When the Wind Blows
October 2, 2008 11:48 PM   Subscribe

This is the Wartime Broadcasting Service. This country has been attacked with nuclear weapons. Communications have been severely disrupted, and the number of casualties and the extent of the damage are not yet known. We shall bring you further information as soon as possible. - The BBC releases its script for use in the event of nuclear war.
posted by Artw (37 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
Wow, this is really interesting.

I always wondered if the EBS would cut to something pre-recorded or perhaps some transmission of some kind.

FUN FACT: there is an entire youtube subculture devoted to making convincing mock EBS spots. Some of them are disturbingly real. What's very odd is that that electronic warning sound is so horrific, that even knowing it's coming and bracing yourself for it does very little to lesson the shock to your system.

Yet I always click and go back for more.

Fuck you Cold War! Ya warped me all up!
posted by Senor Cardgage at 11:57 PM on October 2, 2008 [1 favorite]


Protect and survive
posted by Artw at 12:02 AM on October 3, 2008


"Until service can be resumed, please enjoy a nonstop marathon of Are You Being Served?"
posted by mightygodking at 12:02 AM on October 3, 2008 [3 favorites]


Reading that is, actually, pretty chilling. I wonder what the emergency scripts for the present look like.

"A BIOLOGICAL AGENT HAS BEEN RELEASED IN THE CITY. BOOK IT."
posted by tracert at 12:03 AM on October 3, 2008


The gratuitous threads link is kind of a triple. Still, I like to randomly throw links to Threads into things, sort of my version of rick-rolling only with more of a theme of depressing inevitable death.
posted by Artw at 12:06 AM on October 3, 2008 [2 favorites]


Man, Threads terrified me as a kid. Still does. Still wonder if the human species will make it another ten years.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:19 AM on October 3, 2008


I rewatched Threads a few months back. Shit idea.

I love how the beeb tell you to ration the food for fourteen days, and, well, best of luck with the water.
posted by pompomtom at 1:06 AM on October 3, 2008


And the Radio would play Julie Andrews, apparently.

Here's the inside of a war-time broadcast service bunker, for the curious.

(And I've heard reasonably reliable rumours that after 2001, this one at least has apparently had a refurb and still waits, ready...)
posted by Luddite at 3:09 AM on October 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


and there's this
posted by thermonuclear.jive.turkey at 3:21 AM on October 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


also - emergency broadcast system - it's been used for civilian purposes. I lived in western N.A. >25 years ago, and I remember when Mt. St. Helen's erupted, they had an EBS announcement. And yes, that tone gets your attention ...
posted by thermonuclear.jive.turkey at 3:23 AM on October 3, 2008


Jesus, that was graphic. Don't think I'll be getting much sleep tonight.
posted by andruwjones26 at 3:51 AM on October 3, 2008


If you like this kind of thing:

A YouTube collection of (mostly) British civil defence and nuclear war related films.

A Flickr collection of Cold War civil defence publications issued by the UK government.

(self links - I'm a PhD student writing my thesis on British cold war civil defence)
posted by Acarpous at 4:12 AM on October 3, 2008 [2 favorites]


Hey, the EBS stuff was interesting and gave me chills as usual, but Jesus God, Threads.

No joke, that movie should have had a warning on it. Next time, I will listen when someone says 'rick rolling but with more death' and stay far, far away.

That movie was bleak, accurate, and not one to watch solo, at 1am, in a dark apartment. On the other hand, my irrational anger about Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull's scene with the 'lead lined refrigerator' can be assuaged....or at least buried under sheer terror.
posted by librarylis at 4:14 AM on October 3, 2008


Growing up in the 80s, and listening to music that would later have me labeling it my "super-gay" period, I'm very familiar with Patrick Allen saying Mine is the last voice you will ever hear. Don't be alarmed.
posted by thanotopsis at 4:18 AM on October 3, 2008


You maniacs! You blew it up! Ah, damn you! God damn you all to hell!
posted by not_on_display at 4:39 AM on October 3, 2008


That's the old script. The new script includes about 25 mentions of Celebrity Strictly Come Dancing.
posted by srboisvert at 4:42 AM on October 3, 2008 [4 favorites]


I remember re-watching Threads a few months ago which that odd effort, of combining terror with nostalgia and nostalgia for the terror of living through the 80s (not least because I lived for three years in Sheffield whilst at uni)

Oh and track down The War Game. It's older, but even worse, imho.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 5:02 AM on October 3, 2008


The new version says "Stay at the mall and keep shopping."
posted by briank at 6:18 AM on October 3, 2008


Depending on the outcome of the coming elections, this may be a best-case scenario.
posted by blue_beetle at 6:35 AM on October 3, 2008


"This is a test, this is only a test of the Emergency Broadcast Syyyyysteeeeeem".
posted by Happy Dave at 7:03 AM on October 3, 2008 [5 favorites]


Happy Dave, that is a beautiful thing
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 7:11 AM on October 3, 2008



Hasn't the BBC had time to proofread the script? "You cannot ... fell [fall-out]."

"Do not, in any circumstances, go outside the house. Radioactive fall-out can kill. You cannot
see it or fell it, but it is there."
posted by namret at 7:12 AM on October 3, 2008


PLEASE REMAIN CALM
posted by EndsOfInvention at 7:46 AM on October 3, 2008


Happy Dave, at least we know it will be a very groovy apocalypse.

And the Radio would play Julie Andrews, apparently

--------
The hills are alive with the sound of sirens
spreading warning that this is not a test!

The bombs fill my heart with the effects of radiation
My liver grows fingers and my eyes have melt!
---------
When in Berlin, do not miss the museum of the City Of Berlin. Not only is it fun and informative, but they have tours of an actual cold-war-era nuclear bunker located just under the parking garage. In addition to the haunting image of tiered hospital cots spreading into the horizon, you also get the learn fun facts such as the anti-bacterial blue light or the lack of doors or mirrors to prevent people from locking themselves in the bathrooms and committing suicide!

Bonus Fun: Listen to the actual West German EBS and try not to shit your pants!

Apparently the staff of the museum have their Christmas party there, proving that Germans are invulnerable to FEAR.
posted by The Whelk at 8:56 AM on October 3, 2008


Whelk - last photo here. My overriding feeling on visiting the place was it didn't seem nearly deep enough, or lagre and well supplied enough, to be worth much of anything. It might have made folks feel a little better to know that in the event of war they had a place to go, but I doubt it would have done them all that much good in the event of a major exchange.
posted by Artw at 9:13 AM on October 3, 2008


Protect and Survive
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 9:50 AM on October 3, 2008


Artw, our tour guide (adorable young lady) made several cutting comments about the effectiveness of the bunker without actually saying "these things are fucking useless." It seemed like a step up from "duck and cover" but not by much.
posted by The Whelk at 10:07 AM on October 3, 2008


Sorry old chap, I'm afraid there's a bit of a thermonuclear holocaust heading your way, assuming you are on the planet Earth, which seems a rather safe assumption, things being what they are. Cheerio!
posted by Mister_A at 10:14 AM on October 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


I rewatched Threads a few months back. Shit idea.

I love how the beeb tell you to ration the food for fourteen days, and, well, best of luck with the water.


I loved how Threads showed that, no, you do not really need to care about drinking water- go ahead, flush that lavatory. No fuel, no power, no fertilizer, no healthcare, fuck no.
posted by mattoxic at 10:38 AM on October 3, 2008


I found this little passage slightly confusing:
Stay tuned to this wavelength, but switch your radios off now to save your batteries until we come on the air again.
posted by scrump at 10:41 AM on October 3, 2008 [1 favorite]


The script, written in the 1970s and released by the National Archives,

It's never a good sign when a studio starts shopping around a script that has languished in development hell for nearly three decades. If it wasn't good enough to use back then, it's probably better to just leave it sitting on the shelf.
posted by quin at 10:43 AM on October 3, 2008


I really should have a “my traumatic childhood” Film Festival, where they show When The Wind Blows, Watership Down, Pink Floyd’s The Wall and Plague Dogs.
posted by Artw at 11:42 AM on October 3, 2008


Also that thing about rabies with the mad fox…
posted by Artw at 11:43 AM on October 3, 2008


Nothing for the inevitable zombie attack then?

Meh, we’ll make it. It was pretty dicey back in the 90’s. I mean when the hardliners tried to take Russia...yeah, that was a little scary...and yet a lot of folks remained blissfully unaware.
I think anyone with kids will do just about anything to prevent a nuclear (or any other) holocaust. I’d do anything to save the life of my children and insure they have a decent future. I know there are many parents who feel the same. Pretty easy to negotiate from there.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:50 AM on October 3, 2008


From earlier in the year, via Speechification, a documentary on the BBC’s role in a post-nuclear landscape, including interviews with people who spent decades sworn to secrecy about their duties in the places Luddite mentioned upthread.
posted by holgate at 10:52 PM on October 3, 2008


From holgate's link, the mp3 of the BBC 'Wartime Broadcasting Service'. Listening now, absolutely fascinating. A boiler suit and £15 in an envelope for each Broadcasting Supervisor "in case of the collapse of the banks". You can't make it up.
posted by Happy Dave at 6:23 AM on October 4, 2008


Stay tuned to this wavelength, but switch your radios off now to save your batteries until we come on the air again.

This is back from the days when radios were analog and had potentiometers for tuners. So you could turn off your radio's amplifier, but still be "tuned" in to the same broadcast frequency.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 11:52 PM on October 5, 2008


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