Flower Pot Men

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The Flower Pot Men is a British children's programme, produced by BBC television, first transmitted in 1952, and repeated regularly for more than twenty years. A new version was produced in 2001. The show was the basis for a comic strip of the same name in the children's magazine Robin.

Original series[edit]

Originally, the programme was part of a BBC children's television series titled Watch with Mother, with a different programme each weekday, most of them involving string puppets. The Flower Pot Men was the story of Bill and Ben, two little men made of flower pots who lived at the bottom of an English suburban garden. The characters were devised by Freda Lingstrom and Maria Bird. Three later stories were written by Hilda Brabban. The puppeteers were Audrey Atterbury and Molly Gibson. The voices and other noises were produced by Peter Hawkins, Gladys Whitred and Julia Williams. The narration for all episodes was done by Maria Bird.

The plot changed little in each episode. The programme always took place in a garden, behind a potting shed. The third character was Little Weed, of indeterminate species, somewhat resembling a sunflower or dandelion with a smiling face, growing between two large flowerpots. The three were also sometimes visited by a tortoise called Slowcoach, and in one particular episode, the trio meet a slightly mysterious character made out of potatoes called Dan the potato man. While the "man who worked in the garden" was away having his dinner the two Flower Pot Men, Bill and Ben, emerged from the two flowerpots. After a minor adventure a minor mishap occurs; someone is guilty. "Which of those two flower pot men, was it Bill or was it Ben?" the narrator trills, in a quavering soprano; the villain confesses; the gardener's footsteps are heard coming up the garden path; the Flower Pot Men vanish into their pots and the closing credits roll. The final punch-line was, "and I think the little house knew something about it! Don't you?"

The Flower Pot Men spoke their own, highly inflected version of English, called Oddle Poddle. At the end of each adventure, they would say bye-bye to each other and to the Little Weed – "Babap ickle Weed" – to which the Weed would inevitably reply with tremulous cadence "Weeeeeeeeeeed". This language, like that of the Teletubbies in the 1990s, was invented by Peter Hawkins (who also voiced the Daleks) and was criticised for hindering children from learning proper English.

2001 series[edit]

On January 2, 2001, a second series[1] named Bill and Ben began on CBBC on BBC Two, this time involving stop-motion animation, 35mm film style and full color, and made by Cosgrove Hall Films with a team of ten animators.[2] Bill and Ben was narrated by John Thomson.[2] The series currently airs in Ireland on RTEjr and aired on cbeebies in 2007 and 2008.

Many additions were implemented:

  • A mean rosebush with buds in the neighbour's garden named Thistle.
  • A magpie named Pry, obsessed by shiny treasures, often just bottle caps.
  • A hedgehog named Boo.
  • A tortoise named Slowcoach.
  • A frog named Tad.
  • A squirrel named Scamper.
  • A spider named Whimsy.
  • A worm named Whoops.
  • A talking tomato named Ketchup.
  • Weed is no longer a weed, but an enormous sunflower. Rather than whining, "Weed!", she spoke proper English. She played an "earth mother" role to Bill and Ben. She often assisted them.

UK VHS releases[edit]

VHS title Release date Episodes
Bill and Ben Flower Pot Men (BBCV 4208) March 6, 1989 Musical Vegetables, Scarecrow, Flying Boots, Icicles
Bill and Ben Flower Pot Men 2: Tales from the Bottom of the Garden (BBCV 4362) June 4, 1990 Bath in Hat, Cabbages, Bellows, Stickmen
The Very Best of Bill and Ben Flower Pot Men (BBCV 5106) September 6, 1993 Stickmen, Scarecrow, Bath in Hat, Musical Vegetables, Cabbages
Bill and Ben: Flobbadobba Fun! (BBCV 7150) April 2, 2001 The Tortoise and the Pots, The Hottest Day, One Of Our Spiders Is Missing, Sticky Problem, Litterhog
Bill and Ben: Garden Games (BBCV 7188) September 17, 2001 Weed Sees The World, Phwoaarr!, Here Comes The Sun, Ben Has A Visitor, Treasure Garden
Bill and Ben: Flowerpot Friends (BBCV 7196) May 20, 2002 Around and Around, A Night To Remember, Game For A Laugh, The Great Worm Hunt, Two New Flowerpot Men

References[edit]

  1. ^ Flowerpot Men bloom again, BBC Online, January 4, 2001. Retrieved 28 December 2009
  2. ^ a b "Bill and Ben". www.bcdb.com, 13 April 2012

External links[edit]