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Wellcome Film of the Month: Scottish Health Education Unit, 1978

16 Dec, 2011

The films Saturday night, 1978 and Pool, 1978 were produced by Graphos Films for the Scottish Health Education Unit. These infomercials are both set in a public house, referred to as a ‘boozer’ in the films, and show the dangers of being ‘bevvied’ – slang for drunk. The objective of the films is to focus on moderating behaviour and what we now would term ‘binge drinking’ – shown here in men only. The message at the end of the films is that “Drink doesn’t make a man of you, stand on your own two feet”.

Firstly, Saturday night portrays a group of three couples relaxing in the pub on the cusp of closing time. One of the men (played by Tony Roper, who you may recognise from the BBC Scotland sitcom Rab C. Nesbitt) decides, against the wishes of his friends, to buy another round of drinks. As he does this (buying pints of beer and measures of whisky), the barmaid tells him in a year’s time, he’ll be as fat as a barrel. Not heeding this advice, he gets the drinks and then performs a self-imposed dare to down his drink in one. He does this, drops the glass and rushes into the men’s toilet and is heard (but not seen) vomiting… Naturally, this rapidly brings the evening to an end; his friends are clearly disgruntled by his boorish behaviour. His two male friends then help him home (hence the reference to standing on your own two feet) and the three women go on to the disco without them.

The second film, Pool, features the Scottish actor Gregor Fisher (who played the lead role in Rab C. Nesbitt) as the heavy drinker. He is shown drinking as his friends with teenage sons arrive to play a game of pool – he also tries to ply them with more drink than they want. Behind his back they ridicule him and jokingly call him ‘the conquering hero’. They also comment on his fat belly. At the end, he spills his beer all over the pool table.

These films are part of a small collection of titles that were commissioned by the Scottish Health Education Unit (now NHS Health Scotland) between 1975-8, which have been licensed to the Wellcome Library for the Wellcome Film resource. Together with a series entitled Teenage Talk-in, the films are representative of a focused regional approach to health – one that is on going and relates to alcohol consumption in Scotland in particular.

Wishing you all a (temperate) season of goodwill.

Angela Saward, Wellcome Film

You can learn about the Wellcome Film project here. If you would like to make use of this archive footage in your own projects, please visit the Wellcome Library catalogue to download the original files, which are distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial 2.0 UK: England & Wales licence.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. 16 Dec, 2011 12:12 pm

    Very much enjoyed your post, Angela. Gregor’s leading critic in the second film looks like Alex Norton (soon after in Gregory’s Girl and more recently DCI Burke in Taggart).
    This was a flourishing decade in Scotland for harnessing popular media to promote good health. Robbie Coltrane’s first film, a 1973 docuumentary called Young Mental Health was voted film of the year by the Scottish Education Council.
    In 1982 David Player made Scotland the first non-smoking team in the World Cup in 1982 with the help of Alex Ferguson and Jock Stein. You can listen to how he did it here:

    Kind regards


  2. 19 Dec, 2011 4:38 pm

    Many thanks for that Chris. A correction to my post above; the teenagers in ‘Pool’ are in fact Fisher and Nortons’ engineering apprentices.
    Undoubtedly, other films include jobbing actors who have then made their way onto television. Of note and reknown for a different reason, a film from the Teenage Talk-in series entitled ‘Are we being conned?’ 1978, features Sandi Easton 1950-1999; the singer Sheena Easton’s first husband of 8 months. He claims to be in his early 20s in the film, although the film is dated 1978, which would make him 28. The film looks at peer pressure and the way advertising manipulates behaviour.

  3. 21 Dec, 2011 11:27 am

    It’s a shame about Sandi Easton. Many of the other actors appear to be in good nick and performing well 30 years later.
    These were pretty effective adverts but I’m not sure what impact they had and there were criticisms then of the large budgets devoted solely to changing male behaviours (smoking and alcohol). By the end of the nineties, Scotland was also the sick woman of Europe.
    I wonder if there is a residual value amongst younger folk who’ll see these ads on social media rather than the tele………………


  1. Rab C Nesbitt: The Early Years? — ReelScotland

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