Robbie is a 13-minute-long film made by British Transport Films in 1979 and revised in 1986. Although it is not strictly a Public Information Film, it is often considered to be so by fans of the genre. The film, which was shown in schools all over Great Britain, is based around a young boy suffering a disfiguring and/or fatal accident when he trespasses on a railway line, with three different versions being made to demonstrate the dangers of both electrified and non-electrified lines.

Robbie (film).png
Directed byRonald Dunkley
Produced byJames Ritchie
Written byRonald Dunkley
CinematographyRonald Craigen
Edited byRichard Best
Distributed byBritish Transport Films
Release date
CountryUnited Kingdom

When it was first released, all three versions were narrated and introduced by Peter Purves, later replaced by Keith Chegwin when the films were revised. Robbie was written and directed by Ronald Dunkley and produced by James Ritchie. It was a replacement for the controversial and extremely graphic The Finishing Line, and was itself later replaced by a more modern film called Killing Time.


All three variants of the film show Robbie, a young boy of about 8 years old with a keen interest in both trains and football, being persuaded by his elder brother to climb through a hole in the fence surrounding a nearby railway line and go onto the track. The three different editions continue as follows:

  • Version 1 (non-electrified railway lines): As he is walking along the railway line, Robbie gets the laces of his football boots caught in the track, and desperately tries to pull his feet free. We then hear and see a train approaching. The shoelace then pops and Robbie stumbles back in time, but trips on the other tracks, then we hear and see another train approaching.
  • Version 2 (overhead electric line): To encourage Robbie to cross the train tracks Robbie's brother snatches Robbie's football boots and throws them to the other side of the track. Unfortunately they get caught on the overhead electric line and when Robbie tries to retrieve them with a long metal pole he is electrocuted.
  • Version 3 (third rail electrified line): Robbie accidentally steps on the electrified third rail and is electrocuted.

In the next scene, Robbie's mother is informed that Robbie has been seriously injured, and has had to have both feet amputated. The cause of the injury is not mentioned, because it is different in all three variants. The film ends with a disfigured Robbie confined to a wheelchair. He is watching some other children play football, with a commentary by the narrator about how he will never be able to play again. The final shot is of his football boots hanging up on the back of his bedroom door at home.

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