A warning of an impending Nuclear attack on the United Kingdom, which would be given if one was detected by Radar at RAF Fylingdales in Yorkshire. During the Cold War, The British Government estimated that if an air attack was launched from the then Soviet Union, there would only be four minutes to respond (possibly even less).
What would happen was if an attack was confirmed, the warning would be given either by RAF High Wycombe (Near London) or Longley Lane (Near Preston). This would be forwarded to Fighter command, the police and the media.
The Police would get the message, "Attack Warning RED" over the same telephone lines as thosed used for the Speaking Clock, then activate the air attack sirens over local telephone lines. The rationale was that in using the speaking clock, it cut running costs and allowed a fault to be detected in time to give a warning.
The media would simultaneously interrupt programming to transmit a warning message teling the public to take cover, which was to be broadcast on all television and Radio stations. The actual message itself was recorded by the chief continuity announcer of BBC Radio 4, Peter Donaldson. It was accompianied by "Dalek" music and strong pulses of light. The existence of this warning message was officially confirmed by the British government on New Years Day 2006, even though it was an open secret in the BBC.
The Four Minute Warning was much derided by critics as completely pointless, as surviving a nuclear strike was neither possible or desireable.
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