ON THE RUN:  [58 minutes. Eastman Colour] [1968]

The story of an attempted kidnapping of a visiting African potentate.

CAST: Dennis Connolly, Robert Kennedy, Tracy Collins and Gordon Jackson.
GHOST OF A CHANCE:  [51 minutes. Eastman Colour] [1968]

Children and ghosts combine to prevent the destruction of a historic mansion.

CAST: Stephen Brown, Jimmie Edwards, Terry Scott, Graham Stark, Ronnie Barker, Patricia Hayes, Bernard Cribbins.
DAVEY JONES' LOCKER:  [59 minutes. Eastman Colour]

Children on holiday in Malta join an aqua-lung class and discover a ship wreck.

CAST: Susan George, Michael Wennink.
ANOOP THE ELEPHANT:  [55 minutes. Eastman Colour] [1972]

An escaped elephant adopts a family.

CAST: Linda Robson, Jimmy Edwards,  Phil Daniels, Rachel Brennock, Julian Orcard and Rani the baby elephant.

POP PIRATES:  [58 minutes. Eastman Colour] [1984]

A group of kids enter a music competition and become popular singers with two chart hit, in the meantime they also track down pop video pirates.

CAST: George Sweeney, Roger Daltry, Spence Chandler, Joe Melia.
[6 x 15 minute episodes. Eastman Colour] [1963]

Two children spend an exciting summer holiday on the island of Malta where they track down a valuable antique statuette. They are then on the run from the crooks.

CAST: Mario Debono, Mary Lu Ripard.
[10 x 15 minute episodes. Black & White] [1967]

Three children meet an unintentional visitor from outer space, Danny, who happens to be a dragon.

CAST: Sally Thomsett, Jack Wild, Frank Thornton, Peter Butterworth.
[8 x 15 minute episodes. Black & White] [1957]

Enid Blyton's story of 4 children and their dog who search for family treasure in a sunken ship.

CAST: Richard Palmer, Gillian Harrison.
ALI AND THE CAMEL: Weekly Serial
[8 x 15 minute episodes. Black & White] [1961]

A camel who only talks to Ali helps him discover the hidden jewels.

CAST: Mohamed Rifai.

For generations, British children have grown up with entertainment provided by the Children’s Film Foundation. Here we pay tribute to the Foundation, a not for profit institution supporting the early film entertainment and education for children, encouraging new talent on the screen and behind the scenes with Actor’s, Director’s, Producer’s and Cameramen who learnt their trade with the CFF, later becoming household names. The Foundation was set up in 1951, it was subsidised by a Government Tax on cinema box office receipts, known as the Eady Tax, which ended in 1985.

Although these films and weekly serials were produced for British cinemas they were also screened for children in other countries.
During the sixties C.F.F films included productions shot on location in Holland, India, Malta plus a host of other countries, adding further adventure and escapism to the stories.

These mini milestones in British and Commonwealth children’s cinema history are now curated by the British Film Institute {B.F.I.}.
The selection of titles featured above represents a very small number of the many reels of entertainment produced and distributed over the years bt the C.F.F.

We welcome your memories, thoughts and comments. Also if you have information and/or images featuring cinemas from the past then do use the email links featured on this site, share your memories and images with others, some of whom may have also enjoyed the cinema palaces of the Welsh valleys and for those who have never known a operating cinema in the valleys.

Information and images reflecting the Children's Film Foundation Saturday morning matinee performances that played at cinemas and working men's clubs throughout the valleys is also warmly welcomed together with information on screenings of CFF programmes that were offered as end of term treats at many valleys schools, often projected on screens in the school assembly hall using 16MM projectors by a designated school teacher. If you were one of the nominated teachers, contact Cinema Wales with your memories of that period.
In 1944 the late Lord Arthur J Rank recognised the need for films to be made especially for children. With this in mind Lord Rank set up a Children's entertainment division within the framework of the mighty Rank Organisation, a circuit that operated the successful Odeon and Gaumont cinemas across the UK.  In 1952 this was superseded by the all-industry Children's Film Foundation, a non-profit making organisation was funded and supported by all branches of the then British Film Industry.

In 1951, as a response to the Wheare Report, the British film industry offered a solution that in turn created and financed the long term future of the Children’s Film Foundation. A 5% voluntary levy would be taken from all cinema ticket prices. The 5% Eady or levy allowed the CFF a first year production budget of £60,000. A year or so later the voluntary levy became compulsory and funding levels increased accordingly to £100,00, £300,00 and so on. Even though most CFF features ran for 60 minutes this level of funding for a film was extraordinarily small. Nevertheless the Foundation successfully commissioned an impressive catalogue of filmed entertainment that filled an average 90 minute programme, combining a feature length comedy, drama or adventure together with a supporting weekly serial. The first CFF feature film was THE STOLEN PLANS in 1953.

The two main UK cinema chains both screened these movies and serials, all made specifically for special morning matinee’s. The Foundation supplied over 1100 prints a week, mostly for the cinema exhibition industry and also smaller amateur film groups and clubs as well as Miners Institute’s and welfare halls around the United Kingdom. Movies were made available as 35MM and 16MM prints.

To ensure that the Foundation could reach the largest possible audience and to guarantee exhibitors received an equal share of the product the Foundation operated a scheme under which each exhibitor is divided into four convenient groups as follows:

Independent Cinema and Social Organisations: 2 Groups
ABC/EMI Minors Matinee: 1 Group
Odeon/Gaumont Rank Saturday Club: 1 Group

{The CFF relied on Associated British Film Distribution and British Lion Films Limited to manage distribution of their films between 1953 – 1959. In 1959 CFF took over domestic distribution of their programmes while Rank Overseas Film Distributors managed exports and continued to do so throughout the 1960s}.

Each movie package was made available to the groups above for an exclusive engagement of eight months, after this time the movie package would passes onto the next group. Each group takes it in turn, on a rota basis, to receive the release of new movies.

CFF also distributed to the SKC {Services Kinema Corporation} for matinee screenings to children at military bases in the UK and overseas.

CFF productions focused on cultural, moral and educational remits while ensuring that each story contained sufficient adventure, action and thrills to maintain the interest levels of its young audience who could identify with the young actors who would often be fighting against the wrong . Winning many prestigious awards, CFF entertainment was recognised worldwide.

The Children’s Film Foundation enjoyed many years of success but with television becoming popular the CFF days were numbered.

Although much of the collection of films, cartoons, comedy shorts and serials have not been made available  on DVD, Four volumes of Children's Film Foundation  films and shorts have been released over the past few years, the most recent release was in 2012. Each DVD runs for an average of three hours and includes a classic film or two with supporting programmes. They are widely available through DVD retailers on the high street or online.  These limited releases have enjoyed considerable success, with plans for further programmes to be released in the coming years.

Treat yourself to a retro Christmas or Birthday present and enjoy a matinee from the fifties and sixties in your home.
CFF feature films usually ran for around 55 minutes and were supported by a weekly serial and often a short film, sometimes a comedy or a cartoon that made a programme duration of 90 minutes. The logo was familiar to many children who attended the local cinema's Saturday Morning Picture Show. Admission prices were kept to a minimum, pocket money rate of the time, allowing as many children to attend as possible.

CFF films received overwhelmingly enthusiastic responses from children in the UK and overseas, once the cinema house lights were dimmed and the familiar CFF logo, featuring London's Trafalgar Square, appeared on screen there would be an almighty scream from the excited audience followed by a deafening of Sccchhhhhh as everyone settled to watch the mornings matinee.  Many of Britain’s household names made their first screen appearances in a CFF production. The CFF gave early breaks to many British household names these would include;- Michael Crawford, Francesca Annis, Susan George, Dennis Waterman and Richard O'Sullivan. Many established stars of the day would also appear, including Julian Orchard, Jimmy Edwards, Winfred Brambell, Bernard Bresslaw,  Ian Hendry, Pat Coombes, Hattie Jacques, Roy Kinnear, Richard Wattis, Eric Sykes, Patricia Routledge, Gareth Hunt, Windsor Davies, Ronnie Barker, Patricia Hayes, Graham Stark, Terry Scott, Robin Askwith, George Cole, Gordon Jackson, Jack Wild, Sally Thomsett and Irene Handle.

Established actors, producers, directors all worked for basic union rates in recognition of the foundations not for profit status including the final pairing of one of the UK’s finest partnerships, Director Michael Powell and writer Emeric Pressburger who in 1972 made the entertaining THE BOY WHO TURNED YELLOW for CFF. A number of popular weekly serials were made to support the CFF features, including the highly popular DANNY THE DRAGON {1967}.

Throughout the fifties the CFF film formula proved to be popular with children, some features received International awards and accolades, this success meant that during the sixties their budgets increased steadily throughout that decade, allowing the production of films in colour and outside of the UK. Soon children would be watching comedy, action and adventure filmed in Holland, Malta, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia and as far afield as Kenya and Australia.

With the ever growing success of the Saturday Morning Picture show at thousands of cinemas across the British Isles and overseas, television in the UK recognised the potential of attracting viewers on a Saturday morning, which had not really been of interest earlier, most TV stations at that time didn’t broadcast until much later in the day.
The first ever Saturday morning programme for children in the UK was launched in 1968 when BBC Television broadcast ZOKKO. Later the BBC and ITV launched hugely successful strands of children’s programming engulfing the whole of Saturday mornings.

The television threat to the established Saturday Morning Picture Show was considerable, cinemas and the CFF fought bravely to win audiences. In 1969 colour television was introduced to the UK although the cost of a colour TV was not within the budget of most families until the mid to late seventies. With the costs of a colour television becoming accessible to many families mid seventies both the BBC and ITV were broadcasting highly popular Saturday morning flagship programmes aimed at children, such as TISWAS {1974} and the MULTI COLOURED SWAP SHOP {1976}.

Originally most CFF productions were filmed in black & white, a cost effective solution at the time that allowed the foundation to make the most of its annual budget, by filming in Black & white they could produce more films and the occasional colour feature length film. With the threat of television of the sixties reducing the appeal of the minor’s matinee performances the CFF the foundation agreed an all colour policy for productions, effective from 1967.

Although Saturday Morning Picture shows continued to be popular through the fifties and sixties, general cinema admissions began to decline in 1959. Cinemas began to close during the sixties as bingo became a popular form of leisure for adults, particularly within the working class sector. Even so, the CFF and other Saturday Morning Clubs continued to be popular with children.

The death of J. Arthur Rank in 1972 would have a negative and eventually fatal effect on the Children’s Film Foundation. The founders of the CFF, the Rank Organisation, concentrated on business interests elsewhere, leaving the ABC circuit to become the main exhibitor of CFF programmes.

By the seventies the Saturday morning film show at the cinema was less popular as children sat at home watching television that was effectively free. In 1974 there were just 500 UK cinemas screening children’s Saturday morning matinees, this reduced further by 1978 when there was just 300 cinemas.

The CFF requested funding of £660,000 for the 1979/80 financial year. This request was declined by the BFFA who awarded the CFF just half of the required funding. A small number of ABC and Rank Organisation cinemas together with some independent cinemas continued to offer the Saturday morning matinee. In 1980 the CFF received an Outstanding Contribution Award from the British Academy of Film and Television {BAFTA}. With dwindling audiences the ABC circuit ceased Saturday morning matinees and the Rank Organisation pulled out a year later. The loss of business, financial support and revenue was a massive blow, leaving the CFF looking at methods to restructure and survive.

The CFF restructured in 1982 as the Children’s Film and Television Foundation, the principles remained the same as before although the funding would now be through partnership with television. Funding remained tight and the foundation was forced into selling much of its back catalogue to television, this allowed some temporary funding as some productions from the CFF catalogue were bought and shown on regional ITV. Between 1984 and 1989 the BBC screened one serial and 26 features during the popular Children’s teatime TV slot. The BBC also premiered some new CFF features including the popular POP PIRATES {1984}.

With the levy award abolished in 1985 the foundation was ceased as a production company in 1987 the final self financed production would be JUST ASK FOR DIAMOND {1987}. The remains of the CFF continues to offer an advisory service to support television and  cinema with projects aimed at children including the popular 1989 feature length film, DANNY THE CHAMPION OF THE WORLD.

During the 1970’s BBC Television co produced with 20th Century Fox the Children’s television series HERE COME THE DOUBLE DECKERS, a series that ran for three years on British and American television, the format was based on the original 1968 CFF serial, THE MAGNIFICANT SIX AND A HALF.

Nobody can deny the influence of the Children’s Film Foundation on popular British culture, its demise is a heart rendering loss. Much of the CFF back catalogue archive is now within the BFI {British Film Institute}, sadly little of the archive is available for easy access viewing..

Welcome to an affectionate appraisal and tribute to the cinemas that entertained us in the South Eastern industrial valleys of Wales.
UPDATED - 2013
A tribute to the long lost British institution remembered by so many.
UPDATED - 2013
Although it is rare, from time to time a number of cinemas in the UK have celebrated the long lost legacy of the C.F.F.

In the early nineties a programme, including a feature film and serial of the CFF catalogue was screened at the then Peacocks cinema in Woking as a special celebration of cinema during an open day.

The Barbican cinema in London celebrated the CFF with a programme of screenings a few years ago.

More recently the B.F.I. in London have screened occasional shows of the archive it now curates, keep an eye on their monthly schedules that are published online.

A selection of CFF productions is detailed below: