If you were born in the early seventies then you’ll probably feel a short, sharp sting in your lower back when I say the phrase ‘Protect and Survive’. It means you spent much of your childhood wondering if the world might end, in approximately 4 minutes. The threat of nuclear war was very real, particularly in the early eighties, and at age 10 you’re not really even sure why it’s happening, all you know if is – if your hear the siren it’s over.
Whether you Protect, or Survive.
How do you know? Well, because you either watched Threads, or the whole family sat down in 1982 to cap off the evening with the weekly of episode of Q.E.D. And with a title like ‘A Guide to Armageddon’, you know you’re in trouble.
This episode tells you that you’re fucked. Really fucked. If you’re in central London and a bomb drops you’ll die instantly. If you’re a couple of miles out, you’ll burn alive, and in a matter of seconds, you’ll be dead. Sure, you can paint the windows white, and deflect 80% of the heat, but it won’t really matter as your house will explode in the blast.
This documentary systematically deconstructs the entire protection pamphlet. Nothing works, unless you’ve got the top of the line Fallout Shelter – then you’ve got a nuclear winter to look forward to…
What I find so interesting about this documentary is how brutal it is. True, you don’t have a shred of hope, but it practically revels in telling you that. It’s *so* eighties. This is why we grew up strange. The narrator attacks us like 5th year Algebra teacher two weeks before an exam. Wonderful lines like :-
‘Are you prepared to use force to keep others out?’
‘Would you find it possible to forget the destruction you’d seen as you scrambled into your shelter?’
Um, I’m not sure any of us has an answer. If we’re hopeful, we’re wrong. Ha Ha.
And if you’re not already petrified, he sternly reminds you that there is no existing society waiting for as you emerge after two weeks underground. Your friends are dead, cities are demolished. (Forget Mad Max, it’ll never get that far.) The credits roll with a Satanic Choir howling their way through a series of bleak photographs of the world in ruins…
Right, who’s for an Ovaltine!
If this sort of programme were aired now, it’d have Cheryl Cole narrating and she’d be focussing on the positives. The entire show would feel like Daytime TV. Lots of bullet points, fade in, fade out. Just like a website. Let’s hear what today’s favorite comedians have to say on the topic? It can’t be all bad?
But it was back in 1982, and you were meant to grit your teeth and bear it. Just like the Miners Strike, just like the Falklands War. Here are the facts, sooo listen up!
If we got upset, Margaret Thatcher would have called us a bunch of ‘Moaning Minnies‘. What a lovely lady she was…..
So, here it is, in all its gruesome glory. If anyone recognises the musical score at the end, please post the title.