|Genre||Stop motion animation|
|Written by||Gordon Murray|
|Narrated by||Brian Cant|
|Theme music composer||Freddie Phillips|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of series||1|
|No. of episodes||13|
|Running time||15 mins|
|First shown in||1966|
|Original release||3 January – 28 March 1966|
Camberwick Green is a British children's television series that ran from January to March of 1966 on BBC1, featuring stop motion puppets. Camberwick Green is the first in the Trumptonshire trilogy, which also includes Trumpton and Chigley.
The series was written and produced by Gordon Murray and animated by Bob Bura, John Hardwick and Pasquale Ferrari. Music was by Freddie Phillips while narration and song vocals were provided by Brian Cant. There are thirteen fifteen minute colour episodes produced by Gordon Murray Pictures. The inspiration for the name is believed to have stemmed from the East Sussex village of Wivelsfield Green, supported by the nearby villages of Plumpton (Trumpton) and Chailey (Chigley).
Each episode begins with a shot of a musical box which rotates while playing a tune. It is accompanied by the following narration:
Here is a box, a musical box, wound up and ready to play. But this box can hide a secret inside. Can you guess what is in it today?
The lid of the box then opens and the puppet character that is central to the episode emerges. After a brief introduction, the background appears and the story begins.
The series is set in the small, picturesque (and fictitious) village of Camberwick Green, Trumptonshire, which is inhabited by such characters as Police Constable McGarry (Number 452), Mickey Murphy the baker, Dr Mopp (who makes house calls in his vintage car), and the town gossip, Mrs Honeyman, who is always seen carrying her baby. Just outside the village lives Jonathan Bell, owner of a "modern mechanical farm", who has a friendly rivalry with Windy Miller, owner of a clanking old – but nevertheless efficiently functional – windmill and a firm believer in old fashioned farming methods.
Mr Dagenham, a travelling salesman who drives an open-topped convertible appears just once. The staff and cadets of Pippin Fort, a nearby military academy run by Captain Snort and Sergeant-Major Grout appear in all but one episode ("Paddy Murphy"). The series mixes contemporary technology with Edwardian costume and social attitudes. Almost all the characters have their own theme songs and travelling songs. There is one other character who never appears in the stories; an unnamed clown or pierrot who turns a roller caption to display the show's closing credits.
Each week the villagers undergo such domestic crises as a shortage of flour, a swarm of bees, a water shortage and rumours of an unwanted electrical substation being built in the village. At the end of each episode, the narrator bids farewell to the puppet character who was seen at the beginning and the latter disappears back into the musical box.
Camberwick Green has no overt fantasy content apart from the musical box. For the most part, it is simply about ordinary people doing everyday things, and perhaps for that reason it has remained popular to this day. Along with its two successors, the series was repeated many times on the BBC until 1985, and then on Channel 4 from 1994 to 2000.
- "Peter the Postman" (3 January 1966)
- "Windy Miller" (10 January 1966)
- "Mr Crockett the Garage Man" (17 January 1966)
- "Dr Mopp" (24 January 1966)
- "Farmer Jonathan Bell" (31 January 1966)
- "Captain Snort" (7 February 1966)
- "Paddy Murphy" (14 February 1966)
- "Roger Varley the Sweep" (21 February 1966)
- "PC McGarry" (28 February 1966)
- "Mr Dagenham the Salesman" (7 March 1966)
- "Mr Carraway the Fishmonger" (14 March 1966)
- "Mickey Murphy the Baker" (21 March 1966)
- "Mrs Honeyman and Her Baby" (28 March 1966)
Episode titles were given in Radio Times, but were not shown on screen.
The 1970s pop band Candlewick Green shares its name with the originally planned title of the series. (Murray had planned to name the show "Candlewick Green" but found that the person writing his contract had misheard and mangled the name; as he did not object to the new name, Murray went forth with the show under the mangled title.)
Camberwick Green was spoofed for an 1988 edition of Spitting Image, as "Gamberwick Greenbelt". The ninety second sketch had a puppet Nicholas Ridley, described as "Old Nicky Ridley, the village idiot", aboard a bulldozer who then proceeded to demolish the whole village for redevelopment. In 2015, Private Eye resurrected the spoof as the "Camberwick Greenbelt" strip cartoon, offering satirical comment on social and political impacts on the British countryside.
The character Windy Miller and his famous windmill appeared in September 2005 along with some other Camberwick Green characters in commercials for Quaker Oats on television in the United Kingdom. The puppets and setting are all re creations, because Murray destroyed the originals in the 1970s. The original narrator, Brian Cant, auditioned to do the voice over for the commercials, before the job was instead given to Charlie Higson.
Episode five of the second series of the BBC's Life on Mars features a recreation of the opening of Camberwick Green, with a puppet of the show's main character, Sam Tyler (John Simm), emerging from the musical box and despairing over his colleague, Gene Hunt (Philip Glenister), who can be seen in puppet form "kicking in a nonce" at the end. This later leads to Sam to threaten Hunt, telling him to "Stay out of Camberwick Green!". It emerges that Sam is tripping after being accidentally overdosed in his hospital bed.
Again, the voice over was not supplied by Brian Cant, but is delivered in a similar style. It differs from the original by saying: "This is a box, a magical box, playing a magical tune. But inside this box there lies a surprise. Do you know who's in it today?"
The narration was provided by Brian Little, the co-founder of Hot Animation, the company that created the sequence. His recording was supposed to be a temporary guide track to help the animators time the shots, but the producers of Life on Mars were content to retain it for the final version. The one-minute sequence was designed and animated by Paul Couvela, the supervising animator of Bob the Builder.
Restoration and commercial releases
The original masters of Camberwick Green – along with those of its sequels Trumpton and Chigley- were believed to have been lost, with most surviving copies tending to suffer from scratched, wobbly or grainy picture quality and a muffled soundtrack.
However, when boxes of some original film were discovered in Gordon Murray's attic – with more footage then discovered by the BBC – the trilogy was restored and remastered for a Blu-ray release in 2011.
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In 1984, eighteen years later after the broadcasts on BBC in 1966. Longman Video released the first four episodes, as part of its Children's Treasury Collection.
|VHS video title||Year of release||Episodes|
|Camberwick Green (SLL 5024)||1984||Peter Hazel The Postman, Windy Miller, Mr Crockett, Dr Mopp.|
Later, in 1989, the BBC released a video with the last three episodes (including E12 Mickey Murphy the Baker as the first episode, E11 Mr Carraway as the second episode and E13 Mrs Honeyman and her Baby as the last episode).
|VHS video title||Year of release||Episodes|
|Camberwick Green 1: Mickey Murphy the Baker (BBCV 4231)||6 February 1989||Mickey Murphy the Baker, Mr Carraway, Mrs Honeyman and her Baby .|
Then, in 1996–1997 Telstar Home Entertainnment, as part of its Star Kids range released three videos.
|VHS video title||Year of release||Episodes|
|A Busy Day in Camberwick Green (TVE 3011)||1996||Peter Hazel the Postman, Windy Miller, Mr Crockett, Dr Mopp.|
|It's Fun to Work in Camberwick Green (TVE 3018)||1997||Mickey Murphy the Baker, Mrs Honeyman and her Baby, PC McGarry, Mr Carraway|
|Meet Your Friends in Camberwick Green (TVE 3022)||1997||Jonathan Bell, Paddy Murphy, Captain Snort, Roger Varley the Sweep|
DVD and Blu ray
References and notes
- The A-Z of Classic Children's Television, Simon Sheridan, 2004
- Life on Mars: The Complete Series Two DVD – "Behind the Scenes of Episode 5"
- "Decoding the Politics in Radiohead's "Burn the Witch" Video | Pitchfork". pitchfork.com. Retrieved 2016-05-06.
- "New, new Barney McGrew: Trumpton and Camberwick Green cleaned up", guardian.co.uk, 13 January 2012
- "BBC Studio and Post Production | Creator of much-loved Camberwick Green, Trumpton and Chigley sees 1960s children's TV trilogy preserved for future generations". Bbcstudiosandpostproduction.com. Archived from the original on 2012-07-13. Retrieved 2013-06-08.
- "December 2011: BBC Studios and Post Production digitally restores all 39 episodes of the first children's animated colour television series" (PDF). BBC Studios and Post Production. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-04-18. Retrieved 2015-09-20.