20 May: How To Survive A Nuclear Bomb

‘Protect and Survive’, the UK Government’s pamphlet offering Britons advice on how to navigate the aftermath of a nuclear explosion, was published on 20th May, 1980, following a campaign in The Times.

Intended for distribution in times of imminent crisis – and only alongside the broadcast of a series of related public information films – the booklet’s earnest yet chilling tone, coupled with its practical advice on makeshift shelters and fallout room essentials, variously triggered alarm, disbelief, and mockery. 

In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly ask whether the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament were correct to suggest the campaign promoted a false sense of confidence in survivability of nuclear war; compare notes on the most chilling passages of the simply-written text; and marvel at the official advice for people living in mobile homes… 

Further Reading:

• ‘’Sinister yet pathetic’: how the UK was primed for nuclear war’ (The Guardian, 2019): 

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/oct/30/uk-was-primed-for-nuclear-war-in-the-uk-taras-young-interview

• ‘Protect and Survive’ (UK Home Office, 1980): https://archive.org/details/ProtectAndSurvive_136

• ‘Protect and Survive’ (BBC, 1980):