One Potato, Two Potato (1957) – extract | BFI National Archive

One Potato, Two Potato (1957) – extract | BFI National Archive

One Potato, Two Potato (1957) – extract. Subscribe:

This film is available to buy as part of the BFI’s ‘Free Cinema’ DVD –

Filmed over a 12-month period, this study of children’s games played in London streets and playgrounds stands out for its freshness and spontaneity; it remains an important companion piece to Peter and Iona Opie’s classic studies of children’s games and rhymes.

Director Leslie Daiken demonstrates considerable skill and understanding in the way he captures the children, whose games range from the repetitive tongue-twisters chanted by the girls to a small boy trailing a stick along iron railings.

Made over a decade after the end of the war, the film also stands as a record of the bomb sites that pockmarked London and provided many urban children with a place to play. (Robin Baker)

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  1. Sue Amero on May 18, 2020 at 4:21 pm

    I remember singing The Big Ship Sails at school ❤️

  2. Wolf Lupus on May 18, 2020 at 4:22 pm

    all on the phones, now,.!

  3. paul broderick on May 18, 2020 at 4:22 pm

    All cooped up inside now on computers, overweight and taking medication for diabetes.

  4. alukuhito on May 18, 2020 at 4:22 pm

    @Jezake – The youth of today are more like those of a few generations ago. They travel and explore new worlds. The previous few generations have been very immobile and interested in their own kind, not others. Young people today are getting married to people outside of their nationalities, race, culture, etc. Young people are interested in focussing and expanding their perception of themselves and the world around them, a much wider and abundant world than that of the older generations.

  5. Jimmie Lee Patterson on May 18, 2020 at 4:23 pm

    There was this riddle my mother told me when I was a child that had some of this school yard rhythm rhyme. I think it’s based on a song about Nebuchadnezzar.
    Christmas isthmus, king of the Jews. Spell it with 2 letters, and I’ll buy you a brand new pair of shoes.

  6. Emma Eha on May 18, 2020 at 4:24 pm

    I wish I could go back then

  7. Julian9ehp on May 18, 2020 at 4:26 pm

    @alukuhito The conformity in video games is more hidden. How many of them are based on X movie (or movie on X game)? This isn’t the fault of the medium, but of our merchandizing society. When a game is based on a franchise, there is little opportunity to subvert them. A little boy, long ago, was among the first to be bought a G.I Joe: he fed it, and changed its diapers, and put it to sleep at night.

  8. merston77 on May 18, 2020 at 4:27 pm


    You’re a looney

  9. Peter Whitehall on May 18, 2020 at 4:29 pm

    Good to see kids enjoying themselves. Keeping fit and making their own fun and entertainment. The youngsters of today should view this and learn a lesson.

  10. lollyclan on May 18, 2020 at 4:31 pm

    Really enjoyed this! thanks for posting – happy memories. No wonder children were lean then – always active and playing physical games. It was a much better world than today

  11. Gam A on May 18, 2020 at 4:32 pm

    The days of innocence and happiness.

  12. Jay buff on May 18, 2020 at 4:34 pm

    This movie was shot in painseville OhioJust sayin

  13. B. on May 18, 2020 at 4:35 pm

    Adorable. (and oddly relaxing!)

  14. Strawberry7Lynn on May 18, 2020 at 4:35 pm

    Childhood has changed enormously!

  15. photom2 on May 18, 2020 at 4:36 pm

    I was born 1949. In the house was nothing apart from early radio and few had tellies. So, life was on the street. Kids were on the street for
    entertainment. We made our own, with street games.
    Runouts; tim-tam-tommy ect. Wooden carts made from old pram wheels. The parents were on the streets watching the kids play and chatting to neighbours. Now kids don’t talk unless it’s through a gadget. People are prisoners in houses shackled by technology. I watched this vid and cried tears. I remember it.

  16. goinghomesomeday1 on May 18, 2020 at 4:36 pm

    Hello – You write ""That’s not true you should be happy that more and more Jewish people are standing up for Palestinians""!

    With all due respects, I don’t accept that, well maybe a minority of jews. On the whole, the blockades of Palestine are vigorously enforced even to the extent of killing people on vessels in international waters.
    Since biblical times the jews were hated, today, they are the most vile and despicable race you can find.

  17. Brenda O'Connell on May 18, 2020 at 4:37 pm

    oh forgot all these songs.

  18. Deborah Barnes on May 18, 2020 at 4:38 pm

    I was born in the 60s and we played all these games,wonderful memories.

  19. goinghomesomeday1 on May 18, 2020 at 4:41 pm

    Ho phototom2 – It was the same for me. I grew up in the 50’s in Ireland and we had bugger-all. There was no TV here then, just the wireless. We had no kitchen as we know them today, no bathroom except an iron bath in-front of the fire. The house was so cold that in wintertime I remember the curtains frozen to the inside of the windows. Our sheets and pillow cases were made from old flour sacks and we used top-coats (overcoats) as blankets. Kids today don’t know poverty nor hardship like 1950’s

  20. goinghomesomeday1 on May 18, 2020 at 4:42 pm

    @ineabriate The jew will always bring "their suffering" to the fore. You will NEVER hear a jew mention the suffering of the Palestinians.

    As for myself, I wouldn’t spend a penny in a jewish shop or business.

  21. alukuhito on May 18, 2020 at 4:43 pm

    At least we don’t have to play in groups like that though. Seems a little too much about conformity and society. What if you’re the bright kid and always have to play with stupid kids? It’s not very fair. At least now you can play video games by yourself and excel as much as you want, whether it be competing against yourself, or playing with others online if you so desire.

  22. Dermot O'Logical on May 18, 2020 at 4:44 pm

    Thank you recording these happier times. No money, eating greens and no effing swearing at home.

  23. alukuhito on May 18, 2020 at 4:46 pm

    potato extract?

  24. Brooklyn Joe on May 18, 2020 at 4:48 pm

    Six going on seven!

  25. Hope Wins on May 18, 2020 at 4:48 pm

    These are the days when kids knew how to cooperate. I teach elementary school and when I try to play cooperative games like this they have all types of problems from following a rythym, staying focused on rules or they just get bored and want free play. It is a totally different mind set now.

  26. Throw Away on May 18, 2020 at 4:49 pm

    That’s not true you should be happy that more and more Jewish people are standing up for Palestinians. They’ve been treated horribly by basically every group in the Middle East like in 1979 "Black September" by Jordan. However this whole "Jewish" blight vibe is so ridiculous. But eh hate who you want to hate but what a waste of energy., 🙂

  27. paul broderick on May 18, 2020 at 4:49 pm

    I went to school in England during this time and the playground games truly encouraged working together. Now? Probably
    will develop a hunched back from lo0king down at their smart phones! No PC BS back then, either. Bombed building sites
    were used for soccer and cricket. Remember it all.

  28. hawkmoon03111951 on May 18, 2020 at 4:50 pm

    This is the London I remember as a child. Always out playing. I have this DVD set of films from the 50’s. They are fascinating to watch. Life was so totally different then. Materially we are so much better off now but I think we were much happier then.

  29. phoebecatgirl on May 18, 2020 at 4:51 pm

    That’s when we did those rhymes – and we were all out there playing, not like now when you NEVER see kids outside. The boys usually didn’t play these games, but everyone played red-light/green-light, and hide & seek until bed-time.. Kick-ball was also fun for everyone. The alley was our playground!
    Each year one kid (& his family) did what we called "Johnny’s Fair", and their garage was set up as a sort of spook-house, and blindfolded we’d touch EYEBALLS and GUTS (oiled olives and cold spaghetti noodles) and other stuff – and have rides: Johnny and others would pull us in wagons (Radio Flyers) up and down the alley at as fast as they could run. Fare was about 1 cent, and everyone had a few cents left over from the 10-cent Cokes we’d buy from vending machines on the sidewalk at drug stores – Coke in glass bottles, and just plain sugar, not high-fructose corn syrup!

  30. CA Catr on May 18, 2020 at 4:58 pm

    1968 US Southwest:  We played outside unless it was raining.  As in this video, children’s play was organic, natural, from imagination, not indoctrinated by the culture or the media.  Hopscotch, jacks, jumping rope, Chinese jump-rope, Tag and Freeze-Tag, Hide and Seek, climbing trees, playing on jungle-gyms, swings and going down slides, song games like the ones above, yarn games with our hands, playground games like Duck-duck Goose, Kickball, Red Rover, Capture the Flag, Tetherball, and inside, Musical Chairs, Pin the Tail on the Donkey, table games like Checkers, Pretend, Playing House, and on paper when we had to be quiet, Tic Tac Toe, Hangman and other spelling games.  Does anyone remember Paper Dolls??  We thought we were doing well to have a set of 18 crayons, and a can of Play-Dough.  Remember the smell of Play-Dough?  Frequently, we didn’t have coloring books, just crayons or a pencil, and we were expected to entertain ourselves, which we did.  We learned to crochet and knit/pearl, and arts and crafts were a part of our lives.  Maybe we had Gumby and Pokey, or maybe just Gumby.  Maybe a slinky, or a pogo stick.  Maybe a Paddleball.  But we had responsibilities, to behave ourselves, to be respectful, to do our chores and our homework, and never to sass (talk back.)  Innocence could be had.

  31. Colin Hazell on May 18, 2020 at 4:58 pm


  32. Down to the Core Productions on May 18, 2020 at 5:00 pm

    Better times than today…..

  33. jax prince on May 18, 2020 at 5:00 pm

    brought back so many good memories,( I was about 7 then)

  34. Mrfairchap on May 18, 2020 at 5:02 pm

    The girls playing on the wrecked site was particularly poignant. I was born in 1949 and even in the mid to late 50’s there were still many WWII bomb sites where we used to play. Oh, and to the idiots discussing the Jews and Palestinians on here: chill out, or go the fuck elsewhere.

  35. watlingfen on May 18, 2020 at 5:02 pm

    Those innocent happy days (I was 10) surrounded by parents, aunties, uncles all gone now , friends gone their separate ways , grown with families , playing and school play grounds now housing estates, streets where few cars now crowded , if only we could travel back and once more be those happy children ……….

  36. paintballer9110 on May 18, 2020 at 5:03 pm

    What…. The Fuck…. Was that?! I was just mind-raped by the most annoying thing I have ever seen.

  37. olives peppers on May 18, 2020 at 5:03 pm

    very cute

  38. Steve F on May 18, 2020 at 5:04 pm

    Three potato four.

  39. David Brown on May 18, 2020 at 5:05 pm

    People were hog wild about potatoes in them days now we don’t fancy them as much.

  40. tarquin45 on May 18, 2020 at 5:06 pm

    I enjoyed the clip, but the blurb ‘This film is available to buy as part of the BFI’s ‘Free Cinema’ DVD – above is a bit contradictory isn’t it?

  41. photom2 on May 18, 2020 at 5:07 pm

    I was same age as these girls in 1957 but the boys played alleygobs(Not sure of spelling) Little square chalky cubes about 20mm in size. You had 5 of them. Placed them in your hand. Through them up in the air and tried to catch them on the back of your hand. The more you caught the better. Then there were different styles. Another game we called ‘Buzz’. Played with tennis ball. Whoever had the ball had to hit you below the knees. We could defend ourselves with handkerchief wrapped around our hands and block the ball hitting our legs. If you were hit, you then had the tennis ball. And of course football.

  42. Carca Peru on May 18, 2020 at 5:08 pm

    Simply enchanting.

  43. build Motosykletist on May 18, 2020 at 5:09 pm

    That was atrociously irresponsible parenting, those children could have been seriously hurt, a rope is a very dangerous thing to be playing with they may have strangled themselves or even worse tripped over in that rubbish strewn playground. Not to mention the horrible and offensive words used in those terrible rhymes. Thankfully it would not be permitted in this enlightened age.

  44. Claraagnes Voon on May 18, 2020 at 5:09 pm

    Now 2020 kids these days just good playing the Internet.

  45. Andy Haslam on May 18, 2020 at 5:09 pm

    Oh no.
    This is a disaster.
    Children playing near a building that was being propped up.
    It could have collapsed at any time.
    A proper health and safety check SHOULD have been done and the
    whole area around this building sealed off.
    I just hope none of the girls were injured

  46. colin Paterson on May 18, 2020 at 5:11 pm

    The girls at our primary school played a game where they sang OOps Mr Mario. The teachers didn’t like it because at one line the girls show their knickers. Of course this made the more daring girls do it when the teachers were patrolling. All the girls were prepubescent and back then children were supposed to act as children and not be wanton.

  47. jane oughton on May 18, 2020 at 5:13 pm

    it was lovely to see our chilhood , songs and skipping poems , i wip and top was another favotite ,these games passed on hours of fun and cost nothing …….. i would like to say hello to my twin sister sallie who lives in north carolina , love and miss you xxx

  48. This is England on May 18, 2020 at 5:17 pm

    I was born in North London in 1960 and I remember playing amongst derelict buildings in the early to mid 60s because they weren’t boarded off like they are now days. Health and safety would have a heart attack now days if they could see the derelict buildings we used to play amongst.

  49. asturiana on May 18, 2020 at 5:19 pm

    why is it that Im watching childrens games and yet there are idiots banging on about Jews, Germans and the war – again – just watch the film for what it is why dont you

  50. del trotts on May 18, 2020 at 5:21 pm

    Kids………games …thats it…

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