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Charley says look what the welfare state can do for you
September 2, 2013 11:42 AM   Subscribe

The "Charley" films were produced in 1946 - 1947 and released from 1948. There were eight films in total, looking at the new towns, schooling, the National Health, building up exports and working for heavy industry. Charley had his own chirpy theme tune, and opening titles, in which he would ride across the screen on his bicycle, writing out his name. And each film was billed as being part of an ongoing series, so you knew there were others to view and learn from.

Several of the Charley movies are available on Youtube:

Charley in the New Towns (Urban Planning (previously))
Charley in "Your Very Good Health" (National Health System)
Charley's March of Time (National Insurance)
Charley Junior's Schooldays (reform of the school system)

The others were Charley in the New Schools, Charley in the New Mines / Charley's Black Magic, Robinson Charley and Farmer Charley, all produced by John Halas and Joy Batchelor for the Central Office of Information, which was founded in 1946 and dissolved by the ConDem coalition in 2012. More of its public information films are available at the British National Archives (previously).
posted by MartinWisse (11 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite

 
what is it that the public information types have about the name Charley?
posted by Muppet Pastor at 12:34 PM on September 2, 2013


Right, this is a Prodigy song, right?
posted by 7segment at 12:37 PM on September 2, 2013


Right, this is a Prodigy song, right?

Charlie says was a series of seventies public information films starring an orange cat speaking gibberish to children about the dangers of matches and such.

Charly is the Prodigy song, which used samples of it.

Nothing to do with these cartoons though.
posted by MartinWisse at 12:46 PM on September 2, 2013 [2 favorites]


They're surprisingly well-produced and surprisingly tedious. Also, the classism is just extraordinary. Watch how Charley Junior's Schooldays carefully glides over the fact that the three schooling tiers might as well be labelled PROLE BOURGEOIS TOFF and that Charley Junior has practically no hope of getting into the top tier, even "with no fees!".
posted by Joe in Australia at 1:54 PM on September 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Animator Alex Morris made some brilliant parodies of these public information films recently called Barley Says. The one about Amazon's tax avoidance is particularly good.
posted by creeky at 2:05 PM on September 2, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh American media of the same sort and peroid always tip toed around class issues ( "Are you ready for marriage" is pretty blunt in saying people should be from SIMULAR BACKGROUNDS and working class people marry early, while suggesting Nice Girls wait to marry.) But man this just puts it right there in the open now doesn't it?
posted by The Whelk at 3:24 PM on September 2, 2013


( that being said, the New Twn plan at least seems more human scale and livable compared the Levittown boosterism EVERYONE DRIVE EVERYWHERE FAR AWAY FROM THOSE AWFUL ETHNIC PEOPLE. At least there have bicycles and stuff!)
posted by The Whelk at 3:27 PM on September 2, 2013


No wonder the animation looked familiar - Halas and Batchelor made the animated film of Animal Farm. Freaked me out when I saw it as a kid.
posted by droplet at 4:19 PM on September 2, 2013


And yet it seems like life in Britain in the 70s-early 90s was really friggin miserable. Young Charley Junior grew up to join the Clash or something. At least it seems like they were trying to make things better at the time though, no?
posted by bleep at 8:03 PM on September 2, 2013


Watch how Charley Junior's Schooldays carefully glides over the fact that the three schooling tiers might as well be labelled PROLE BOURGEOIS TOFF and that Charley Junior has practically no hope of getting into the top tier, even "with no fees!".

The toffs stuck with the parallel fee-paying system of (largely boarding) preparatory schools and public schools, and left the grammar schools for the middle class.

Judging by his detached house (at a time there was a huge housing shortage in England), Charley has made it into at least the lower ranks of the middle class, so Charley Junior looks like exactly the kind of kid who (encouraged by doting parents) would indeed get into the local grammar school.
posted by Azara at 12:05 AM on September 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


The grammar schools did seem to have operated as a way for a very large number of intelligent and hardworking lower-class boys (in particular) to climb up into the middle or even upper classes.

While there is a lot to be said against settling someone's future on the basis of a single exam at age 11, social mobility was an awful lot easier in those days (even if it did not seem so at the time).
posted by lucien_reeve at 6:41 AM on September 3, 2013


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