Thursday, 7 October 2010

It's tucked in the chair there, smouldering away...

Recently, I was thinking about an aspect of Public Information Films that I'd paid little conscious attention to before. That is to say, part of their appeal was down to the fact that you never really knew when you would see one. There were periods when one would be shown at the end of an evening's broadcast on the BBC, but even then, it wasn't a given. Sometimes, you could guess that you'd see one at lunchtime on a Saturday, but still... no guarantee.

They were never part of the TV Times listings, they always looked and sounded very different to your average advert and it was always a real treat when a particular favourite, such as this one, was shown.

'Take Care With Cigarettes' wasn't hard hitting in the traditional sense. It didn't even have a library soundtrack, but it's still one of my top 10 PIFs. It's beautifully shot (great use of lighting and shadow), there are no superfluous features and although it isn't graphically shocking, it is steeped in menace.

I couldn't find it on YouTube, but it's here on TV Ark:

Take Care With Cigarettes

It's lamentable that, as the '80s turned into the '90s, PIFs became more and more of a rarity on TV; often replaced by 'no win, no fee' personal injury claim adverts (reflecting the rise of the Compensation Culture) and brash 0898 chatline spots.

- Jb.


  1. That link didn't work on my antique computer :(
    This might though:
    Nice & sinister BTW.


  3. Oddly enough, I was thinking about PIF's unannounced quality the other day and how it added to their somewhat disconcerting quality. If I recall correctly, the continuity announcer would tell you *afterwards* that it had been a Public Information Film, which again was "a bit odd".

    Talking of PIFs steeped in menance, the one promoting the Ridgeway as a long-distance-footpath is one of my favourites. Rambling has never seemed so sinister.