Be afraid! Top 12 terrors of childhood, according to 1970’s Public Information Films.
Nowadays, we worry about what our kids watch on TV. However, nothing could be as terrifying as the Public Information Films we were exposed to during the 1970’s and 1980’s. These shocking films, commissioned by the government and shown during commercial breaks traumatised kids across the UK with their warnings about the dangers of matches, escalators, chip pans and rugs.
I remember these films vividly. In fact, they haunted me for years! I realise these films were intended to warn children of potential dangers to keep them safe. As I watch these ‘video nasties’ now, I’m incredulous they were broadcast at all. No matter how well-intentioned the reasoning, I don’t think the current government would get away with slotting these 50 second horror films between the Andrex and Gocompare adverts.
Public Information Films may have stopped me from setting myself on fire with matches or flying my kite near electricity pylons, but did they have to be quite so horrific? Were they meant to leave me with a lingering fear of escalators and talking cats well into adulthood?!
Whether you remember them the first time around, or whether you’re new to this phenomenon…Get ready for a video journey through the dangers of a 1970’s childhood.
Top 12 Terrors of Childhood.
I remember this particular Public Information Film vividly. It terrified me. In fact, I was scared of escalators for years! I’d stand at the bottom of an escalator for ages, waiting for the right moment to jump on. Once aboard, all I could hear in my head was the sound of rubber twisting as the little girl’s wellington boot got dragged into the escalator machinery.
2. Ponds, rivers, lakes, puddles.
This delightful film, featuring the grim reaper, (or is it Obi Wan Kenobi?), warns of the dangers of going out to play with your friends near water.
I’m not kidding, this film about the dangers of children playing with matches will have you chucking out every box of matches you can find in the house.
This second Public Information Film highlights the potential dangers of letting your kids near matches but seems unperturbed by they’ve been left in the house on their own!
The 1970’s was a dangerous decade for children. I grew up living in fear of water, matches, strangers….and rugs.
Ah, childhood! How we loved playing with our kites in the local parks when we were kids! At least we did until we saw this particular Public Information Film.
Even the thumbnail for this particular public information film about electrical safety still gives me chills. What happens next children…
7. Chip pans.
Those born after 1990’s may not have seen one of these before. It’s a chip pan. Most families in the 1970’s had one of these as a permanent feature on their hob. We used lard in ours and it used to solidify when it cooled. The lard would stay in the pan for weeks, making batches and batches of homemade chips. I vividly remember our neighbour’s kid’s saying to their mum, ‘Mam? Can you make chips with black bits on like Jane and Ruth’s mum?’!!
8. Hanging bags on pushchairs.
What terrifies me about this Public Information Film is that it’s concerned about the dangers of hanging bags on pushchairs when they leave their babies outside shops! Ermmmm, I think there’s a bigger issue here!
These films are the reason I never, ever wanted to play with fireworks growing up. Me and my sister preferred to stay indoors. I’m still afraid of fireworks now and it’s only in the last 5 years I’ve been brave enough to go to an organised firework display.
Who knew the humble table posted such a threat to life and limb?
To be honest, Charlie the cat was even more sinister than the strangers this film was warning us about.
Nowadays, kids love visiting farms and farm parks. That’s because they’ve never watched the most horrific Publication Information Film of them all…Apaches. This film, which is around 25 minutes long, dramatised all the ways kids could be maimed or killed on a farm. I’m not even going to link to it here because it really is shocking. One YouTube commentator said ‘Apaches makes Final Destination look like Sesame Street.’ Watch it at your own risk!
More things to be afraid of in the 1970’s.
I’ve only given a handful of examples of the Public Information Films that traumatised kids during the 1970’s and ’80’s. Here are some more examples of the dangers of growing up in the 1970’s.
Crossing the road.
a) Tufty the Squirrel.
Public Information Films featuring Tufty the squirrel and his furry friends warned of the dangers of
buying an ice cream crossing the road.
b) The Green Cross Code man.
Dave Prowse played the Green Cross Code man in road safety advertising aimed at children. However, he’s best known for physically portraying Darth Vader in the original Star Wars films.
Loose 1970’s carpets.
In this film, we discovered that the gaudy colours and tasteless patterns weren’t the only terrifying thing about 1970’s carpets.
Not wearing a seatbelt (Clunk Click Every Trip).
Ironically, these Public Information films warned us of the dangers of not wearing a seatbelt, rather than the danger of getting into a car with Jimmy Saville.
Over to you.
Does anyone else remember 1970s Public Information Films? Do you have irrational fears of everyday objects and activities because these adverts terrified you when you were a child? Can you remember some of the others? As always, I’d love to hear from you!