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Variety Moments

A collection of adverts for local businesses set to popular ballads

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Credits. Captions advertise various businesses throughout the following routines. A band of gypsies sing to the backing of folk musicians on stage. Two women dance a jazz dance in a mock spotlight. Two men tapdance to a big band. Then a line of chorus girls tapdance to back a black female jazz singer; they are joined by a blacked up man. Adverts include: Gypsy singer and group: John J Gordon for Safe Transport and Reliable Delivery; William Dow Butcher, Contractor to HM Navy 5 - 7 Bank Street Alloa - Direct from our farm to your table - "Try our famous sausages, they're delicious. Famous for cured bacon, corned beef and pickled tongues". Two dancing girls perform a 1920s flapper routine: "Place your bets with confidence with Peter Whyte Turf Accountant and Commission Agent for Racing Football & Greyhounds; "Say it with flowers, but say it with ours" - Wreaths, crosses and wedding bouquests a specialty, James R Broome, 64 Drysdale Street, Alloa; Ormiston Bros. for EKCO Radio, Electrical Contractors Radio Engineers - 14 Drysdale Street, Alloa, High Street, Tillicoultry.
Two male tap dancers perform before a band - "Bring your car repairs to Mar Place Garage; "Never mind the rain, If you are wearing a raincoat from T.G. Fletcher, Tailor Outfitter - 16 High Street, Alloa; "Take care of the clothes, send them to The County Laundry - Work done under the most modern and hygienic conditions, 24 hour dry clearning service. Title: M.B Kirwan Ltd, Blackpool Dancing girls: Alloa Dairy Co, 24 Bank Street Alloa, "Our Tuberculin tested Ayrshires are the only free herd in Clackmannan County; Cleanliness is essential to health, The Tullibody Land Co Ltd. Ditch Farm Cambus. Blacked up female singer and female tap dancers: Brown, Baker and Confectioner, 27 High Street, Alloa - "Awarded gold and silver medals, One quality - the best. Catering a specialty; Your local paper, the Alloa Advertiser For Pithy Pars and Best Reports of Current Topical & Sporting Interest;
Blacked up male dancer: George Younger's Alloa Ales - as Scottish as the Highland Hills.

Questions & Activities


  • Why did some singers paint themselves black?
  • Do you think the people in this film lived in Alloa?
  • Why would this advert be considered successful at the time?
  • What type of advertising do you see at the cinema today?
  • Do you think blacking up would be considered offensive today?
  • How many kinds of stereotypes can you see?
  • What was the variety act and music hall.
  • These adverts are produced in Blackpool - what are the stereotypical cultures that they are representing?
  • What elements of advertising today remain and what has changed?
  • Is stereotyping always bad by definition or can it be useful or helpful?


Media Studies: Research the history of cinema advertising. Which feature films inspired this type of advertising?

Advertising / Business: Research one of the businesses advertised in the film. Find out if they still exist and what is located at the addresses mentioned today.

English / Drama: List all the different kinds of variety acts and research the variety hall tradition.

Race / Media Studies: Discuss the issue of racial stereotyping in the media and what constitutes an offensive stereotype.

English: See how many Scottish stereotypes you can find and put them in columns as to good stereotypes and bad stereotypes. Discuss your choices.

Clip Details

Record Id 007-000-002-087-C
Resource Rights Holder National Library of Scotland
Project Ref 0581
Date 1935 - 1940c
Genre Advertising
School Subject History, Drama, English, Social Studies, Media Studies, Gender Studies
Subject Matter Business, Race
Who Alloa Cinema (venue)
Where Alloa
Attributes Black and White, Sound
Clip Length 4:24
Film Length 6:45
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