This film is part of Free

Penny for the Guy?

Young children collect money for their Guy on the streets of Plymouth.

Current affairs 1961 5 mins

From the collection of:

Logo for South West Film and Television Archive


This is a delightful encounter by news reporter Roger Malone with local boys, among them Dennis but also two boys known as The Champs. This tradition is where children fill old clothes with straw to make an effigy of Guy Fawkes and wheel the Guy around for days leading up to Bonfire Night on 5th November. The effigy would go up in flames on top of the bonfire. Roasted chestnuts, toffee apples, a traditional homemade black toffee and fireworks would finish off the celebrations.

The Gunpowder Plot of 1605 was an attempt to blow up the Houses of Parliament in Westminster at its state opening by James I, the first Stuart King of England, but the treason attempt was thwarted when Guy Fawkes was discovered in the cellar of the House of Lords with gunpowder. Fawkes and his co-conspirators were either killed trying to escape or put to death. The King ordered a great bonfire to celebrate his own survival. The effigy was the Pope and anti-catholic in nature but this transmogrified in time to become Guy Fawkes. In the twenty-first century, towns known for bonfire night celebrations have become famous for supplanting the effigy for a depiction of unpopular political decisions of the day.