BBC and NFU
It seems like an unlikely combination, a British national broadcaster and a New Zealand government film unit primarily tasked with producing newsreels and promotional films. But in the 1960’s through to the early 1970’s the National Film Unit played a role in the history of the BBC, and because of it, certain NFU films have a cult following in England.
In the early 1960’s the BBC started to experiment with colour television, initially on BBC One and later for the then new channel BBC Two. The colour broadcasts would occur sometimes irregularly instead of the usual test card. This happened with a scheduled programme of films starting in the late 1960’s so television sales people could use the transmissions to show how the new system worked and looked.
To test the colour system the BBC needed colour films to broadcast, and it picked a broad range of films from private companies such as big oil companies, electronics producers through to light bulb manufacturers. It also used government produced films from Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
From 1968 until the transmissions ceased in 1973, 10 National Film Unit films regularly screened on BBC television and found a whole new audience.
The films were scheduled to screen in the mid afternoon, coinciding with the time that many school children got home from school and were sitting in front of the television.