||This article needs additional citations for verification. (October 2009)|
|Created by||Dave Gingell
|Written by||Nia Ceidiog
|Voices of||John Sparkes
Sarah Hadland (2005)
Tegwen Tucker (2008-present)
|Narrated by||John Alderton (1987-1994)
Gareth Lewis (Welsh)
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of seasons||9|
|No. of episodes||167 (List of episodes)|
|Running time||10 minutes (series)
20 minutes (Christmas special edition)
|Production company(s)||Bumper Films, S4C, (1985-1994) Hit Entertainment (1996-present)|
|Original channel||S4C (in Welsh)
Channel 5 (2008-2009, 2012-present)
Cartoonito (2008-present) (United Kingdom)
|Original run||17 November 1987 – 17 May 2013|
Fireman Sam (Welsh: Sam Tân) is a British animated children's television series about a fireman called Sam, his fellow firefighters, and other townspeople in the fictional Welsh town of Pontypandy (a portmanteau of two real towns, Pontypridd and Tonypandy, which are situated approximately 5 miles (8.0 km) apart in the South Wales valleys). The original idea for the show came from two ex-firemen from Kent. They took their idea to artist/writer Rob Lee who developed the concept for them. The finished concept was then presented to S4C who saw the potential in the series and commissioned it.
Fireman Sam first appeared in Welsh on S4C in 1985 and later in English on BBC1 in 1987. The original series finished in 1994, but a new series which expanded the character cast commenced in 2008. The series was also shown in Gaelic in Scotland, where it was known as Sam Smalaidh. The series has been sold to over 40 countries, from Australia to Norway and is used across the United Kingdom to promote fire safety.
In 1996, a stage production was turned into a feature, Fireman Sam In Action and released on BBC Video.
Fireman Sam has recently been adapted into a Live musical theatre show, which began touring the UK in June 2011.
The show was broadcast in English and Welsh at the same time, but on two different channels – in English on the BBC, in Welsh on S4C. The show's Welsh title is "Sam Tân", which literally means just "Fire Sam". The theme tune (excluding the lyrics) and characters are the same.
The show's production companies were Bumper Films and Siriol Productions (2002–present), and its distributors were British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and Sianel 4 Cymru (S4C).
In 2009, Fireman Sam teamed up with over 100 animated characters, such as Big Chris (from Roary the Racing Car), Bagpuss, Postman Pat, Peppa Pig, Angelina Ballerina: The Next Steps, Ben 10, Thomas the Tank Engine and SpongeBob SquarePants for a Children In Need single. The single was put together by Peter Kay.
In 1988, the series was nominated for a BAFTA TV Award for Best Short Animated Film. The potential recipients were Ian Frampton and John Walker.
The original idea for Fireman Sam came about from two ex-firemen from Kent – Dave Gingell and Dave Jones. They approached Mike Young, creator of Superted in Barry, Wales and asked them to further develop their concept. The idea was then brought to S4C's Director of Animation, Chris Grace, who saw potential in the idea and commissioned the series. Grace had previously commissioned Superted, which had achieved success across the United Kingdom and worldwide. The characters and storylines were created by Rob Lee, an illustrator from Cardiff, and the program was produced using stop-motion. It could take up to 4 days to produce 1 minute of this form of puppet animation. Fireman Sam has to this day been translated into over 25 different languages including Mandarin.
English-language version of series one to four
Sam is the protagonist in the show, and interacts with both colleagues at the fire station and local townspeople. He is seen as somewhat of a hero in the village. Being so small, and with so little activity, it sees its fair share of fires, in which Sam and his team can easily handle.
In the original television series produced by Bumper Films between 1985 and 1994, the firefighters had yellow and black uniforms, whereas in the new CGI television series produced by HIT Entertainment and Hibbert Ralph, the firefighters had yellow and blue uniforms.[clarification needed]
- Fireman Samuel "Sam" Peyton-Jones is referred to as the "hero next door", Charlie's older brother and Bronwyn's brother-in-law. He is the archetypal fireman, who remains composed in an emergency and unfailingly offers assistance to all those in need. Sam is single, but maintains a close relationship with his nephew, James, and niece, Sarah. He lives at 3 Vale Road next to Trevor Evans. Sam spends his spare time in his "inventing shed", in which he makes devices ranging from a potato picker made from old bicycle parts to a machine capable of replacing the town band. On occasion his inventive streak can undermine his emphasis on fire safety. His catchphrase is "Great fires of London!"
- Fireman Elvis Cridlington provides a stark contrast to Sam in both competency and demeanour. His catchphrase is "Great balls of fire!" (2008–present season). Elvis holds aspirations of being a rock star, and his mind is often up in the clouds, dreaming of such an idea, something of which usually gets him into trouble from Steele. He is also notorious for being a bad cook. He is named for the Elvis Presley hairstyle he wears. Station Officer Steele calls him by his last name.
- Station Officer Basil (or Norris) Steele is the chief of Pontypandy Fire Station. As a former army officer, he insists upon a high standard of both hygiene and efficiency in the station. His catchphrase in the old series was "Now who needs the fire service?" but in the new series it is "Action stations men!", which fell out of use in the CGI series. Basil may be married to Doris, a character who does not appear but whom Basil mentions in "Telly Trouble" and "Barn Fire" (Series 1). His first name, however, is changed to "Norris" starting with the feature length "Great Fire of Pontypandy".
- Firefighter Penny Morris is the only female member of the Pontypandy fire brigade. In the original series, she only visited occasionally (hailing from Newtown fire station), although in the new series, she seems to work at Pontypandy full time. Penny doubles as a mechanic. Her ideas are often unconventional and at odds with her male colleagues, but she usually turns out to have been right. Penny is often known to go on adventures with the town's children – James and Sarah, Norman Price and Mandy Flood. A relationship between her and Sam has been hinted at more than once. It is also hinted that Penny is a vegetarian.
- Auxiliary Fireman Trevor Evans is a West Indian auxiliary fireman with the brigade. His other job is as the town's bus driver. He is known for his fondness for cricket, his fear of heights, his awkward manner and general bad luck streak, but nonetheless exhibits a great devotion to the welfare of others (especially Dilys). In the 2005 and 2008 seasons, Trevor is no longer an auxiliary firefighter but is still the bus driver, and the spark between him and Dilys still holds strong.
- Chief Fire Officer Boyce Hails from Newtown, visiting Pontypandy occasionally. Old friends with Station Officer Steele and offered Sam a promotion during Great Fire of PontyPandy.
- Dilys Price runs the town grocery store. She is a well known gossip, and has great affection for Trevor, the bus driver (something which poor Trevor is too shy to act upon). Dilys is the mother of town mischief-maker Norman Price, but is frequently blind to her son's troublesome ways. She dotes on her only child, or "Mummy's Little Darling" as she sometimes calls him.
- Bella Lasagne (1985-2003) - Bella is the absent-minded town cafe owner, hailing from Italy. Bella appears to be based on the real Welsh Italians who ran cafes known as "Bracchis" in South Wales Valleys.
- Helen Flood (2003 onwards) - Caribbean born nurse and mother of Mandy Flood.
- Mike Flood (2003 onwards) - accident-prone handyman husband of Helen and father of Mandy. He becomes a reserve fireman in the 2008 series.
- Tom Thomas (2003 onwards) - a mountain rescue worker who hails from Australia. Tom is most often seen flying to the rescue in his helicopter or driving his SUV.
- Charlie "Charles" Jones (2008 onwards) - a fisherman, husband of Bronwyn, Sam's brother, father of Sarah and James. He is also accident-prone, especially in "Poorly Penny" when he caused every single emergency except one. He also becomes a reserve fireman. (2008 season).
- Bronwyn McShell-Jones (née Griffiths) (2008 onwards) - runs the fish and chip shop/cafe, wife of Charlie, mother of Sarah and James, sister-in-law of Sam.
- Gareth Griffiths (2012 onwards) - Father of Bronwyn, maternal grandfather of Sarah and James, father-in-law of Charlie. He runs the Pontypandy Flyer, which runs on a short, steep heritage railway line up to the base of Pontypandy Mountain.
- Moose Roberts (2012 onwards) - A famous mountain climber who appeared in "Mandy's Mountain". He is Canadian, making him the first character to hail from North America.
- Mrs Chen (2012 onwards) - Mother of Lily.
- Sarah and James Jones are the relatively well-behaved five-year-old daughter and son twins of Charlie, niece and nephew of Fireman Sam. They are often more sensible in an emergency than Norman. When they grow up they want to be firefighters like their uncle Sam. They started acting more like naughty twins in the 2008 series (i.e. insulting each other, having arguments, and sometimes being the cause of an emergency, but it is made clear they still care for each other).
- Norman Stanley Price is a seven-year-old boy with a love of practical jokes and skateboarding. Unfortunately, Norman regularly fails to set appropriate limits on his own behaviour, and has been known to cause mischief and sometimes causes havoc at the fire station, and for many of Pontypandy's residents. He has shown interest in becoming a firefighter himself one day. In the 2008 series, his intelligence went down. In the same series, he received a palette-swap cousin, Derek (see below).
- Mandy Flood (2005 onwards) - Norman's best friend. She is sort of a bridge between Norman and Sarah and James.
- Derek Price, Norman's cousin, Mr. Price's son. He is a palette-swap of Norman, minus the glasses & with an English accent. While he seems to be well behaved, he is actually a great joker. He appears in the 2008 episode "Double Trouble". He also appears in the 2008 movie "The Great Fire Of Pontypandy" and in the 2012 episodes "Jupiter On The Loose" and "Mandy at Sea"
- Lily Chen (2012 onwards) - daughter of Mrs Chen. She is the youngest child on the show to date, and as such has a very limited vocabulary and a curiosity that gets her into trouble.
- Jupiter is a bright red fire engine driven by Fireman Sam and based on a 1974 Bedford TK (Registration J 999) (1987 to 1994 season), and also based on a 1990 Bedford 6x4 (2005 to 2008 season). It is always taken to rescues.
- Venus is a rescue tender driven by Penny Morris based on a 1982 Range Rover.
- Mercury is a quad bike. (2012 Series)
- Bessie is a heritage fire engine. (2012 Series)
- Ambulance, Nurse Flood's car is driven by Nurse Helen Flood. (2005 to 2008 season)
- Mike Flood's van Mike Flood's truck is driven by Mike Flood based on a Chevrolet Astro. (2008 season)
- Wallaby One is a helicopter flown by Tom Thomas and based on a 1980 Bell 222. (2005 to 2008 season)
- Tom's 4x4 is a rescue jeep also driven and owned by Tom Thomas and based on a 1976 Range Rover 4x4. (2005 to 2008 season)
- The Bus is driven by Trevor Evans and based on a 1975 Ford Transit (Registration BWS 493T) Dormobile.
- Neptune is driven by Penny, and is a rigid inflatable lifeboat powerful enough to tow a fishing trawler & sailing boat. (2008 season)
- Charlie's boat is a fishing trawler that belongs to Charlie Jones. (2008 season)
- Saturn is a thing that can look for people using infra-red heat.
- Rosa (1985-2005) - Rosa is Bella's temperamental cat.
- Dusty (2005) - Dusty is a stray dog, usually found hanging around the fire station.
- Woolly (2005 onwards) - Woolly is a lamb who Norman Price adopts after they were rescued from a mountainside.
- Lion (2008 onwards) - Lion is Bronwyn's pet cat who seems to have replaced Rosa.
- Radar (2008 onwards) - Radar is the fire station's own fire dog, a dalmatian. He is very fond of Mandy.
- Nipper (2008 onwards) - Nipper is Bronwyn's sister's dog.
- Lambykins (2008 onwards) - Woolly's little lamb.
- Bentley the Robot is one of Fireman Sam's inventions that appears in the episode of the name. At one point, Norman Price swaps his control cassette for a video game cassette, discarding the former and causing Bentley to act out the game while grabbing and throwing objects within reach; one such object is a can of paraffin which rolls into the fire station and starts leaking. Eventually, the flow reaches Penny Morris, who is busy welding a locker; as she finishes, sparks from her blow torch ignite the paraffin. Meanwhile, Sarah and James find Bentley's genuine control cassette and give it to Fireman Sam, who reactivates Bentley and orders him to go inside to save Penny, who has passed out from the heat. Sarah and James receive certificates for their actions and Bentley receives a medal, who is so pleased that he malfunctions, his head spinning around while repeating the line "Delighted, I'm sure". Also appears in Fireman Sam in Action. Dialogue from this episode was sampled by the group Bentley Rhythm Ace in their track "Let there be Flutes"
Between 2003 and 2005, a new "Fireman Sam" series was produced by Siriol Productions (now known as Calon TV), comprising twenty-six episodes, each ten minutes in length. These episodes used more modern techniques of stop-motion animation including mouths that move with the dialogue. This series featured all the original characters, but also introduced some new faces, such as Tom Thomas, the Australian pilot of rescue helicopter Wallaby One, and the Flood family; consisting of Mike the plumber, his wife Helen the nurse, and their daughter Mandy). The characters in this series were voiced by John Sparkes, Joanna Ruiz and Sarah Hadland. The Welsh version aired on S4C in 2003, and the English version premiered on 4 April 2005 and aired on CBeebies. As of today, this series now airs on Milkshake! and Cartoonito.
Pontypandy is now a seaside fishing village instead of a village set deep in the hills as in the early series, though most of the locations have retained their appearances. Another change in this series is that the twins' parents appear for the first time; their new-age mother, Bronwyn, and fisherman father Charlie, Sam's brother, who run a cafe/fish-and-chip shop – The Whole Fish Cafe.
Many characters also had aspects of their personalities made more apparent. Norman Price is far more mischievous and inconsiderate than in the 2005 series, where his pranks were often planned out and his accidents were due to badly planned ideas rather than outrageous schemes. For example, in the episode Pontypandy Extreme, Norman gets trapped down a wishing well after attempting to climb down in order to retrieve the coins that have been thrown down there. Additionally, in the episode "Floating Cart", Norman constructs an unsafe Go-Kart without proper brakes and ends up falling into the quay.
Other examples are Station Officer Steele's strictness and maturity and Elvis's decrease in general competence. For example, in one episode where a first aid training exercise is taking place, Elvis is told off by Steele for dancing with the dummy that is being used.
Other changes include the removal of Bella, although her cafe can still be seen opposite Dilys' shop, now a 7-Eleven-esque convenience store called the "Cut Price Supermarket". It seems the Whole Fish Cafe and Bronwyn and Charlie have replaced them. Penny also now has another string to her bow, as she is a trained lifeguard and the driver of Neptune (the town's lifeboat). Also Rosa and Dusty have been replaced by Lion and Radar.
To follow up the series, the show saw its first feature length episode, The Great Fire of Pontypandy, released straight to DVD and shown in select cinemas during 2010. It was also released on the UK iTunes Store on 6 April 2010.
The series had a theme tune composed by Ben Heneghan and Ian Lawson. The lyrics were written by Robin Lyons, and sung by Maldwyn Pope. A full-length version was also released on BBC Records, which was the same as the TV series version, albeit without the slap bass which was heavily featured.
The verse of the song alternates between notes a fifth apart – the intention being to suggest the sound of a fire engine siren.
The same composers wrote a new arrangement of the theme tune for the 2005 remake, although this time in straight quavers rather than the 'swung' twelve-eight of the original theme. Robin Lyons also updated the lyrics. This version was sung by Cameron Stewart, singer and guitarist with the Cardiff-based function band Session., and also the originals outfit Calling Madison.
The theme song from the 2003 version was re-used for the CGI Series, albeit shortened.
Ben Heneghan and Ian Lawson also wrote a number of other Fireman Sam-related songs that were released on a cassette by BBC Records. These songs were later used in the touring stage show.
Episode List and Movies
The ABC website said of the series, "All the characters blend together into an appealing mixture of fun and entertainment for children everywhere."
The Entertainment Store Group described the show as, "The ultimate rescue show for preschoolers [that] has been on-air for over 16 years and can be seen in over 80 countries worldwide in 31 different languages. Particularly strong with boys aged two to six years, Fireman Sam promotes responsibility, respect for others and a can-do attitude." They added that "Entertainment Store Group is proud to represent Fireman Sam exclusively in Australia!"
Fireman Sam: The Great Fire of Pontypandy was given a critical analysis on the website Raising Children Network. The film was rated G, and was advised for children aged 5 and up. The genre was children's animated adventure, the length was 63 minutes and the release date was 28 October 2010. It commented on the prevalent themes, namely "the threat of fire; accidents and rescues". The review continued by stating some of the scenes which could potentially scare or disturb children under 5, such as when "Mike falls off the roof of a house into the harbour, and struggles to stay afloat". The review concluded by stating some discussion points for parents with their children: "The main messages from this movie are about helping people in need and pulling together as a community. The movie also looks at the bad things that happen when you do the wrong thing. Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include selflessness, and care and concern for others. This movie could also give you the chance to talk with your children about real-life issues such as stealing, lighting fires, and ignoring safety instructions."
Fireman Sam (2004) was given an analysis at commonsensemedia. It was advised for ages 3 and up, and was given a rating of 4/5 stars. The show was given a "The Good Stuff" rating of 3/5, which the site stating, "Sam shows how to stay calm in a crisis. He also relies on his team to help him solve problems." Under the section entitled "violence & scariness", the site comments that "Some of the fires and other crises that Sam faces may frighten the youngest viewers, but everyone is always safe in the end." The site explains that parents need to know that "Young viewers will be delighted by the stop-motion animation (which creates soft visuals), the colorful backdrops of the charming Welsh village, and the funny dialogue. Sensitive viewers may need a parent nearby to help them understand that all of the characters are safe in the end." On a potential language barrier, the site comments, "The distinctly Welsh characters, community, accents, and expressions may pose some minor comprehension problems for kids on this side of the pond, but overall it's good exposure to another part of the world."
FIREMAN SAM: Cat Magic was given a negative review at website Trick or Treat Tales, "Cat Magic, from the last season, sees the stop-motion replaced with generic, poorly-executed CGI animation, and the series loses all interest (the stop-motion was the main draw of the series in the first place). The new voice work is particularly grating, as well. And worst of all: this story has zero to do with Halloween or trick-or-treat...You can skip Trick or Treat Tales."
The 1987 set Fireman Sam To the Rescue! (released on DVD on 1 July 2008 by HIT Entertainment) was given a review at DVDTOWN.com, summarised with "If you have a toddler or preschooler who likes Bob the Builder, there's a chance this one will also be a hit. Though there are less vehicles, there are more children, and the plots are just as rescue-based." The DVD was assessed on 4 qualities: Video (7), Audio (7), Extras (1) and Film value (7).
- "Fireman Sam News". Retrieved 4 January 2011.
- "Trivia for "Fireman Sam" (1987)". Retrieved 4 January 2011.
- "Company credits for "Fireman Sam" (1987)". Retrieved 4 January 2011.
- "Kay "proud" of Children In Need song". Retrieved 4 January 2011.
- "Awards for "Fireman Sam" (1987)". Retrieved 4 January 2011.
- "About Sam". Retrieved 4 January 2011.
- "The Ultimate Wedding and Function Band". SessionUK. 2013. Retrieved 2013.
- "Fireman Sam at ABC". Retrieved 4 January 2011.
- "Fireman Sam at Entertainment Store Group". Retrieved 4 January 2011.
- "Fireman Sam: The Great Fire of Pontypandy at Raising Children Network". Retrieved 4 January 2011.
- "Fireman Sam: The Great Fire of Pontypandy at Hoyts". Retrieved 4 January 2011.
- "Fireman Sam at commonsensemedia". Retrieved 4 January 2011.
- "Trick or Treat Tales (Barney, Thomas & Friends, Bob the Builder, Angelina Ballerina, and MORE)". Retrieved 4 January 2011.
- "Fireman Sam To the Rescue! [TV show] (DVD)". Retrieved 4 January 2011.