The Return of the Borrowers

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The Return of the Borrowers
The Return of the Borrowers VideoCover.jpeg
Written by Richard Carpenter
Mary Norton (novel)
Directed by John Henderson
Starring Ian Holm
Penelope Wilton
Rebecca Callard
Country of origin  United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
Producer(s) Grainne Marmion
Cinematography Clive Tickner
Running time 166 min.
Distributor Turner Home Entertainment
Preceded by The Borrowers

The Return of the Borrowers is a BBC TV miniseries first broadcast in 1993 on BBC2 and then later on American television station TNT. The miniseries is adapted from the third and fourth novels of author Mary Norton's The Borrowers series: The Borrowers Afloat and The Borrowers Aloft, respectively.

The miniseries is the sequel to The Borrowers, another TV miniseries that first aired in 1992 also on BBC2 and TNT. Like the first series, every episode (except the last one) ended on a cliffhanger.

Both series follow the Clocks, a family of tiny people who have fled from their home under the floorboards in an old manor into the English countryside.


The Clock Family (a teenage girl named Arriety and her parents, Pod and Homily), are tiny "borrowers" who live in a cottage of regular sized human beings alongside Homily's sister Lupy, Lupy's husband Hendreary Harpsichord, and their daughter Eggletina. Tensions between the two borrower families residing in the cottage have grown, due to Lupy putting on airs about helping her "less fortunate" sister Homily, as well as her refusal to confront the truth about her two sons, Ditchly and Eric, who are frequently out on "borrowing" excursions. Lupy believes Ditchly and Eric are the "best borrowers who have ever lived," thus insulting her own husband Hendreary as well as Pod Clock. In reality, Ditchly and Eric get many of their borrowings by stealing from other borrowers, namely Spiller; they are also mean-spirited, vindictive boys who like to play pranks that often have dangerous outcomes. The two short-sighted sisters who own the cottage are forced to close up the cottage when one of the sisters discovers her failing health, and Pod realizes they have to leave.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Driver and Mildeye strike up a partnership after realizing they both know of the existence of the borrowers, and Mildeye in particular believes possessing the miniature family would be his ticket to riches. Mrs. Driver pays Mildeye to trail George, who is home on school holiday, and see if he leads them to the borrowers. George goes to the cottage looking for Arriety but doesn't see her. Mildeye observes this and comes back later on his own, breaking in and seeing Pod. Pod tries to escape back into the walls, but Ditchly and Eric, observing the whole thing, hold the door fast so Pod can't get in, and he is caught by Mildeye and secured in his knapsack. Mildeye walks back to his caravan, and en route Pod manages to break some of the stitches in the bag and fall through the opening to the ground, where he is greeted by Spiller. They go back to the cottage together, and Pod is certain that they must leave immediately, since there is a good chance Mildeye could come back. The Harpischords are in denial about the situation and Lupy demands that they stay put. To keep them from dying of thirst, Spiller and Pod go upstairs to the bathtub and turn the faucet on so that water from the tank on the roof slowly collects in the stoppered bathtub, something Ditchly and Eric never thought to do. Afterwards they say their farewells and, with the help of Eggletina, the Clocks and Spiller escape through the drain, which Ditchly and Eric considered their personal secret. When the brothers realize what Eggletina has done, they decide to play another one of their pranks, going upstairs to the bathtub, turning the faucet on all the way, and pulling the plug, so that Pod, Homily, Arriety, and Spiller are caught in the flood of water and carried all the way out to the banks of the stream. There they find Spiller's kettle on the bank, which is watertight with no holes.

Spiller tells the Clock famiy about a model village called Little Fordham which is down the stream. Pod and Arrietty go back to the Manor where George provides them with a "boat" (which is actually a large cutlery holder, a pin for an anchor and a knife for steering). Meanwhile, Ditchly and Eric trap Pod and Homily in the kettle as a joke by jamming the lid on with a stick, then leave. A storm comes and the kettle is swept down the stream. A rock knocks the stick off the lid and Pod and Homily manage to get out of the kettle before it hits a large stick suspended across two rocks. The next morning, Spiller and Arreitty find the kettle sunk near the bank just as Ditchly and Eric arrive, realizing their joke went too far. Pod and Homily arrive and Pod confronts Ditchly and Eric, reminding them that by unplugging the tub and turning the water on full blast for their little prank, they have used up all the water in the cottage; the water was turned off when the sisters left and now the tank is empty, meaning Lupy, Hendreary, and Eggletina no longer have anything to drink.

The Clock family get in their little barge and sail down the stream. During the night, they are caught on a little blockage of sticks, and before they can figure out an alternative, Homily is caught by a large hook, which nearly lifts her out of the barge before her dress rips and she falls back. The hook was cast by Mildeye, who planted all the sticks in the stream and is trying to catch them. He nearly gets to their barge when a policeman sees him from the bridge and, believing he is poaching, calls him back to the bank and arrests him. The borrowers make it to Little Fordham by the next morning. Homily and Arriety are ecstatic to see the little borrower-sized village, but Pod has reservations.

A relative of George's called Ms. Menzies arrives at the manor and explains to Mrs. Driver that George sent a letter to his parents saying that he wasn't happy at the manor. Ms. Menzies then explains it would be better if George were to spend his Summer Holidays with her instead. Mrs. Driver is happy to accept it, though she is also offended that George wrote about how unhappy he was staying with her, and George leaves with Ms. Menzies to stay in Fordham, which is the town Little Fordham is modeled after. George is ecstatic, remembering Arriety and Spiller saying that Little Fordham was their destination.

The Borrowers are eventually discovered by a couple who own a rival model village and are kidnapped with the intention of being put on attraction when that model village opens for tourist season. Imprisoned in the couple's attic, the Clocks are able to use materials they find to create a hot-air balloon and basket which lifts them out of a window to freedom moments before they are to be put on display.

Knowing they cannot risk moving back into Little Fordham, the family again take to the great outdoors, in search of a new place to call home. Spiller tells the Clocks that there's an old watermill, one human and plenty to eat down the stream. Arrietty writes a letter to George explaining that they are leaving Little Fordam, and thanking him, Ms. Menzies and Mr. Pott (the owner of Little Fordam) for everything. The series ends with the Borrowers sailing down the stream, and Pod says that whatever happens, there's always some way to manage.


Recycled Footage[edit]

Throughout the series of The Borrowers, various clips were reused (possibly to save money).

  • The bushes and brambles that Mildeye walks past after Pod escapes from his bag are seen again after Spiller ties the boat up just before the Borrowers arrive at Little Fordam
  • Two clips of the white fast-moving water in the stream during the storm were used twice
  • The wide shot of the stream where Arrietty and Spiller are looking for the kettle was reused in the final episode when the Borrowers leave Little Fordam
  • The clip of Little Fordam's entrance appeared again in the final episode after the Borrowers escaped the attic
  • The wide shot of the attic door was filmed once then reused for the scenes when footsteps were heard behind it
  • The clip of the Borrowers approaching Little Fordam in their boat was used again at the end of the final episode. The only difference in the final episode was that the boat was further down the stream


BAFTA Awards

  • 1994 Best Design (Nominated)


External links[edit]