Noise to Signal

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Join the MEN in Mining / 31.03.09

Thanks to Beelzebub on NOTBBC for bringing attention to this fabulous collection of adverts from 1970, which starts with a recruitment campaign for miners, an industry which was to be destroyed a mere 10 or so years later, and claims that off-peak InterCity travel saves "four bob in the pound". I don't know what that means, but it sounds good. Also, is it me, or does the mining job description 'An Underground Man' sound rather like the Butterfield sketches in the Peter Serafinowicz show?

Here's a Test... / 07.03.09

Watch this PIF.

Go and do something else for 5 minutes or so.

Come back and tell us in the comments whether you remember what F.A.S.T stands for.

Drive Carefully, Darling / 02.03.09

Drive Carefully, Darling (Part 1 and Part 2) is a 15 minute PIF (so probably not intended for broadcast on TV) addressing the all-too-common attitude amongst drivers that driving regulations don't apply to them.

BFI ScreenOnline; Derek Jacobi on the GPO Film Unit / 16.09.08

My god, the BFI are fantastic. This interactive presentation, starring the excellent Derek Jacobi, explains the development of the GPO Film Unit. The GPO (General Post Office) regulated the early development of the communications industry in Britain, with BT (British Telecommunications), and the Royal Mail being the direct descendants. The most famous example of the GPO Film Unit’s work is Night Mail (1936), which presents the complex distribution of mail by train, and features a poem by WH Auden, the opening lines of which (“This is the Night Mail crossing the border / Bringing the cheque and the postal order”) was used in a 1980’s British Rail advert.

The Terrible Truth / 10.05.08

If you've enjoyed my articles on Public Information Films, then you'll probably enjoy this Archive Hour programme on Radio 4 at 8pm tonight, where Tom Robinson looks at the history of PIFs.

What A Life! / 08.10.07

In preparation for the much bigger article I'm going to write about British Public Information Films soon (honest), here's a fabulous example of the genre from the National Archives site, dated 1947. Titled "What A Life!", it stars Richard Massingham, who was to appear in many PIFs, but this is unusual in showing a weary attitude to post-war life, and has such black humour that it was complained about in Parliament!