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Island People

About the film

A cross-section of how various people across Britain spend Saturday - the day divided between work and recreation.


Release year
Philip Leacock
Production company
Realist Film Unit
John Taylor
A.E. Jeakins
Running time (minutes)
10 mins 01 secs

Original Description

How Six People Spend Saturday
‘It is Saturday in Britain, the day divided between work and rest. In the morning six people, representative of various types are seen at work in the industrial areas, on the farms and in the cities. They are a craftsman from the Midlands, a typist in a big Manchester office, a tug captain on the River Thames, a farmer from the Lowlands of Scotland, a woman doctor from Cardiff and a small boy who lives in a suburb. At midday the people crowd out of offices, factories and schools, all going home to prepare for the half-holiday. Saturday afternoon is set aside for enjoyment.
Out they go to their games and amusements, to play football and hockey, rugby and running, to work in the garden, to walk in the woods. At the end of the afternoon they go out to various places of amusement, or they return home to read and play or to make clothes or model aeroplanes.’
(Films of Britain - British Council Film Department Catalogue - 1940)


  • This film is listed under the title 'Life in Britain' in the 1940 Films of Britain catalogue, and is not named ‘Island People’ in any Films of Britain catalogue. This suggests that the film has perhaps be re-edited, or re-dubbed, since its original completion.
  • In a ‘Committee of Films for Overseas Publicity’ meeting held on 19th January 1940, with members from the British Council, Ministry of Information, British Film Institute, and the Foreign Office (including Sir Kenneth Clark - then director of the Films Division, M.O.I), it was decided that, as certain foreign distributors refused to circulate some British Council films because they were ‘propagandist’, they should distribute the films under a different name. As such, they chose to preface British Council films with the name ‘TIDA’ (the Travel and Industrial Development Association of Great Britain and Ireland) – the tourism company whose film department had been absorbed into the British Council at the outbreak of the Second World War.


Click below - or click the link on the right - to see a transcript of the film





English Voiceover

Britain. The United Kingdom. An island 700 miles long, 200 miles wide. Separated from Europe by the English Channel, bounded by the North Sea and the Atlantic. An island of 48 million people.


English Voiceover

The people of the land, who harvest the wheat of East Anglia. Who rear the sheep of the West Country, the Midlands, Wales, and Scotland. Who work the fruit orchards of the South and West, and the dairy farms of the central plains. The Britain of farmhouses, villages, and market towns.


English Voiceover

Industrial Britain, the world's workshop. Its people living in towns and cities: Glasgow, Manchester, London, and a score of others. They mine the coalfields of Durham and Northumberland, Rhondda and Midlothian.


English Voiceover

They work with steel and iron in the foundries and machine shops. They build ships on the Clyde and the Tyne, at Barrow, Liverpool, and Belfast. They build locomotives at Doncaster and Swindon. They weave wool on the looms of Yorkshire. Spin cotton on the frames of Lancashire. A thousand industries, a thousand products, a thousand manufactures for export overseas.


English Voiceover

London, the nation's capital, centre of commercial Britain. Where black-coat workers manage the business and international trade of the country. They keep the accounts of industry. They ensure the world's shipping. They fix the world's gold price. They buy raw materials from overseas, and sell finished products.


English Voiceover

These are the main sections of working Britain – agriculture, industry and commerce. This is Britain, the great producing and trading country, and these are the people who are making it.


English Voiceover

Jack Moore, farmer. At 26 years of age he runs the 250 acre farm on which he was born. For six generations Moat Farm has been worked by his family and today, as he drives the tractor up Twenty-acre field, he has behind him the experience of generations of farmers, together with the modern, scientific training he had at his agricultural college.


English Voiceover

Jane Martin, doctor and psychologist is head of a children's clinic in Manchester. Children meet her as an equal. In two minutes, she makes a rather nervous young man completely at home. He's even ready to help her examine him. After twelve years of intensive training, and six years of practice, she is an established child specialist.


English Voiceover

James Anderson, captain of the SS Glenisla. She is on the South American run, carrying mixed cargoes outwards and bringing meat back to Liverpool. Captain Anderson is at sea for nine months in the year. He is solely responsible for his crew, cargo, and 10,000 ton ship, a job that requires experience and a cool head. His greatest pleasure is his garden on the hills above the Mersey.


English Voiceover

Elizabeth Davies, private secretary, works in a broker's office in London. She is a competent short-hand typist and knows the stock market almost as well as her employer. In a day, thousands of pounds of stock are dealt with by her office. It is responsible work which requires intelligence and alertness. She likes to be independent, and has many interests outside her office life.


English Voiceover

Sam Hawker, silversmith, has worked with this Birmingham company for forty years, from apprentice, to journeyman, to master craftsman. He works to a basic design, but it is his creative ability that gives the work its beauty. His work is the work of an individual and can be recognised as such. He's an easy-going man, with the quiet confidence of a master of his trade.


English Voiceover

For five-and-a-half days a week they work. At noon on Saturday, the weekend holiday starts.


English Voiceover

Saturday afternoon, the time for sport. Summer and winter, the British people follow their particular game. in summer, it may be cricket, bowls, tennis, or swimming. In winter, skating, a friendly game of curling, or rabbit shooting in a Kentish wood, with ferrets and a dog.


English Voiceover

Or most typical of all, football. 20,000 people – steel workers, miners, and textile operators – have come 300 miles with their team, and on a football field mingle with the people of the South. 80,000 of them, from every walk of life, are united by a game. It is a time when people meet, when pleasures are shared, when community life is at its best.


English Voiceover

And there are those who stay at home.


English Voiceover

Here people are free to do the things they want to do, free for all those small, personal pleasures of home life. In the evening, the farmhouse kitchen and the town sitting room become the centres of family life. Mother, father, and the children are home for high tea. Throughout the week they've been separated, but today they're together and can enjoy the unity of family life.


English Voiceover

A daughter brings home a friend to spend the weekend with her family and they gossip cheerfully as they fit a dress. Mother finishes her last job of the evening and enjoys it as much as her children do.


English Voiceover

It is within these family surroundings that children and their parents learn to appreciate the values of human associations. It is here that they learn the give and take of living with others, consideration, tolerance, unselfishness, and generosity.


English Voiceover

In the outside world, we see these ways on living on a larger scale.


English Voiceover

At this great ballroom where thousands dance. At this village hall where some play in the band. All in their own way contribute to the general enjoyment.


English Voiceover

At the local inns, Britain meets. These are the traditional community centres. They're even called ‘public houses’, where people go to talk and play games. Where men and women, friends and neighbours come together, where the qualities of human relationships are at their best.


English Voiceover

It is in the small, everyday things people do that we see their character. In the skill of a craftsman as he shapes a silver bowl. In the quiet efficiency of a secretary as she goes about her work. In the reliability of a captain as he plots the course. In the good humour of a doctor as she examines her patient.


English Voiceover

In scenes like these, we see not only the character of individuals, but the character of a whole people. The British people.