Bertha (TV series)

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Bertha
Format Television series (children)
Developed by Eric Charles
Stephen Flewers
Starring Roy Kinnear (voice)
Sheila Walker (voice)
Narrated by Roy Kinnear
Theme music composer Bryan Daly
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of episodes 13
Production
Producer(s) Ivor Wood
Running time 15 minutes
Broadcast
Original channel BBC 1/BBC 2
Original run 1 April 1985 – 18 June 1986

Bertha is a British stop motion-animated children's television series about a factory machine of that name, comprising 13 episodes that aired from 1985 to 1986. Other major characters in the series were Mr Willmake (factory owner), Mr Sprott (Bertha's chief designer) and Tracy (Mr Sprott's young assistant). All the characters were designed by Ivor Wood, and the series was produced by his company, Woodland Animations. It was broadcast on BBC Television.[1]

A series of six storybooks based on Bertha was published by André Deutsch at the same time as the series was broadcast. They were adapted by Eric Charles and illustrated by Steve Augarde, who was also responsible for the artwork and music in the children's series Bump.[1]

Plot[edit]

The series is set in an industrial estate occupied by the "Spottiswood Factory", a small manufacturing plant producing a wide range of goods ranging from cuckoo clocks to windmill money boxes. Each episode focuses on a machine called Bertha that can produce any item requested of her. In each episode the factory experiences a crisis affecting its daily production schedule, which Bertha invariably solves with the help of her factory worker friends.

Production[edit]

Bertha was created by Woodland Animations, who also produced the shows Postman Pat, Charlie Chalk and Gran for the BBC. Episodes were written by Eric Charles and Stephen Flewers, and designed, produced and directed by Ivor Wood, co-founder of the Woodland company. Roy Kinnear and Sheila Walker voiced the characters, and Kinnear narrated. The main title music featured the singing of Guy Fletcher (songwriter). The songs "Tracy's Robot Song", "Mrs Tupp" and "Isn't it Nice?" from the Bertha 12-inch vinyl record feature the vocals of Stefanie de Sykes.

Main characters[edit]

  • Mr. WillmakeManager of the factory
  • Miss McClackerty – Mr. Willmake's secretary
  • Mr. Sprott – Chief designer
  • Tracy James – Mr Sprott's Assistant
  • Mr. Duncan – Works Foreman
  • Ted Turner – Chief machine operator (who shows a number of influences of the Octogenarian TV Presenter Bruce Forsyth).
  • Roy Willing – Assistant machine operator (unknown if he was named after the narrator Roy Kinnear)
  • Mrs. Tupp – The tea lady
  • Panjid SinghForklift truck operator, often has accidents that are no fault of his own!
  • Nell and Flo – Packer and Stacker
  • T.O.M. – Talk Operated Machine, a robot designed by Tracy and built by Bertha to perform odd jobs around the factory. According to the Song Tom the Robot from the Bertha 12" vinyl, he is said to be Bertha's Robot son
  • Bertha - The title character, an old machine at the factory who has been modernised over the 50 years she has worked at the factory. She helps the rest of the Spottiswood factory during each episode in some way or another

Goods manufactured by Bertha throughout the series[edit]

Original broadcast dates[edit]

Bertha premiered on BBC1 on 1 April 1985 at 3:55 pm. The next six episodes were shown over the following weeks, omitting the Easter and May Day holidays, and episodes 8–11 were first broadcast at the end of an autumn rerun. The BBC did not comply with an ordered schedule for the airing of the program, and the last two episodes premiered in 1986 during a third run.[1]

List of episodes and first broadcast dates[edit]

# Title Broadcast Date Product Produced Summary
1 The Great Painting Job 1 April 1985 Jigsaw Puzzles Tracy designs a robot called T.O.M. (Talk Operated Machine) to help at the factory.
2 The Windmills 15 April 1985 Musical Windmill Money Boxes Mr.Sprott's money boxes are working well, but how do you get the coin out?
3 Mouse in the Works 22 April 1985 Jack-In-The-Boxes Panjid and the rest of the factory try to stop a mouse from nibbling their boxes.
4 The Best Machine Competition 29 April 1985 Humming Tops When Mr Willmake wants Mr Sprott to design the best toy for a competition, Mr Duncan wants it to be made by a new machine, but everyone else wants it to be made by Bertha
5 Tom Gets Lost 13 May 1985 Building Blocks A magnet fries T.O.M.'s brain, so he scares the rest of the Spottiswood factory by disappearing.
6 The Flying Bear 20 May 1985 Inflatable Bears On a very hot day, Bertha is making plastic bears. Why do they keep growing?
7 The Tea Nurse 3 June 1985 Watering Cans Bertha is working slowly, and Mrs.Tupp comes to the rescue.
8 More Speed, Less Work 5 November 1985 Garden Gnomes While Mr. Willmake is at a meeting, Mr. Duncan closes down Bertha, who was making garden gnomes.
9 The Big Order 12 November 1985 Springs Bertha has to make 365 springs but Tom and Roy have trouble with the twinging[clarification needed] steel.
10 The Burglars 19 November 1985 Jumping Kangaroos Burglars break into the factory and steal money.
11 Bertha's Birthday Party 26 November 1985 Cuckoo Clocks On Bertha's 50th anniversary, Roy wonders why the hands on a clock are called hands.
12 The Big Sneeze 16 April 1986 Beach Balls Bertha gets cold and sneezes so strongly that she causes havoc in the factory.
13 Tom's New Friend 18 June 1986 Sponges Mrs. Tupp is cross about a new vending machine, but Tom soon fixes it.

Merchandise[edit]

Merchandise for the Program was and is very minuscule, the merchandise listed are the only items of merchandise that have been discovered.


UK VHS and DVD Releases[edit]

In 1987, after the episodes were shown on TV, the BBC released one video of the show.

VHS video title Year of release Episodes
Bertha- The Flying Bear (BBCV 4075) 1987 A Mouse in the Works, TOM Gets Lost, The Flying Bear, The Burglars

At some point during 1985, Bertha was featured on a Marks and Spencer (St. Michael) exclusive VHS release called 'Cartoon Favourites' along with The Family-Ness, Ivor the Engine, Bagpuss and Pigeon Street, the "Mouse in the Works" episode of Bertha is on this release.

In November 1989 one episode of Bertha was on the VHS release which was exclusive to W.H.Smith 'Postman Pat and Friends' alongside Postman Pat and Charlie Chalk

VHS video title Year of release Episodes
Postman Pat and Friends (WHS 4301) 1989 Postman Pat- Pat Goes Sledging, Charlie Chalk- Arnold's Night Out, Bertha- The Flying Bear

In 4th November 1991, one episode of Bertha was featured on the BBC VHS release 'Postman Pat and Company' alongside Postman Pat and Charlie Chalk

VHS video title Year of release Episodes
Postman Pat and Company (BBCV 4709) 1991 Postman Pat- Pat's Foggy Day, Charlie Chalk- Edward keeps fit, Postman Pat- Letters on Ice, Bertha- The Burglars

Hallmark and Carlton Home Entertainment released the first four episodes on a single video in 1994.

VHS video title Year of release Episodes
Bertha (3007340123) 1994 The Great Painting Job, The Windmills, Mouse in the Works, The Best Machine Competition

In 2004 Entertainment Rights released a DVD of the show containing 3 of the same episodes as the Hallmark/Carlton Release, albeit replacing the Best Machine Competiton with 'More Speed, Less Work (albeit mistitled the best machine competition)':

DVD title Year of release Episodes
Bertha and the Best Machine Competition 2004 The Great Painting Job, The Windmills, Mouse in the Works, More Speed, Less work

Australian DVD Releases[edit]

While there are no known Australian VHS' of the programme, there have been two DVD releases of the entire series released by Reel Entertainment, on the DVD cover, it claimed that the show was made by "The Makers of Postman Pat and Thomas and Friends." It is unknown if this is true


Photobooks[edit]

In 1985, to accompany the Programme, Some Photobooks were released with altered titles to fit the style of the books, these were very similar to the Postman Pat photobooks, where the front cover would be an original illustration and all pictures within the book were images from the TV Programme:

- Bertha and the Great Painting Job (The Great Painting Job)

- Bertha and the Windmills (The Windmills)

- Bertha and the Mouse in the Works (A Mouse in the works)

- Bertha and the Best Machine Competition (The Best Machine Competition)

- Bertha and the Lost TOM (T.O.M Get's Lost)

- Bertha and the Flying Bear (The Flying Bear)

Vinyl Record[edit]

In 1986, after Broadcast ended, the BBC's record label released a 12" vinyl record containing songs from the TV Series:

A1- Bertha

A2- Mrs. Tupp

A3- Packing and Stacking

A4- The Flying Bear*

A5- Mr. Duncan*

A6- Turning Wheels*

B1- T.O.M the Robot

B2- Isn't it Nice?*

B3- Mr. Willmake*

B4- Tracy's Robot Song

B5- Spottiswood March*

B6- Roy the Apprentice

Tracks marked with an * did not feature in the TV Series, however it is possible that the song 'Mr. Duncan' was to feature in the episode "More Speed, Less Work" but was not included due to it making the episode too long, the same case with 'Mr. Willmake' possibly featuring in the episode 'Bertha's Birthday'

Vocals on tracks A1, B1, B3, and B6 were performed by Guy Fletcher, while Vocals on Tracks A2, B2 and B3 were performed by Stefanie De Sykes, Vocals on Packing and Stacking were performed by Guy Fletcher and Eva Burden, Vocals on track A5 are performed by Bryan Daly, while tracks A4, A6 and B5 are all instrumental

Board Game[edit]

In 1987, Falcon released a board game using illustrations similar to those seen on the front covers of the photobooks. The Game itself does not differ much from the Monopoly series of board games, but with this, if a player lands on T.O.M, they are allowed to ask Bertha to make an item for them. one of these was recently sold on ebay for £15.00 (approx $30)


Advent Calendar[edit]

In 1985, an Advent calendar using the same profile image as the vinyl record was released, one of these was recently sold on ebay for the price of £49.99 (approx $98.00), not much is known about this item


Annuals[edit]

During 1985 to 1988, Bertha featured in a total of four annuals:

- Bertha annual 1985

- Bertha annual 1986

- Buttons (Based on Children's BBC) annual 1987 (along with Postman Pat, King Rollo, Towser, Henry's Cat and Jimbo and the Jet Set)

- Buttons annual 1988 (Along with Postman Pat, Charlie Chalk, Henry's Cat, Towser, King Rollo and Spot)

Credits[edit]

  • Written by: Eric Charles
  • Narration by: Roy Kinnear
  • Voices By: Roy Kinnear and Sheila Walker
  • Music and Lyrics by: Bryan Daly
  • Director Of Animation: Derek Mogford
  • Series Designed and Directed by: Ivor Wood
  • Film Editor: Martin Bohan
  • Song Vocals: Guy Fletcher,
  • Recorded at: Havoc House Studios
  • Sound by: Clive Pendry
  • Produced by: Woodland Animations Ltd
  • © Woodland Animations Ltd MCMLXXXV

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "TV TOONS: Bertha (1985)". Toonhound: cartoons, animation, comic strips and puppets in the UK. Woodland Animations. 2011. Retrieved 15 April 2012. 

External links[edit]