TV-AM “Swimming Pool Clip” (lost public information film from breakfast television show; existence unconfirmed; mid-1980s)

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Status: Existence Unconfirmed

TV-AM was a TV company that broadcast Breakfast Television shows from 1983-1992 in the United Kingdom. However, at some point during the mid-80s (believed to be approx 1985-86), during an interview on TV-AM’s Good Morning Britain, a weird clip about a boy and a woman, presumably his mother, at the swimming pool was shown only once and was never seen again, sparking a mystery about this clip.


One witness, a child at the time, describes a clip they saw in the mid-1980s that scared them and was never seen again. They also described that the clip was shown during a feature, most likely an interview, on Good Morning Britain. The description of the clip is as follows, quote:

The clip featured a bird’s-eye view of a busy outdoor swimming pool on a hot summer’s day. My memory for detail must have been pretty sharp as a kid because I remember random minute details, such as there being a step ladder on the bottom left corner of the pool. Anyway, on the far left of the screen there was a mother sat on one of the chairs surrounding the pool, and a little boy was stood in front of her, whose shirt buttons she was unfastening. From memory, the mother had short black hair and was wearing a black top and black trousers. The boy was a typical-looking toddler with short light brown or blond hair, wearing a shirt and shorts. As mentioned, the mother was unfastening the boy’s shirt buttons, and she was talking to him as she did so (the boy didn’t say a word – it was just a long monologue by the mother). Seemed normal enough at first.

However, after a moment or so, the mother suddenly changed her voice mid-speech to a funny, comical voice. It was a proper silly, daft cartoon voice – a sharp voice right in the back of the throat. The change seemed undramatic – she just changed to the funny voice mid-sentence, and the boy didn’t react to this. She kept on unfastening (possibly buttoning back up?) the boy’s shirt, while talking to him in the funny voice, albeit with serious tones. Then after another moment or so the mother was lifted by nothing out of her chair, rose diagonally forward into mid-air, hung suspended in mid-air for a few seconds still in a sitting position – then fell into the pool with an enormous splash, while emitting a bizarre scream, still in the funny voice but sounding terrified. Absolutely no-one reacted to this – the camera hung on the scene a few seconds after the mother had fallen in, and the many swimmers in the pool didn’t react at all, while even the boy didn’t react – just kept staring straight ahead at the empty chair as if the mother was still there.

Cut back to the TV-AM studio. I’m pretty sure the late Mike Morris was among the presenters, possibly Anne Diamond as well, but childhood memories can never be 100% reliable. I seem to recall Mike Morris saying “Well that was…” and an air of bewilderment among the presenters, but no more specific details, much as I didn’t take in anything the mother had actually said in the monologue (well other than her bizarre funny-voiced scream of “AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA–A!”) despite registering numerous other details.[1]

Public Information Film Theory

One of the most common theories put forward to explain this clip is that it was a Public Information Film (PIF, known in the US as a Public Service Announcement (PSA)). Enquiries on internet forums by the person who was disturbed by the clip led to a response from one person who has a vague memory of it, saying that as far as they recall, it was a PIF about sunburn and the dangers of skin cancer.[2] A couple of other witnesses on Facebook forums have also said they seem to recall it being a PIF, about either taking care when swimming or looking after kids at the beach.[2] Another person who responded recalled that it was one of a series of adverts, mostly “several silly adverts with different things happening... I think they were about safety of some sort... I remember laughing at them at the time”.[2]

TV Commercial Theory

Another common theory to explain this clip is that it was a humorous TV commercial, most likely advertising a confectionery or fizzy drink product. This theory is based on the fact that the description of the clip is not dissimilar to certain commercials from the era, which played a trope of having a person swallow some of the advertised product, which had a wacky effect on them and caused their voice to speed up before something particularly weird and zany happened to them. One example of such a commercial is a Square Crisps advert starring Lenny Henry [3], while a responder on a Facebook forum recalls a commercial from the mid-80s that featured a boy being scolded by a finger-wagging old lady, who took a bite of some confectionery the boy had on him, causing the old lady's voice to speed up before she was lifted off the ground and carried off screaming into the distance, still wagging her finger. This commercial itself has not been found. One responder to a Facebook enquiry about the swimming pool clip answered "Vaguely remember but I don't think it was a PIF, it was an advert for something like Irn-Bru or Tizer". This contradicts the memories of others who believe they recall the clip being a PIF, but due to the vague nature of the recollections and the aforementioned similarities to certain TV commercials, this explanation cannot be ruled out.

Other Theories

Other theories that have been put forth to explain the clip include that it was a promotional clip for the TV-AM summer roadshows, a short art film, or a deliberately nonsensical clip put together as a stunt by the production company staff and sneaked in as a joke to see if they would get away with it, similar to the outtakes and joke scenes that would be featured on production companies' Christmas tapes. However no recollections or solid evidence has yet emerged to support any of these theories.


No photos or footage of the clip exist and its existence has not been confirmed.

The TV-AM Archive, containing the master tapes of all TV-AM broadcasts for the entirety of its run, is held by the AP Archive, the world's leading source of archive video footage, based in London.[4][5] Associated Press (AP) acquired the TV-AM Archive from Moving Image Communications in 2010, however the footage is not available to the general public.

The blog entry on Unidentified Weird TV, from which the above description of the clip is quoted, contains a full recollection of the memory of the viewer who saw the clip and an appeal for anyone with information or memories of it to come forward, together with speculation and a rough mock-up of the scene.