The 1948 show – a bloomin’ bit of all right

I love everything about this 1948 COI film about the NHS.  The message – of course – but the look and the music too.  As a piece of animation it’s  energetic and engaging – quite right that it’s introduced by the COI equivalent of the MGM lion, and carries its own music, design and director credits.

It’s packed with social detail about class and family.  Watch the high street shops that Charley cycles past, for example. Charley’s doll-faced missus sits happily darning his sock while he eats his dinner and only gets animated when she has to rescue the baby from the coal-scuttle and give him a (tin) bath.  The voiceover is Mr Cholmondeley-Warner at his most patronising, but the film is clear and informative and, at 8′ 37, much longer than a modern attention span would be deemed able to cope with.  (In those pre-TV days it must have been intended for cinema screening, so I guess had a captive audience.)

Compare and contrast with this, government communications fans…

Same approach – animation with voiceover, illustrating illness by animating what’s happening inside a body –  but no-one with an accent like that would have got anywhere near a film studio in 1948, unless they were going to sweep it.  Accents aside, I really prefer the old one  – which may be just the charm and strangeness lent by its age.  Charley’s insides samba to a sassy beat and magical medicines hover around his bed.  Change 4 Life’s faceless plasticine blobs just get gunged up with internal cotton wool and expire early on their faceless high street.  It’s just as patronising in its own way, too.

I’d be intrigued to see what an equivalent film introducing Andrew Lansley’s new model of the NHS would look like.  What would clinician led commissioning, Foundation Trusts and a new role for Monitor look like?   Could it be done in less than 8 minutes?  Would Charley and his missus think it was still a bit of all right?


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