Saturday, October 04, 2008

No nukes is good nukes

I was amused to read the 1970s BBC script, released by the National Archive in Kew yesterday, which was designed for use as an announcement in the event of a nuclear attack. In keeping with the prevailing view of the time that an 'all clear' would eventually sound, listeners were advised to stay in their homes, conserve water and fuel and await further instructions.

"Lavatories" (don't you just love the twee, middle-class period character of the language?) were not to be used. The recently nuked populace was encouraged to make "alternative toilet arrangements". In an emergency, one can imagine people perhaps being willing to build pits and latrines in their back gardens, but remember, they were also being told not to go out of the house because of the radioactive fallout. So exactly what the alternative toilet arrangements were supposed to be, God only knows.

The end of the announcement is particularly confusing: "We shall repeat this broadcast in two hours' time. Stay tuned to this wavelength, but switch your radios off now to save your batteries until we come on the air again. That is the end of this broadcast."

Note there's no mention of any actual update in two hours' time. Just another BBC repeat. I personally wouldn't want to listen to the message again for, say, another six months. After all, the content wasn't exactly cheery.

According to press reports, the BBC planned to follow the message with entertainment programmes, so that people would chill a little and be less inclined to pop their head out the door into a radioactive cloud. I'm just trying to picture the scene:

"Don't you think you should go outside, John? See what's happened to the street? We don't have any food."

"Don't talk so bleeding stupid, Pam. Steptoe's coming on in a minute."

Actually, it would probably have been The Two Ronnies.

It's goodnight from me. And it's goodnight from everybody else too.

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