|Format||Animated children's television series|
|Created by||John Deery
|Theme music composer||Miles Hunt, Sid Rainey, Martin Bell (The Wonder Stuff)|
|Opening theme||"The Importance of Being Ernie"|
|Ending theme||"The Importance of Being Ernie" (Edit)|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of episodes||26|
|Executive producer(s)||John Deery
|Running time||12 minutes|
|Original channel||CBeebies, BBC Two|
|Original run||5 June 2006– 21 May 2009|
|Related shows||Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends
Bob the Builder
Underground Ernie is a British Computer-animated children's television series produced by Joella Productions in the UK on the BBC on both CBeebies and BBC Two, and sold around the world by BBC Worldwide. It is set in International Station, a fictional worldwide Underground network, and focuses on the everyday adventures of Ernie, a friendly Underground supervisor, Millie, his multilingual colleague and Mr Rails the lovable maintenance man. The locomotives under Ernie's watchful eye all have characters of their own. There is Bakerloo, Victoria, Circle, Jubilee and the twins, Hammersmith & City. From time to time they are joined by their friends from across the world including; Paris, Brooklyn, Moscow, Sydney and Osaka.
In its premiere run, Underground Ernie was broadcast twice a day five days a week—firstly on BBC Two at 9 am and then repeated on CBeebies at 4.30 pm.
In the first episode, "Pop Decoy", pop superstar "Sam 7" is performing at the theatre and Jubilee has to get him there without hundreds of fans finding out. Alas, the excitable Jubilee can't keep a secret and he and Ernie have to come up with a plan to get Sam 7 safely to the theatre.
All the visuals for the show are produced using CGI computer graphics and that largely explains the high cost of the production (USD$7 million/£4 million) . The first series was produced using LightWave 3D software.
Some critics have pointed out the similarities between Underground Ernie and Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends and Chuggington, in that both series feature anthropomorphic locomotives. Whilst acknowledging a similarity, the producers make it clear that this is very different from Thomas and Chuggington and is very much based in the 21st century. Despite being underground engines, they often travel overground around open countryside to various stations including seaside resort.
The overall design is inspired by the real London Underground, and Transport for London has allowed the series to use design elements directly taken from their brand, in particular the use of their distinctive Underground logo, or 'roundel' as it's known.
- The eponymous Underground Ernie is a supervisor who owns the International Underground station (voiced by ex-footballer and television sports presenter Gary Lineker).
- Millie (voiced by Emma Weaver) is a computer expert working on the network and the co-owner of the station.
- Mr. Rails is the maintenance man.
- Bakerloo (voiced by Howard Ward) is an eccentric and has a hat similar to the style of Sherlock Holmes (the Bakerloo line used to end at Baker Street, where the fictional detective lived at number 221b) but has a profile resembling that of the Duke of Wellington, the victor of the Battle of Waterloo, after the Waterloo station (Bakerloo is short for Baker Street & Waterloo Railway).
- Hammersmith is twin brother to City, a fast and furious train who is a general knowledge "whizz". He wears blue spectacles.
- City is Hammersmith's twin brother and is also fast and furious but is an expert in mathematics and finances (presumably a reference to the City, where many of London's financial institutions are based. He wears pink spectacles. Hammersmith and City are usually coupled back end to back and run together as one train.
- Victoria (voiced by Janet Brown) is the oldest train and is like a mother to the other trains. She wears a crown to suggest the link between herself and Queen Victoria but visually appears more like a caricature of the present Queen, Elizabeth II. Although Victoria is presented as the oldest character in the series, the real life Victoria Line is actually one of the newest lines - only the Jubilee Line is newer.
- Circle (voiced by Chris Jarvis) is a "hippy chick" - always helpful and rarely loses her cool.
- Jubilee (voiced by Tim Whitnall) is the youngest train and is into computers, music, internet, emails, games and all the latest gadgets and technology. He can be mischievous but is still well-liked.
International train characters
There are also five international trains, which Millie visits when she goes abroad every weekend. She always bring back exciting stories for Ernie, as well as a souvenir:
- Brooklyn, from New York, is decked out in the American Stars and Stripes.
- Sydney, from Australia, always wants to go to the beach.
- Moscow is from Russia.
- Paris is from France.
- Osaka is from Japan, and has a super-speed booster. He is decked out in a Rising Sun decorated bandana.
In each twelve-minute episode Ernie faces a problem, which he needs to fix with the help of the trains. This will typically involve one of the locations on International Underground or visitors coming via the Underground - often both.
|1||Pop Decoy||Louise Kramskoy||Jubilee lets slip his secret about pop superstar Sam 7. Bakerloo gets into pop.|
|2||Sir Clunkalot||Diane Redmond||The medieval pageant sees Ernie save a damsel in distress.|
|3||Mr Rails Never Fails||Diane Redmond||Ernie's heavy cold leads to confusion over the arrangements for Mr. Rails' surprise party.|
|4||Brooklyn and Rocky Two Shoes||Diane Redmond||American athlete Rocky Two Shoes rides over on Brooklyn and overcomes his fears.|
|5||Pulling Together||Jan Page||Hammersmith and City have split loyalties while Victoria gets into football.|
|6||Caught Purple Handed||Diane Redmond||A rather absent-minded explorer brings a rare plant to the Underground.|
|7||Ernie's Big Trip||Jan Page||Paris visits. Is Ernie going to France forever? Don't go, Ernie!|
|8||Finders Keepers||Jan Page||A Golden Ticket becomes lost property.|
|9||The Magician's Assistant||Diane Redmond||Millie assists as Paris brings Maestro the magician to town.|
|10||Cover Story||Ross Hastings||Ernie tries to take some pictures for Tunnel Times; Sydney is in town.|
|11||Millie's Day Dream||Ross Hastings||Millie's won a dream day. Can the Underground cope without her?|
|12||Mr Movie Jones||Diane Redmond||A case of mistaken identity as Mr. Movie Jones visits Sea Shell Bay.|
|13||Summer Breeze||Louise Kramskoy||Phew, what a scorcher on the Underground!|
|14||Running Late||Lisa Akhurst||Is Victoria headed for the scrapyard?|
|15||Light at the End of the Tunnel||Jan Page||A tiny crack opens and Miss Relic sees her mummy again.|
|16||The Wreck of Sea Shell Bay||Diane Redmond||Sam and Dan are seriously bad kids - but they get lucky.|
|17||Catnapped||Louise Kramskoy||Pippa's cat Patch goes missing as the rain pours down.|
|18||Monster Mystery||Jan Page||Monster on the Underground? Not a good time for a practical joke.|
|19||Bon Appetit||Jan Page||Millie cooks for French chef Marcel Le Magnifique, who arrives on Paris.|
|20||A Change Is as Good as a Rest||Diane Redmond||The trains decide to swap lines; Pippa doesn't hear the announcement.|
|21||Elementary, My Dear Bakerloo!||Jan Page||A jumble sale saves the nature reserve.|
|22||The Magic Lamp||Louise Kramskoy||Is this a genie I see before me? A theatre prop spreads confusion.|
|23||How Great The Art||Ross Hastings||Modern art - who wants it? How about a squashed wheelbarrow for Brooklyn?|
|24||The Mayor's Visit||Ross Hastings||Mr. Rails gets the wrong end of the stick. The mayor gets stuck.|
|25||Techno Trouble!||Lisa Akhurst||Osaka gives Jubilee some Japanese technology that is just too good.|
|26||Snow Go||Jan Page||The Underground suffers from the wrong kind of snow as Moscow visits.|
In November 2005, Halsall International Ltd. announced that they had secured the rights to produce merchandising linked to Underground Ernie .
They products became on sale by the autumn of 2006, with a comprehensive range being available in 2007. The use of London Underground names and trains is a deliberate step to lead into merchandising suitable for children's gifts the revenue from which will be shared with Transport for London.
Halshall International Ltd have, since 2009, have stopped making 'Underground Ernie' models.
Day Out with Underground Ernie
In 2008, a railway in Hampshire called Eastleigh Lakeside Steam Railway secured the rights to hold Underground Ernie children's days and held four Underground Ernie events a year called: Day Out with Underground Ernie.
Miniature versions of 'Jubilee' and 'Ernie 1' were created which passengers could ride behind, as well as meeting a larger than life version of Underground Ernie.
The last Ernie event was held during late December 2009, ending in early January 2010. Day out with Thomas succeeded the event.
Underground Ernie charity evenings
As well as Days Out with Ernie, in 2008 and 2009 two Underground Ernie fundraising events were held at the railway which were hosted by The Karen Ingram Cancer Trust. With over £3,500 raised on the night at the first event which raised money for the hospital which cared and looked after Karen Ingram for whom the events were in memory of. Co-Creator John Deery also attended the special charity evening along with his family.
With Eastleigh no longer hosting Days out with Underground Ernie events, a final fundraiser was held at the railway in 2010, however this was not themed to Ernie due to the railway no longer having the Ernie characters available to use.
The show's theme song, performed by members of The Wonder Stuff under the name "HRB Music", is called "The Importance of Being Ernie". This is a reference to Oscar Wilde's play The Importance of Being Earnest (Ernie is short for Ernest).The logo is like the London underground logo
- Underground Ernie website
- Underground Ernie Facebook Page
- Underground Ernie Twitter Page
- Underground Ernie at the Internet Movie Database
- Underground Ernie at BBC Programmes
- Gary Lineker talks about his role as Underground Ernie - audio option
- Joella Productions website
- Transport for London website
- TfL article about Underground Ernie
- Article about merchandising and children's TV which mentions Underground Ernie
- Article about Underground Ernie
- BBC News item about the new series
- BBC Programme copy
- BBC Press Office interview with Gary Lineker about Underground Ernie
- Toys and Playthings article about merchandising for Underground Ernie
- An MPEG clip of the show