Pond Life (TV series)

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Pond Life is a British animated television series that was written and directed by Candy Guard and follows the misadventures of its neurotic and self-obsessed protagonist, Dolly Pond. Two series were broadcast on Channel 4 in 1996 and 2000. A series of 13x11minute episodes was screened from 3 to 18 December 1996, mainly at 5.45pm, but two episodes exploring more adult themes were reserved for a double screening at 11.25pm. This series was repeated between March and June 1998. A second series of 7x30minute episodes followed between 19–30 September 2000 to tie-in with Channel 4's Animation Week of 23–29 September 2000.

The series began life in 1992 with a pilot episode entitled I Want a Boyfriend ... Or Do I?, co-commissioned by Channel 4 and S4C.[1]

Pond Life was Guard's second breakthrough and was commissioned by Channel 4 in 1996. Scheduling problems marred the series' reception; it was originally intended for broadcast at 9.45pm, but was shown four hours earlier, which required edits to remove adult language. It was shown at the same time as Australian soap Neighbours, and was aimed at the same core audience as the soap. Despite these problems, Pond Life won several awards and received a Writer's Guild nomination for Best Sitcom. Guard was pleased because it was up against several live-action comedy series, including Only Fools and Horses. A second series was broadcast in 2000.[2]

Although Pond Life is a traditional hand-drawn cartoon, the comedy series was directed at adult audiences and specifically targeted at female viewers.


  • Dolly Pond - Voiced by Sarah Ann Kennedy. Dolly is a self-centred, somewhat whiny 30-something woman who lives alone in the flat above the shop she works in. She has lived in the same cul-de-sac all her life, which is an almost perfect metaphor for the 'dead end' life she sees herself trapped in. Dolly is convinced she deserves a better job, more exciting friends and a generally more glamorous lifestyle, but her attempts to obtain these always fall flat or end in disaster. Dolly also has a tendency to want things simply because she can't have them; for example, convincing herself she is pregnant after learning her rival Gloria Leaf is trying for a baby, despite not having had sex in months.
  • Belle Stickleback - Voiced by Emma Chambers. Dolly's best friend, whom she has known since school. She seems to be more down-to-earth and sensible than Dolly (although Dolly describes her as 'laid-back and silly' to her mother). Dolly is definitely the dominant half of the partnership, which often frustrates Belle, and the two have their fair share of falling-outs because of it; however, they usually make up soon enough, largely because Belle is too lethargic to break the pattern. Belle is overweight and very sensitive about it (something the tactless Dolly usually fails to consider) and is keen to find a steady boyfriend.
  • Nobby - Voiced by John Thompson. Dolly's ex-boyfriend, who lives in the flat upstairs. Despite the fact that Dolly usually treats him with disdain, he spends most of his time trying to win her back. When on one occasion Nobby finally gives up and starts a relationship with Belle's sister, Kelly, Dolly decides she can't live without him and goes all-out to win him back; however, once she succeeds she soon becomes disappointed with the reality of it. In spite of Dolly's frequent attempts to put Nobby off the two still spend a lot of time together, probably due to a lack of alternatives.
  • Mrs Alright ('Mrs A.') - Voiced by John Thompson. An 85-year-old, single Welsh woman who owns the shop that Dolly works in, known to all as Mrs A. She is a long-term family friend of the Ponds, has a dog named Perky and, as revealed in the episode "Addict", has been smoking since she was eight. Mrs A seems to have little idea of how to run a business, taking twenty years to realise a shop at the end of a cul-de-sac doesn't get any passing trade. Mrs A's surname symbolises her humdrum life, and what Dolly fears hers will become (something Gloria Leaf picks up on when she tells Dolly 'If you're not careful you'll be turning into Mrs Allwright').
  • Len and Ivy Pond - Dolly's parents, who tend to still treat her like a child; something which frustrates her, but that she is not afraid to take advantage of when it suits. They don't understand Dolly's frustration with life and encourage her to settle down with Nobby. Voiced by Charlotte Mitchell and Brian Murphy.
  • Alan and Alana - Dolly's older sister and brother-in-law. They are happily married with two children, in contrast to the miserable Dolly, who they often treat as an object of pity. Voiced by Cleo Harrington and Mark Ashby.
  • Tad and Poll - Alan and Alana's children, usually dismissed as 'brats' by Dolly. Both voiced by Maria Manton.
  • Gloria Leaf - An old school 'friend' of Dolly's, who appears to have everything Dolly doesn't - a glamorous job as a model, a well-off steady boyfriend etc. However, she still lives in the cul-de-sac despite her more affluent lifestyle. She is usually overtly friendly to Dolly, but usually manages to make a sly dig at her in most of their conversations (or at least show off how well she is doing by comparison). Voiced by Cleo Harrington.


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