El Nombre

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El Nombre
Genre Educational animation
Created by Christopher Lillicrap
Developed by Geoff Walker
Starring Steve Steen
Sophie Aldred
Kate Robbins
Janet Ellis
Country of origin United Kingdom
No. of series 2
No. of episodes 26
Production
Executive producer(s) Theresa Plummer-Andrews
Running time 5 minutes
Broadcast
Original channel BBC One
Original run 25 September 2000 – 15 December 2003

El Nombre was an anthropomorphic Mexican gerbil, originally from a series of educational sketches on Numbertime, the BBC schools programme about mathematics; he was also the only individual to appear in all sixty-eight episodes, as its original host, Lolita Chakrabarti, was relieved of her position after the end of the fourth series in 1996. His voice was provided by Steve Steen (who previously played Romantic poet Lord Byron in Ink and Incapability, the second episode of Blackadder the Third), while the other characters' voices were provided by Sophie Aldred (who had played Ace on Doctor Who), Spitting Image impressionist Kate Robbins, and former Blue Peter host Janet Ellis - and his name actually means "The Name" in Spanish, not "The Number", which would be "El Número".

Setting[edit]

El Nombre was set in the fictional town of Santo Flamingo ("deep in the heart of Mexico"),[1] home of Little Juan, Pedro Gonzales, Juanita Conchita, Maria Consuela Tequila Chiquita, Little Pepita Consuela Tequila Chiquita, Tanto the tarantula, Señor Gelato the ice-cream seller, Leonardo de Sombrero the pizza delivery boy, Señor Calculo the bank manager, and the local bandit Don Fandango; whenever he was needed, El Nombre swung into action to solve the townspeople's simple mathematical problems, usually talking in rhyme. His character is a parody of the fictional hero Zorro, wearing a similar black cowl mask and huge sombrero, appearing unexpectedly to save the townsfolk from injustice, and generally swinging around on his bullwhip - however, unlike Zorro, he is often quite inept (in fact, on one occasion, Tanto tipped a bucket of water onto him after he made him reenact the Incy Wincy Spider rhyme).

When El Nombre first appeared on Numbertime in 1993, his purpose was merely to write numbers in the sand and demonstrate the correct ways to form them; this was shot from an angle directly overhead leaving El Nombre almost completely eclipsed by his large sombrero. His appeal was instant and his success prompted rapid development of his role in the series (as from the second series in 1995, he was given two sketches per episode) - and since his basic beginning, El Nombre went on to appear in a total of 126 (136, if counting those from the "revised" version of the first series) sketches on Numbertime before gaining a series of his own, acquiring dramatic storylines and a full cast of characters, while continuing to demonstrate mathematical concepts, albeit in a dramatic and entertaining way. The stories moved away from solving simple mathematical equations to fighting petty crime, unrelated to the number-solving which made his name and for which he was created.

As well as being popular with school children, El Nombre has developed a cult following amongst students and parents, because of the many references to classic spaghetti Westerns; indeed, his popularity grew so much that in March 2004, the BBC released a 3-minute El Nombre theme song as a single.

Episode list[edit]

Although none of the El Nombre sketches on Numbertime ever had a specific title, those of the first series were introduced by an announcer as "Episodes 1-10" (and they were slightly lengthened for the "revised" edition of that series, in 1998; the third line of the opening song and his farewell catchphrase were also changed several times, to reflect the series' focus). All twenty-six episodes of the spin-off El Nombre series (thirteen in 2000 and a further thirteen in 2003), however, were titled - and their names are listed here.

Series 1 (2000)[edit]

  • Episode 1: Where's That Spider? (air date 25 September 2000)
  • Episode 2: Free as a Bird (2 October 2000)
  • Episode 3: Sports Day (9 October 2000)
  • Episode 4: All the Fun of the Fair (16 October 2000)
  • Episode 5: The Great Train Robbery (23 October 2000)
  • Episode 6: The Phantom Tanto (30 October 2000)
  • Episode 7: The Missing Birthday Cake (6 November 2000)
  • Episode 8: The Giant Cactus (13 November 2000)
  • Episode 9: The Great Custard Pie Fight (20 November 2000)
  • Episode 10: When the Balloon Goes Up (27 November 2000)
  • Episode 11: The Great Escape (4 December 2000)
  • Episode 12: The Ghost of Santo Flamingo (11 December 2000)
  • Episode 13: Match of the Day (18 December 2000)

Series 2 (2003)[edit]

  • Episode 14: Going for a Song (22 September 2003)
  • Episode 15: Runaway Train (29 September 2003)
  • Episode 16: The Tent (6 October 2003)
  • Episode 17: Stuck at the Top (13 October 2003)
  • Episode 18: The Great Bank Robbery (20 October 2003)
  • Episode 19: The Great Sand Race (27 October 2003)
  • Episode 20: The Lemon Tree (3 November 2003)
  • Episode 21: Beside the Sea (10 November 2003)
  • Episode 22: The Last Dance (17 November 2003)
  • Episode 23: Saved by the Whale (24 November 2003)
  • Episode 24: Up, Up and Away (1 December 2003)
  • Episode 25: A Very Important Visit (8 December 2003)
  • Episode 26: Winter Wonderland (15 December 2003)

Credits[edit]

  • Writer: Christopher Lillicrap
  • Original designs: Ealing Animation
  • Models: Fin Leadbitter, Humphrey Leadbitter, Katy Maxwell
  • Props: Graeme Owen, Fin Leadbitter, Sophie Brown, Katy Maxwell
  • Sets: Graeme Owen, Colin Armitage, Sophie Brown, Humphrey Leadbitter
  • Animation: Humphrey Leadbitter, Tim Allen, Chris Mendham, Dan Sharp
  • Editing and special effects: David Brylewski
  • Facilities: Oasis Television
  • Theme tune composer: Christopher Lillicrap
  • Music and effects: Steve Marshall
  • Sound: Adrian Sear
  • Producer: Jilly Joseph, Richard Randolph
  • Executive producer: Theresa Plummer-Andrews
  • Director: Chris Mendham, Geoff Walker

References[edit]

External links[edit]