Nation on Film - tonight

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Tuesday 15 February 2005 4.56pm
This programme of archive film from the early part of the last century on BBC 2 tonight includes a piece entitled 'The Activities of Bermondsey Borough Council'. The Radio Times suggests that it "sounds less than promising, but you'd be surprised."

So, to any of those digital viewers who may have seen this when first shown on BBC4 - will we?
Tuesday 15 February 2005 5.15pm
[Edited to add: It is on BBC 2 at 7.30]

Further information and some video extracts can also be viewed at:

"Between 1923 and 1948 the Public Health Department of Bermondsey County Council made some 30 known films of which, not counting incidental footage, 16 have survived. Although Glasgow Corporation was the first local authority in Britain to commission a film of its activities (Glasgow's Castlemilk and Housing Programme, 1922), Bermondsey Borough Council was the first to make its own films. "
"In 1931, Some Activities of Bermondsey Borough Council , a newsreel-style film, was made from a compilation of previously made footage, to resume the Council's various services and activities. In the film, a great cleansing takes places: a sort of 'putting one's house into order' as slum housing is ritually demolished, streets are cleaned, communal laundries are run, old mattresses are fumigated and milk is pasteurised. It isn't only women who are cleaning. What can't be cleaned is radiated as we find ourselves in the eerie light of the purpose- built Solarium (the first in Britain) watching children in loincloths circling round a lamp. Electrification comes to the home via the electricity power sub-station behind the Town Hall (still there) and via the Electrical Appliances Shop run by the Borough's Electricity Department. Mesmerised, we watch a demonstration of the carpet vacuum cleaner for hire. The penultimate images show the Tuberculosis Dispensary, the Laboratory, the Dental and the Foot Clinics. Images of life and death, food and detritus, sickness and recovery, body and technology are compiled, compressed into a reminder of the contract of literally, a new body politic. The last image is of the back of the little cinema van receding into the distance of that recently 'beautified' tree-lined street."

Edited 1 times. Last edit at 15 February 2005 5.20pm by Lang Rabbie.
Tuesday 15 February 2005 5.39pm
Astonishment on two fronts - the encyclopedic knowledge / search skill of Lang Rabbie and the seemingly stupefying content of the film.....thanks for the info!
Wednesday 16 February 2005 10.00am
I was running late last night and missed the first half of it.

Did any of the Bermondsey footage get shown this week - by the time I switched on, they were obsessed with the Ladies League of Health and Beauty doing their mass gymnastics in Hyde Park!
Wednesday 16 February 2005 10.12am
Yes, Bermondsey was covered this week.

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