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?

The York Experiment

In 1965, Civil Defence preparations in the UK were at an all-time high.

The government had issued advice to householders on constructing a basic domestic fallout shelter. But would it actually be effective? York’s Civil Defence Committee decided to find out for themselves.

You can find out what happened next in The York Experiment, my article for History Today’s ‘Miscellanies’ series.

Wrekin and the Bomb

Wrekin and the Bomb

The beginning of the 1980s saw the UK government pursue civil defence with a renewed vigour. Local authorities, who were legally responsible for implementing civil defence preparations, were put under increasing pressure to demonstrate that they were prepared for nuclear attack.

Not all were happy to comply, however, and many left-leaning councils chose to fulfil their public information duties by publishing booklets critical of civil defence.

Wrekin and the Bomb, subtitled A look at Civil Defence, was published in the early 1980s by Wrekin Council, setting out their case against nuclear weapons and civil defence. Pictured on the cover is The Wrekin itself, the hill which gives this area of rural Shropshire its name, with a nuclear blast close behind.

The council’s reference to its “legal and moral obligation” refers to the regulations imposed on them from above, which gave central government the power to force councils to make preparations for attack.

Continue reading this article…Wrekin and the Bomb

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