Skip to main content
BFI logo











Screenonline banner
Charley Says: Strangers (1973)


Main image of Charley Says: Strangers (1973)
35mm, 1 min, colour
DirectorRichard Taylor
Production CompanyRichard Taylor Cartoon Films
SponsorCentral Office of Information

Cast: Kenny Everett (voice of Charley)

Show full cast and credits

Charley the cat informs young children about the dangers of talking to strangers.

Show full synopsis

The rapid growth of television ownership in the 1960s and 70s meant that public information fillers could bypass parents and target children directly. One of the most memorable and cherished child safety campaigns from this period was the Charley Says series, produced by Richard Taylor Cartoons, also responsible for animating the 50-episode Crystal Tipps and Alistair cartoon series (BBC, 1972-74) and other public information fillers, including the notoriously unsettling cold war warning Protect and Survive (1976).

Adopting the style of contemporary popular children's cartoons, the six films produced for the Charley Says series warned children of pre-school age about everyday dangers, including matches, hot pans on stoves and playing near water. Strangers, which warns its audience never to "go anywhere with men or ladies you don't know," is by far the most unsettling edition in the series. The shadowy playground loiterer who invites the little boy (voiced by the seven-year-old son of one of Richard Taylor's neighbours) to see some puppies has to be one of the most chilling moments in children's television.

The series achieved wider cultural status when the voice of Charley the cat was sampled in The Prodigy's 1991 hit single 'Charley'. It was further deified in 2005 when it was voted 95th on the Channel 4 television's special, 100 Greatest Cartoons, and in 2006 it was judged the UK's favourite public information film by readers of the BBC News website.

Katy McGahan

Click titles to see or read more

Video Clips
Complete film (1:00)
Lonely Water (1973)
Protect and Survive (1976)
Tufty: Ice Cream Van (1973)
Crystal Tipps and Alistair (1971-74)
Public Information Fillers