BBC's 1923 silent newsreel piracy warning unearthed

Pirates beware! The chimp is watching
Pirates beware! The chimp is watching

Forget the latest government's attempts to wheedle out pirates with a three strikes and you're out policy, the BBC had more effective methods back in 1923 – and it involved a chimp and a radio transmitter.

Footage posted on to YouTube from the BFI archive features an original silent newsreel shown to cinema-goers (and time travellers) that begins with the card: 'Have You Got your License Yet? Broadcasting Company's Warning To Pirates."

What follows is some eerily quiet footage of a chimp in a bed, waking up from his slumber and tuning into a radio transmitter.

Monkeying around

As threats go, it is probably the cutest we have seen. But we're guessing that being called a chimp for not buying your radio license back in 1923 was pretty insidious.

To put the clip into context – the BBC only began broadcasting radio in 1922 and just a year later it was already trying to battle 'pirates' who were listening to the company's received pronunciation illegally.