A Word From Our Sponsors… Rolf Harris Teaches Them To Swim

“Kids and wortah… they luvvit!”

TV adverts… they’re not just about unscrupulous marketeers manipulating us, often using minor celebrities, into spending money we haven’t got on useless, overpriced tat we don’t need.

Back in the day, a subset of adverts known as public information films regularly aired, made by well-meaning but patronising officials from government agencies, often using minor celebrities, reminding us not to kill ourselves by accident.

One of the most famous and memorable ones, dating from the early 70s, I think, featured a very young-looking Rolf Harris (before he quite got the hang of trimming his beard, by the looks of it) advising parents that failure to teach their kids to swim was tantamount to stuffing them in a sack with a few bricks and drowning them themselves.

It was meant to promote the importance of swimming lessons for kids – instead, it mainly taught a generation of kids how to wave with their toes while messing about in the swimming pool.


And while we’re on the subject, here’s a famous animated “learn to swim” advert that ran either just before or just after the Rolf one (or possibly concurrently).

This one ups the ante by suggesting that not only will you kill yourself and/or your kids if you can’t swim, but your “bird” will dump you and sleep with a weird-looking dweeb with bad hair.

The multi-layered narrative also served a second cautionary purpose: as a warning to men that women have only a limited grasp of the infinite possibilities for limitless wealth and eternal happiness offered by three wishes from a fairy godmother – and so guys should immediately step in and take control of the wishes if a fairy godmother (or genie, presumably, or any mythicalk wish-granting being) happens to appear, otherwise all you’ll get out of it is a day at the seaside:




Filed under A Word From our Sponsors, Classic TV

3 responses to “A Word From Our Sponsors… Rolf Harris Teaches Them To Swim

  1. Lubo's Boot

    Rolf Harris is a native of Perth, WA.
    Local lore says Rolf learned to swim in the local river (The Swan River), and could be seen regularly swimming from his home in Bassendean to the city centre and back. As they say here, “he was bloody good”.

  2. Hi mate. How’s things down under..? Yeah – didn’t he compete as a swimmer in his early life – or did I imagine that? So how far is that aquatic commute he used to do?

    So are the people of Perth prud of their famous son?

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