Next on CITV… the Four-Minute Warning?

Pop quiz: What connects beloved children’s shows Woof!Bernard’s Watch and Tarka the Otter with nuclear war?

Woof!.. boom!

Well, it turns out that these classic pieces of kids’ entertainment share a director with The Hole in the Ground, a 1962 film created for the United Kingdom Warning and Monitoring Organisation (UKWMO).

Commissioned to showcase UKWMO’s quick response to a nuclear strike on Britain – indeed, they were the organisation tasked with issuing the Four-Minute Warning. The film was directed by David Cobham, who went on to create many happier memories through his work on cherished children’s films and TV shows through the 1970s, 80s and 90s.

Watch The Hole in the Ground below, and then cheer yourself up by exploring more of the director’s work (including choice selections from Woof!) on this very comprehensive YouTube channel.

Continue reading this article…Next on CITV… the Four-Minute Warning?

Scrapped fallout shelter scene from Protect and Survive

Even public information films have deleted scenes.

Following on from my last post about the Domestic Nuclear Shelters pamphlet, it’s interesting to note that there was a scene planned for the Protect and Survive films about making an outdoor fallout shelter. However, the scene was scrapped at the storyboard stage.

The unfilmed segment would have shown the construction of a makeshift nuclear bunker for your family. It was set to appear after the door-frame ‘inner core’ instructions in the Refuges episode.

Continue reading this article…Scrapped fallout shelter scene from Protect and Survive

Domestic Nuclear Shelters

Domestic Nuclear Shelters was the UK government’s attempt to bring nuclear bunkers to the masses.

Whether you wanted a deluxe, professionally-installed bunker, or would make do with a hole in the ground with a couple of doors for a roof, this guide had you covered (in more ways than one).

It was published in 1981, and – as you may have spotted from the ‘nuclear family’ symbol on the cover – was part of the same public information campaign as the ill-fated Protect and Survive.

There were two publications under this name – Domestic Nuclear Shelters, a thin A5 pamphlet, and Domestic Nuclear Shelters: Technical Guidance, a beefier A4 book. The former was intended as the most basic introduction to bunker-building for ordinary householders, while the bigger tome was aimed at tradesmen and engineers (and maybe the more dedicated/paranoid amateur).

Continue reading this article…Domestic Nuclear Shelters

Protect and Survive – Creating the Campaign

This first blog post is on one of my pet topics, the myth and reality surrounding the Protect and Survive public information campaign. I’d welcome any feedback, especially if you spot any inaccuracies or omissions – drop me a line on Twitter.

“The average person, if given the choice of being blasted or frizzled on the one hand, or taking his chance of dying a lingering death from fallout on the other, would opt for the latter course every time…” – Home Office memo, 3rd September 1975

Protect and Survive is best known today as a 1980s pamphlet offering advice – bad advice – on protecting your family and property if nuclear weapons were ever used against the UK. Met with ridicule by a sceptical media, and derided in popular culture, Protect and Survive has been become lodged in the popular imagination as an unusual, unsettling and ultimately ineffectual campaign.

Influenced by the media, and reinforced by every retelling, a myth developed around Protect and Survive which has created a distorted, parallel version of the campaign. It has even led to false memories – people who claim they were frightened out of their wits by the pamphlet’s arrival in their letterbox, even though it was never actually distributed like that; people terrified by the broadcast of the animated films on TV (of which only extracts were ever shown). Of course, the myth built up around Protect and Survive is often quite far removed from the reality.

Continue reading this article…Protect and Survive – Creating the Campaign