Spot the Dog

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Spot's First Walk book cover, featuring Spot himself, set in Century Schoolbook Infant Bold.

Spot the Dog is a series of children's books by Eric Hill, which were later made into a popular children's animation series, known as Spot, for BBC television by David McKee's King Rollo Films.

First published in 1980, Where's Spot was inspired by the reaction of Eric's two-year-old son to an advert in which lifting the flap revealed a funny picture and to a bedtime story made up to go along with it. It became tremendously successful and a series of further books featuring the character was commissioned.[citation needed] Over time, the book was translated into more than sixty languages.[citation needed] In Afrikaans versions of the book Spot is translated to "Otto", widely believed to be the surname of a South African friend of Hill's. This name has been attributed to Spot as many of the books were believed to be inspired by the life of aforementioned friend, J. Otto.

The character has also starred in interactive CD-ROMs, as well as appearing in-person at events throughout the world.

Book design[edit]

Century Schoolbook Infant.jpg

The books are set in the typeface Century Schoolbook Infant, a very rare, single-story version of Century Schoolbook. The closest typeface designs available to the public based on this typeface are Century Schoolbook and Tiempo. However, official merchandise, in rare cases, will use typefaces like one similar to Times and another similar to Comic Sans MS, for text written either on tags of the merchandise (specifically for plush toys) or the merchandise itself.

Characters[edit]

  • Spot: The star of the series. A yellow puppy with a brown spot on each side of his body and a brown tip on his tail, Spot is full of wonder and mischief, as well as helpfulness. Spot is not intended to be any one specific breed of dog, but given his small, rounded ears, short tail, short, stout legs, and plump body, some have speculated that Spot might be a beagle puppy. He appears to be a beagle/golden retriever/Jack Russell terrier mix.


Family[edit]

  • Sally: Spot's mother. She, too, is yellow and has a brown spot on her back that goes around the back of her body, as well as two brown spots on each side of her body and a brown tip on her tail. Much of the first story, Where's Spot, involves her going around the house looking for Spot.
  • Sam: Spot's father. He is also yellow, but has no spots on his body whatsoever, and he does not have a brown tip on his tail. He works at a farm.
  • Susie: Spot's little sister. Like the rest of the family, she is yellow, and has a brown spot that goes around her back of her body, but does not have a brown tip on her tail. Susie has not appeared in any of the television shows or specials.
  • Smith: Spot's brother. He, too, is yellow, but has no spots on his body, and has a brown tip on his tail.
  • Grandpa: Spot's Grandpa and Sally's father. He is yellow as well. He has fuzzy fur, but no spots on his body. He does not have a brown tip on his tail. He's nearsighted, and formerly was the chief fireman.
  • Grandma: Spot's Grandma and Sally's mother. She, like everyone else in the family, is yellow and, like Grandpa, has fuzzy fur. She has two brown spots on her back that go around the back of her body, as well as smaller brown spots on each side of her body. (There were six spots on her body in the special Spot and his Grandparents Go to the Carnival, but these were reduced to five in "Spot's Musical Adventures: Spot helps Grandma".) She does not have a brown tip on her tail. She is usually seen wearing glasses.

Friends in the neighbourhood[edit]

  • Helen: A blue hippopotamus. She is the biggest sized and the heaviest in the group. Her mother is a tuba player for the town band. Her color is dark blue and she has sags under her eyes in the first season of the TV series The Adventures of Spot; however, by season two, she turned light blue and the sags under her eyes were removed.
  • Steve: A brown monkey with a tan face. As befits his species, he is playful and full of surprises. Like many of the characters, his color turns brighter in the second season of The Adventures of Spot.
  • Tom: A green crocodile. He started out dark green in color in the first season. He also sports rather sharp-looking incisors and a red coloring inside his mouth on the first season of The Adventures of Spot; by the second season, he loses the sharp incisors, red color, and the white eye sacs and turns to a lighter shade of green leaving him looking younger and less intimidating. He loves going fishing. Tom loves the snare drum, considered to be his favorite instrument. His dad is the mayor of the town.
  • Clare: A green turtle. Like Tom, her shade of green turns brighter in the second season of The Adventures of Spot, compared to the first.
  • Sidney: A yellowish-green snake. Unusually, he is a good snake in contrast to most snakes in fiction. Like the others, his color turns brighter in the second season of The Adventures of Spot.
  • Miss Bear: Spot's school teacher. True to her name, she is a brown bear who plays the piano. Like the others, her color turns brighter in the second season of The Adventures of Spot.
  • Betsy: A bear.
  • Tina: An elephant.
  • Cybil: An orange cat. She has a very rude personality, as seen in TAOS episodes "Spot's Lost Bone" and "Spot's First Walk" (where she scares Spot). She appears only in the first season of The Adventures of Spot.
  • Ginger: Another cat, who is very polite compared to Cybil.
  • Billy: A bear who loves to eat. He appears in the first season of The Adventures of Spot..
  • Mr. Kangaroo: A kangaroo that speaks with what sounds like a New Zealand accent. Spot's neighbor. He appears only in the first season of The Adventures of Spot.
  • Percy & Polly: A pair of penguins seen in "Spot's Birthday Party".
  • Leo: A lion seen in the first season of The Adventures of Spot.

Voice cast[edit]

British cast[edit]

  • Paul Nicholas - Narrator (The Adventures of Spot; season two of It's Fun to Learn with Spot)
  • Peter Hawkins - Narrator (season one It's Fun to Learn with Spot)
  • Jane Horrocks later dubbed over the entire series.

American cast[edit]

Spot in the Books[edit]

The first book, Where's Spot? was published in 1980, and it features Sally going on a search around the house for Spot. 2005 marked the 25th anniversary of the publication of Where's Spot? and was celebrated with a silver jacket hardcover edition of "Where's Spot?".

There are various kinds of Spot books available, from lift-the-flap books to read-along audio CD with book bundle to touch and feel books to sound books (books with an electronic sound panel on them). Some books are also bundled with plush toys, others are simple picture books. There are also pop-up books, activity books and cloth books (books which are made entirely of cloth).

Notable releases[edit]

Where's Spot? (1980)[edit]

The first book in the series, it chronicles Sally going around the house looking for Spot. Sally and Spot are introduced in this book. Spot's main friends (Tom, Steve, Helen, and Clare) are also introduced in this book, but they were yet to be named and instead served as characters that Sally finds during her search for Spot. Unlike in all following books, where Spot is the main character, here, the protagonist is his mother Sally.

Spot Goes to School (1984)[edit]

Spot's teacher, Miss Bear, is introduced in this book, and Tom, Steve, Helen, and Clare are also finally named. This book chronicles Spot's day at school (kindergarten).

Spot Goes on Holiday (1985)[edit]

Spot's dad, Sam, is introduced in this book. In this book, Spot and his family go to the beach, and Spot meets a new friend (a brown Cocker spaniel).

Spot Visits his Grandparents (1996)[edit]

Spot's grandparents are introduced in this book. In it, Spot visits his grandparents' place and helps out in the garden. We learn about Sally when she was only a puppy.

List of Spot sound books[edit]

Here is a quick list of Spot sound books; the list is by no means complete.

U.K. Releases[edit]

A list of Spot sound books released in the U.K. These books are produced by Publications International and published by Frederick Warne.[1]

U.S. Releases[edit]

The U.S. edition of the sound books is somewhat different from the U.K. editions of the book. The text in these editions is slightly altered, and in some cases, the title is changed as well. They are produced and published by Publications International.

Translations[edit]

Most books have been translated to Welsh (as well as the TV series, commissioned by S4C),[2] some have also been translated into Scottish Gaelic, and Where's Spot? has been translated into Cornish.

Television and Home Media[edit]

In addition to the original book franchise, Spot has also starred in several animated television programs, as well as a couple specials, which aired on the BBC. Internationally, episodes of Spot were aired in the United States on The Disney Channel as a segment on the program Lunch Box from the late 1980s into the 1990s.[3][4] Note that all of these spin-offs are readily available on video and/or DVD and/or VideoCD.

The Adventures of Spot: Season 1 (1986)[edit]

The first season of The Adventures of Spot, which was animated and produced by King Rollo Films, aired on the BBC between 1 September and 24 November 1986. It consisted of thirteen episodes, each five minutes long. The episodes were narrated by Paul Nicholas, voiced by Jane Horrocks and the music was composed by Duncan Lamont. At the end of each episode, Nicholas said, "And that's Spot!" while Spot woofed.

Episodes in this season:

  • "Spot's Surprise Parcel" (1 September 1986)
  • "Spot's Lost Bone" (8 September 1986)
  • "Spot's First Walk" (15 September 1986)
  • "Spot in the Woods" (22 September 1986)
  • "Spot's Birthday Party" (29 September 1986)
  • "Where's Spot?" (6 October 1986)
  • "Sweet Dreams, Spot" (13 October 1986)
  • "Spot Goes to School" (20 October 1986)
  • "Spot Goes to the Circus" (27 October 1986)
  • "Spot Follows His Nose" (3 November 1986)
  • "Spot Goes Splash" (10 November 1986)
  • "Spot's Windy Day" (17 November 1986)
  • "Spot Goes on Holiday" (titled "Spot Goes To The Beach" in the U.S.) (24 November 1986)

It's Fun to Learn With Spot - Phase 1 (1990)[edit]

The first phase of It's Fun to Learn With Spot, produced by Spitfire Television and Living Doll Productions, aired between 15 October and 5 November 1990. It consisted of four episodes, each approximately fifteen minutes in length. These episodes were voiced and narrated by Peter Hawkins. The theme song used in The Adventures of Spot was licensed from King Rollo Films, so the familiar tune by Duncan Lamont was heard at the beginning and end of each episode. However, music on the show was kept to a minimum.

Episodes in this season:

  • "Spot's Alphabet" (15 October 1990)
  • "Spot's Busy Year" (22 October 1990)
  • "Spot Learns to Count" (29 October 1990)
  • "Spot Tells the Time" (5 November 1990)

The Adventures of Spot: Season 2 (1993)[edit]

The second season of The Adventures of Spot aired between 7 September and 30 November 1993, and, like the first season, consisted of thirteen five-minute episodes. Once again, the episodes were produced by King Rollo Films. Paul Nicholas returned as the voices and narration, and Duncan Lamont returned as composer of the music. Many of the characters' looks (most notably Helen's and Tom's) were refined in this season.

Episodes in this season:

  • "Spot Goes to the Farm" (7 September 1993)
  • "Spot Stays Overnight" (titled "Spot Sleeps Over" in the U.S.) (14 September 1993)
  • "Spot Makes a Cake" (21 September 1993)
  • "Spot Goes to the Park" (28 September 1993)
  • "Spot Finds a Key" (5 October 1993)
  • "Spot in the Garden" (12 October 1993)
  • "Spot Goes to a Party" (19 October 1993)
  • "Spot's Winter Sports" (26 October 1993)
  • "Spot Goes to the Fair" (2 November 1993)
  • "Spot's Favorite Toy" (9 November 1993)
  • "Spot's First Picnic" (16 November 1993)
  • "Spot At the Playground" (23 November 1993)
  • "Storytime with Spot" (30 November 1993)

It's Fun to Learn With Spot - Phase 2 (1994)[edit]

The second phase of It's Fun to Learn With Spot aired between 19 October and 9 November 1994, and, like the first phase, consisted of four fifteen-minute episodes. Unlike the phase, however, the second phase was produced by King Rollo Films and retained the talents of Paul Nicholas and Duncan Lamont.

Episodes in this season:

  • "Spot's Looks at Opposites" (19 October 1994)
  • "Spot's First Word Game" (26 October 1994)
  • "Spot Looks at Colours" (2 November 1994)
  • "Spot Looks at Shapes" (9 November 1994)

Note: The two phases of It's Fun to Learn with Spot are often listed as one series, even on Penguin Television's website. However, as noted, the two phases were produced four years apart by two different companies and are very different in design.

The Specials (1995 - 1997)[edit]

Between 1995 and 1997, two specials were produced: Spot's Magical Christmas (aired September 11, 1995) and Spot and his Grandparents Go to the Carnival (aired November 10, 1997). These two specials, which are both thirty minutes long, have some notable differences from the normal series. First off, they have no narration, and each character is voiced distinctly. The characters' mouths also move to speech, in comparison to the other episodes, in which the characters' mouths remain static and the entire episode is narrated as a story. There are also several songs in the specials, as there were in It's Fun to Learn With Spot; however, the songs in the specials were longer and more complex than those featured in It's Fun to Learn With Spot.

Spot's Musical Adventures (2000)[edit]

Spot's Musical Adventures, very similar to The Adventures of Spot, aired between 25 October and 10 November 2000. Like The Adventures of Spot, this series consisted of thirteen episodes, each with a short song in them. The format of the series reverted to the narration format used prior to the specials. These episodes, however, were not voiced or narrated by Paul Nicholas; instead, comedienne Jane Horrocks was given the role of the narration and voices of these episodes. Music was composed by Duncan Lamont with KiCK Productions and the songs are performed by Dan Russell. The U.S. release of the episodes (revoiced and released as Discover Spot by Disney) also feature live-action segments.

Episodes:

  • "Spot's Show" (25 October 2000)
  • "Spot's Treehouse" (26 October 2000)
  • "Spot's Breakfast" (27 October 2000)
  • "Spot's Horse" (released in the U.S. as "Spot's Hobby Horse") (30 October 2000)
  • "Spot's Grandpa" (31 October 2000)
  • "Spot's Umbrella" (1 November 2000)
  • "Spot's Band" (2 November 2000)
  • "Spot's Bath" (3 November 2000)
  • "Spot's Tent" (6 November 2000)
  • "Spot Tidies Up" (released in the U.S. as "Spot Cleans Up") (7 November 2000)
  • "Spot Helps Grandma" (8 November 2000)
  • "Spot's School Trip" (9 November 2000)
  • "Hide and Seek" (released in the U.S. as "Spot Plays Hide and Seek") (10 November 2000)

Back commits[edit]

After Spot's Musical Adventures first aired, the following interesting modifications were made to the show:

  • Live-action segments were added to Disney's U.S. releases of The Adventures of Spot and the specials, and then to the U.K. releases of The Adventures of Spot and the specials. It will come as no surprise if these are added to the upcoming re-release of the It's Fun to Learn With Spot episodes.
  • The Adventures of Spot episodes were dubbed over by Jane Horrocks. Additionally, the original Duncan Lamont music was replaced with new tracks written with KiCK Productions, used for the Spot's Musical Adventures series. It will come as no surprise if the voices and music in the re-release of the It's Fun to Learn with Spot episodes are changed as well.

US/UK differences[edit]

Music[edit]

The intro song for the show has been performed and written by various artists over the years. The original intro song, used in the UK episodes of The Adventures of Spot and It's Fun to Learn with Spot from 1986 to 2000, was written by Duncan Lamont and performed by Paul Nicholas. Since 2000, a new intro song, written by KiCK productions and performed by Andrew Brenner, has been used for the updated versions of the U.K.-released Adventures of Spot, It's Fun to Learn with Spot, and Spot's Musical Adventures episodes. The intro song used for the Disney versions of The Adventures of Spot and Discover Spot was written and performed by Dave Kinnoin, and has been used since 1993.

U.K. VHS releases[edit]

Music albums[edit]

The title character has also appeared in several CDs.

Spot in the Park with the Flowerpot Gang[edit]

Released in Australia by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in the early 2000s, Spot in the Park with the Flowerpot Gang consists of 26 nursery rhymes. Apparently, it is no longer published.

Tracks:

  1. ABC Concert Theme
  2. Spot Theme
  3. Old MacDonald Had A Farm
  4. Mary Had A Little Lamb
  5. Ring A Ring A Rosie
  6. Happy Little Flower Pot
  7. Nick Nack Paddy Wack
  8. Hooray!
  9. Tip Toe
  10. Shake
  11. Statues In The Park
  12. Little Bo-Peep
  13. Farmer In The Dell
  14. Baa Baa Black Sheep
  15. Hickory Dickory Dock
  16. Doing The Hop!
  17. Can You Do What Kristy Can?
  18. Incy Wincy Spider
  19. Heel And Toe
  20. If You're Happy And You Know It
  21. Spot Says
  22. Mary Mary Quite Contrary
  23. Sing A Song Of Sixpence
  24. Humpy Dumpty
  25. Hey Diddle Diddle
  26. ABC Concert Theme (2)

Spot's First Play Songs[edit]

Another album of nursery rhymes. It is published by Genius Entertainment and is also available in a box set titled Spot's Favorite Toddler Tunes (although in this edition, the "Alphabet Song" is excluded).

Tracks:

  1. One, Two, I Love You
  2. Alphabet Song
  3. If You're Happy & You Know It
  4. Say, Say, Oh Playmate
  5. Ring Around The Rosey
  6. The Green Grass Grows All Around
  7. Humpty Dumpty
  8. Do You Know The Muffin Man
  9. Mary Had A Little Lamb
  10. Hickory Dickory Dock
  11. Hot Cross Buns
  12. One, Two, Buckle My Shoe
  13. Skip To My Lou
  14. Pop! Goes The Weasel

Spot's Farmyard Friends[edit]

Yet another album of nursery rhymes. It is also published by Genius Entertainment and is also available in the Spot's Favorite Toddler Tunes box set.

Tracks:

  1. Old MacDonald
  2. I Bought Me a Cat
  3. Farmer In The Dell
  4. Turkey In The Straw
  5. Did You Ever See A Lassie?
  6. Itsy Bitsy Spider
  7. The Ants Go Marching
  8. Buffalo Gals
  9. Three Blind Mice
  10. Shoo Fly
  11. All The Pretty Horses
  12. Oats, Peas, Beans and Barley Grow
  13. The Fox
  14. Kookaburra

Spot's Classics for Growing Minds[edit]

Bidding on the success of the controversial Mozart Effect, Spot's Classics for Growing Minds contains twelve classical numbers from various classical composers. Also published by Genius Entertainment, this album has also made its appearance in the Spot's Favorite Toddler Tunes box set.

Tracks:

  1. W.A. Mozart / Menuetto From Symphony No. 19
  2. Lange / Der Kleine Postilion
  3. Beethoven / Minuet No. 2 From Eleven Dances
  4. W.A. Mozart / Molto Allegro From Symphony N0. 40
  5. W.A. Mozart / Minuet In G
  6. W.A. Mozart / Allegro From Horn Concerto No. 3
  7. J.S. Bach / Allegro From Concerto No. 3
  8. Beethoven / Für Elise
  9. W.A. Mozart / No. 1 From Three German Dances, K. 605
  10. Beethoven / Minuet No. 4 From Eleven Dances
  11. J.S. Bach / Allegro-Assai From Concerto No. 2
  12. W.A. Mozart / Rondo Alla Turca
  13. J.S. Bach / Allegro From Concerto No. 5

CD-ROMs[edit]

Two Spot CD-ROM titles are currently available. They are published by Europress in Europe and Hasbro in the US. Both titles runs on both Microsoft Windows (Windows 95 or NT4 or newer) and Apple Macintosh (Os 8 up to OS 9.2.2, and in classic mode from PowerPC Mac OS X up until Mac OS X Leopard) computers. It should be noted that the PowerPC Mac version of the software would not run on newer Intel-based Macs as these newer Macs do not support classic PowerPC or 68k binaries, nor would they run on PowerPC Mac OS X Leopard-based PowerPC Macs as Leopard has dropped support for the classic environment the titles run on.

Spot's Busy Day[edit]

Consisting of 4 independent stories and 4 activities accessible from the main screen, Spot goes to school, plays with a ball, bakes a cake and amuses himself on a rainy day. Activities include Jigsaw puzzles, painting, cake decorating and scene creation.

Spot and his Friends[edit]

Another 4 independent stories and activities accessible from the main screen. Spot visits the farm, goes to the beach, goes to the fair and goes to a party. Activities include scene creation, sandcastle building, and dressing Spot up for the party.

Combo packs[edit]

The above two titles are also sold in a combo pack consisting of both CDs. Additionally, Spot's Busy Day also ships in a pack with a plush.

Spot on iPad[edit]

One Spot iPad title is currently available on the App Store.

Spot Goes to School[edit]

This iPad title also includes a mini game (based on one of the pages of the story) where the player returns things to their original places on a table. This electronic edition was first published in 2010 by the Penguin Group.

Spot: the Ride[edit]

In August 1995, OMC Electronics started production of a Spot kiddie ride, licensed by Copyright Group and manufactured simultaneously in both UK and Australia. It is in the form of Spot on a train like those portrayed in the Spot books, particularly Spot at the Fair. The ride made use of the ROSie version 4 control boards. When in use, it would start off with the Spot theme song (original 1985 version that was written by Duncan Lamont and sung by Paul Nicholas), followed by a BGM loop lifted from Spot Goes on Holiday (original 1985 audio track), complete with background noises from the said episode. Three buttons exist on the ride: (from right to left) one to start the ride and makes train whistle noises when pushed if the ride is in use, one with a picture of Helen, Tom and Steve which when pushed plays a clip of Steve (voiced by Paul Nicholas) saying "We're having lots of fun", and one with a picture of Spot, which plays a clip of Steve (again, voiced by Paul Nicholas) saying "Hello, Spot!" when pushed. There is also a 7-segment LED display on the ride to show how many rides were purchased and rides remaining if more than one ride is purchased.

It is said that the ride did not do well in the UK, mainly because the ride was more train than Spot, and the figure of Spot was so diminished that many children failed to spot him.[citation needed]

Rumor has it that another different Spot kiddie ride design exists and was manufactured in Australia, however, suggesting that the ride did fare better in Australia. The design of the ride is said to be in the guise of Spot sitting in a reindeer sleigh (likely modeled after the sleigh shown in Spot's Magical Christmas, which belonged to Santa Claus), and the child would sit next to Spot. However, no solid account of such ride being manufactured could be found.

Units from both UK and Australia have been exported worldwide.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "funwithspot.com". funwithspot.com. Retrieved 2014-01-18. 
  2. ^ "Books, eBooks, Kindles, Textbooks and Children's Books". Waterstones. Retrieved 2014-01-18. 
  3. ^ The Disney Channel Magazine, Vol. 7, no. 4, July/August 1989: p. 57.
  4. ^ The Disney Channel Magazine, Vol. 9, no. 6, November/December 1991: p. 34.

External links[edit]