I recently had another look at ‘Number’, the short film from 1986 about Premium Bonds featuring Dennis and Glynn in their Minder characters and Rula Lenska as a company rep. As always, I came away baffled as to the type of audience the film was made for. By the time the film reaches its halfway point the audience could be excused for believing they had somehow switched over to an Open University physics lecture.
We hear Rula in a voice-over to an animated diagram telling us: ‘(This is) called a noise-producing diode. All it needs is an electric current to give off noise, or pulses of energy. However, no two, or, in Ernie’s case, no eleven, diodes are alike as the pulses don’t flow in an orderly fashion. In fact, scientists have proved conclusively that the movement of pulses is totally unpredictable.'
And then, to make sure the point gets fully across, she continues: 'And to take this unpredictability one stage further, the diodes are powered from two sources.’
‘Two sources?’ Wow! If that did not make everything crystal clear to the potential Premium Bond buyer, nothing would.
Some great observations there Brian. A good point about the intended audience.
It is a very strange production in my opinion. When I first got word about the inclusion of this on the DVD set I thought it was great that this was being released, particularly as I was not aware of its existence until that point.
At the time it was up for inclusion on the DVD set, certainly based on its length - Jaz suggested he thought the intended audience might have been overseas forces/territories who were perhaps unaware of what this was about "back in mainland UK".
I thought this was probably correct but then I thought "these territiories must therefore know who or what Minder is about as well then". Obviously the popularity of Minder in such 'overseas territories' or 'with British forces' back in the day is probably unlikely to be fully quantified but clearly it seems 'very likely' to me that based on where Minder was known to be popular outside blighty (such as down under), the everyday series was likely to have been popular in overseas territories (certainly English speaking) too.
That said, why would overseas territories be interested in UK premium bonds? Could they even buy them back then? So in retrospect, I am not so sure overseas territories were the intended audience.
Certainly 'forces based overseas' seems more likely to me. Forces and their families would be able to purchase premium bonds while in the UK or perhaps even locally 'on the base'. That said, why would the government of the day be promoting premium bonds on army bases? It seems strange to me but I suppose anything is possible. This was pure guesswork at that time.
When I met Glynn Edwards I asked him about it and for him, like always 'it was just a job and I said yes' and he didn't remember anything about the intended audience. There is a tale about him being given some premium bonds as a result of doing it, mentioned on minder.org. When I asked him about 'why no George Cole?' all he could suggest was 'he was probably just not available'.
What is weird for me is that any writer, especially at the time even contemplated writing a Minder-related story without wanting Arthur Daley in it. Yes, he is here albeit "on the phone" but surely was it the intention of the author not to try and get Arthur in here somewhere? The whole thing is based on Dave to start with which had never really been a feature of the main series up that point.
For me - the titles are not Minder and the voice of Arthur is a poor attempt to sound like him. It looks clear to me that this is Dennis & Glynn moonlighting off the back of their popularity in the show in order to get a bit of extra 'weekend wedge' milking the Minder cash cow. They are certainly playing their Minder characters here which was probably OK at the time, as it was probably thought the series was over when this was made.
Rula showing up is also a double whammy wage packet for Casa Waterman that month. Her part could clearly have been played by any eloquent attractive actress of the day and Dennis has no doubt nepotistically brought her along for the ride. In fairness though, she did have a lot of lines.
The inclusion of detail regarding diodes might suggest this could have been for a physics class/school kids. Personally (as a result of doing teacher training myself) if we consider what the 'learning objective' of this film is - in my opinion I think the aim and objective here is that 'by the end of film the viewer must be able to' (a) describe what ERNIE is and (b) state in their words a little bit about how the numbers are chosen. That's about it really, presented in a fun way using popular characters we know of the telly.
The length of this might hold a clue as to the intended audience - 15m25s, so who has been has that sort of time to spare? A cinema trailer perhaps? Maybe. Kids sitting down in audio/visual 80s class? (possibly) but I would say it is certainly way too long to be a television commercial. If it IS a for schools production, why would school kids be interested in buying premium bonds though? Therefore I think this is unlikely.
For me the intricate detail on diodes is probably just 80s razzmatazz in a lights show to impress and baffle the viewer with 80s computer science terminology. What I find amazing about this is 'Was it REALLY so hard to generate a random number back in 1986?' - clearly the film is all about how intricate and fair the process was.
Then I thought who else would really be interested in this stuff? Well another theory worth considering are simply those that visited the premium bonds building itself. It makes sense to me that if you were visiting the site you might see this as part of a little tour or guide around the building.
All my opinions here are pure supposition of course and until some article shows up somewhere as for the reasons it was made or someone comes forward having seen it back in the day, we'll probably never know. I am sure that one day we'll know though!
This was interesting to see but nothing special. Watching it, all I could think of are investment plans or charities that sound promising and are later exposed as scams and shams. I'm not saying Ernie is/was in that category it's just what I was reminded of.
I finally saw Number, last year (courtesy of a 'kind fellow forum member'), nothing memorable, but I am glad that I was able to add Number, to my collection, I think Number, would be best described as a rarity.