFs to own on DVD

In the mid-Nineties, Charley Says..., a collection of animated Public Information Films was released on video by MPI. On Monday July 6th 1998, the Network label released a re-mastered version of Charley Says which includes additional tracks and, on the same day, it released Charley Live, a new collection of live action PIFs.

In 2001, the contents of both videos were released on a single DVD. The initial run of 2 000 copies was nearly sold out within a week.

  • Charley Says includes the Joe & Petunia and Charley Says series, plus films about not clowning around at work as well as two films never transmitted. These are about what to do in the event of a nuclear war (Action After Warnings and Casualties) and were known under the collective banner of Protect and Survive (the government leaflet of the same name was rich-pickings for comedians at the time), and voiced by Patrick Allen, who you can hear on Frankie Goes to Hollywood's hit Two Tribes announcing, "When you hear the air attack warning, you and your family must take cover". These films are extremely chilling to watch. Another in the Protect and Survive series can be heard (but not seen) in the BBC drama "Threads", about Nuclear War, which was also released on video.
     
  • Charley Live contains live action films featuring celebrities such as Kevin Keegan and Jimmy Savile with dodgy 70s hairstyles.

In January 1999 work began on compiling a new volume of PIFs, which after a few false starts, was finally released on May 2nd, 2005.

If you have difficulty locating the DVD in the shops, you should be able to buy it on-line at the usual places, and directly from the source - Network. They also sell other TV titles such as Robinson Crusoe, Catweazle, Rentaghost, The Goodies, Crossroads and The Sweeney.

Links to other pages in the PIFs section...

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625: Andrew Wiseman's Television Room (2K)