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Play Safe: Kites and Planes (1978)


Main image of Play Safe: Kites and Planes (1978)
35mm, 1 min, colour
DirectorDavid Eady
Production CompanyAntony Barrier Productions
SponsorElectricity Council
AnimatorBrian Stevens

Narrator: Brian Wilde

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The dangers of playing with kites and model planes near overhead electricity cables.

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Sponsored as part of the Electricity Council's 'Understanding Electricity' campaign, Play Safe is a series of three hard-hitting fillers designed to highlight to children the potentially fatal consequences of playing near overhead electric lines and substations.

'Understanding Electricity' provided educational resource material for schools and colleges, including scores of film titles and other educational material covering every aspect of electricity and its uses. Play Safe - Kites and Planes, and the two other titles in the series, Play Safe - Camping and Fishing (1978) and Play Safe - Frisbee (1978), would have been distributed with accompanying leaflets, posters and wall charts. The series, which was also widely broadcast on television, was described in the 'Understanding Electricity' promotional material as 'not a disturbing film but it is a film your child will find hard to forget'. The Play Safe trilogy has become a cult classic among public information film fans and was voted the 12th top public information filler in a 2006 BBC magazine readers' poll.

The carefree attitude of the youngsters as they fly their kites and radio-controlled planes in the open air is undermined by composer Harry Robinson's electronic soundtrack, which pulsates with menace throughout. Brian Wilde - best known as Mr Barrowclough in the BBC's Porridge (1974-77) and Foggy in Last of the Summer Wine (1973-) - provides the suitably stern narration and Brian Steven's animated interpretation of electricity charge at the start and finish is arresting. The closing shots of the young boy being electrocuted followed by the shrill screams of his friend must have induced many a nightmare when it was shown on TV and in schools in 1979. The innovative Play Safe earned its director, David Eady, who worked widely across feature film and documentary for over five decades, a BAFTA nomination in 1978.

Katy McGahan

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Video Clips
Complete film (1:12)
Lonely Water (1973)
Public Information Fillers