Adam Curtis

Here is an extraordinary piece of film. It is a live outside broadcast of a British army simulation of an attack on a train in Britain. It went out at prime time on a BBC programme called Saturday Night Out.

And it happened in 1956.

I have tried to find out whether the British government and army were planning for an attack by Cold War Soviet sleeper cells, or the IRA. Or whether they were training to do sabotage themselves. But no one seems to know.

The commentary is wonderful - especially at the end. And Saturday Night Out had a great catch phrase

SATURDAY NIGHT OUT
SHOWS YOU
THINGS HAPPEN
AS THEY HAPPEN
WHEN THEY HAPPEN
AND WHERE THEY HAPPEN

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  • Comment number 15. Posted by moreram

    on 25 Oct 2010 21:27

    What a let down, I was expecting Hollywood style pyrotechnics!

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  • Comment number 14. Posted by Gaz

    on 4 Oct 2010 11:10

    This comment was removed because it broke the house rules. Explain

  • Comment number 13. Posted by Gaz

    on 3 Oct 2010 06:53

    All this user's posts have been removed. Why?

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  • Comment number 12. Posted by victorkiriakus

    on 7 Mar 2010 21:33




    The following sources document some of the times where the U.S. government was found secretly exposing it's citizens to harmful bacterial agents to study their effects. One of them describes how in 1966, a bacterial agent was released into the New York City Subway system by dropping light bulbs filled with bacillus subtilis (variant Niger) onto the railway tracks in order to study the mode of spread.

    http://www.securitychallenges.org.au/ArticlePDFs/vol4no3Curson.pdf

    http://www.bordeninstitute.army.mil/published_volumes/chembio/ch19.pdf

    http://arjournals.annualreviews.org/doi/abs/10.1146%2Fannurev.mi.21.100167.003231

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  • Comment number 11. Posted by 12005GT

    on 30 Jan 2010 14:15

    I've written extensively about railway sabotage operations during the campaign to liberate France in 1944, and this is spot-on.

    Off this topic: Adam, if you read this, would you e-mail me at edentoarmageddon@gmail.com regarding material to be found in your posting from 25 September last (Kabul City Number One (Continued))?

    Many thanks.

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  • Comment number 10. Posted by trythisthen

    on 30 Jan 2010 04:10

    5. At 11:09pm on 24 Jan 2010, davesocrates wrote:
    Hmm, I imagine the most the audiences memories of WWII were a bit more 'terrifying' than this programme. But I'm sure, back in those days, people would hide behind the sofa literally vomiting in fear etc. etc.
    ----------------------------------------------------

    Sorry Dave, but er . . . no. I remember seeing this glued to the telly as a wide-eyed 12-year-old. And was a disappointed then by the anti-climax of the event as much as I am now. Basically we sat there and laughed.

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  • Comment number 9. Posted by Moor Larkin

    on 29 Jan 2010 22:46

    The movies did it better:
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/8379500.stm

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  • Comment number 8. Posted by yurdj

    on 27 Jan 2010 20:17

    omg i didn't know adam curtis has a blog. i'm a big fan of 'nightmares', 'self', and 'trap'. i hope your next one is a doozy. when 'nightmares' aired, i was living in san diego, and got a copy of it and showed it to the activist community there. The info about the neocons was so comprehensive it blew their minds, esp. in fall of 2004.

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  • Comment number 7. Posted by the art teacher

    on 27 Jan 2010 18:39

    EPIC FAIL.

    I enjoyed that. You see a lot of homages/send-ups of 50's TV in a lot of comedy shows. This is almost like one of those exaggerated sketches.

    "You've never seen anything like this before!!!"

    then

    "Well you've got take your hat off to her".

    Is this a deeper analogy of the fallability of the military? An example of the dumbing down of popular culture? A glimpse of the kind of vicarious thrill that people get from seeing disaster on TV? Morever, the duality of creation and destruction that is evident in man's attempts to achieve greatness?

    Dunno, but pretty funny regardless.

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  • Comment number 6. Posted by noemi Giupponi

    on 26 Jan 2010 22:07

    i'm writing my Master thesis on how strategies for sustainable behavioural change can deal with bounded rationality and irrationality aspects of human actions and values.
    I find your work so inspiring, helpful and just very clever. Thank you so much for showing us how a man's work can still mean something....It is so rare and precious nowadays....to find meanings.

    Best wishes

    kind regards,
    Noemi Giupponi

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