It wouldn’t be National Kissing Day without the Snogometer

With the professionalism of a scientist, Malcolm watches his first pair of guinea pigs intently.

Today is National Kissing Day, and so the internet is full of stories from womens magazines and cosmetics brands on the subject of kissing. Do women in Britain enjoy less kissing than women on the continent? Which waxwork dummy is kissed the most by tourists in Madame Tussauds? (Answers at the bottom).

British Pathé were on the radio this morning because way back in the 1960s they filmed some startling developments in kissing technology. Indeed, British Pathé cameramen travelled to Trowbridge in Wiltshire to meet teenager Malcolm Pickard and his…. Snogometer.

Malcolm spent two pounds on the electrical equipment, and admittedly it’s quite hard to work out what the gadget does. The narrator tells us – “There were quite a few shocks when Malcolm introduced his invention to members of a local youth club”

The video shows the mother sitting and watching, knitting even, whilst Malcolm gets down to work on his experimenting with snogging teenagers! A 15 year old couple kiss and the Snogometer starts flashing wildly, but when an older couple kiss the light bulb blows!

The clip has a fantastic 1960s musical score which to teenagers today might remind them of Austin Powers or other comedic parodies of the era. But this is the real thing! “Holy smoke!”

Where can we get our hands on a Snogometer? And what happened to Malcolm Pickard? Did he start up a specialist electrical store in Trowbridge? We imagine he’d be in his 60s!

Watch the Snogometer video here!

The young lovers are eager to see how their snogging rates!

Oh, and those answers: British women are lagging behind other countries in the kissing stakes, with 24% admitting to having not been kissed in a year! However, Britons were voted the best country AT kissing. Boris Johnson is the most kissed waxwork in Madame Tussauds, beating George Clooney and Brad Pitt.


From Hot Pot to Blackpool’s Hotties: Lancashire’s Past On Film

Last Monday BBC Radio Lancashire spoke to Alastair White from the British Pathe film archive about Lancashire’s rich and varied history, much of which was captured on film by British Pathe. Certainly some of Lancashire’s most momentous moments, including an FA Cup victory and key milestones in the war effort, make for a fascinating watch.
Here are links to some of the videos discussed on the show, and below is a general link to the entire Lancashire collection.
One of the first challenges that archivists had to tackle whilst putting together this footage was sorting through hundreds of newsreels and videos on Liverpool and Manchester, both cities being listed as ‘Lancashire’ in the canister notes and filed away as so in British Pathe’s Pinewood vault, as the footage pre-dates the county’s boundary alterations!
Babies battle it out on the catwalk to be donned Lancashire's cutest


Blackpool Pier goes up in flames, 1938

Brilliant aerial footage, one of the biggest breaking news stories in Britain that day.

Geoffrey Lloyd leads a forboding Gas Mask demonstration in Blackburn, 1937

 Lancashire was at the forefront of the war effort.

"Every bit as nice as Miami" - A great 1930 swimwear show in Blackpool!

Beauty Pageants and fashion shows aimed at holidaymakers are a well established tradition in Blackpool. The British Pathe website has many videos of these fun events. Brrrr.

The Cotton Queen, 1936. A Beauty pageant for mill workers' daughters.

The narration in this Cotton Queen video is quite amusing. What happened to the Cotton Queen anyway? We think Lancashire should bring the contest back, don’t you?

Blackpool wins the FA Cup against Bolton Wanderers 4-3 in 1953.

Watch 60 more great archive videos of Lancashire’s past here in the British Pathe film archive.

Luxury Cruise Liner ‘S.S. United States’ Saved From Scrapper By Generous Millionaire – 1st July 2010

A sailor watches the maiden voyage in 1952

The famous luxury passenger ship S. S. United States has been saved from the scrapper thanks to a million dollar pledge being made by Philadelphian philanthropist H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest.

The much-loved ship, which has its own conservation group, has received financial support from notable figures including Bill Clinton in the past, he once enjoyed a cruise aboard the ship during the 1960s.

Several American news groups, including USA today and the Wall Street journal reported yesterday that a deal had been struck between Norwegian Cruise Lines and the Conservancy to save the ship.

British Pathé filmed the maiden voyage of the S. S. United States in 1952. The video clip in the British Pathé film archive is called ‘Blue Riband First Try’. Grace Kelly, a close friend of the British Pathé team, was another regular guest aboard the luxury ship.

Graham Payn: Noel Coward’s Boy Soprano Supreme

Graham sings a sweet song about the countryside in 1931, aged thirteen.

The British Pathe film archive is one of the few places that the public can access videos of Graham Payn, the famous 1920s and 30s child star who later became better known as the longterm partner of British playwright and thespian mogul Noel Coward.

There were about 20 years in age between the two, and so Noel Coward would have been in his mid thirties around the time of these videos, when Graham Payn was a successful boy soprano doing the London theatre circuit.

Despite Noel Coward’s constant pedelling of Graham’s career, it was generally believed within the industry that he was overrated as a singer and had limited talent. Noel Coward never acknowledged his homosexuality publically during his life, but it was widely aknowledged post-humously and Graham managed Coward’s literary estate for 25 years, writing in depth on the subject of Coward’s private life.

See Graham Payn singing and here is celebrated soprano voice in the British Pathe archive: Graham Payn videos

Graham Payn, a child star in the making who caught Noel Coward's eye.

Wonders of the World Cup: Germany Vs England

Can the England team match up to their 1956 predecessors?

On Sunday millions of us will be chewing our nails until they bleed as England play Germany in the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Despite almost 70 years of peace, it’s hard for many Britons to watch sporting events against Germany without old emotions churning from those wars and rivalries of the past that are over yet all but long forgotten. What actually happens when England play Germany in a World Cup match these days? Is Terry’s team capable of taking on the challenge witout making it a cringing embarrassment? Of course there’s the infamous 1966 game, but that’s no accurate reflection of the countries’ respective match history.

British Pathe have several great film clips of Germany and England going head to head in the World Cup. There was the match where Germany beat England 1-0 in 1968. There was the time that England defeated Germany 3-1 in 1956. And what about that crazy 1935 match. See – you didn’t know as much as you thought, did you?

Watch videos of Germany and England battling it out on the pitch together here.

England waged war against Germany on the pitch in 1935

Everybody Goes To Hollywood

I came across this canister of 1970s Hollywood footage (click on image below). The clip shows 1970s shots of people in the neighborhood, spinning signs that say ‘FAMOUS’ etc, and some nice footage of the Hollywood Sign looking pretty rough in the 1970s.

The Hollywood Sign was at its worst in the 1970s. At one point spelling "HuLLYWO D"

 I decided to have a rummage for some other Hollywood footage, having been inspired by the Hollywood Sign’s Wikipedia page, and a bit of a Google maps binge looking at Griffiths Park (where the sign is) and how it’s a popular destination of not only tourists, but actress suicides, sexual cruising and illicit affairs. Does British Pathé have any film footage to shine a light on the controversy of California?

I started off with some commercial Hollywood advert newsreels, for holiday adverts weren’t as flat and full of stock footage as they are now, and you often catch glimpses of inside secrets –

"The gateway to the extravagant centre of colour and fantasy that since films were first made has fashioned the standards of our fabulous dreams"

This first Hollywood advert reel has great footage of The Great Race being filmed. Natalie Wood, Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon stand on an artificial sheet of ice in the studio. We see Joan Crawford’s handprints and some re-enacted Wild West shoot outs.

1960s footage of the Hollywood sign.

This clip above shows helicopter footage of Mount Lee, and shots of the Universal City Sign. It’s a good clip for getting a perception of the landscape, the distances between the Hollwood sign and the mansions of Hollywood.

There are some fantastic old film award clips in the British Pathé archive too. One example from dozens is this video of David Niven collecting his Best Actor Oscar in 1959.

This San Francisco reel calls itself ‘Hollywood’s Playground’, filming wealthy yachting parties and private beaches. The narrator declares “The most mixed-up seaport that could ever exist”, “Even the oil workers look like actors”. This video goes behind the scenes on rehearsals, and has great clips of an American Football match. “You don’t need to understand the game to get the flavour of it all”.

The English British Pathé narrators in these clips seem passionate about Hollywood, eager and even desperate to convince the viewer that California is the end of the rainbow. Just type in ‘Hollywood’ into and find dozens of clips like this, so full of praise for Holllywood, but slightly unnerving too. The numerous clips of unknown starlets, mystery millionaires, golf buggies, gardners and steak diners. Is there an underlining sense of isolation and artifice beneath these vintage Hollywood clips of the past?

Valentina Tereshkova – The First Woman In Space – June 16th


Valentina Tereshkova was the first woman in space, 1963. Named Woman of the Century in 2000 by the International Women of the Year Association, Valentina is the only woman to have carried out a solo flight into space for over 3 days, and consequently has a crater on the moon named after her. 

British Pathé seemed to take a great interest in this female cosmonaut’s celebrity and worldwide fame that came about following her successful mission. 

This video shows Valentina Tereshkova visiting her hometown in Russia alongside her elderly mother. The pair are greeted by a group ecstatic local girls with flowers in their hair. Vast crowds gather in the town square to see Valentina. 

Then British Pathe released this newsreel of Valentina Tereshkova being welcomed by Nikita Khrushchev, the then Secretary of the Communist Party of Soviet Russia. 

Soon afterwards Valentina married another cosmonaut, sparking a media obsession with “The Cosmonaut Romance”. Valentina’s marriage to colleage Andrian Nikolayev  came be seen in this wedding clip here, the narrator comments – “Even in the lives of cosmonauts, there’s space for love” 

And in this video Valentina visits London: 

Woman Cosmonaut Honoured 

Valentina is now a retired cosmonaut who still makes appearances at international events and ceremonies. At the 2008 St. Petersburg Olympics Valentina became an official torchbearer in the torch relay. 

Early film footage of Valentina Tereshkova’s first (and only) space flight. (Picture below from this clip)  

Mum! I’m in Space!

Congratulations Valentina! You’re still an inspiration to us all today.