In Video: ’70s and ’80s Electricity Board Films

A selection of Electricity Council films before Gaz and Leccy became today’s cheerleaders of energy efficiency

Electricity cooker hobs image by Tracy Ben (via Shutterstock).

Cook Electric: our look at some 1970s and 1980s video clips from the Electricity Council. Image by Tracy Ben (via Shutterstock).

Before NORWEB, MANWEB and their like, and the CEGB were privatised in the early 1990s, the Electricity Council used to be its collective voice. Throughout the 1980s, there was a series of ‘Cook Electric’ and ‘Heat Electric’ advertisements. In our neck of woods, within Granadaland, NORWEB and MANWEB would also advertise their wares on Granada Television.

As well as the usual energy efficiency based adverts, their most memorable campaign came just before privatisation. That of Aardman Animations’ Creature Comforts advertisements. With Johnny Morris rounding up each advert, the campaign was extremely popular with vox pop interviews of animated animals.

1970s films

If you’re a fan of archive films, the Huntley Film Archive has an excellent YouTube channel. There are two things which stand out, as well the energy efficiency message. One are the fashions. The other is the amount of gender stereotyping, cringeworthy to say the least. It assumes that only women did the cooking.

1980s films

Again from the same source, this selection of 1980s films have eschewed the trope of women doing the cooking. Instead, we see family scenarios (where the gender stereotyping remains to a subtle extent) and a collection of Electricity Board adverts with seasonal sales.

Creature Comforts

How can we forget Aardman Animations’ series of Creature Comforts advertisements? In an accessible way, they gave us the lowdown on the benefits of central heating without technical terms. Their appeal was so enduring that some people have erroneously thought they were the British Gas adverts! Their success was so great that Creature Comforts had a TV series in their own right.

Electricity: Energy for Life

For our last clip, this 1987 advertisement looks at how electricity plays a part in our daily life. A remake of this advert wouldn’t have a milk float: a barista would take the milk float’s place. The Pendolino train would replace the Class 87 locomotive and its rake of Mark 3 carriages. The First Movement of Beethoven’s 3rd Symphony work well with the advertisement.

ST Heating Services Ltd, 22 May 2017.