From the end of World War II to 2007, the UK’s Central Office of Information used to produced Public Information Films (known as PIFs), which would often air on television during children’s programming. These were the British equivalent of the “More You Know” PSAs that appear on American television. A typical PIF would deal with a safety issue, warning children to be careful crossing the street or while visiting a farm or when thinking of sticking a fork into an electrical socket.
One of the most notorious PIFs was first broadcast in February of 1977 and aired for several years after that. Apaches traumatized an entire generation of British children while teaching them about what not to do while visiting a farm. Danny tells the story of how six young children played “Apaches” on a nearby farm and how things did not turn out well for any of them. What made this PIF more traumatic than similar PIFs was the nonchalant reactions of both the children and the adults. Each farm accident is followed by a clinical clearing away of that children’s possessions and then the child is forgotten about. It doesn’t occur to anyone to do anything to make the farms safer.
Still, this PIF probably kept a lot of children safe while also inspiring many nightmares. Director John MacKenzie went on to direct Bob Hoskins and Helen Mirren in The Long Good Friday, which is considered to be one of the finest British crime films ever made.
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