There have been some great public information films over the years, and many of them were aimed at teaching young children about dangerous situations. Whether it be learning to swim, staying away from strangers or not messing about in electricity sub-stations, there was a short advertisement telling you to be good boys and girls.
There were also many ways in which the message could be put across, for example using cartoon characters such as the brilliant Charley Says adverts, a dramatisation of some dangerous scene, or the good old celebrity endorsement.
The Green Cross Code was the name given to the rules of crossing the road, and I believe the name is still in use here in the UK to this day, although I must admit to not having seen any evidence of this. The Green Cross Code can be distilled into three main actions – Stop, Look and Listen – although quite often Think got tacked on the end as well. All good advice and simple enough for kids to understand and stay safe on the roads.
Anyway, you all know how to cross the road safely I’m sure, but just in case here are a handful of my favourite examples of Green Cross Code safety films. This first one dates back to the late seventies, and I certainly remember it being shown when I was little. The celebrity of choice here is Alvin Stardust (thank God it wasn’t Gary Glitter, eh?) who lets two little girls know that they “must be out of their tiny minds” when they walk in front of a car. OK, he’s right, but all that glam rock gear doesn’t mean he has a right to go round speaking down to kids.
Probably the most famous Green Cross Code adverts are those featuring The Green Cross Code Man, played by Darth Vader himself, Mr. Dave Prowse. Somehow Dave manages to still look manly despite being dressed in a suit that makes him look like a packet of Pacers (remember them?). However, in this particular advert someone decided Mr. Prowse’s dulcet West Country tones should be dubbed over. A shame, but it’s not a bad piece of dubbing.
Sticking with the Green Cross Code Man, here’s another where Dave has actually been allowed to do the talking, well, to a certain extent anyway. Some wag obviously thought it would be funny, what with Dave being Lord Vader of the Sith and all, to give the Green Cross Code Man a robotic sidekick. Looking like a cross between R2D2, Metal Mickey and Dusty Bin, this little chap actually did most of the instruction this time round.
This next one is a true advert of the 1980’s, as you’ll be able to tell from both the visual design and the music, which was quite a catchy rap telling you not to “step out when you’re close to the edge, otherwise you may find that you lose your head“. Quite direct and to the point really!
And so onto my final example, which features Jon Pertwee of Doctor Who and Worzel Gummidge fame. Now, I quite like Jon, but in this case they lumbered him with possibly the most over-complicated way of remembering how to cross the road. It was an acronym – SPLINK! I think the ‘S’ stood for Stop, but the rest escapes me. Somehow I think Jon knew this was a bit daft though, as his final comment is “well, maybe now we’ll all remember the Green Cross Code“. I’m sure he’s being sarcastic.