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Public information film on coronavirus allegedly from the 1970s is a parody published in 2020

Posted on:  2023-11-28

Key takeaway

A public information film offering tips to prevent coronavirus infection that allegedly dates to the 1970s is actually a parody of the public service films that the U.K. Central Office of Information produced and distributed nationally between 1946 and 2011.

Reviewed content


A public information film on the coronavirus was released in the 1970s

Source: YouTube, Social media users, 2020-05-24

Verdict detail

Factually inaccurate: The 1970s coronavirus public information film shown on various social media posts is actually a parody published on 24 May 2020, shortly after COVID-19 was declared a pandemic.

Full Claim

A public information film on the coronavirus was released in the 1970s


A three-minute video titled “Coronavirus – 1970s Public Information Film” offering recommendations to prevent coronavirus infections went viral at the end of 2023. The video circulated on social media platforms including X (formerly Twitter) and TikTok. One Facebook post sharing the video in November 2023 received over 50,000 views and 2,000 shares.

The video’s title and retro appearance resembled the public information short films that the U.K. Central Office of Information (COI) produced and distributed during television advertising breaks. The COI was created in 1946 to replace the British Ministry of Information, which was responsible for government publicity and propaganda during the Second World War, and was active until 2011.

Many of the COI short films involved public safety campaigns. One example is “Smoking and You”, a film released in 1963 and one of the first governmental anti-smoking campaigns ever produced. In others, a cartoon cat named Charley gave safety tips to children, for example by warning them against playing with matches or being aware of the dangers in water.

However, the video shared on social media isn’t an actual public information film but a work of satire. It is also not from the 1970s.

While some posts correctly indicated that the video was a parody, others didn’t, nor did they mention that the video wasn’t an actual 1970s production. This could be potentially misleading, particularly for people who didn’t watch the video in full and might interpret that the video was released in the 1970s.

Multiple social media posts attributed the film to CheeksProductions, which uploaded it on its YouTube channel on 4 May 2020, shortly after the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic. The video had accumulated over two million views at the time of writing.

The humorous nature of the video is made clear throughout its three minutes, for example, when talking about coronavirus “carriers”:

“Even a car can be a carrier. If you cough on a car, that car becomes a carrier, which is why scientists now sometimes refer to the coronavirus as the ‘car owner virus’.”

It goes on:

“Carriers come in all shapes and sizes. So it’s important when you are out and about that you note down anyone you see coughing or wheezing[…] When you return home, immediately call the police and notify them of any person you’ve seen who you think is or might be a carrier”.

The film provided several other comical recommendations, like “cut a hole in your favorite chair and stick a bucket underneath” if you don’t have an indoor toilet, or “if you don’t have chairs, dig a hole for yourself somewhere inside the house”. CheeksProductions’ YouTube channel contains many other satirical videos, including one about lockdowns.

PolitiFact found that the narrator of the coronavirus video is actor and voiceover Charlie Tantam. Tantam, who joked about the film in a May 2020 tweet, listed it as one of his works on his website, under the section “parody shorts”.

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