David Walliams voices new Charley Says films

28 March 2014

David Walliams voices new Charley Says film

Comedian is working with Electrical Safety First to revive the nation’s favourite safety characters and reduce electrical accidents in the home.

Charley Says, the nation’s favourite safety film[i], has been brought back to life by Electrical Safety First with the help of comedian David Walliams. Through a series of new adventures and near misses Charley the cat and his hapless young owner will teach the need for electrical safety in the home by highlighting what not to do.

The original Charley Says films, which were created by the government’s Central Office for Information and broadcast in the 1970s and 80s, warned children about everyday safety issues such as not going off with strangers or playing with matches. Electrical Safety First is using the nostalgia of the original films to draw attention to electrical safety in a fun and memorable way.

Every year 350,000 people are injured by the everyday use of electricity, and so just as Kenny Everett meowed safety messages as the cat in the original films, David Walliams is on board to warn adults what Charley says about staying electrically safe in the home.

The first video, which is released today, is set in the kitchen and sees Charley preventing the young boy from plugging in a toaster to an already overloaded plug socket. Charley burns his paw in the process and runs around the kitchen before extinguishing the flames in a vase of water. In keeping with the tone of the original films, he is awarded a fish for his savvy behaviour.

This storyline was chosen by Electrical Safety First as many people are unaware of the dangers of overloading sockets. High voltage appliances such as dishwashers and washing machines draw a lot of power and can cause sockets to overheat, which can lead to appliances not working or can even start a devastating house fire. Yet nearly half of adults admit they are not confident which combinations of appliances are safe to plug in at one time[ii], and a further tenth have noticed scorch marks or even sparks emitting from an overloaded socket before.[iii] And just like Charley, thousands of people have even received a burn from an overloaded socket before.[iv]

Emma Apter from Electrical Safety First said: “Many of us fondly remember Charley Says from our childhood and so we wanted to use these beloved safety characters to raise awareness of an issue that is often overlooked whilst still doing the videos justice. Many people will be surprised by just how dangerous overloading sockets can be, so we hope this inspires people to change their behaviour.

“We wanted to faithfully recreate the look and feel of the original episodes and so worked closely with animators to re-master footage and add in new scenes. We are thrilled to be working with David to bring Charley Says back to life and hope that anyone who remembers the films from their childhood will want to watch and share our new videos.”

David Walliams said: “I loved Charley Says when growing up and I think it’s great that Electrical Safety First is bringing the characters back to life and creating some new storylines. We’ve all had a go at mimicking Charley the cat’s ‘meow’, so I just hope my version is up to scratch and will help people stay safe in the home.”

The first Charley Says video can be viewed at www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk/CharleySays, where you can also use a Socket Overload Calculator to understand which combinations of appliances are safe to use at one time.

As further research from the charity suggests that our tendency to overload sockets is partly because our houses are not designed to accommodate the number of electrical devices we use on a daily basis[v], Electrical Safety First’s website also includes information on how to find a registered electrician who can install additional plug sockets safely.


For more information please contact Rachel, Libby or Rosie electricalsafetyfirst@forster.co.uk or call 0207 403 2230.

Notes to Editors:

  • Electrical Safety First is the UK charity dedicated to reducing deaths and injuries caused by electrical accidents. We campaign to improve safety regulation and messages, and provide expert information and advice to the public and professionals to help ensure everyone in the UK can use electricity safely. Visit www.electricalsafetyfirst.org.uk for more information
  • Charley Says is Electrical Safety First’s first campaign following rebranding from the Electrical Safety Council and adheres to one of the charity’s core aims of reducing misuse of electrical products in the home
  • All consumer research, unless otherwise stated, was conducted from 21st – 23rd February 2014 by Populus on behalf of Electrical Safety First with a sample of 2,053 adults. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults
  • Charley Says was a series of short cut-out animated cartoon public information films for children, produced by the British government’s Central Office of Information and broadcast in the United Kingdom in the 1970s and 1980s
  • Footage from the original Charley Says films was secured through the National Archives with the permission of the British Film Institute and was re-mastered by video production company Brickwall who provided extra animation 


[i] According to a poll by BBC Magazine of 25,000 readers to mark the 60th anniversary of the Central Office of Information: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/4853042.stm 

[ii] 41% of adults do not know which combinations of appliances are safe to plug into an extension lead or block adaptor at one time

[iii] 11% of adults  have seen plugs on extension leads spark and 10% have noticed scorch marks around a plug 

[iv]4% of adults have received a burn before, which equates to approximately 1.8 million adults across the UK

[v] 62% of adults feel they do not have enough wall sockets in certain rooms of their houses compared to the number of electrical appliances they use