BBC publishes 1970 scripts for use in wake of nuclear attack

 

UK:Broadcast scripts formulated in the 1970s for use in the wake of a nuclear attack on Britain were published for the first time yesterday, devised to reassure listeners that the BBC was "still there" and had not been "obliterated".

Details of the announcements, written by the BBC with various government departments, were set out in files released by the UK national archives.

The documents chart discussions as to what should be said, and how not to alarm the public in case they thought Auntie had been "obliterated".

In an letter from June 1974, Harold Greenwood from the ministry of posts and telecommunications wrote: "During the second World War we came to recognise the voices of Stuart Hibberd, Alvar Lidell and other main news readers. I would expect that in the period of crisis preceding an attack a similar association of particular voices with the authoritative 'Voice of the BBC' would develop.

"The reassurance that 'the BBC is still there' would not be gleaned from a recorded announcement by an unfamiliar voice.

"Indeed, if an unfamiliar voice repeats the same announcement hour after hour for 12 hours listeners may begin to suspect that they are listening to a machine . . . and that perhaps after all the BBC has been obliterated."

The cabinet office recommends adding in live local commentary to reassure listeners that they are not being fobbed off with a cassette recorder.

The script of the announcement to be used in the wake of a nuclear attack includes advice to "stay calm and stay in your own homes".

It says: "This country has been attacked with nuclear weapons. Communications have been severely disrupted, and the number of casualties and the extent of the damage are not yet known." The public are instructed to turn off fuel supplies and conserve water.

Words of comfort: a  transcript of the BBC message

Here is a transcript of the BBC script to be used in the wake of a nuclear attack:

"This is the Wartime Broadcasting Service. This country has been attacked with nuclear weapons. Communications have been severely disrupted, and the number of casualties and the extent of the damage are not yet known. We shall bring you further information as soon as possible. Meanwhile, stay tuned to this wavelength, stay calm and stay in your own homes.

Remember there is nothing to be gained by trying to get away. By leaving your homes you could be exposing yourselves to greater danger. If you leave, you may find yourself without food, without water, without accommodation and without protection. Radioactive fall-out, which followed a nuclear explosion, is many times more dangerous if you are directly exposed to it in the open. Roofs and walls offer substantial protection. The safest place is indoors.

Make sure gas and other fuel supplies are turned off and that all fires are extinguished. If mains water is available, this can be used for fire-fighting.

You should also refill all your containers for drinking water after the fires have been put out, because the mains water supply may not be available for very long.

Water must not be used for flushing lavatories: until you are told that lavatories may be used again, other toilet arrangements must be made. Use your water only for essential drinking and cooking purposes. Water means life. Don't waste it.

Make your food stocks last: ration your supply, because it may have to last for 14 days or more. If you have fresh food in the house, use this first to avoid wasting it: food in tins will keep.

If you live in an area where a fall-out warning has been given, stay in your fall-out room until you are told it is safe to come out. When the immediate danger has passed the sirens will sound a steady note. The 'all clear' message will also be given on this wavelength. If you leave the fall-out room to go to the lavatory or replenish food or water supplies, do not remain outside the room for a minute longer than is necessary.

Do not, in any circumstances, go outside the house. Radioactive fall-out can kill. You cannot see it or feel it, but it is there. If you go outside, you will bring danger to your family and you may die. Stay in your fall-out room until you are told it is safe to come out or you hear the 'all clear' on the sirens . . .

We shall repeat this broadcast in two hours' time. Stay tuned to this wavelength, but switch your radios off now to save your batteries until we come on the air again. That is the end of this broadcast."