Camberwick Green

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Camberwick Green
Genre Stop motion animation
Written by Gordon Murray
Narrated by Brian Cant
Theme music composer Freddie Phillips
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 1
No. of episodes 13
Production
Producer(s) Gordon Murray
Running time 15 mins
Broadcast
Original channel BBC1
Original run 3 January 1966 –
28 March 1966
Chronology
Followed by Trumpton

Camberwick Green (1966) is a British children's television series, originally seen on BBC1, featuring stop-motion puppets.

Background[edit]

The series was written and produced by Gordon Murray and animated by Bob Bura, John Hardwick and Pasquale Ferrari. Music was by Freddie Phillips while narration and song vocals were provided by Brian Cant. There are 13 fifteen-minute colour episodes produced by Gordon Murray Pictures. The inspiration for the name is believed to have stemmed from the East Sussex village of Wivelsfield Green supported by the nearby villages of Plumpton (Trumpton) and Chailey (Chigley).

Each episode begins with a shot of a musical box which rotates while playing a tune. It is accompanied by the following narration:

Here is a box, a musical box, wound up and ready to play. But this box can hide a secret inside. Can you guess what is in it today?

The lid of the box then opens and the puppet character that is central to the episode emerges. After a brief introduction, the background appears and the story begins.

The series is set in the small, picturesque (and fictitious) village of Camberwick Green, Trumptonshire, which is inhabited by such characters as Police Constable McGarry (Number 452), Mickey Murphy the baker, Dr Mopp (who makes house calls in his vintage car), and the town gossip, Mrs Honeyman, who is always seen carrying her baby. Just outside the village lives Jonathan Bell, owner of a "modern mechanical farm", who has a friendly rivalry with Windy Miller, owner of a clanking old – but nevertheless efficiently functional - windmill and a firm believer in old-fashioned farming methods. Mr Dagenham, a travelling salesman who drives an open-topped convertible occasionally appears, as do the staff and cadets of Pippin Fort, a nearby military academy run by Captain Snort and Sergeant-Major Grout. The series mixes contemporary technology with Edwardian costume and social attitudes. Almost all the characters have their own theme songs and travelling songs. There is one other character who never appears in the stories; an unnamed clown or pierrot who turns a roller caption to display the show's closing credits.

Each week the villagers undergo such domestic crises as a shortage of flour, a swarm of bees, a water shortage and rumours of an unwanted electrical sub-station being built in the village. At the end of each episode, the narrator bids farewell to the puppet character who was seen at the beginning and the latter disappears back into the musical box.

Camberwick Green has no overt fantasy content apart from the musical box. For the most part, it is simply about ordinary people doing everyday things and perhaps for that reason it has remained popular to this day. Unfortunately, the original masters seemed to have been lost; most of the surviving episodes tended to suffer from scratched, wobbly or grainy picture quality and a muffled soundtrack. However, the series was restored and remastered for BluRay release in 2011. Camberwick Green is available on DVD along with Trumpton and Chigley, its two sequels in a similar vein.

Episodes[edit]

  1. "Peter the Postman" (3 January 1966)
  2. "Windy Miller" (10 January 1966)
  3. "Mr Crockett, the Garage Man" (17 January 1966)
  4. "Dr Mopp" (24 January 1966)
  5. "Farmer Jonathan Bell" (31 January 1966)
  6. "Captain Snort" (7 February 1966)
  7. "Paddy Murphy" (14 February 1966)
  8. "Roger Varley, the Sweep" (21 February 1966)
  9. "PC McGarry" (28 February 1966)
  10. "Mr Dagenham, the Salesman" (7 March 1966)
  11. "Mr Carraway, the Fishmonger" (14 March 1966)
  12. "Mickey Murphy, the Baker" (21 March 1966)
  13. "Mrs Honeyman and Her Baby" (28 March 1966)

Episode titles were given in Radio Times but were not shown on-screen.

Modern use[edit]

Camberwick Green was spoofed for a 1988 edition of Spitting Image, as "Gamberwick Greenbelt". The 90-second sketch had a puppet Nicholas Ridley, described as "Old Nicky Ridley, the village idiot", aboard a bulldozer who then proceeded to demolish the whole village for redevelopment.

The character Windy Miller and his famous windmill appeared in September 2005 along with some other Camberwick Green characters in commercials for Quaker Oats on UK television. The puppets and setting are all re-creations because Murray destroyed the originals in the 1970s. The original narrator, Brian Cant, auditioned to do the voiceover for the commercials, before the job was instead given to Charlie Higson.

Episode five of the second series of the BBC's Life on Mars features a recreation of the opening of Camberwick Green, with a puppet of the show's main character, Sam Tyler (John Simm), emerging from the musical box and despairing over his colleague, Gene Hunt (Philip Glenister), who can be seen in puppet form "kicking in a nonce" at the end. This later leads to Sam to threaten Hunt, telling him to "Stay out of Camberwick Green!". It emerges that Sam is tripping after being accidentally overdosed in his hospital bed. Again the voice-over was not supplied by Brian Cant, but is delivered in a similar style. It differs from the original by saying: "This is a box, a magical box, playing a magical tune. But inside this box there lies a surprise. Do you know who's in it today?"

The narration was provided by Brian Little, the co-founder of Hot Animation, the company that created the sequence. His recording was supposed to be a temporary guide track to help the animators time the shots, but the producers of Life on Mars were content to retain it for the final version. The one-minute sequence was designed and animated by Paul Couvela, the supervising animator of Bob the Builder.[1]

Windy Miller cameos in the closing sequence of the 2009 BBC Children in Need charity single Peter Kay's "Animated All Star Band" video.

The characters from Camberwick Green, Trumpton and Chigley all appear on a fleet of buses operated by Stagecoach Group in the Nottinghamshire town of Mansfield to promote a service running from Woodhouse to Huthwaite via Mansfield and King's Mill. The use of the characters combines the need for a strong brand that is popular on a busy transport corridor with the local Milling heritage. Windy Miller is a lead character on all the buses, with quotes such as "Windy always saves with a Megarider", with each bus having a unique slogan on the rear with the character it is appropriate to, such as "Pugh, Pugh, Barney McGrew, Tuthbert, Tibble, Grub all save money with Megarider". The buses are all of the Alexander Dennis Enviro 200 family and are cared for by Stagecoach in Mansfield.

VHS, DVD and Blu-ray Releases[edit]

In 1984, 18 years later after the broadcasts on BBC in 1966. Longman Video released the first four episodes as part of its Children's Treasury collection.

VHS video title Year of release Episodes
Camberwick Green (SLL 5024) 1984 Peter Hazel, Windy Miller, Mr Crockett, Doctor Mopp.

later in 1989 the BBC released a video with the last three episodes (including ep12 Mickey Murphy the Baker as the first episode, ep11 Mr Carraway the Fishmonger as the second episode and ep13 Mrs Honeyman and her Baby as last episode.

VHS video title Year of release Episodes
Camberwick Green 1: Mickey Murphy the Baker (BBCV 4231) 6 February 1989 Mickey Murphy the Baker, Mr Carraway the Fishmonger, Mrs Honeyman and her Baby .

then in 1996-1997 Telstar Home Entertainnment as part of its Star Kids range released three videos.

VHS video title Year of release Episodes
A Busy Day in Camberwick Green (TVE 3011) 1996 Peter the Postman, Windy Miller, Mr Crockett, Dr Mopp.
It's Fun to Work in Camberwick Green (TVE 3018) 1997 Mr Murphy, Mrs Honeyman, PC McGarry, Mr Carraway
Meet Your Friends in Camberwick Green (TVE 3022) 1997 Farmer Bell, Paddy Murphy, Captain Snort, Roger Varley

In 2011 Camberwick Green was digitally restored from the rediscovered original film masters[2] and released in December 2011 in one multi-pack comprising a Blu-ray disc and a DVD.[3][4]

Credits[edit]

Created by 
Gordon Murray
Music 
Freddie Phillips
Narration 
Brian Cant
Settings 
Margaret Brownfoot, Andrew Brownfoot
Animation 
Bob Bura, John Hardwick, Pasquale Ferrari
Puppets 
Gordon Murray
Produced by 
Gordon Murray

References and notes[edit]

  1. ^ Life on Mars: The Complete Series Two DVD – "Behind the Scenes of Episode 5"
  2. ^ "New, new Barney McGrew: Trumpton and Camberwick Green cleaned up", guardian.co.uk, 13 January 2012
  3. ^ "BBC Studio and Post Production | Creator of much-loved Camberwick Green, Trumpton and Chigley sees 1960s children’s TV trilogy preserved for future generations". Bbcstudiosandpostproduction.com. Retrieved 2013-06-08. 
  4. ^ http://www.bbcstudiosandpostproduction.com/img/trumptonshire/TrumptonshirePressRelease2011.pdf "December 2011: BBC Studios and Post Production digitally restores all 39 episodes of the first children’s animated colour television series"], BBC Studios and Post Production

See also[edit]

External links[edit]