El Nombre

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El Nombre
Genre Educational animation
Created by Christopher Lillicrap
Developed by Geoff Walker
Written by Christopher Lillicrap
Directed by Chris Mendham
Geoff Walker
Starring Steve Steen
Sophie Aldred
Kate Robbins
Janet Ellis
Composer(s) Christopher Lillicrap
Steve Marshall
Country of origin United Kingdom
No. of series 2
No. of episodes 26
Executive producer(s) Theresa Plummer-Andrews
Producer(s) Jilly Joseph
Richard Randolph
Running time 5 minutes
Original network BBC One
Original release 25 September 2000 – 15 December 2003

El Nombre is an anthropomorphic Mexican gerbil character, originally from a series of educational sketches on Numbertime, the BBC schools programme about mathematics. He was also the only character to appear in all Numbertime episodes. His voice was provided by Steve Steen, while the other characters' voices were provided by Sophie Aldred, Kate Robbins, and (from 1999) former Blue Peter host Janet Ellis. For the ninth (and final) series of Numbertime in 2001, Michael Fenton-Stevens also provided voices of certain other characters in the El Nombre sketches.

The character's name means "The Name" in Spanish, not "The Number", which would be "El Número".


El Nombre is set in the fictional town of Santa Flamingo (originally Santo Flamingo) ("deep in the heart of Mexico"),[1] home of Little Juan, Pedro Gonzales, Juanita Conchita, Maria Consuela Tequila Chiquita, Little Pepita Consuela Tequila Chiquita, Tanto the tarantula, Señor Gelato the ice-cream seller, Leonardo de Sombrero the pizza delivery boy, Señor Calculo the bank manager, Señora Fedora the balloon seller, and the local bandit Don Fandango (although it was not actually given a name until the fifth series of Numbertime premiered in January 1998); whenever he was needed, El Nombre swung into action to solve the townspeople's simple mathematical problems, usually talking in rhyme. His character was a parody of the fictional hero Zorro, wearing a similar black cowl mask and huge sombrero, appearing unexpectedly to save the townsfolk from injustice, and generally swinging around on his bullwhip - however, unlike Zorro, he was often quite inept (in fact, on one occasion, Tanto tipped a bucket of water onto him after he made him reenact the Incy Wincy Spider rhyme).

When El Nombre first appeared on Numbertime in 1993, his purpose was merely to write numbers in the desert sand and demonstrate the correct ways to form them as his four-piece mariachi band played The Mexican Hat Dance (and said "Again!" once he had finished, as it gave them an excuse to play again); this was shot from an angle directly overhead leaving El Nombre almost completely eclipsed by his large sombrero. His appeal was instant and his success prompted rapid development of his role in the series (as from the second series in 1995, he was given two sketches per episode) - and since his basic beginning, El Nombre went on to appear in a total of 126 (136, if counting those from the "revised" version of the first series) sketches on Numbertime before gaining a series of his own, acquiring dramatic storylines and a full cast of characters, while continuing to demonstrate mathematical concepts, albeit in a dramatic and entertaining way. The stories moved away from solving simple mathematical equations to fighting petty crime, unrelated to the number-solving which made his name and for which he was created.

As well as being popular with schoolchildren, El Nombre also developed a cult following amongst students and parents, because of the many references to classic spaghetti Westerns; indeed, his popularity grew so much that in March 2004, the BBC released a 3-minute El Nombre theme song as a single.

Episode list[edit]

Although none of the El Nombre sketches on Numbertime ever had a specific title, those of the first series were introduced by an announcer as "Episodes 1-10" (and they were slightly lengthened for the "revised" edition of that series, in September 1998; the third line of the opening song and his farewell catchphrase were also changed several times, to reflect the series' focus). All twenty-six episodes of the spin-off El Nombre series (thirteen in 2000 and a further thirteen in 2003), however, were titled - and their names are listed here.

Series 1 (2000)[edit]

  • Episode 1: Where's That Spider? (air date 25 September 2000)
  • Episode 2: Free as a Bird (2 October 2000)
  • Episode 3: Sports Day (9 October 2000)
  • Episode 4: All the Fun of the Fair (16 October 2000)
  • Episode 5: The Great Train Robbery (23 October 2000)
  • Episode 6: The Phantom Tanto (30 October 2000)
  • Episode 7: The Missing Birthday Cake (6 November 2000)
  • Episode 8: The Giant Cactus (13 November 2000)
  • Episode 9: The Great Custard Pie Fight (20 November 2000)
  • Episode 10: When the Balloon Goes Up (27 November 2000)
  • Episode 11: The Great Escape (4 December 2000)
  • Episode 12: The Ghost of Santo Flamingo (11 December 2000)
  • Episode 13: Match of the Day (18 December 2000)

Series 2 (2003)[edit]

  • Episode 14: Going for a Song (22 September 2003)
  • Episode 15: Runaway Train (29 September 2003)
  • Episode 16: The Tent (6 October 2003)
  • Episode 17: Stuck at the Top (13 October 2003)
  • Episode 18: The Great Bank Robbery (20 October 2003)
  • Episode 19: The Great Sand Race (27 October 2003)
  • Episode 20: The Lemon Tree (3 November 2003)
  • Episode 21: Beside the Sea (10 November 2003)
  • Episode 22: The Last Dance (17 November 2003)
  • Episode 23: Saved by the Whale (24 November 2003)
  • Episode 24: Up, Up and Away (1 December 2003)
  • Episode 25: A Very Important Visit (8 December 2003)
  • Episode 26: Winter Wonderland (15 December 2003)

In October 2005, all twenty-six episodes were released on DVD by Maverick Entertainment; the first ten were previously released on a VHS entitled El Nombre to the Rescue by BBC Worldwide in 2001, which also featured an exclusive short (entitled Learn Your Numbers With Little Juan, and edited together from the El Nombre sketches of the "original" first series of Numbertime). [2] Some of the El Nombre (and cell-animated) sketches of the "revised" first, second and fifth, and fourth series of Numbertime were also released by BBC Active in 2009 on three DVDs entitled Fun with Numbers - which all came with accompanying books featuring the characters, and were subtitled Counting 1 to 10, Shapes and Time (the featured sketches were mostly from the second series), and Adding and Taking Away respectively. [3]


  • Writer: Christopher Lillicrap
  • Original designs: Ealing Animation
  • Models: Fin Leadbitter, Humphrey Leadbitter, Katy Maxwell
  • Props: Graeme Owen, Fin Leadbitter, Sophie Brown, Katy Maxwell
  • Sets: Graeme Owen, Colin Armitage, Sophie Brown, Humphrey Leadbitter
  • Animation: Humphrey Leadbitter, Tim Allen, Chris Mendham, Dan Sharp
  • Editing and special effects: David Brylewski
  • Facilities: Oasis Television
  • Theme tune composer: Christopher Lillicrap
  • Music and effects: Steve Marshall
  • Sound: Adrian Sear
  • Producer: Jilly Joseph, Richard Randolph
  • Executive producer: Theresa Plummer-Andrews
  • Director: Chris Mendham, Geoff Walker


External links[edit]