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Minister Jim Hacker's TV showing Burandan Airlines

This is a "Burandan Airlines" flight shown on Minister Jim Hacker's TV on Yes, Minister (season 1, episode 2), from the fictional African country of Buranda. The joke is that many "tin pot little African countries" don't actually have an airline, so just repaint the plane over and over.

I'm just wondering how they made this plane back in the 1980s. It seems like it would be overkill to paint an actual plane just to show it for a second or two.

Question: How was the Burandan Airlines plane made?

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    "It would be overkill to paint an actual plane": probably, but not if you 'paint' only the image, which can be done in the 80's. Or add an image/CGI. Or just a huge sticker on real plane for a couple of shots. There are many ways to achieve this for very little money I guess.
    – OldPadawan
    Commented Mar 26, 2023 at 7:12
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    Could even just hand it to a model shop who just paint up a model kit, kits used to be pretty common back then. Commented Mar 26, 2023 at 7:16
  • Also, if its static, you just get an artist to paint it on a 2d prop or just a background. Visual effects and special effects for movies has been around as long as movies have. Commented Mar 26, 2023 at 7:17
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    I was just thinking of the plastic model kit trick, as it's often used by magicians to make "big" airplanes disappear. Unless we catch someone who worked for the show, and tells us, it's going to be hard to find out.
    – OldPadawan
    Commented Mar 26, 2023 at 7:27
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    Just watched that part of the ep. Plenty of aircraft available for a part paint job. The nose livery is a very common blue flash for the time period, and all you had to do was get a painter up there to paint the name on a blank white spot - notice your view of the aircraft is restricted and limited to not even the whole name. I say they pushed someone up there to paint it on, probably overnight or it was still wet when they pushed the camera around; and at the same time stuck a flag pole on it. Commented Mar 26, 2023 at 7:41

2 Answers 2

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Extended from a comment above:

TL;DR:

I say they pushed someone up there to paint it on a real aircraft, probably overnight or it was still wet when they pushed the camera around; and at the same time stuck a flag pole on it. Remember, you aren't painting the whole thing to aviation standards, just a small bit for the camera.

In fact, looking at it, it looks a bit warped. If not the curved tv screen or my eyeballs then the livery could conceivably have been a giant piece of painted fabric or paper tacked or glued on just for the shot. Even easier than painting onto the fuselage.

OP says:

It seems like it would be overkill to paint an actual plane just to show it for a second or two.

Not so.

Crew on productions like to do their jobs and do their best (jobs in the industry are often word of mouth - if you aren't seen to be doing your job then you won't get hired on the next one). Having worked on large and small productions, things that are not even seen on screen are still done even if it all seems a bit silly and superfluous (ie. costume parts that the camera will never see) are still tended to.

However, if its something that has a large effect on the budget available, then obviously common sense and special application apply (such as only building one side of a huge spaceship).

Note, the aircraft used in both shots (nose and livery) is a Hawker Siddeley HS 748 (or Andover in military service). Originally designed by Avro aircraft company, it was a medium-sized turboprop airliner that entered service in 1961.

By the date of 'Yes, Minister' production, 1980, it would be considered an old aircraft and perfectly acceptable to use and abuse.

Old aircraft are always available for filming (i've been on many jobs where they utilize old aircraft (one is on Netflix now!), some may still be in taxiing-condition (ie. they can power up and move but are not certified to fly, so just run up and down the taxi/apron) and modify what they need to , to get the job done.

What they need to do here is actually quite limited:

The nose livery is probably unchanged from whatever condition the 748 was in.

The flag and flag pole had to be added.

Only a small part of the upper livery is being affected. If the aircraft is a running/serviceable aircraft, it may well be a charter aircraft, ie. a company owns the aircraft, which is then leased out to an airline - until that happens the plane is a plain white livery with no names or other colors attached to it until the aircraft is confirmed to be delivered to that airline.

In this case the font and text applied is very simple, so it would not be inconceivable to get it done relatively quickly.

Since the HS 748 in this case seems to be running at least, all they had to do was do the above, get crew in (otherwise, why is there need for a pilot visible), and either run the aircraft with the camera crew filming, or keep the aircraft static and run the camera crew around outside (easier, faster).

I don't believe its two separate HS748s either, as quite often there would be some effort in matching the two aircraft footage (most Hollywood movies don't even bother matching planes - look at World War Z), so for simplicity they probably rented one old charter 748 and did a day or less on it.

How was the Burandan Airlines plane made?

Its a paint job on an existing aircraft.

enter image description here

A BBC production, so the people doing it would be an in house production crew.

Just watched that part of the episode, "The Official Visist".

Plenty of aircraft available for a part paint job.

The nose livery is a very common blue flash for the time period, and all you had to do was get a painter up there to paint the name on a blank white spot - notice your view of the aircraft is restricted and limited to not even the whole name.

Heres one that got political:

enter image description here

Typical paint scheme (nose/flash/upper white, lower grey, in this case obviously an Andover of RAFME, circa 1967):

enter image description here

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  • Yep, it could have been an airplane in a "graveyard" they painted and moved around, or it could have even been paint that was basically washed off, if it was still in service. There's definitely a lot of options to make the shot for relatively inexpensive back then. Commented Mar 27, 2023 at 17:03
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Doesn't even need to be a paint job.

Vinyl wrap (often seen applied to cars or buses) goes back to the 1950s.

It could also be cut out adhesive PVC lettering carefully applied. Even that would not be needed; a prop artist could make it on the fly with artful use of masking tape and scissors. (By "masking tape" I actually mean high quality tape made for the motion picture industry for assured residue-free removal, such as Permacel P-665. I can't use its American name because in other parts of the world that means "cheap duct tape", and I definitely don't mean that.)

Or, it could actually be decalcomania. Anyone who built styrene models in that age is familiar with water-transfer "decal"s. They have a paper backing and a corn starch water-soluble adhesive between the backing and decal. While modelers usually soak the decal and slide it off the paper and onto the model, using the corn starch as the final glue... but large-object decalcomania is actually done upside-down.

Traditionally the decal was built with the public-facing side facing the cornstarch glue and backing paper. A durable varnish was applied to the large machine followed by the decal (paper out). This was allowed to cure. Then, the paper backing was soaked with water until it released; the varnish wasn't affected by that. Thus the decal now faces outward. The remaining corn starch was removed with soap and water. This was then overcoated with a protective varnish.

For temporary decals of that size, they could do the same thing, but using a non-curing varnish that would dissolve easily in solvent (but not water).

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    If it's not just a prop, then a decal is actually easier than painting because it involves less time on a boom lift.
    – DavidW
    Commented Mar 28, 2023 at 3:00
  • yep, i remember the decals! :P I left 'paint' in my answer but yeah, anything temporary would have worked. Commented Mar 28, 2023 at 6:33

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