|Created by||Elizabeth Bennett|
|Directed by||Elizabeth Bennett
Pippin (series 1)
Mr. Higgins (as Pippin)
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of seasons||3|
|No. of episodes||40 (list of episodes)|
|Executive producer(s)||Judy Whitfield
|Location(s)||Middlesex & Buckinghamshire|
|Camera setup||Graham Latter
|Running time||14 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Tricorn Productions
|Original network||BBC Two
|Picture format||576i (4:3 SDTV)
(broadcast in 14:9 until 2012)
|Original release||23 September 1993– 18 March 1997|
Come Outside is an award-winning, British educational children's television series that ran from 23 September 1993 to 18 March 1997. It remains one of the BBCs most watched children's programs and due to its popularity was repeated on CBeebies until late 2012.
The series aims to encourage young children to learn about the world around them. The starting point for each programme is something with which children may already be familiar, such as wood, paper, boots, spiders, buses, soap and street lamps.
The two main characters are Auntie Mabel (played by Lynda Baron), and her dog Pippin, who was initially played by a female dog called Pippin, and later by the dog's grandson, Mr. Higgins. A feature of Come Outside is Auntie Mabel's unusual mode of transport: a small, spotty aeroplane.
|Series||Start date||End date||Episodes|
|1||23 September 1993||2 December 1993||11|
|2||22 September 1994||9 March 1995||19|
|3||7 January 1997||18 March 1997||10|
- Auntie Mabel – the main human character of the show. She lives with her dog, Pippin. In some episodes a close up of Auntie Mabel's hand can be seen, revealing a wedding ring. Auntie Mabel never talks of her "elusive" husband, but rather about her sister Edie. Played by Lynda Baron.
- Pippin – Auntie Mabel's pet dog. Pippin often has a comedy sub-plot during each episode, where she gets up to mischief without Auntie Mabel knowing. For example, in the episode "A carton drink", she secretly eats the sausages from her lunch box. In the episode "Soap", she hides the bar of soap to avoid having a bath. Played by Pippin and Mr. Higgins.
- Edie Featherstone – Auntie Mabel's sister, who is often referred to but never seen on screen. However, her voice was heard in the episode "A Woolly Jumper".
- Great Aunt Edna – Auntie Mabel's great aunt, who is also never seen on screen, but is referred to by Auntie Mabel in the episode "Toothpaste".
Pippin was a mixed-breed dog, half Tibetan Terrier, half Bearded Collie, roughly third generation descended from the famous American acting dog Benji and was owned and trained by the award-winning animal trainer Ann Head. Pippin was quite old at the start of the first series in 1993 and so she performed the slower but complex moves while her grandson, Mr. Higgins, performed any physically demanding actions.
Pippin retired at the end of Series 1 and Mr. Higgins took over the role of 'Pippin' entirely for Series 2 and 3. Mr. Higgins also starred as the Bakers dog for Bakers Complete pet food commercials and is still pictured on the products. He died in 2008 of old age while his grandmother, the original Pippin, died in the late 1990s.
Many other animals took part in Come Outside. Specially-shot footage included snails from London Zoo, exotic frogs at Chester Zoo, geese at Folly Farm in Gloucestershire, rabbits at Tilgate Park in West Sussex, butterflies in the Butterfly Centre, Eastbourne, hedgehogs supplied by St. Tiggywinkles Animal Hospital and spiders from a private collection. In addition archive shots were provided by the BBC's Natural History Film Library in Bristol.
Elizabeth Bennett created the format and characters, wrote the scripts, directed many of the programmes and produced all three series.
Two different production companies were involved. Series 1 was made by Spelthorne Productions, which has since closed. Series 2 and 3 were made by Elizabeth Bennett's production company Tricorn Associates.
Aerial views of the various locations visited by Auntie Mabel were shot by Jeremy Braben.
Series 1 was set in a cottage on the corner of Denham Airfield in Buckinghamshire, and was used to provide the exterior shots of Auntie Mabel's house. She would come out of the house, walk through the back garden and on to the airfield to climb into her aeroplane. The interiors were shot at Capital Studios in Wandsworth, South West London.
Series 2 was shot entirely on location, including the interiors of Auntie Mabel's house. The cottage at Denham Airfield was occupied and so a new location had to be found. An empty cottage on some farmland in Harefield, Middlesex was rented. To allow for the change of location to be incorporated into the show's continuity, a programme about moving house was shot to link the two locations.
Series 3 was commissioned two years later and was also shot at the cottage in Harefield.
In every programme Auntie Mabel ventures outside and this involved shooting in many locations in the United Kingdom, such as a pencil factory in Keswick, the manufacture of Wellington boots in Dumfries, a pottery in Stoke, growing bulbs in Spalding, Lincolnshire and making brushes in Portsmouth.
Sometimes Auntie Mabel's adventures stayed closer to home. Some of the episodes were filmed in the Middlesex area, for example in the episode "Buses" Auntie Mabel boards a bus bound for Uxbridge and is later seen exiting the public library at Ruislip Manor. Scenes were also shot in Woodley, in the precinct and in the veterinary clinic.
In the episode "Marmalade" Auntie Mabel flies to Seville to visit an orange grove. Shooting was restricted to the one day on which the oranges were ready for harvesting. This was only known with very short notice and consequently arrangements to fly out were made at the last minute. It happened well outside the main production period by which time Lynda Baron was committed to other work and was not free to travel to Seville. To make it appear that Auntie Mabel had visited the orange grove, she was recorded in the studio against a Chroma key background while a body double was used for reverse angle shots of her in Spain.
Awards and honors
The episode entitled Bricks won the Royal Television Society Educational Television Award 1997 in the Pre-school and Infants category.
Home Video and DVD
The BBC issued a collection on VHS tapes in the early 2000s, later released on DVD. The complete series is now available in a DVD box set.