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Safe crackers.

FROM Charley the Cat to Tufty the Squirrel they have captured the hearts of TV lovers for generations. Now Britain's favourite public information films are to be re-released for the 60th anniversary of the Central Office of Information.

The BBC are even asking viewers to vote for their favourite and Janice O'Reilly, of the COI, said: "The films play an important role in reflecting the social history of Britain over the past 60 years."

Here JULIA HUNT looks back at some of the classics. See for more.

Learn to Swim, 1972

"Learn to swim, young man, learn to swim."

THE advice of a bossy cartoon fairy godmother to a young man moaning about losing his "birds" to guys like Mike who according to his new girlfriend "swims like a fish" has stuck in the minds of a generation. Refusing to take the plunge clearly risked any teen's love-life.

Lonely Water, 1973

"Sensible children.. I have no power over them."

THE spookiest public info film ever. The haunting voiceover and misty horror warned of the dangers of drowning in harmless-looking rivers and ponds. "I am the Spirit of Dark and Lonely Water, ready to trap the unwary, the show-off, the fool" Eeek.

Joe and Petunia, 1968

"That's what they call them - sailing dinjies."

THIS cartoon northern couple were used in a series of films in the 1960s. This time they are on holiday watching a sailor in difficulty through binoculars. After debating whether he is from their hotel they realise he is in danger and dial 999 to alert the Coastguard.


"Now we'll all remember."

THE Green Cross Code films had their own superhero, played by muscle man Dave Prowse who went on to greater fame as Darth Vader, and Splink. It stood for Stop on the Pavement' Look and listen' If traffic is coming let it pass' when No traffic is near, cross' Keep looking and listening. How could you possibly forget?

Charley Says, 1973


NSIDERED to be some of the best information films the Charley Says series features a little boy and a marmalade-coloured cat. The cartoons warn children about the dangers of matches, falling in water, the kitchen, teapots and strangers. They were sampled by The Prodigy for their 1991 hit Charley.

Teach them, 1973

"Kids and water - they LOVE it."

ROLF HARRIS features in this film as a dad in a pool teaching his children to swim. The artist reveals how he nearly drowned as a three-year-old, so he made sure his kids were safe near water. He suggests getting someone to teach them or, if you want fun, teach them yourself.

Coughs & Sneezes, 1945

"Coughs and sneezes spread diseases."

THE first public information film was designed to help the war effort before the advent of the NHS. It conveyed the idea germs are carried through the air and urged people to sneeze into a handkerchief. It was designed to keep people healthy in order to support key services.

Tell Someone, 2003

"Mum, I'm being bullied."

TACKLING the subject of bullying, Tell Someone has a melancholy soundtrack and shows images of sad children leaving notes for their parents to find. Whether in pasta sauce, with fridge magnets or on crosswords the message is clear - tell your parents so they can support you.


Right Charley: Cat always knew best
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Mar 5, 2006
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