Entertaining Britain The Story of British Pathé


Entertaining Britain

Series drawing from film/newsreel company British Pathe's archive looks at its cinemagazines, such as Pathe Pictorial, Eve's Film Review and Pathetone Weekly.


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Transcript


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For more than half a century, films produced by the newsreel company British Pathe

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informed cinema-goers about affairs

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of national and international importance.

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But after the First World War, the company diversified.

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Alongside its newsreels, Pathe produced short films

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that took a softer, more light-hearted approach.

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This is news and current affairs that's been sweetened.

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It's nothing that was too unpalatable.

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They're like the colour supplement to the newsreel's news.

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The subjects ranged from handy household hints...

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to fashion and lifestyle items...

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..to the weird, wonderful and utterly bizarre.

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Known as cine-magazines, these films became

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a mainstay of Pathe's output for more than 50 years.

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You would be often shown amusing things about Britain.

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"What are we like, the British?"

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Often overlooked, because of their frivolous tone,

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these films have received little critical attention...

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until now.

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Just because a story has a light tone,

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it doesn't mean that what's contained within it has no value.

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Over six decades, Pathe's cameras captured everyday life,

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turning the man on the street into a film star.

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Sitting alongside celebrated and glamorous Hollywood stars,

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there were Mr and Mrs Bloggs from Accrington.

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By focussing on everything from the marvellous to the mundane,

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Pathe captured an intimate record of social change in Britain.

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Pathe created Britain's first regular cine-magazine

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at the end of World War I.

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Cinema audiences had been shocked and saddened

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by news footage of frontline conflict.

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So the company developed a strand called Pathe Pictorial

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to provide some much-needed light relief.

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Alongside the newsreels, these short and entertaining films were shown

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between the main features.

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Pathe's earliest cine-magazines tended to cover

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traditionally male subjects.

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But soon, the company spotted a new social trend,

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and a gap in the market.

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During the 1920s, the majority of the cinema-going audience was female.

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So, in 1921, Pathe launched Eve's Film Review,

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a weekly cine-magazine specifically aimed at women.

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What they were doing was looking at a part of the cinema-going audience

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and creating something which would address that market.

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In some ways, they were specialising their product.

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These films featured everything from the latest Paris fashions...

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..to the achievements of remarkable women,

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like cross-Channel swimmer Mrs Arthur Hamilton.

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And they showed how Eve was replacing Adam in the workplace.

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There's a reason why

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all these women are sitting in the dark on their own.

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It's because there aren't enough men around.

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The First World War has taken this incredible toll

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upon the male population of Britain,

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and this idea of the surplus woman comes very much to the fore.

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An early Eve's Review item, called No-Man's Land,

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reflected this development

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by documenting the lives and experiences of single women.

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The problem of the so-called "surplus women" did provoke

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a lot of organisations

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to look for ways to make life better for the spinster,

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and they'd all go off and go for pleasant rambles

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and that kind of thing.

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The women, who have moved into the male role,

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have cut their hair short to look more like boys,

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who have flattened their bosoms

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with elasticated corsets and shortened their skirts

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so they've now become more male,

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they're taking up all sorts of athletic activities.

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These films regularly featured women exercising their freedom

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on the sports field.

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When you look at images of men in this period,

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particularly in fiction films,

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they're full of war veterans with immobile legs.

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They're full of emasculated men who've returned from the trenches

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and can't fulfil the proper offices of their sex.

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In contrast, Pathe showed women as fit and dynamic.

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The images seem positive, but in the film titles

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you can read the social concerns of the day.

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If you were a man, in all sorts of ways, you felt threatened.

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You felt threatened politically,

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because the vote had just been granted.

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And you felt threatened financially, because you might feel

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that all these spinsters flooding the market

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would be liable to take your jobs.

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After all, a lot of them had been out

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taking men's jobs during the war.

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There was also a more subtle sexual threat.

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There was this thought that,

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suddenly, if you were a man, perhaps these women didn't really need you.

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Pathe often ended these films

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by re-establishing athletic Eve's feminine qualities.

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Although Pathe was a progressive organisation,

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it remained a very masculine environment.

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And the company made sure Eve's Film Review

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always had something of interest for its male viewers too.

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Any excuse to get a bunch of pretty girls together,

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dressing and dancing around and mucking about,

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showing their beautiful body shapes and tossing their lovely hair.

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I think it's the pleasure of looking at a group of women.

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Of course, there's an element of voyeurism.

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Only 20 years previously, women remained tantalisingly covered up.

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Now, in Eve's fashion items,

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acres of shapely legs were suddenly on display.

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While British feature films of the 1920s were strictly censored,

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Pathe's cine-magazines were categorised as news,

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which meant they were allowed to self-regulate.

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And Pathe's cameramen exploited this freedom to the limit.

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Although male appetites were well catered for,

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Eve's Film Review was essentially aimed at women.

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One of the most popular elements of the strand featured

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handy domestic tips.

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Like this Homespun butter cooler that offered invaluable advise

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to housewives who couldn't afford the latest mod-cons.

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We know Pathe's audience appreciated these films

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because the company had an ongoing dialogue with its viewers,

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who frequently wrote in

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to comment on items or suggest subjects for future stories.

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One box of these letters sent to the company in 1928 still survives.

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"I need hardly say how much I enjoy your Eve's Film Review.

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"They are so educational and so easy to follow.

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"And it is quite a pleasure to watch them, and they only end too soon."

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This is from a woman in Cheltenham

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suggesting a story for Eve's Film Review, written October 30th, 1928.

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"Dear Sirs, I have been wondering

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"if you can make use of the following idea in your Film Review,

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"which so often contains helpful items.

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"Everyone knows the annoyance of being what people describe

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"as a dirty walker, yet some folk can, on the muddiest day,

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"manage to get through without a splash."

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This film, entitled Cheating The Mud Spots,

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shows how directly Pathe responded to the needs,

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interests and passions of contemporary women.

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From her clothes to her leisure pursuits,

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Pathe paints an intimate portrait of the girl it calls The Modern Miss.

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But the days of Eve's Film Review were numbered.

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In 1933, Pathe stopped producing its silent women's weekly.

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The company would now channel its resources into harnessing

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the potential of an exciting new innovation.

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Sound.

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Pathe marked the arrival of sound in British cinemas with a fanfare

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as they launched Pathetone Weekly, a cine-magazine

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dedicated to exhibiting the novel, amusing and strange.

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With particular emphasis on musical items,

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it featured a host of celebrated singers,

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variety acts and novelty performers.

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What Pathe concentrated on,

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which was quite different to its competitors,

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was that they thought the possibility of sound

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should be expressed in music,

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so initially with Pathe Sound Pictorial,

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you had this special studio, Pathe Studio,

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which was done out with the latest technology.

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And they had music-hall artists

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and all the popular names of the time come in and do a session.

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-What are you here for?

-A few minutes. What are you here for?

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A few pence.

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-Well, I'll have 50% of your pence.

-I'll have 50% of your moments.

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-I suppose I'll see you at the seaside?

-If I'm not kept too busy.

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Then I shall see you at the seaside.

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'Most music hall people came and went

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'before the advent of the camera,

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'and indeed before the advent of recording technology.'

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So rather tragically, most of music hall is now lost to posterity.

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Some of Pathe's films contain

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the only known footage of these once-popular performers.

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# If you're feeling fed up

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# And tired of single life

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# There's one thing for you to do

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# Just take yourself a wife

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# You will get rewarded

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# Get everything you like

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# On winter nights, you'll even get

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# Two cold feet in your bag

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# When you're married! #

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These musical stories form a marvellous historical record

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of what popular musical taste was at that time.

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# Now, if you choose a pretty wife

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# You find them hopeless cases

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# While all the ones that sew or cook

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# Have got such rotten faces! #

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Now, of course, the footage of these music-hall performers

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and similar entertainment clips are the kind of thing that we cherish.

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The music-hall veteran Lily Morris was renowned for her risque songs.

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Don't Have Any More, Mrs Moore plays on the double-entendre

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between Mrs Moore having too much to drink

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and the possibility of her having yet another child as a result.

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# Don't have any more, Mrs Moore

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# Mrs Moore, please don't have any more

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# The more you have, the more you'll want, they say

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# And enough is as good as a feast any day... #

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Pathe liked to reflect whatever was

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really popular amongst the population at large.

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And music hall always made a great play of being topical.

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Usually they were trying to make fun of some current trend.

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It was rather like a modern tabloid. It was basically irreverent,

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and so it reflected the broadest concerns of its audience.

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# Don't have any more, Mrs Moore

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# Mrs Moore, please don't have any more... #

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To us, with the benefit of hindsight,

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it's tremendously revealing of the times.

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Oh, it's no laughing matter

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that I should be left an old maid, repenting my sins.

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-You never committed any sins.

-No, that's just what I'll be repenting.

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Oh, well, it's over now. Forget it...

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A glamorous double-act, the Carson Sisters put a comic spin

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on a major preoccupation for many of Pathe's young female viewers -

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how to bag themselves a man, and ideally, a rich one!

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# Just being good to our man

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# Never quite naughty

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# But often quite nice

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# Well, if men are sporty

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# They must pay the price... #

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We're talking about women who'd grown up viewing marriage

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as the crown and joy of a woman's life, as one writer put it.

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They'd grown up thinking of marriage as their absolute birth right.

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And they knew no other identity.

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What became of that other boyfriend of yours?

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Oh, he's a big shot down at the studios.

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He should be. He's been fired often enough!

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What you wanted in life was a man.

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If you were still in the competition,

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if you were still out there,

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then there was a very strong sense

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that you had to work hard to get him.

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# Never say no, the word of love, so refrain

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# Never say yes they'll make you say it again

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# So just keep them guessing as long as you can

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# And dig for your gold by being nice to your man... #

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Competition for audiences was intensifying,

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so it paid to be populist.

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In the 1930s, feature films became longer,

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leaving less room for short cine-magazines.

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So Pathe started to produce films

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to appeal to the broadest-possible audience.

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If you didn't like one item, then you might enjoy the next.

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One of the mainstays of the company's weekly cine-magazines

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would be items featuring the great British eccentric.

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A good idea, hot off the brain, is a world-shattering device

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that'll keep the head dry underwater.

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The secret is in the nifty bit of work at the back.

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And when installed, the apparatus leaves the hands

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as free as a pain in the neck.

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Here's another bright idea.

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Motorcycle goggles with windscreen wipers.

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Mr Haveren, the inventor, says that a speed of 15 mph is sufficient

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to drive the propeller that puts the wipers in action.

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Tom Handcox is an engineer of Beaconsfield, Bucks,

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and for two years he's been working on the idea of a motor-skate

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that would be cheap to run and easy to manipulate.

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He thinks he's found it in his one-horse auto.

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Pathe Pictorial celebrates British eccentricity.

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Different types of innovation,

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and what strikes us now is how non-judgmental they are.

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And partly that's because they have to appeal to everyone.

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A modern inventor follows an age-old tradition.

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Through the centuries, it has generally been the custom

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for men of science to try out their inventions on themselves first.

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And Mr Jack Truro of Devonshire is no exception.

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He's invented a fluid

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that he claims will fire-proof any normal woven material.

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It's very much in the tone of, "Mr So And So has

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"come up with this invention, and good luck to him!"

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Pathe's eclectic programme proved hugely popular,

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enabling the company to dominate the cine-magazine market.

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George is safe, and so is Mr Truro.

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The man who has the courage of his own invention.

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Well, done, Mr Truro. We think maybe you've got something!

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With the outbreak of World War II,

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news footage became increasingly disturbing to watch.

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But it was during this critical moment in British history

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that Pathe's cine-magazines really came into their own.

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Cinema had never been better attended. Even though

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there was the threat of dying in your seat because of the Luftwaffe,

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more people went than had ever been before.

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It's the historical peak of cinema going.

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Ronald Frankau. Scene four, take 56.

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Where shall I put this? Oh, I'll put it over there.

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Pathe responded to the wartime needs of its audience

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with popular music items

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that offered cheerful escapism and boosted the nation's morale.

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A great favourite was the singer Ronald Frankau.

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# They showed me correspondence

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# That's what made me depressed

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# 50,000 letters with the same request

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# Don't let's sing about the war

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# The whole thing's really such a bore

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# Let's sing of love or something similar

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# Not about Goering, Hess or Himmler

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# Don't lets sing about the war... #

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This is 1940, and Britain is just entering

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the serious stage of World War II.

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And Ronald Frankau was making the point

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that if you really want to cheer people up,

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don't sing patriotic songs about how brilliantly the war is going.

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Just take people's minds off the subject.

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Here is the ballet Down Under.

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One quirky film from 1941 captured members of the armed forces

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enjoying some impromptu entertainment,

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and sent a reassuring message to relatives back home.

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It was quite a common thing in these entirely male environments

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for the men to dress up in drag and play the female part.

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Boy, we hope they never crash! We'd hate to kill the fatted calf!

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Nobody at the controls, that's the trouble. Going into a spin.

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Looks as if it's going to full sails.

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Contact! She can't get out of it. She can't get out of it.

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Why should she, anyway?!

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Pathe judged the mood perfectly.

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The company's cine-magazines became

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an integral part of the cinema programme

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and boosted the nation's spirits during testing times.

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People really, really needed it.

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And one of the things they needed it for was that sense of commonality.

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Of an audience bonded together.

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An Englishman's home may be his castle,

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but even castles aren't bombproof.

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So it's a case of "Chins up" with the civilians in the frontline.

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The Hun may do his worst,

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but he can't destroy the dauntless spirit of our people,

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whether young or old. Down may be their homes, but not their hearts...

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I think the great slogan about the war was, "We can take it.

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"No matter how bad things are, we'd go on."

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We didn't really want to take it, but we knew it was the only thing to do,

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so we'd better put a brave face on it, and we tried to play games

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during the Blitz, and we tried to pretend it was all great fun.

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Pathe cine-magazines give us a snapshot of how the British people

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responded to the national call to arms, each in their individual way.

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Hats off to a Manchester piano tuner

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who has been awarded

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The Ministry of Agriculture's Dig For Victory diploma.

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Mr Sharky's blind,

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but he can dig and tend his allotment with unerring skill.

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A good example of "much in little",

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or "multum in parvo", as we Latin scholars put it,

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is Warden Griffin of Millhill,

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now reporting for duty with big buddy Bert.

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Whether on the phone at the post or on the prowl outside,

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the weenie warden is a wonderful worker. He stands three foot 11 in his pullover

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and weights half as much as a man twice his size.

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His favourite hobby, and we can't say we blame him, is first aid.

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As well as its rousing soundtrack

0:23:230:23:25

and morale-boosting messages, Pathe did its bit for the war effort,

0:23:250:23:30

giving cinema-goers a hefty helping of practical advice.

0:23:300:23:35

For a really modern idea, look at this.

0:23:350:23:37

These strips of white sticky paper show up in a black-out,

0:23:370:23:40

and prevent that run-down feeling.

0:23:400:23:43

Another useful tip is a white one on the toe of a shoe,

0:23:430:23:46

with a white heel to match.

0:23:460:23:48

War gave cinema a new role to do. It didn't have to just distract people.

0:23:480:23:52

It had to absolutely inform them of things that they really needed to do

0:23:520:23:57

in the daily business of their lives.

0:23:570:23:59

All's well in the shelter

0:23:590:24:01

if head and feet can be quickly and effectively covered.

0:24:010:24:04

So, out of scraps of rubbers, she creates, first of all, a booty

0:24:040:24:07

that can be slipped on in a jiffy before you slip out to the shelter.

0:24:070:24:11

She's marking out the sole.

0:24:110:24:13

The idea is based on the suggestion of an aeronautical expert

0:24:130:24:17

who claims the best protection against glass is

0:24:170:24:20

to insulate yourself with rubber.

0:24:200:24:22

What you see with Pathe Pictorial is

0:24:220:24:25

one of its fundamental characteristics,

0:24:250:24:29

which is giving practical advice, helpful advice,

0:24:290:24:34

in an entertaining way.

0:24:340:24:36

So down to the shelter they go, the little booties,

0:24:360:24:39

their feet snug and insulated in their rubber casings.

0:24:390:24:42

All's well if the ends are well.

0:24:420:24:45

During the war, Pathe refocused its fashion features,

0:24:530:24:56

showing British women how to make the most of limited resources,

0:24:560:24:59

and turn the grimy into glam.

0:24:590:25:02

There's a real inventiveness, I think,

0:25:170:25:19

in the way that British women engaged

0:25:190:25:21

with making themselves feel good and look good during the war years.

0:25:210:25:27

The "Make do and mend" mentality is something that's associated

0:25:270:25:31

with the great British housewife, and she can turn herself around

0:25:310:25:34

and look good with little expense and in the shortest-possible time.

0:25:340:25:38

And here's a way to go to it for the girl who's tired of ladders.

0:25:380:25:42

The stocking shortage was acute,

0:25:420:25:44

and women resorted to all manner of stratagems.

0:25:440:25:49

You can use a special cream that does the job in the same time.

0:25:490:25:52

And no-one's any the wiser, except yourself.

0:25:520:25:54

That is, unless the boyfriend takes a sly nip to celebrate his birthday.

0:25:540:25:58

As you see, you simply rub it on the palms and then on the legs.

0:25:580:26:01

And you use more cream for two legs than for one.

0:26:010:26:03

It's that sort of cream.

0:26:030:26:05

Women used a solution of potassium permanganate.

0:26:090:26:13

They used wet sand. They used gravy browning, which in the summer months

0:26:130:26:18

attracted hoards of flies to your legs.

0:26:180:26:21

They used camp coffee, if you could get it.

0:26:210:26:24

And these are the finished cream-laid legs.

0:26:240:26:28

We certainly have seen worse.

0:26:280:26:30

If you insist on a seam,

0:26:300:26:31

it's just a low-down trick for the eyebrow pencil.

0:26:310:26:34

Legs or eyebrows, it's all the same. Only a little difference in shape.

0:26:340:26:39

In spite of its upbeat tone, Pathe couldn't ignore

0:26:410:26:44

the devastating impact war was having on domestic life on Britain.

0:26:440:26:49

The flying bombs began to come over.

0:26:490:26:51

First in ones and twos, and then all day long.

0:26:510:26:55

As soon as one passed over, you began to breathe again,

0:26:580:27:02

another would come, and so it went on.

0:27:020:27:07

Throughout the war,

0:27:070:27:08

Pathe expanded its repertoire and reached new creative heights.

0:27:080:27:13

The film A Tribute To Women dramatised

0:27:130:27:17

every woman's wartime experience.

0:27:170:27:20

A well-crafted tear-jerker,

0:27:200:27:22

it responded directly to the needs and concerns of its audience.

0:27:220:27:26

As I stood on the platform, waiting,

0:27:260:27:29

my thoughts went back to that September morning in 1939.

0:27:290:27:33

We were on holiday, and as we strolled past a cottage,

0:27:330:27:37

we heard that fateful news on the wireless.

0:27:370:27:39

'Two hours ago,

0:27:390:27:41

'the Prime Minister announced that we are at war with Germany.'

0:27:410:27:44

Looking at the flowers in that garden,

0:27:480:27:50

I thought what a crazy world it was then.

0:27:500:27:53

After that, it seemed only a few moments, and John was in khaki.

0:27:530:27:58

I remember how brave we pretended to be as we said goodbye,

0:27:580:28:01

but I don't think we fooled each other for a moment.

0:28:010:28:04

I loved the way that it was shot.

0:28:040:28:07

I thought that was poignant,

0:28:070:28:08

because it didn't say this was about individual people.

0:28:080:28:11

It's about everyone who's watching this film.

0:28:110:28:15

"You've all had this happen to you."

0:28:150:28:16

That evening, when the children were in bed,

0:28:160:28:20

I realised how lonely a room can be.

0:28:200:28:22

His chair, his pipe on the mantelpiece.

0:28:240:28:27

Just as if he'd be back in a moment.

0:28:270:28:30

It was about the loneliness, the sitting at home,

0:28:300:28:33

the "How did you get through the long winter evenings?"

0:28:330:28:38

It was about sending their children off to be evacuated.

0:28:380:28:41

The sacrifice that you felt you had to make.

0:28:410:28:43

I think only a mother could understand

0:28:430:28:46

the strange emptiness when children have left a house.

0:28:460:28:50

As I gazed at the cot with the toys strewn around, I made a decision.

0:28:500:28:55

A few days later, I hadn't time to dwell on loneliness.

0:29:040:29:07

Working at the factory, feeling that I was doing something to help.

0:29:070:29:11

Yes, I grumbled sometimes, but I always felt so ashamed afterwards,

0:29:110:29:15

knowing how much more he was having to go through out there.

0:29:150:29:20

I found it very moving. I was touched by it.

0:29:220:29:26

I thought they had captured in that little Pathe clip

0:29:260:29:29

the essence of everywoman's experience.

0:29:290:29:32

My heart seemed to stop beating as I took the envelope,

0:29:320:29:35

hardly daring to read what was inside.

0:29:350:29:38

This was the moment I was living for.

0:29:380:29:41

John was coming home.

0:29:410:29:44

I hurried to the station and stood there, waiting.

0:29:440:29:46

And remembering.

0:29:460:29:48

The role of a wife or mother or daughter was

0:29:510:29:54

to keep the home fires burning.

0:29:540:29:55

To keep something for men to think about and for the soldier

0:29:550:30:00

to want to come back to and to want to rebuild.

0:30:000:30:04

I looked at the faces of the people as they hurried along the platform.

0:30:080:30:12

But I couldn't see any sign of John.

0:30:120:30:15

Then suddenly, there he was. It was us two alone.

0:30:250:30:28

There were so many things I was going to say to him.

0:30:280:30:32

Yet just to hold him again meant more than all of them.

0:30:320:30:36

It's emotional, isn't it, the homecoming?

0:30:360:30:40

The tremendous joy of returning.

0:30:400:30:44

What it didn't enlarge on was, what then?

0:30:440:30:47

Once the victory celebrations were over,

0:30:500:30:52

Britain was left to nurse its wounds.

0:30:520:30:54

And it soon became clear

0:30:540:30:56

that the nation was deeply scarred by the conflict.

0:30:560:30:59

Back from the front,

0:30:590:31:01

to the peace of an English hospital come men who are now convalescing.

0:31:010:31:06

A short while ago, they could not be moved front their wards,

0:31:060:31:09

but today, thanks to skilful treatment and a burst of sunshine,

0:31:090:31:13

they are able to take a little exercise in the grounds.

0:31:130:31:16

And it's easy to see whose side the nurses are on.

0:31:160:31:19

One of the things that you can read

0:31:190:31:21

through the cine-magazines of the immediate post-war period

0:31:210:31:24

is this idea of Britain being a nation of causalities of some kind.

0:31:240:31:28

There's a strong sense

0:31:280:31:29

that there are many broken people in this nation,

0:31:290:31:34

and that they need to be fixed.

0:31:340:31:37

The hospital is situated

0:31:370:31:38

in a stretch of typically English countryside.

0:31:380:31:41

Well wooded and undulating. From the grounds, the convalescents

0:31:410:31:45

can glimpse a lovely bit of the homeland

0:31:450:31:47

that they've been fighting for.

0:31:470:31:48

The convalescent home painted a wonderfully unclouded

0:31:480:31:54

and uncomplicated view.

0:31:540:31:57

It was about sacrifice.

0:31:570:31:59

It was about an England that we were fighting for.

0:31:590:32:02

And it was about the woman as healer, carer,

0:32:020:32:07

nurturer and all-round good angel.

0:32:070:32:10

And the infantilised male.

0:32:100:32:13

Grateful, looked after, cared for. Where he wants to be.

0:32:130:32:20

The bombs had stopped falling, but the rationing continued,

0:32:220:32:25

and people began to realise

0:32:250:32:27

that daily lives were still as hard as ever.

0:32:270:32:30

There was this feeling that the suffering was still going on,

0:32:350:32:39

and I think over the period, let's say 1945 to 1950, 1951,

0:32:390:32:42

there was gradual resentment about all that.

0:32:420:32:45

"Damn it, my husband, my brother,

0:32:450:32:47

"my father went through the Burma campaign and came back,

0:32:470:32:51

"and still we can't get bananas!"

0:32:510:32:54

Responding to the widespread sense of dissatisfaction,

0:32:540:32:57

Pathe ran a series of cine-magazine specials,

0:32:570:33:00

featuring feel-good films intended to create a more positive mood.

0:33:000:33:05

This item, filmed at a nursery in north London, captures a repair man

0:33:050:33:10

giving broken toys a new lease of life.

0:33:100:33:12

Yes, it's a business, happiness.

0:33:120:33:14

It's Jack Burkett's business. The toy doctor at Hampstead Day Nursery.

0:33:140:33:19

His job is making happily ever after a real-life ending.

0:33:190:33:23

His work makes him a partner in that happiness.

0:33:230:33:25

You get a sense of a country kind of putting itself to rights,

0:33:300:33:33

and a country that wants to cure itself of something,

0:33:330:33:37

and is looking forward into a brighter future.

0:33:370:33:40

that it's going to make damn sure happens.

0:33:400:33:43

Rationing in Britain finally ended in 1954,

0:33:460:33:50

and a year later, Pathe's cine-magazines burst into colour,

0:33:500:33:53

reflecting this optimistic new age.

0:33:530:33:56

Throughout the history of Pathe Pictorial, they're constantly

0:34:060:34:10

looking for ways to differentiate their product,

0:34:100:34:14

and in the 1950s, the big competitor is television.

0:34:140:34:19

As TV was still black and white, Pathe exploited its advantage,

0:34:190:34:25

choosing stories that would maximise the impact of colour.

0:34:250:34:28

Coffee houses like

0:34:280:34:30

this one at Kensington are having a new vogue throughout the country.

0:34:300:34:34

Waiters from Trinidad and Marseilles,

0:34:340:34:36

furnishings from Argentina and Hong Kong,

0:34:360:34:38

music from Latin America.

0:34:380:34:40

These exotic touches create an unusual and colourful atmosphere.

0:34:400:34:45

Foods, too, reflect the modern demand for variety and imagination.

0:34:450:34:49

Open sandwiches in the Swedish style

0:34:490:34:51

contain steak tartar or continental savouries,

0:34:510:34:54

and odd mixtures like cream cheese and fresh fruit,

0:34:540:34:57

or cheese marons and walnuts.

0:34:570:34:59

I think we do imagine that,

0:34:590:35:01

literally, Britain went into colour in the '50s.

0:35:010:35:04

Some time during the Coronation, things did switch

0:35:040:35:07

from being in black and white to being in colour.

0:35:070:35:10

Certainly, colour was more prevalent just out on the streets at this time

0:35:100:35:14

than it would have been for the previous decade.

0:35:140:35:16

Britain was looking to a brighter, better future.

0:35:200:35:26

And with this spirit of optimism came a new emphasis on youth.

0:35:260:35:29

The emerging generation that would rebuild a damaged nation.

0:35:290:35:33

And Pathe captured the mood, turning its cameras

0:35:360:35:39

on young Brits at work, rest and play.

0:35:390:35:44

If there are two things that young children always enjoy,

0:35:450:35:49

it's dressing up and pretending.

0:35:490:35:51

Which is once reason why this ballet school at Rochester, Kent, has

0:35:510:35:54

so many enthusiastic pupils. Of course, few will ever graduate

0:35:540:35:59

to the distinguished ranks of the ballet companies,

0:35:590:36:01

but that doesn't stop them giving heart-warming,

0:36:010:36:03

if unprofessional, performances. And, above all, enjoying themselves.

0:36:030:36:07

Everybody was taking youth, childhood, more seriously

0:36:070:36:12

than at any time in our history.

0:36:120:36:14

It was all an attempt to find

0:36:140:36:15

the best way of doing the best thing for the young people.

0:36:150:36:18

Because we were looking to the future rather than the past.

0:36:180:36:21

Over now to Battersea Festival Gardens

0:36:210:36:23

to meet the contestants in a friendly competition,

0:36:230:36:26

with no holes barred. A baby show!

0:36:260:36:30

Throughout the 1950s, Pathe's cine-magazines celebrated motherhood

0:36:300:36:34

and reflected Britain's post-war baby boom.

0:36:340:36:37

Memories of poverty in the 1930s were vivid.

0:36:370:36:41

Children who died of malnutrition. Those were live memories.

0:36:410:36:46

So, chubby, strong babies who didn't die

0:36:460:36:49

in the first five years of their life were so important.

0:36:490:36:54

That, I think, is behind baby shows in the 1950s.

0:36:540:36:59

This is one beauty competition

0:36:590:37:01

where a pretty face doesn't count for too much.

0:37:010:37:03

For the ten judges connected with the medical profession,

0:37:030:37:06

watch out for points like good teeth, or rather, gums,

0:37:060:37:09

and other characteristics of the healthy baby.

0:37:090:37:12

Bringing up your child to a healthy life was a triumph.

0:37:120:37:18

As well as stronger babies,

0:37:210:37:22

Britain was also benefiting from a healthier economy.

0:37:220:37:25

The new prosperity powered a wave of consumerism

0:37:250:37:28

that would revolutionise domestic life.

0:37:280:37:31

The Britain public was determined to put the war years

0:37:340:37:38

and "Make do and mend" behind them.

0:37:380:37:40

They wanted it all, and they wanted it now.

0:37:400:37:46

You can really see this in the cine-magazines of the period,

0:37:460:37:50

which will bombard you with images of things that might want.

0:37:500:37:54

The ingenuity of bed designers is our subject,

0:37:540:37:57

and this particular example underlines the fact that

0:37:570:38:01

we are living in a highly-mechanised age.

0:38:010:38:03

Pathe's cine-magazines pushed an idealised version of domestic bliss

0:38:030:38:07

for the 1950s housewife to aspire to.

0:38:070:38:10

Just push the button and the foot of the bed soars skywards.

0:38:100:38:15

Just the thing after a hard day

0:38:150:38:17

slaving over a hot and fully automatic oven.

0:38:170:38:21

A tape recorder for the career girl to dictate into.

0:38:210:38:24

Or for the non-career girl, a means to play hours of soothing music.

0:38:240:38:29

Really, the cine magazine is embodying that new consumer culture,

0:38:310:38:35

the culture that's going to end with

0:38:350:38:37

Harold Macmillan telling everybody that they never had it so good.

0:38:370:38:41

Items featured women performing everyday chores in domestic settings

0:38:470:38:51

whilst dressed like film stars.

0:38:510:38:54

You didn't let your house show any dirt or any dust.

0:39:020:39:06

Nor did you let your body or yourself show any.

0:39:060:39:09

There's a lot of women for whom

0:39:090:39:11

those ideals of cleanliness and perfection,

0:39:110:39:15

the beautiful child, the perfect home, the impeccable outfit,

0:39:150:39:20

those are ideals to aspire to, and they have a sort of glamour.

0:39:200:39:24

Pathe used one of the great domestic icons of the age to show viewers

0:39:240:39:29

how to make exciting meals from the most mundane materials.

0:39:290:39:33

How often have you gazed enviously

0:39:330:39:35

at the exotic creations of master bakers and chefs?

0:39:350:39:38

Well, you needn't feel envious any more!

0:39:380:39:40

Here are a few professional tips on what can be done

0:39:400:39:43

with the simplest of tools and ingredients

0:39:430:39:46

demonstrated by the husband-and-wife team Fanny and John Craddock.

0:39:460:39:50

I think there's a sense in society as a whole that women need to return

0:39:500:39:55

to more traditional, feminine roles,

0:39:550:39:58

which include dressing up, so you get

0:39:580:40:00

the re-emergence of a glamorous, almost artificial femininity.

0:40:000:40:07

During the 1950s,

0:40:120:40:13

Pathe's cine-magazines presented a prescriptive picture

0:40:130:40:17

of what was considered to be the Ideal Woman.

0:40:170:40:21

Women with an eye for bright colours but not the figure

0:40:210:40:25

are the special problem of today's outsize designers.

0:40:250:40:28

At a West End studio, OS model Linda Lee shows that

0:40:280:40:31

glaring colours are a glaring mistake for her.

0:40:310:40:34

Scarlet and bright red in particular

0:40:340:40:37

should be left to the slimmer women...

0:40:370:40:39

and to bull-fighters!

0:40:390:40:41

In a sense, what the Pathe films do is

0:40:410:40:44

provide an aid to women in how to dress.

0:40:440:40:48

But at the same time, of course, they're pushing forward

0:40:480:40:51

a kind of stereotype of the hourglass figure

0:40:510:40:55

and this highly-feminine woman

0:40:550:40:57

that also puts on an awful amount of pressure.

0:40:570:41:00

But it wasn't just women who were

0:41:030:41:05

under pressure to look their best in this new, post-war world.

0:41:050:41:09

Once something for ladies only,

0:41:090:41:10

fashion and grooming became a male preoccupation too.

0:41:100:41:15

All these men have just got rid of their demob suits.

0:41:170:41:21

They've mainly been in uniform for the whole of the war.

0:41:210:41:23

What are they going to wear? What are they going to wear

0:41:230:41:26

in these new professions that they're taking up?

0:41:260:41:29

And so I think for the first time

0:41:290:41:30

the idea of a sort of boardroom fashion begins to emerge.

0:41:300:41:34

The average business conference is a rather dull affair.

0:41:340:41:37

But we make no apologies

0:41:370:41:38

for taking you behind the scenes of this sales conference.

0:41:380:41:41

Yes, we did say conference.

0:41:410:41:43

In fact, if this is what conferences are really like,

0:41:430:41:45

our cameras will be covering them regularly in future.

0:41:450:41:48

Actually, this sales conference is

0:41:510:41:52

part of a drive to make men more fashion-conscious,

0:41:520:41:55

directed particularly at their taste in shirts.

0:41:550:41:57

And, of course, how better to interest men

0:41:570:42:00

than with this new-style fashion show?

0:42:000:42:03

The idea of the sexiness of business culture is

0:42:030:42:07

something that's very new.

0:42:070:42:09

The nice shirt and collar and tie and the status that that brings.

0:42:090:42:14

Being in a boardroom and pointing at people and making decisions

0:42:140:42:18

about things that are probably very, very boring can

0:42:180:42:22

somehow seem attractive.

0:42:220:42:24

The city type. Well, that's what the programme says.

0:42:240:42:27

The girl is Maria Mellman. Every man's type!

0:42:270:42:31

I bet there weren't many fashion shows with women

0:42:310:42:35

taking their skirts off in the boardroom in reality,

0:42:350:42:40

but Pathe capture some of the fantasies of the time and uses them

0:42:400:42:45

to encourage men to engage

0:42:450:42:46

with new forms of shopping and new forms of clothing.

0:42:460:42:50

A chap who takes pride in his distinctive clothing

0:42:500:42:55

likes to cap it all with a hairstyle to match,

0:42:550:42:59

so he orders the works.

0:42:590:43:01

Pathe's cine-magazines offered a rather traditionalist view

0:43:010:43:05

on these new fashion fads.

0:43:050:43:07

One item filmed at a barbershop in London

0:43:070:43:11

captures an outlandish new hairstyle called the Elephant's Trunk.

0:43:110:43:18

Sometimes, however,

0:43:180:43:20

even a normal head of hair fails to rise to the occasion.

0:43:200:43:23

And when it just isn't long enough,

0:43:230:43:25

a switch of false hair is thrust into the breach.

0:43:250:43:29

Not everyone's cup of tea, but this is no time to split hairs.

0:43:290:43:33

To Cyril, the new style is a work of art.

0:43:430:43:46

To the customer, it's a mark of distinction.

0:43:460:43:49

To other folk, it looks like an elephant's trunk, which is just what it is called.

0:43:490:43:54

We repeat - the Elephant's Trunk.

0:43:540:43:56

What Pathe, I think, are trying to do is to reassure their audience,

0:43:560:43:59

perhaps a middle-aged, middle-of-the-road,

0:43:590:44:02

provincial audience that, although this looks bizarre,

0:44:020:44:06

and possibly threatening to some people, it's all good, clean fun.

0:44:060:44:12

The style may not be a practical one.

0:44:160:44:18

It wouldn't pay to go near machinery, for example.

0:44:180:44:21

But at least it's guaranteed to improve the memory.

0:44:210:44:25

Have an Elephant Trunk and you'll never forget.

0:44:250:44:28

Throughout the 1950s, many British industries embraced opportunities

0:44:280:44:34

created by the new consumer society.

0:44:340:44:36

The rise of advertising didn't go unnoticed at Pathe,

0:44:360:44:40

which was constantly looking for new stories.

0:44:400:44:43

And the company was soon working closely

0:44:430:44:46

with many influential promoters.

0:44:460:44:48

In 1957, Pathe turned its cameras on a publicity stunt

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that saw a tramp transformed into a smart suit-wearing citizen,

0:44:550:44:59

anticipating today's makeover shows.

0:44:590:45:02

The idea is that, as part of our show,

0:45:020:45:05

some of our top stylists should set out to prove

0:45:050:45:08

that grooming maketh man, and that even down-and-out Ted

0:45:080:45:13

can be transformed into a model of sophistication

0:45:130:45:15

with a little expert treatment.

0:45:150:45:17

The film was a collaboration between Pathe

0:45:170:45:20

and a particularly opportunistic entrepreneur.

0:45:200:45:23

A very celebrated hairdresser at the time called Leonard Pountney

0:45:230:45:28

was an extremely ambitious businessman and supreme showman.

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A great self-publicist.

0:45:320:45:33

Leonard goes out and finds a tramp sleeping rough on the streets and gives him a full makeover,

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which sets him on the road to a steady job and full recovery.

0:45:380:45:42

This is pure showbiz from Leonard Pountney

0:45:420:45:45

for the purposes of getting people like Pathe

0:45:450:45:48

to whip up a bit of PR for himself.

0:45:480:45:53

Actually, although most tramps wouldn't change their lives

0:45:530:45:57

for all the tea in China,

0:45:570:45:58

Ted, at 39, has had his fill of adventure and romance on the road

0:45:580:46:03

and welcomed this opportunity of getting back on his feet.

0:46:030:46:07

After this lot, Ted starts job hunting right away.

0:46:070:46:10

The audience is full of likely-looking employers.

0:46:100:46:13

I think it points to one slight difference between then and now,

0:46:150:46:18

in that appearance was everything.

0:46:180:46:20

A man who wasn't clean shaven, who didn't have a suit and tie on,

0:46:200:46:24

a man who didn't have his hair cut short

0:46:240:46:26

could not really expect to be taken seriously

0:46:260:46:28

in the world of white-collar business.

0:46:280:46:30

And the idea that an unshaven man could go into a job interview

0:46:300:46:34

and last more than a few seconds would have been considered ridiculous.

0:46:340:46:37

Undoubtedly, this is what they call living it up!

0:46:370:46:41

But Ted's not sure and thinks, "This is what they call living it up?!"

0:46:410:46:46

But the mood was changing.

0:46:510:46:54

As the 1960s unfolded, traditions were swept away,

0:46:540:46:57

and a new spirit of rebelliousness emerged.

0:46:570:46:59

Powered by Britain's dynamic youth culture,

0:46:590:47:02

the country embraced new fashions, tastes and values.

0:47:020:47:06

Youth, the swinging youth who have given staid and sober old London

0:47:060:47:10

its recent swinging metaphor.

0:47:100:47:12

And it's the voice of youth which is decreeing change

0:47:120:47:16

in this city of increasing contrasts.

0:47:160:47:18

Exuberants, extroverts, exhibitionists.

0:47:180:47:21

Not even the gay young things of the 1920s could make

0:47:210:47:24

such an impression on the capital as this generation.

0:47:240:47:26

Swinging London, changing London. Down with the old, up with the new.

0:47:260:47:32

Although Pathe tried hard to reflect the changing world around it,

0:47:320:47:35

the company was one of the old guard,

0:47:350:47:39

and it found itself out of touch with an increasingly-youthful audience.

0:47:390:47:43

This became particularly obvious in items covering the new pop culture.

0:47:470:47:53

Its 1963 film Beatnik Beauty features a girl that epitomised "new cool"

0:47:530:47:58

being turned back into "old school".

0:47:580:48:02

Look at that Beatnik girl, she's passing a Mayfair beauty parlour,

0:48:020:48:05

where smart, chic women pretty themselves up. No place for her!

0:48:050:48:08

Or is it? Go on! See what they can make of you, because it so happens

0:48:080:48:12

they specialise in teaching teenagers

0:48:120:48:14

how to make the best of themselves.

0:48:140:48:17

You look as though you could do with a good, square meal,

0:48:170:48:21

as well as a wash and brush up. But no. Those eggs are only there

0:48:210:48:24

to provide a lather that will condition your hair.

0:48:240:48:27

Relax, and they'll make a gracious lady out of you yet.

0:48:270:48:31

It's all part of the deception of a modern woman's life.

0:48:310:48:34

This is what film stars

0:48:340:48:36

and fine girls about town go through daily at great expense

0:48:360:48:39

to convince the world that they really are beautiful.

0:48:390:48:42

It's a hard, hard life.

0:48:420:48:43

Cinderella's ballroom. Can this really be our Beatnik?

0:48:480:48:55

Have we witnessed a grand transformation scene,

0:48:550:48:57

with a modern Cinderella switched from

0:48:570:48:59

her leather jacket to genuine elegance?

0:48:590:49:01

It's hard to remember what this modern girl looked like

0:49:010:49:04

when we persuaded her to look in.

0:49:040:49:07

Many of the cine-magazines Pathe produced during the 1960s lacked

0:49:070:49:11

the creative energy of its early years.

0:49:110:49:14

By the time you come to the 1960s, there is no competition.

0:49:140:49:18

They've effectively got it sewn up.

0:49:180:49:21

In this age of progress,

0:49:230:49:25

man's intrinsic ingenuity can be expressed in a variety of ways.

0:49:250:49:29

Model making is a pastime with its own numerous permutations,

0:49:290:49:33

depending on what you model and what you model with.

0:49:330:49:37

Whereas before you would see them changing and innovating,

0:49:370:49:40

they don't have to try anymore.

0:49:400:49:42

If you look at their product throughout the 1960s,

0:49:420:49:46

it doesn't change, and everything around them does change.

0:49:460:49:50

They can fashion anything with a few expert squirts of royal icing.

0:49:500:49:54

This is one of their standard designs, St Paul's Cathedral.

0:49:540:49:58

Very tasty, they say.

0:49:580:50:00

What you get in films like this is the slightly kind of second rate

0:50:010:50:05

which is what's so delicious about them really.

0:50:050:50:10

There's that rubbishness that you often find about British things,

0:50:100:50:14

which is something that actually becomes intoxicating with age.

0:50:140:50:19

The scene is a big, gay holiday camp at Bognor.

0:50:210:50:24

During the 1960s, Pathe collaborated with several large businesses

0:50:240:50:27

including a well-known leisure brand.

0:50:270:50:30

The accent at this Clacton holiday camp is on fun. This is a spaghetti eating race.

0:50:300:50:38

But it proved hard for the company to reconcile their editorial values with their commercial interests.

0:50:380:50:44

And they're off! These girls at a holiday camp in Clacton

0:50:460:50:50

aren't allowed a machine. Not even a needle. Only string and a pile of oddments.

0:50:500:50:55

Butlins, the holiday camp, we had a contract with them to produce six items every year.

0:50:550:51:00

Now that's pretty hard going because there are only so many times

0:51:000:51:05

you can cover a beauty contest or a donkey race.

0:51:050:51:09

The judge has a problem too. In fairness to everybody, he has to ignore the foundation

0:51:090:51:13

and give all his marks to the creation.

0:51:130:51:15

Anybody who can do that in the circumstances deserves a prize himself!

0:51:150:51:20

I came up with the idea of sticking plaster on the backs of bathers

0:51:230:51:30

so that as the sun shone on them, words appeared on their backs.

0:51:300:51:34

She's dreaming about Fred. And everyone's read about Fred.

0:51:340:51:42

She's dreaming of nobody. But she can't resist the latest seaside craze of sun-signs.

0:51:430:51:51

Here at Bognor, the craze began.

0:51:510:51:55

It soon spread. Everyone's walking round with sticking plaster on their backs,

0:51:550:51:59

waiting for the sun to leave a white tattoo.

0:51:590:52:03

We pretended it was a great craze and amazingly, it became one afterwards.

0:52:030:52:07

Although we aimed to make it a family entertainment, it was a male orientated environment

0:52:130:52:19

and we all liked pretty girls in bikinis.

0:52:190:52:23

While in the real world, a new generation of feminists were demanding equality for women,

0:52:250:52:30

Pathe featured the leggy lovelies from London's Windmill Theatre at every possible opportunity.

0:52:300:52:37

We had Windmill Girls demonstrating everything from ten-pin bowling to how to cure hiccups.

0:52:370:52:42

All wearing hardly any clothes.

0:52:420:52:45

As some of you may know, the basic cause of hiccups is an irritation of the diaphragm.

0:52:450:52:49

The thin sheet of muscle separating the chest and the abdominal cavity, so that you need something to sooth

0:52:490:52:55

the diaphragm and give it a chance to get back into rhythmic operation.

0:52:550:53:00

Grated raw potato sometimes helps, they say.

0:53:000:53:03

I look back now and I think, "God, how did we get away with this?"

0:53:060:53:10

I mean, it was so sexist in many ways because the only women working there

0:53:100:53:14

were secretaries and they typed the scripts.

0:53:140:53:17

SHE HICCUPS

0:53:220:53:24

We were looking for fun stories and we had fun looking for them.

0:53:270:53:31

The world had changed irrevocably since Pathe produced its first cine-magazines.

0:53:330:53:39

Unable to change with the times, the company fell back on the tried and tested themes

0:53:390:53:44

that had served it well for half a century. Titillation, technology and eccentricity.

0:53:440:53:51

Some of the world's most dramatic scientific discoveries had unusual origins.

0:53:520:53:57

A fact that may have inspired teenager, Malcolm Pickard,

0:53:570:54:01

when he spend two pounds on electrical equipment and built a snog-ometer.

0:54:010:54:06

Britain is supposed to be the centre of the sexual revolution

0:54:060:54:09

and here you've got this wonderfully suburbanised version of it,

0:54:090:54:15

where this boy has invented this contraption in his bedroom

0:54:150:54:19

and he's hooking people up to it to sort of test their lustiness.

0:54:190:54:23

Hold tight... Just testing!

0:54:230:54:26

And it's all going on in this rather wonderfully awful 1960s living room with his mother watching.

0:54:320:54:39

There! Just sitting in the corner of the room

0:54:390:54:41

looking like she could freeze the permissive society with one glare.

0:54:410:54:45

Mother's got nothing to worry about because it's all child's play.

0:54:450:54:48

But see what happens when someone just that much more mature gets to grips with the problem. Holy smoke!

0:54:480:54:53

It all looks highly dangerous. They seem to be wired up to the mains with their mouths pressing together.

0:54:530:54:58

I think he's quite lucky he didn't kill anybody frankly!

0:54:580:55:01

By the end of the decade, Pathe's distinctive take

0:55:100:55:14

on contemporary culture seemed out of tune with the times.

0:55:140:55:19

These clips of hippy lifestyle

0:55:210:55:23

or swinging London suggest to me

0:55:230:55:26

are a sort of Carry On stereotype of the fashionable life.

0:55:260:55:30

Short of a complete makeover,

0:55:330:55:35

I don't think Pathe quite knows the way forward from this point.

0:55:350:55:39

Cinema audiences had come to expect one continuous and often spectacular feature.

0:55:390:55:46

Pathe's idiosyncratic cine-magazines, like this film, entitled, Stolen From Men,

0:55:460:55:50

no longer had a place in the cinema programme.

0:55:500:55:54

Look at this girl, and in particular, look at the nail varnish she's got on.

0:55:550:56:00

White and pink.

0:56:000:56:03

Where did she get it?

0:56:030:56:05

This is where she got it...

0:56:070:56:10

She stole it from men!

0:56:100:56:12

From a real, true, he-man's motor accessory shop.

0:56:120:56:15

The cine magazine was more or less made redundant by television

0:56:150:56:19

which found that it could do exactly the same thing.

0:56:190:56:22

It seems now to us a very televisual form.

0:56:220:56:24

All to often, students get into hot water.

0:56:300:56:34

But obviously, they're not such a shower as some people like to make out.

0:56:340:56:37

In fact with ingenious ideas like this literally on tap,

0:56:370:56:40

these industrial designers of tomorrow are going to make a devil of a splash.

0:56:400:56:47

Pathe stopped producing cine-magazines in 1969.

0:56:520:56:57

But for more than 50 years, the company's cameras

0:56:570:57:01

had captured everything from the banal to the bizarre.

0:57:010:57:04

From the 1920s, when Pathe's trailblazers created Britain's first, ground-breaking cine-magazines.

0:57:080:57:15

Through its glorious heyday in the war years.

0:57:190:57:22

To its swan song in the 1960s.

0:57:220:57:25

Pathe created a rich repository of images that documented a period of tremendous change in British culture.

0:57:250:57:33

Nobody in those days had any idea really how valuable

0:57:340:57:38

and how interesting this material would be to future generations.

0:57:380:57:41

So we owe a great deal of gratitude to organisations like Pathe,

0:57:410:57:45

firstly, for recording this stuff and secondly, for preserving it.

0:57:450:57:50

It's an incredible body of work and it's profoundly influential too

0:57:500:57:55

because they founded and articulated this form

0:57:550:58:00

that really is visible absolutely everywhere in TV culture today.

0:58:000:58:04

Turn on your TV in the afternoon or the early evening

0:58:040:58:08

and you are watching the ghosts of the Pathe cine-magazine parade before you.

0:58:080:58:13

Pathe's films reflected the hopes, fears and values of the British people.

0:58:160:58:23

Often quaint, usually quirky, these cine-magazines are an entertaining, enlightening

0:58:230:58:30

and intimate record of a changing nation.

0:58:300:58:34

Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd

0:59:000:59:02

E-mail [email protected]

0:59:020:59:04

While the company was famous for its pioneering news reports, it also produced immensely popular 'cinemagazines', which entertained cinemagoers for decades. Initially made to boost the nation's morale after the First World War, entertaining strands such as Pathe Pictorial and Eve's Film Review were designed to appeal to women who were interested in fashion, celebrities and movie stars - and offered plenty of handy hints for those running the home. In the 1930s, the arrival of synchronised sound increased the popularity of cinemagazines, and the company launched Pathetone Weekly - a strand that featured what Pathe believed were the 'novel, amusing and strange' dimensions of our national life.


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