Nuclear Family

A couple of weeks ago I was talking with one of the other designers in the studio about how weird it was that we were old enough to remember working as designers before there was the internet. Our 20 year old junior designer was horrified at the thought of life without the internet!

Being almost 10 years older than my collegue, I also recalled back to when Margaret Thatcher went to war on the Unions and the resulting strikes meant frequent black-outs. I spent many a night as a child sitting by candlelight as our towns were plunged into darkness.

The 70's and 80's were tough on our lives. People think it was all disco music and flares, but if you were an ordinary working class family, it was hard to even put food on the table.

The other thing about the late 70's/ early 80's was the Cold War. The tensions between The Soviet Union and the US had began to rise again. On TV during the time, the news was filled with talk of nuclear war. As a child I became familiar with words like Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles. People on the street would discuss whether the US would really "push the button".

On telly they had a series of public information adverts about what to do in the event of a nuclear war. 

The video below contains those adverts on TV at the time (which someone has collated into one) telling us how to prepare ourselves for an attack, what to do during one and how to survive the aftermath. As a child, I listened to my dad discuss with my mum how we would create our fall-out room. We were in a 2 storey building so our fallout room would have been useless anyway. Infact, the whole premise of these adverts was rather stupid since no-one was likely to survive an attack anyway.


Also in that timescale, there were the films and dramas about nuclear war. Lots of them.

At the time I remember the Bafta Award winning Threads because it gave me terrible nightmares. I rewatched it recently and whilst it's utterly grim, it's an amazing film and definitely worth a watch. It really captures life at that time and how ordinary people, like my family, dealt with the possibility of a nuclear war.

Threads was shot at a budget of £250,000–350,000 and was the first of its kind to depict a nuclear winter. Reviewers at the time nominated Threads as the "film which comes closest to representing the full horror of nuclear war and its aftermath, as well as the catastrophic impact that the event would have on human culture". And since this was an event that was a real possibility for us, you can imagine the effect it had on me as a child!

If you do get the chance, I urge you to watch this. It's a beautiful and emotional piece of drama, as we watch the fate of the families as they desperately follow the Protect & Survive advice.