BP's Trade Test Films

BP commissioned a series of trade test films in the early 1960s. The films were first screened on BBC2 between January and April 1964 and were used to test black and white 625 line broadcasts in the run-up to the channel’s opening night.

More trade test films were shown from August 1964 as the channel began experimenting with colour broadcasts. The films were shown sporadically during the afternoon and at closedown until August 1967 and ahead of the formal launch of BBC2 colour in November 1967, when they gained a regular schedule.

 On August 24th 1973 the very last Trade Test film to be shown on the BBC was BP’s Oscar-winner; Giuseppina.

 The films:

• Beauty in Trust (1959)
A film about the work and collection of the National Trust across the country, narrated by John Betjeman.

• Cantagallo (1970)
A short feature based around a BP service station in Italy.  The service station complex has places to eat and drink; supermarkets, auto shops, service bays, a church and a playground.

• Cattle Carters (1962)
Australia; where cattle are transported in giant trucks. An uptight Englishman and a laidback Australian set out on a 760 mile journey through some of the toughest country in Australia.

• Diavolezza (1958)
A day with Christian Badrutt who was once a mountain guide in the Engedine and now works as a conductor on the Diavolezza cable railway in the mountains he loves.

• Divertimento (1968)
Micro photographed images, edited to a suite by Malcolm Arnold form a 7 minute abstract 'divertimento' of evolving shapes, sounds and colours.

• The Empty Seat (1965)

Three different types of driver reveal their faults to an invisible driving instructor. A demonstration of safe driving and car care is given by the Metropolitan Police driving school at Hendon, and the offenders are seen applying these methods to their own driving.

• Giuseppina (1959)
An 'Academy Award' winning film set at an Italian petrol station where characters pass through on their onward journey, while entertaining and playing with the attendant’s daughter, Giuseppina.

• The Home Made Car (1962)
This Oscar-nominated film shows the rebuilding of an old 'bull-nosed' Morris car; from its discovery in a junkyard to its triumphant completion.

• A Journey into the Weald of Kent (1959)
A journey through rural Kent, starting on the Old Kent Road and traveling out to the manor houses, farms and ruins throughout Kent. Narrated by John Betjeman.

• Newspaper Run (1961)
A newspaper’s journey from Sweden to Lapland. We meet the reporters, photographers, drivers and the pilot who can land his tiny plane in a forest clearing or on the surface of a frozen lake.

• North Sea Quest (1967)
A film about the discovery and development of the West Sole field. Dedicated to the memory of the 13 men who died on the BP platform, Sea Gem, in 1965.

• North-West 200 (1958)
Motorcycle racing film shot in Northern Ireland.

• People Plus Leisure Equals (1968)
A film about pollution and its effects.

• Power to Fly (1953)
A cartoon telling the story of man’s search to learn to fly.  Beginning with Leonardo da Vinci’s studies of bird flight to the threshold of the supersonic age.

• Powerboat 66 (1966)
A film about power boating; its excitement and its enthusiasts.

• The Right Line (1961)
A film about the 1960 German Grand Prix at Solitude.

• September Spring (1964)
The Snowy Mountain Scheme, Australia, is a twenty-five year project, now half completed, to harness the waste water of the mountains for hydro-electric power and irrigation.

• Shadow of Progress (1971)
This BAFTA award winning film documents the pollution of natural resources and the misuse of technology.

• Skyhook (1966)
A film about helicopters in the jungle of Papua New Guinea.

• Small Propeller (1967)
A film about motor boats around the world. Starting in Sydney, Australia, with the preparations and dramatic start of the BP Ocean Classic Power Boat Race.

• Tide of Traffic (1972)
This Oscar nominated film explains the problems of European and American traffic control.

• We’ve Come a Long Way (1950)
This Technicolour animated film shows the evolution of the tank ship from the sailing brigs of the 1860s to the ships of today.