Tuesday, 14 December 2010

A snapshot of life in Britain more than 50 years ago

I'm sure most if not all of my UK-based readers will have been watching the Time To Remember series that has been running for some time now on BBC Four. For those of you outside the British Isles or without digital television, this programme consists of a selection of 1920s-30s British Pathé newsreels on various subjects which in the 1950s were spliced together and narrated by some well-known actors of the day including Ralph Richardson, Basil Rathbone, Anthony Quayle and Roger Livesy. These have now been reworked into half-hour long shows with the odd bit of modern narration between the excerpts. Suffice to say they have all been captivating and I am well and truly hooked.

It was with some interest, therefore, that I read yesterday (I won't say where, or provide a link this time, because the original article was so biased and patronising that it actually incensed me - thankfully it was not one of my usual sources) that the British Film Council is releasing a series of cultural and educational films about British life in the 1940s and 1950s, which have been recently digitised having languished in the archives unseen for over 30 years. These 15- to 20-minute films were originally intended to be shown abroad, and to explain and promote the British way of life. A sort of 1940s tourist information advert, in a sense.

At the moment only 13 have been uploaded and are available to view, but apparently there are 160 in all - yes, one hundred and sixty! - and all of them will eventually be added to the archive website. One other good thing to have come out of this project is that some of the people working on it are funded by a charity set up to help the young unemployed.

These three are my favourites so far, but I think you'll agree that they're all a fascinating insight into life in Britain 60-70 years ago and I can't wait to see what else is to come. There are many values on display (not to mentions fashions!) that we'd all like to see making a return in today's lifestyle. Some show an existence that has long since vanished in this country, some show activities that continue in some form today, a few remain informative and relevant even now; all are spellbinding.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the tip, I'll be sure to watch these!

    One really interesting resource I've found (for sale but I guess it will be on youtube too) is the BFI's 'Real Shorts'. The DVD consists of short films documenting the last century from Edwardian Blackpool, through housing problems in the 30s, to 50s holidays and finally nail art in the 90s. Most is vintage- all of it fascinating.


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