This film is part of Free

Quiet Morning

Everyday family life in suburban North London - as seen by folk learning English in the 1950s.

School programme and Educational film 1955 11 mins


A typical day in the life of a typical family in a typical North London suburb? That's the implication of this film by director Kay Mander. An English language teaching aid for the Linguaphone Institute, it was presumably distributed abroad and for screenings here in schools and in English as a Second Language classes. It's fascinating on all counts, but can you help us identify all the locations?

A shot of Finchley Road station introduces the suburb inhabited by the Black family, but are their road and the shopping area in the same vicinity? In fact, the film is mostly set indoors, where Mr Black's attempts to spend the morning reading his paper and smoking his pipe are continually thwarted. With its deliberate pace (carefully matching images on the screen to the vocab on the soundtrack), the film feels a bit like a Ladybird 'Peter and Jane' book in film form - albeit with a sense of humour, largely at the hapless Mr Black's expense. This somewhat stereotyped family portrait (amiable but useless males kept afloat by pragmatic domesticated females) is familiar from a billion TV sitcoms made since. Mr Brown is played by Russell Waters, familiar to British viewers for character roles including regular appearances in public information films. Director Mander is celebrated as a successful female filmmaker in the world of British documentary. A few years earlier she'd made several French-language teaching films which is presumably why the Linguaphone Institute hired her to make this film.