Film ID:
YFA 4604



Visitor Tabs


This film gives an insight into the workings of the Grattan mail order company. The is footage of the process from the moment the customers give their order to the agent, right through the order process and finishes with the order being posted.

Title-Counter Revolution.

Title-Or-how to succeed in buying without really shopping.

The film opens on a busy town centre full of Christmas shoppers pushing past each other. The voiceover says that it can be nice to be out and about in the busy shops but only once a year.

The scene changes to a daytime street scene where Saturday shoppers are rushing around the streets, carrying armfuls of shopping. The voiceover says that people end up buying things that they don't want just to be able to get out of the shops. The voiceover says that shopping in a village is the other option but that there is not much choice in the local shops.

In the following scene a woman is flicking through a mail order catalogue, and the voiceover says that you can avoid the crowds and hassle and shop from the comfort of your own home. There are shots of several women sitting at home and placing orders with the agents, sealing the envelopes and then several envelopes being placed in different post boxes.

In the order sorting room a group of women open all of the mail and separate the various order forms, remove the money and attach the various pieces of paper together. The voiceover says that opening mail comes naturally to women, that they can't get the envelopes open quickly enough as there is cash in them! Some of the women add up figures on a large calculator style machine while some others collect the sorted orders and carry them up to the section heads that are in a different office.

This department is full of tables with the section heads and their secretaries sorting through letters of enquiries and complaints. The male section heads dictate letters to their secretaries who transcribe the letters. Some of the other men dictate their replies into voice recording machines. The section heads give the all clear to the orders which are then driven to the company headquarters.

The voiceover describes the job of the `punchers' in the next section. They change the orders from words into punched holes on cards. There are shots of the women working on the punching machines and the cards being brought into the computer room where the punched holes are converted back into words. Then the printouts are sent by pneumatic tube up into another section of the building

The voiceover begins to sing his narration and describes what each person is doing in the order warehouse. The men working in this department collect the ordered items that are on the forms and package them up. The package is put on a conveyor belt where it will arrive in another section and have more items added to it. There are shots of the warehouse shelves full of various items as well as shots of all of the staff that work in that department.

The voiceover says that the buyers are the people who order in the merchandise and organise the `shop window'. This is followed by shots of a large office with closed in sections full of men and women on the phone and taking notes.

In the reception of the building, company representatives arrive in to meet up with the buyers and show off their merchandise. There is a shot of them checking in with the receptionist who dials the phone using a pen. There are shots of several reps in enclosed offices showing their produce to the buyers; there are bags, radios, cameras and toys.

The following section shows the quality testing department where an item from each batch is checked. There are shots of some men and women trying on items of clothing and photographers doing photo shoots with female models to put into the next catalogue. There is also footage of the catalogue being printed up and arriving in peoples' homes.

The voiceover says that we will take a look at how it all began.


There is a sequence of shots from an old catalogue showing the rocking chairs, pocket watches, bags and pocket knives that could be ordered.

Title-The Twenties.

There are shots of another catalogue with clothing and under garments fashionable at the time.

Title-The Thirties. Jubilee Styles.

Again there are pages from the catalogue offering clothes with colours that have been `approved by the Royal Family'.

Title-The Forties.

In this catalogue are the usual pictures of items available, as well as information about clothing coupons that can be used.


A woman flicks through a catalogue with photographs of items of the time.

In the packing department, many workers speedily remove the straps from the items, wrap them in sheets of brown paper and tie them with twine. The packages are sent along another conveyor belt where they are weighed, stamped and put into post bags ready for delivery.

Title-A Derek Stewart Production.

Associate Producer-Terry Trench.

Written and Directed by Gerard Bryant.

Photographed by Harold Case.

Sound Recordist - W.S.Bland.

Sound Editor-Tim Megarry.

Production Assistants-Michael Temple, Toby Freeman, Sara Bebbet.

Devised by Leslie Mallory.

Spoken by John Hewer.

With the help of the music of Kenny Powell.


Further information on Terry Trench