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Where there's life there's soap.

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About this work


This film, aimed at younger audiences, is all about cleanliness. It comprises of 32 verses of poetic doggerel sandwiched between illustrative scenes of an instructive nature - sometimes serious and sometimes comic. The first point is about keeping your skin clean; this is illustrated by a cat vigorously washing itself. We then see two elephants (presumably from London Zoo) wallowing playfully in a pool. A chimpanzee then washes using a small tin bowl. Next, a horse is groomed. Udders of cows are washed prior to milking. A tortoise is then shown with his head poking in and out of its shell. The soles of someone's feet are shown followed by a shot of a policeman walking purposefully from left to right. Hands are then seen and a boy chewing his finger nails. Calloused feet are shown - with the exhortation to not wear tight fitting shoes and stockings. A blind man who is begging sits by the street reading braille - in fact he peers over his dark glasses to check the contents of his cup, clearly indicating that he is a conman! The skin is very sensitive and a man is shown accidentally hitting his finger with a hammer and reacting accordingly - the skin is also sensitive to heat and a group of smokers are advised to be careful not to burn their fingers - in fact one then singes his fingers with a match. The reason for using soap is explained; this is because our sebaceous (sweat) glands secrete oil. A naked boy coyly demonstrates how to wash in a bucket-like tin tub. Images of swans are shown to illustrate the water-proof nature of their oil-covered feathers, followed by an illustration of the back of a balding man's head (this is widely believed to be Alfred Salter's head). This is to illustrate how a lack of cleanliness can lead to blocked pores and boils! An intertitle explains that free baths are available in Bermondsey (largely as many residents would not have bathrooms in their houses). A visit to the turkish bath is recommended; a young man sits wrapped up in a towel smoking a cigarette. A man then receives a massage. This is followed by shots of the swimming baths; a woman demonstrates her diving technique. An open air pool is also shown, then a man diving into a river. Finally, a pig eats its meal and the viewers are reminded not to have the habits of a hog.The End.


[London] : [Bermondsey Borough Council], [1933]

Physical description

1 Digibeta (18:20 mins) : sil, black and white; PAL.
2 DVDs (18:20 mins each) : sil., black and white; PAL.


This video was made from material preserved by the BFI National Archive.
Films supplied courtesy of Southwark Local History Library & Archive.
One of about 29 films made by the Public Health Department (about 7 of which no longer exist) which were shown for many decades on a regular basis to the residents of the borough in various municipal settings.
This is reputed to be an extended version of a film with the title of 'Where there's life there's 'ope'. According to Elizabeth Lebas in her book 'Municipal Films 1920-1980', this was considered to be "Dr Connan's masterpiece".

Creator/production credits

Film produced by the Bermondsey Borough Council under the direction of Dr D. M. Connan and Mr H. W. Bush.

Copyright note

Bermondsey Borough Council 1933



  • English

Where to find it

  • Copy 1

    Location Access
    Closed stores


  • Copy 1

    Closed stores
  • Copy 2

    Closed stores

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