Thursday, 12 August 2010

Continuing Education...

Here's something which has greatly influenced every layer of The Advisory Circle.

In the mid 1970s, the BBC were (in some ways) quite a forward-thinking organisation. On The Move was the first foray into their new Continuing Education regime; a television programme for adults who wanted to learn basic literacy skills. Several respected british character actors were part and parcel of the whole movement, most notably Bob Hoskins, seen here in one of his earliest screen-acting roles.

Both in televised and book form, On The Move is, for me, a great example of 'optimistic melancholia'. There was a certain feeling about the whole thing; a sense of hope, perhaps, for the adult students. From my point of view, as a young kid watching the re-runs in the late '70s, it was all about the graphics / logos they used, the theme tune (written by Alan Hawkshaw, of course), the sense of warmth, of being in a protective bubble for 30 minutes, as I watched. A nostalgia for the present, if you will.

I'd like to share a few pages of the accompanying book with you. So, all gather round...

First of all, here's an example of Davd Cockcroft's wonderful illustrations used throughout the book. Very educational, very institutional and clean, but with plenty of functional detail.

As you can see, some of the illustrations are a little bizarre. The chap with the oversized suit reminds me a little of David Byrne. You have to also wonder why (what looks like) a mother is bringing her daughter along to see a presumably risqué film, but that's by the by.

And finally, the lyrics to the theme song, written by Alan Hawkshaw, to sing along by. The BBC released the song as a single. It didn't exactly set the charts alight, but nonetheless it was a great little piece of optimistic motivational material in itself. Very interesting.

- Jb.


  1. Jon, this is brilliant - "optimistic melancholia", what a phrase - and perfectly captured in the Advisory Circle's music - could I request that you post a few scans of that book on motorway service stations you mentioned in The Wire a couple of years ago?

  2. Mark, yes of course. I'll cover that one in my next post.

    - Jb.

  3. Superb. One of those posts that cuts like a torch beam through the dusty attic of my mind to bring forth a forgotten memory, and then messes with it. Do I really remember an illiterate Bob Hoskins learning to read at the same time I did? All I can say with certainty is along with Tab cola, Pink Panther bars and "Keep Britain Tidy", the "On the Move" logo is one of my earliest memories of graphic design.
    Thanks Jon.
    PS Do you have the BBC 7"?

  4. Is that Cafe Kaput? Looks a bit 'clean'.

  5. Glimmung - Yes, it's definitely an iconic logo, isn't it? Very much in the same way as Keep Britain Tidy, which has also been a big influence. The BBC re-used the On The Move logo for later campaigns within their Continuing Education regime. I'll see what else I can dig out. ;)) And yes, I do have the BBC 7" of the theme tune.

    222 Ronnies - Cafe Kaput is far less clean. Cleansed? certainly. Clean? no.

    - Jb.

  6. What a lovely post, Jonny.

    Not only does that chap look like David Talking Head he also seems twice the size of the rude film going mother and daughter. Nice.