Charley: Your Very Good Health

Collection: London Screen Study Collection
ID No.: n/a
Title: Charley: Your Very Good Health
Date: 1948
Film-maker: Halas & Batchelor / COI for the Ministry of Health
Colour: Colour
Sound: Sound
Duration of complete item: 8 min. 24 sec.
Themes: Post-war Reconstruction


This short animated film aims to introduce the new National Health Service and explain how it will work, with the help of the character of ‘Charley’.


The film opens with animated titles, with man riding a bicycle spelling out the name 'Charley'. The commentary starts with describing some of the country’s existing public services, such as the water supply and refuse disposal, illustrated by an animated suburban street. The commentary then explains that the new Health Act will introduce new ‘personal health services’. The character of Charley is shown cycling along the street whilst the commentary states that at present not everyone can afford health treatment but with the new service, everyone will pay through their taxes and all will benefit from it. Charley is initially skeptical, but the commentary and animation show what would happen if Charley fell off his bike and were taken to hospital. The commentary states that this “might cost a couple of quid” but explains that “the new health services would cover all this”.

At Charley’s home, he is asked what would happen if his wife were to fall ill? Charley argues that she is never ill and his wife says she can’t afford to be ill, she’s not insured. The animation shows Charley’s wife busy with the baby. The commentary asserts that the new health service will benefit people like Charley’s wife and child. These new services are illustrated by a health visitor arriving at the door and the baby’s pram finding it’s way to the hospital. Back in Charley’s home, his wife says “that’s more like it” and Charley ask how the scheme will work? The current system of services are illustrated with a diagram, along with how the new service will mean a reorganisation of facilities.

How the service will work for individuals is demonstrated with Charley visiting the doctor and being referred to a hospital for specialist services. Charley then asks about people who might not want to use the service. Charley asks his neighbour George what he would do if he fell off a ladder and the animation illustrates this. George says he’d use a private hospital but the commentary warns of the heavy costs of private health care. The final words sum up that the new service will benefit the whole family and the cartoon ends with Charley and his wife and baby cycling off along the road.


One of the great achievements of the post-war Labour Government was the establishment of the National Health Service and this remarkable animated colour film was commissioned by the Ministry of Health to explain to the public how the new NHS would work. The film makes fascinating viewing in the light of current debates about the NHS, almost 60 years down the line.

The film was produced by the animation partnership of Joy Batchelor and John Halas, who would later become famous for their animated film of ‘Animal Farm’ in 1954. The duo made many government propaganda and public information films during the war and in the post war period, several using the Charley character to illustrate the message. Halas and Batchelor are now highly regarded as imaginative and influential animators.

The full film and a transcript of the dialogue can be seen at The National Archives' Public Information Films website.

Further information on the animation partnership of Halas and Batchelor can be found at the Animation Research Centre and at the Screen Online website. Screen Online also has information on the Central Office of Information (COI) who were responsible for commissioning this film.



View this film online
along with other public information films
dating from 1945 -2006 on the National Archives website.