I-Spy books were the brainchild of retired headmaster Charles Warrell, who became the self-styled Big Chief I-Spy.
Through his books, children pretended to be Indian braves whose tasks were to spot different varieties of birds, trees, animals, aircraft, cars, buses, road signs and so on.
The little books sold to kids by the bucket load in their heydey. There was a whole range of them: I-Spy In The Garden, I-Spy In The Town, I-Spy Cars, I-Spy Pub Signs . . .
The idea was that when you spotted something related to the subject, you’d tick it off in your book. Then you’d . . . well, no – that was it really.
When you’d ticked off everything listed in the book you could send it off to the Big Chief I-Spy at the publishing company.
I-Spy would then send you back a certificate of achievement and a genuine Injun feather.
The Red Indian motif surrounded the I-Spy series. The company even had the address of their headquarters listed as The-Wigwam-by-the-Green, London – even though the ‘Wigwam’ (actually in Paddington) was, in fact, a smoke-stained office above a hardware shop.
The politically correct 1980s spelt heap big trouble and the native American references had to go.