Bill the Minder
|Bill the Minder|
VHS cover 1987.
|Created by||Timothy Forder
Basted on the book by W. Heath Robinson
|Starring||Narrated by Peter Chelsom|
|Country of origin||UK|
|No. of episodes||15|
|Running time||5 minutes|
|Picture format||PAL UK|
|Original run||1985 – 1986|
Bill the Minder is a book and television series that tells of the adventures of a 15 year old boy and his cousins Boadicea and Chad. In the process of their adventures they meet many strange people and help solve their unique problems with the use of fantastic machines which Bill is very capable of crafting in a short time.
The original book was written and illustrated by W. Heath Robinson and published in 1912. The televised series contains a large number of the fantastic machines that Robinson is famed for.
After the brief title sequence with title music the narrator introduces the characters (the same way each episode except for the first), his introduction goes like this:
- Bill the minder looked after his cousins Boadicea and Chad.
- They wandered with him everywhere, even in his dreams.
At the end of the episode the same basic title page is displayed but with more credits and the same title music is played.
- Episode 1 - Old Crispin.
- Bill visits his uncle Crispin who is a mushroom picker of such skill he can hear the mushrooms popping up from the ground. However Old Crispin is growing unhappy and is taken ill. He is sent on a holiday but that doesn't help. His wife tries to feed him but he refuses, however one day she feeds him jelly which he devours with gusto and he eats so much he becomes too fat to pick mushrooms.
- Bill steps up with an idea, he builds a machine which Old Crispin can use to lose weight. Bill agrees to take on his two cousins Boadicea and Chad to keep them out of the way.
- Episode 2 - The King.
- Bill and his companions come across an unhappy king while walking over the downs. They ask him why it is there.
- The King tells them of his kingdom and that he was such a good king the kingdom prospered and his subjects held him so highly they wouldn't visit him. He grew lonely and sad.
- One day he had a visit from his prime minister who took him away to the chicken shed where the king and his ministers played cards and dominoes all through the night and roasted one of the chickens. In the morning the old cock would call and they would return to the palace.
- This went on for a while until they had eaten all the hens, so they cooked the old cock, unfortunately they forgot the time and were discovered by the subjects. The king fled in shame at being found in a chicken house.
- Bill makes the lazy king a chair and agrees to take him back to his kingdom.
- Episode 3 - The Navigator.
- Bill, Boadicea, Chad and the king discover a lonesome man. He introduces himself as Ron, the navigator aboard the 'Turnip of Göteborg'. He explains that he is in love with the beautiful Jane Osbaldistone de Trevor de Boulogne. However the woman finds him dull, so he uses his advantageous position as a seaman to find unusual things from all over the world. He has found a seed of the rare 'Australian nose plant' which produces the loveliest scent. However he cannot grow it as it requires very specific conditions.
- Bill builds a machine which gives the seed the perfect growing conditions and the flower grows perfectly. Ron the Navigator is very happy, until the postman comes and delivers a letter from Jane Osbaldistone de Trevor de Boulogne telling him she has married.
- Ron the Navigator agrees to join the children's adventures.
- Episode 4 - Aunt Galladia.
- Bill meets his aunt, she is calling to her beloved Norris a rare 'Green toed button crane of Baraboo' who is high up in a tree. Bill advises her to tie a 'Peruvian yak bean' to a hook on a stick, but this fails, so Bill devises a machine which will catch the bird. The machine makes a loud honking sound next to the bird which jumps in shock into the cage at the other side. Aunt Galladia is so pleased she gives the bird to Bill.
- Episode 5 - The Respectable Gentleman.
- The gang are walking along and spot an ice-cream seller, the king grows more and more annoying in his desire to have one. They meet a gentleman and Bill asks him if he will get them one for the king, he agrees and the king gets his ice-cream, but he sucks so powerfully a spot of chocolate sauce lands on the gentleman's overcoat, the gentleman faints.
- Boadicea and Chad both try to remove the stain but fail, so Bill makes a machine to clean the jacket. The Gentleman is very happy and as it's getting late agrees to take the king home. The gang say goodbye to all of their companions.
- Episode 6 - Chloe.
- Bill, Boadicea and Chad go home. Boadicea and Chad go to their mother's house. Their mother (who is called Chloe) is a remarkable woman who can do anything, however Boadicea and Chad are constantly taking her things and not returning them and generally getting under her feet. Bill helps out their mother by tying a piece of fishing line to all of her items so that whenever she may need them all she has to do is reel them back in. Bill agrees to take Boadicea and Chad out on an adventure to keep them out of the way.
- Episode 7 - The Doctor.
- Bill and his companions are walking through some thick grass when the come across the famous doctor Ebeneezer Sprout, he is miserable. Bill asks him what the matter is and Doctor Scrout tells his story.
- The Doctor tells him that he was so successful as a doctor that people came night and day with their ailments to get his fantastic remedies like his chicken flavoured painkillers or his vaccinations which leave the patient feeling better and happier than before. Before long the streets were deserted and the factories and shops were all abandoned because the people were going to see him. The doctor was so overworked that he left his practise and came to the downs, however now he is sad because he has no patients.
- Bill thinks and comes up with a fantastic 'Doctors friend' a seasick making machine which the doctor himself tries, the machine is so good the doctor has to use the sick bag after a few moments. The doctor agrees to come along and search for patients with the gang.
- Episode 8 - The Sicilian Cleaning Lady.
- On their continuing journey they come across a Sicilian cleaning lady who tells them a story which Bill translates. She is a professional household cleaner working for the 'Petigrew' family, but they are not very nice, they complain all the time and are very unreasonable. She tells that by far the worst thing for her is the child, Basil Herbert Petigrew, his singing annoys her to the point of insanity but none of her methods can shut him up, so Bill offers to help out.
- Bill makes a machine which wheels Basil out of the window and covers him in cold water. This works, however the Petigrews move away and leave the cleaning lady unemployed so she joins the gang on their adventure.
- Episode 9 - The Button Crane of Baraboo.
- Bill and his friends meet with the respectable gentleman who has a problem, Norris the 'green toed button crane of Baraboo' burps every time he is fed a 'Peruvian yak bean'. Doctor Sprout writes him a prescription which fails so the cleaning lady gives him some of her ancient family recipe but that fails also. Bill makes a machine which slaps the birds back and gives him water. The gang hold their breath to see if it has worked and it has, but now the bird lets out some flatulence whenever he is given a bean.
- Episode 10 - The Waiter.
- While walking through the downs the Sicilian cleaning lady stops and sits down, refusing to move, she tells the story of when she was back in Florence and met a waiter and fell in love. She thought she'd never see him again until she got a letter from him in the morning, she was so excited she jumped up and down and the letter was torn from her hand by a sudden gust of wind, she dropped the corner she was holding on to and chased after the letter. She managed to recover the letter but the lost corner contained the gentleman's address.
- Bill asks her to point out the exact spot she lost the corner and as she does so he notices that the corner is stuck in her stockings. To save embarrassment for all parties he devises a machine made of mirrors. The lady looks into it, sees the corner piece, and writes to the gentleman.
- The waiter comes and she says goodbye to the gang.
- Episode 11 - Bosworth.
- The gang return home, Bill goes down to fields to watch Uncle Crispin gathering his mushrooms, Crispin is just getting so lonely he creates an imaginary friend called 'Bosworth'. However, Bosworth causes trouble and Crispin keeps getting convinced that Bosworth is everywhere, eventually Bill designs a machine that makes loud noises and knowing that this will scare Bosworth. Bill chases Bosworth into the match stick model of a cathedral (which his wife hates), getting extremely annoyed, he soon destroys his cathedral and as of that Bill takes Boudicea and Chad out for another hike.
- Episode 12 - The Musician.
- Bill hears music and after a brief walk the gang find a musician playing a squeeze box. Bill asks him why he is sitting there all alone. The musician tells them that he has been dedicated to music all his life and it had always been his ambition to have one of his pieces played in a large concert hall. He toiled for years on his masterpiece and finally finished it, it was the most daring and beautiful piece ever and everyone told him so. It was so good he was invited to conduct a great orchestra, when he was ready to conduct, the emotion took him over and he sobbed, tears running down his face and onto his score sheets, ruining his work, he ran out of the concert hall in shame to a hail of boos and hisses.
- He tells the gang that he has composed an even better symphony but cannot find an orchestra who will play it, so Boadicea says if he plays his squeeze box they will play whatever instruments they can make, he agrees and Bill makes a machine to play for them, however the machine sounds horrible, so they ask the musician if he wishes to come with them and they can find an orchestra together.
- Episode 13 - The Real Soldier.
- Bill, Boadicea, Chad and the musician walk over the downs. The children dancing and skipping to the musicians playing. They meet a real soldier who is looking for something, they ask what he is looking for and he tells them he is looking for one of his medals. Boadicea is impressed and asks how he got his medal.
- The soldier was a member of the Gallant 53rd assigned to an island to defend it from the ghastly Reginald Benbrisket. The president of the island makes a speech while the soldiers are having dinner. Reginald Benbrisket demands the instant surrender of the island which he claims was left to him by his aunt Martha Grub, the president looks over the aunt's will and agrees she left the island to him but it was not hers to give.
- The soldier gets ready for the battle and takes a walk along the beach, he comes across a changing hut and decides to sleep under it, the soldier hears someone leave the hut, it is Reginald Benbrisket, he goes for a swim, so the soldier nails up the back door, when Reginald Benbrisket returns, the soldier nails up the seaward door and pushes the hut into the sea.
- The soldier then tells how his medal is for saving Reginald Benbrisket from a watery grave, because it turns out that it was his island and is made the new president.
- Bill makes a machine which rakes the grass toward a magnet and it succeeds in finding the medal. The soldier joins the adventure.
- Episode 14 - Basil Herbert.
- While the adventurers are walking over the downs Bill gets the feeling he is being followed, he goes to investigate and the ghastly Basil Herbert jumps out on him. He announces that he will join their orchestra as he can play several instruments, this gets Chad angry and he shouts no.
- Further on down the way the ghastly Basil Herbert appears again and proceeds to play his clarinet, but Boadicea tells him to go away and Basil has a temper tantrum. Even later Basil appears again, this time he plays a violin. Bill goes into the forest and makes a strange musical instrument, Basil plays it causing the yellow bird that is tied to the bowling ball to fly away, the ball drops, hits a plank and fires Basil into the air and away from the gang forever.
- Episode 15 - The Pilot.
- The children, Bill and their companions meet a crashed pilot who tells them that he and his wife are looking for a house and that he had found the right place but when he made a dive to get closer to the house, his controls stuck and he crashed, destroying his plane and the house. He calls his wife over and she gets upset that they'll never find their ideal home.
- Bill ties a balloon and pedals to the remains of the plane so that the pilot can continue his search and he flies off happily.
- Old Crispin
- The King
- Ron, the Navigator
- Jane Osbaldistone de Trevor de Boulogne
- The postman
- The respectable gentleman
- Doctor Ebeneezer Sprout
- The Sicilian cleaning lady
- Mr and Mrs Petigrew
- Basil Herbert Petigrew
- The waiter
- The musician
- The real soldier
- Reginald Benbrisket
- Alek the pilot
- The theme music is the "Triumphal March" from Verdi's opera Aida 
- Bill the Minder was awarded with the London Film Festival, Outstanding Film of the Year.
Cast & Crew
- Animation: Mike Davies
- Backgrounds: Denny Sutton
- Artwork: Hierographics
- Painting & tracing: Martin Dray
- Rostrum camera: Julian Hollaway & Bob Skeggs