Fireman Sam

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Fireman Sam
Fireman Sam logo
Logo of Fireman Sam
Genre Stop-motion (1987-2005)
CGI (2008-present)
Created by Dave Gingell
Dave Jones
Rob Lee
Written by Nia Ceidiog
Rob Lee
Voices of Steven Kynman
John Sparkes (2005 series.)
Joanna Ruiz
Sarah Hadland (2005)
David Carling
Su Douglas
Tegwen Tucker (2008-2014)
Alex Lowe[citation needed]
Narrated by John Alderton (1987-94)
Gareth Lewis (Welsh)
Music by Ben Heneghan
Ian Lawson[disambiguation needed]
Country of origin Wales of United Kingdom
No. of series 9
No. of episodes 162 (list of episodes)
Production
Producer(s) Ian Frampton
John Walker
Running time 10 minutes (series)
20 minutes (Christmas special episode)
Production company(s) Bumper Films (1987-94)
HIT Entertainment (2005-present) (Mattel)
Release
Original network CBBC (1987-2002)
CBeebies (2002-2008)
Channel 5 (2008- present)
Sprout (2005-2014)
Picture format 4:3 576i (1987–1996)
16:9 576i (2003–present)
Audio format
Original release 17 November 1987 – present

Fireman Sam is an animated comedy children's television series about a fireman called Sam, his fellow firefighters, and other townspeople in the fictional Welsh rural town of Pontypandy (a portmanteau of two real towns, Pontypridd and Tonypandy, which are situated approximately 5 miles (8.0 km) apart in the South Wales valleys). The original idea for the show came from two ex-firemen from Kent, who took their idea to artist and writer Rob Lee who developed the concept, and the show was later commissioned by S4C.

Fireman Sam first appeared in Welsh on S4C as Sam Tân in 1987, and later that year in English on BBC1. The original series finished in 1994, and a new series that expanded the character cast commenced in 2005. The series was also shown in Gaelic in Scotland, where it was known as Sam Smalaidh. The series was sold to over 40 countries and has been used across the United Kingdom to promote fire safety.

Development[edit]

The original idea came about from two ex-firemen from Kent – Dave Gingell and David Jones. They approached Mike Young, creator of SuperTed in Barry, Wales, and asked them to further develop their concept. The idea was then brought to S4C's Director of Animation, Chris Grace, who saw potential in the idea and commissioned the series. Grace had previously commissioned Superted, which had achieved success across the United Kingdom and worldwide. The characters and storylines were created by Rob Lee, an illustrator from Cardiff, and the program was produced using stop-motion. It could take up to 4 days to produce 1 minute of this form of puppet animation. Fireman Sam has to this day been translated into over 25 different languages including Mandarin.[1] In the first four series, all the character voices were performed by John Alderton (in English) and Gareth Lewis (in Welsh). The later series used several actors' voices. Voice direction in Welsh was by Pat Griffiths.

Series history[edit]

Original series[edit]

The series originally comprised 32 ten-minute episodes and a 20-minute Christmas special. The narration and character voices were done by John Alderton (and by Gareth Lewis in the Welsh version).

Sam is the protagonist in the show, and interacts with both colleagues at the fire station and local townspeople. He is seen as somewhat of a hero in the village. Despite being so small, and with so little activity, the town sees its fair share of fires, which Sam and his team can easily handle. The vehicles at the fire station include a four-wheeled Bedford TK fire engine called Jupiter, a six-wheeled 1982 Range Rover Rescue Tender named Venus and Trevor's bus a 1985 Ford Transit Dormobile. Sam's colleagues are Elvis Cridlington and Station Officer Basil Steele (renamed Norris Steele in the new series). The townspeople are Bus Driver/Auxiliary Firefighter Trevor Evans, Italian Cafe Owner Bella Lasagne, Norman Price, Norman's mother Dilys Price, and the twins James and Sarah Jones. The objects include Bentley the Robot, trash can robot, and Mechanical Master Chef.

The original series aired on BBC One, CBBC and CBeebies since 1987, most commonly airing on CBeebies on a daily basis with repeats showing until 2008. In the original television series produced by Bumper Films between 1987 and 1994, the firefighters had yellow and black uniforms, whereas in the new CGI television series produced by HIT Entertainment and Hibbert Ralph, the firefighters had yellow and blue uniforms.[clarification needed]

In 1988, the series was nominated for a BAFTA TV Award for Best Short Animated Film. The potential recipients were Ian Frampton and John Walker.[2]

2005 series[edit]

In 2005 a new Fireman Sam series was produced by Siriol Productions (now known as Calon TV), comprising twenty-six episodes, each ten minutes in length. These episodes used more modern techniques of stop-motion animation including mouths that move with the dialogue. This series featured all the original characters, but also introduced some new faces, such as Tom Thomas, the Australian pilot of rescue helicopter Wallaby One and the Mountain Rescue 4×4 Jeep, an unnamed photographer/news reporter, and the Flood family; consisting of Mike the plumber, his wife Helen the nurse, and their daughter Mandy. The updated Jupiter has six wheels, loosely based on a Bedford 6×4, and Venus is loosely based on a Mini Cooper. The characters in this series were voiced by John Sparkes, Joanna Ruiz and Sarah Hadland. The series premiered on CBeebies in 2005 and repeats were shown until 2008.

The show's production companies were Bumper Films and Siriol Productions (2005–present), and its distributors were British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and Sianel 4 Cymru (S4C).[3]

2008–present series[edit]

Pontypandy is now a seaside fishing village instead of a village set deep in the hills as in the early series, though most of the locations have retained their appearances. Another change in this series is that the twins' parents appear for the first time; their new-age mother Bronwyn, and fisherman father Charlie, Sam's brother, who run a cafe/fish-and-chip shop called 'Whole Fish Cafe'. The series is produced by Hibbert Ralph Animation in association with HIT Entertainment.

Jupiter was upgraded again, now loosely based on a Volvo FL6 Fire Engine, with a grille between the sirens and rectangular headlamps on the bump. Venus was still the same vehicle like the 2002 series, but it can now shoot water out of a mounted water cannon. Trevor's bus was new but with triangular headlamps. New vehicles introduced were Mike Flood's Van in the sixth season onwards, and Mercury, Saturn, Pontypandy Flyer, and Bessie introduced from the eighth season onwards.

The outfits were updated throughout the series (except for Norman Price): Every firefighter have white lining on the sleeves and the fire badges on the left sleeves and on the back. Dilys Price has eye shadows, glasses, black hair, necklace, green shirt with pink polka dots, and blue trousers. James Jones, has a green sweater and olive green trousers. Sarah Jones has a pink shirt, sky blue vest, and bright blue trousers. Mike Flood has green overalls, white shirt and a blue cap. Tom Thomas has orange rescue suits. Mandy Flood has a yellow shirt with a blue tank top with flowers, and a purple skirt with flowers.

Many characters also had aspects of their personalities made more apparent. Norman Price is far more mischievous and inconsiderate than in the 2005 series where his pranks were often planned out and his accidents were due to badly planned ideas rather than outrageous schemes. For example, in the episode "Pontypandy Extreme", Norman gets trapped down a wishing well after attempting to climb down in order to retrieve the coins from the bottom. Other examples are Station Officer Steele's strictness and maturity and Elvis's decrease in general competence. For example, in one episode where a first aid training exercise is taking place, Elvis is told off by Steele for dancing with the dummy that is being used. At the same time, Steele is not afraid to unleash the child within him, showing an interest in kite flying and paper planes. He also occasionally causes emergencies himself, and always seems to gasp when an emergency comes in. Also Station Officer Steele's name has changed to Station Officer Norris Steele

Other changes include the removal of Bella, although her cafe can still be seen opposite Dilys' shop, now a 7-Eleven-esque convenience store called the "Cut Price Supermarket". It seems the Whole Fish Cafe and Bronwyn and Charlie have replaced them. Penny also now has another string to her bow, as she is a trained lifeguard and the driver of Neptune (the town's lifeboat). Also Rosa and Dusty have been replaced by Lion, Nipper, and Radar.

Since 2012, additional characters were introduced: a firefighter named Chief Fire Officer Boyce, one animal called Norris the Guinea Pig, five new townspeople named Derek Price, Moose Roberts, Gareth Griffiths, Lily, and Mrs. Chen, and two new objects were the ukulele named Marjorie, AKA Marjorie Stays With Me, and a thermal heating tracking device named Saturn.

In 2014, other characters were introduced: one lifeguard named Ben Hooper, one mechanic named Joe Sparkes with his wife Lizzie Sparkes, and their daughter Hannah Sparkes. Also, new vehicles were introduced: a jet ski named Juno and a fire boat named Titan. Also in "Ultimate Heroes" or "Heroes of the Storm" There is Ellie Phillips and Arnold McKinley, new firefighter members. There is Hydrus (later Catfish or Wildcat) the 6-wheeled vehicle boat, and an unnamed Mobile Command Unit too.

The characters in this series were voiced by Steven Kynman, Tegwen Tucker, David Carling, and Su Douglas. Also in 2012, John Hasler, Ifan Huw Dafydd and Nigel Whitmey joined the cast. Alex Lowe and Jo Wyatt joined the cast in 2014.

CBeebies last aired Fireman Sam in early 2008, before Turner Broadcasting and Channel 5 started airing it from mid-2008.

Main characters[edit]

Firefighters[edit]

  • Fireman Samuel 'Sam' Peyton Jones is referred to as the "hero next door", Charlie's older brother and Bronwyn's brother-in-law. He is the brave archetypal fireman and protector, who remains composed in an emergency and unfailingly offers assistance to all those in need. Sam is single, but maintains a close relationship with his nephew, James, and niece, Sarah. He lives at 3 Vale Road next to Trevor Evans. Sam spends his spare time in his "inventing shed", in which he makes devices ranging from a potato picker made from old bicycle parts to a machine capable of replacing the town band. On occasion his inventive streak can undermine his emphasis on fire safety. His catchphrase is "Great fires of London." and "Action stations everybody."
  • Fireman Elvis Cridlington who is named after the King of Rock and Roll Elvis Presley for his Pompadour hairstyle and his admiration of Rock n roll provides a stark contrast to Sam in both competency and demeanour. His catchphrase is "Great balls of fire."
  • Station Officer Norris Steele, previously Station Officer Basil Steele in the original series, is the chief of Pontypandy Fire Station. As a former army officer, he insists upon a high standard of both hygiene and efficiency in the fire station. His catchphrase in the original series was "Now who needs the fire service." but in the new series it is "Action stations men.", which fell out of use in the CGI series.
  • Firefighter Penny Morris is the only female member of the Pontypandy fire brigade. In the original series, she only visited occasionally (hailing from Newtown fire station), although in the new series, she seems to work at Pontypandy full-time. Penny doubles as a mechanic. Her ideas are often unconventional and at odds with her male colleagues, but she usually turns out to have been right. Penny is often known to go on adventures with the town's children – James and Sarah, Norman Price and Mandy Flood. A relationship between her and Elvis has been hinted more than once. It is also hinted that Penny is a vegetarian. Her catchphrase is: "Action stations at last" and "Stand by everybody".
  • Chief Fire Officer Boyce hails from Newtown, and visits Pontypandy. (2010-onwards)
  • Firefighter Ellie Phillips - Ellie Phillips is the new female firefighter introduced in the latest feature-length special Heroes of the Storm. She attended the Newtown Fire Academy and was one of the best in the batch. (2015-onwards)
  • Firefighter Arnold McKinley - Arnold McKinley is the new fireman introduced in the latest feature-length special Heroes of the Storm. It is him who gave the name "Hydrus" to the new rescue vehicle introduced at the end of this special. He attended the Newtown Fire Academy and was one of the best in his batch.(2015-onwards)

Townspeople[edit]

  • Trevor Evans is a West Indian former auxiliary fireman with the Pontypandy brigade. His job is as the town's bus driver. He is known for his fondness for cricket, his fear of heights, his awkward manner and general bad luck streak, but nonetheless exhibits a great devotion to the welfare of others (especially Dilys). In the 2005 and 2008 seasons, Trevor is no longer an auxiliary firefighter but is still the bus driver, and the spark between him and Dilys still holds strong.
  • Dilys Price runs the town grocery store. She is a well known gossip, and has great affection for Trevor, the bus driver (something which poor Trevor is too shy to act upon). Dilys is the mother of town mischief-maker Norman Price, but is frequently blind to her son's troublesome ways. She dotes on her only child, or "Mummy's Little Darling" or My Little Treasure as she sometimes calls him. In earlier series', Dilys is shown to be more snobbish than later. She also appears to use Malapropisms in her speech (EG: 'Inhalation' becomes 'Installation', 'Hysterical' becomes 'Historical'). She is also known to be self-centered; when she and Bella think they are going to be abducted by aliens, Bella says "It's-a coming straight for us!", to which Dilys replies "Stands to reason, if they want an intelligent life forms." while looking disapprovingly at Bella.
  • Bella Lasagne (1987-2005) - Bella is the absent-minded town cafe owner, hailing from Italy. Bella appears to be based on the real Welsh Italians who ran cafes known as "Bracchis" in South Wales Valleys.
  • Photographer was an unnamed character that appeared in ' Fit For Nothing '.
  • Charlie 'Charles' Jones (2008 onwards) - Charlie is a fisherman, Bronwyn's husband, Fireman Sam's brother and father of Sarah and James. He is running his fishing boat.
  • Bronwyn Jones (née Griffiths) (2008 onwards) - Bronwyn is a Pontypandy citizen who runs the Wholefish Café and is the mother of Sarah and James.
  • Gareth Griffiths (2012 onwards) - Gareth is Father of Bronwyn, Maternal Grandfather of Sarah and James and Charlie's Father-in-Law.
  • Helen Flood (2005 onwards) - Helen is the town's Nurse and mother of Mandy Flood.
  • Mike Flood (2005 onwards) - Mike is a handyman and father of Mandy Flood.
  • Tom Thomas (2005 onwards) - Tom is a helicopter pilot who hails form Australia. He helps with certain emergencies if the firefighters need his assistance.
  • Moose Roberts (2012 onwards) - Moose is a famous mountain climber who hails from Canada and works at the Mountain Activity Centre.
  • Mrs. Chen (2012 onwards) - Mrs. Chen is mother of Lily.
  • Ben Hooper (2014 onwards) - Ben is the new coastguard who operates the ocean rescue center.
  • Joe Sparkes (2014 onwards) - Joe is the town's mechanic and father of Hannah Sparkes.
  • Lizzie Sparkes (2014 onwards) - Lizzie is Joe's husband and Hannah's mum.

Children[edit]

  • Sarah & James Jones are the relatively well-behaved six-year-old twins of Charlie, niece and nephew of Fireman Sam. They are often more sensible in an emergency than Norman. When they grow up they want to be firefighters like their uncle Sam. They started acting more like naughty twins in the 2008 series (i.e. insulting each other, having arguments, and sometimes being the cause of an emergency, but it is made clear they still care for each other). Sarah's catchphrase from 2012 is "I have/What a totally brilliant idea!" while James' is "Here I go."
  • Norman "Careful" Stanley Price is a seven-year-old boy with a love of practical jokes and skateboarding. Unfortunately, Norman regularly fails to set appropriate limits on his own behaviour, and has been known to cause mischief and sometimes causes havoc at the fire station, and for many of Pontypandy's residents. He has shown interest in becoming a firefighter himself one day.
  • Mandy Flood is a seven-year-old girl and daughter to Helen and Mike Flood. Her behaviour is that of a bridge between naughty Norman and well-behaved Sarah & James.
  • Derek Price is Norman's cousin, Mr. Price's son.
  • Lily Chen is the three-year-old daughter of Mrs. Chen and youngest child on the show.
  • Hannah Sparkes is an eleven-year-old girl and Joe and Lizzie's daughter. She is the only child in Pontypandy to use a wheelchair.

Animals[edit]

  • Radar is a Fire station Dalmatian Dog.
  • Norris is James and Sarah's Guinea Pig
  • Lion is Bronwyn's striped, ginger Cat
  • Nipper is Gareth's brown Dog
  • Wooley is a sheep that Norman tries to look after.
  • Lamikins is a lamb that is Wooley's child. Norman also tries to look after Lamikins.

Transportation[edit]

  • Jupiter is a Fire engine. Fireman Sam, Firefighter Elvis drive it, and occasionally Chief Officer Boyce or Firewoman Penny Morris also drive it.
  • Trevor's Bus is the only road vehicle which is public transport and is driven by Trevor Evans.
  • Venus is Pontypandy's second fire vehicle and is a rescue tender driven by Firewoman Penny Morris and occasionally by Fireman Sam and Station Officer Steele.
  • Nurse Flood's Ambulance is the only medical vehicle in Pontypandy. The ambulance is a car and has only ever been driven by Nurse Flood.
  • Wallaby One is the rescue helicopter manned by Tom Thomas and occasionally Fireman Sam. It is stationed at the mountain rescue centre where Tom Thomas works. It has a double harness which is used by Fireman Sam.
  • Mountain Rescue 4x4 is a Jeep based at the mountain rescue centre. It is used in occasional mountain emergencies and is driven by Tom Thomas, Fireman Sam and Firewoman Penny Morris.
  • Neptune is the rescue boat driven by Firewoman Penny Morris and Fireman Sam and was the original boat in the series until series 9. After two series of it appearing, Elvis occasionally drove it.
  • Charlie's Fishing Boat is a boat owned by Charlie Jones who is a fisherman and it is used for his work.
  • Mike's Van is a two-seated van driven and used for Mike Floods' job as a handyman.
  • Mercury is the third vehicle which is used for fire emergencies. It is a quad-bike mainly driven by Fireman Sam, but in the last episode of series 9, Station Officer Steele drove it when he was needed on an emergency.
  • Saturn is the GPS tracker and finds missing people.
  • Bessie is the old fire engine used when Station Officer Steele was a young fireman. It is driven by Station Officer Steele, Fireman Sam and Firewoman Penny Morris.
  • The Pontypandy Flyer is a railway steam train driven and owned by Gareth Grithiths. It goes from Pontypandy Station to the mountain activity centre owned by Canadian, Moose Roberts.
  • Hydrus is the land-water vehicle the is the 6th fire vehicle in the show.
  • Titan is the main fire boat manned by Ben Hooper, the lifeguard alongside Firewoman Penny Morris. It has two water cannons.
  • Juno is the new jet ski driven by Fireman Sam.

Locations[edit]

  • Pontypandy Fire station* is the fire station which has been re-built 4 times. Originally, it had 1 vehicle bay for Jupiter, and Venus parked outside. For the 2005 series, there was still only 1 vehicle bay, but Venus had a room at the back of the station. In the CGI series, there were two stations overall, one from 2008-14 and one from Hereos of the Storm onwards. In the third station, there were two vehicle bays (one for Jupiter and one for Venus). Finally, in the last station, there are three vehicle bays (One for Mercury, Jupiter and Venus). It has a sitting room, kitchen and dining room. It also has a bedroom with 3 beds and there are two poles.
  • Cut Price Supermarket is the only supermarket in Pontypandy and is run by Dilys Price the small market sells almost everything and is has a 7/11 gas store look. It has a second level which is like a house and Norman lives up on the second level. In Season 1 - 5 it was called N.W Price
  • Bella Lasagne's Café (1987-2005) was the Italian café ran by Bella Lasagne. Bella's café was based on the real-life 'Bracchis' run by Welsh Italians.

Main theme song[edit]

The series had an main theme song composed by Ben Heneghan and Ian Lawson. The lyrics were written by Robin Lyons, and sung by Maldwyn Pope. A full-length version was also released on BBC Records, which was the same as the TV series version, albeit without the slap bass which was heavily featured. The verse of the song alternates between notes a fifth apart – the intention being to suggest the sound of a fire engine siren.

The same composers wrote a new arrangement of the theme tune for the 2002 remake, although this time in straight quavers rather than the 'swung' twelve-eight of the original theme. Robin Lyons also updated the lyrics. This version was sung by Cameron Stewart, singer and guitarist with the Cardiff-based function band Session,[4] and also the originals outfit Calling Madison. It was shortened for the 2008 CGI series.

Episodes[edit]

Spinoffs[edit]

In 1996, a stage production was turned into a feature, Fireman Sam In Action, and released on BBC Video.

In 2009, Fireman Sam appeared with other animated children's television characters in a Children In Need single. The single was put together by Peter Kay.[5]

The show saw its first feature-length movie, The Great Fire of Pontypandy, released to DVD and iTunes in 2010, and was shown in select cinemas.

Fireman Sam was adapted into a live musical theatre show, which began touring the UK in June 2011.[6]

In 2015, the show's second feature-length movie "Heroes of the Storm" (also known as "Ultimate Heroes" in the USA) due to be released September 2015 however it was released for US audiences December 2014.[citation needed]

Chief Fire Officer Boyce announces that the old Pontypandy fire station will be closed down to make way for a new, more modern fire station and two new members of the firefighting crew. In the meantime, the team will have to co-ordinate rescues from a Mobile Command Unit whilst the new fire station is being built.

Up at the mountains, Penny is taking Norman, Mandy, Sarah and James on a pot-holing trip in the old mines. And at the Mountain Activity Centre, Moose and Tom are using Moose’s new amphibious vehicle to take wildlife photographs, but they haven’t quite mastered the controls and it’s not long before they’re swept out to sea and Sam has to come to their aid.

Elsewhere at sea, Charlie and coastguard Ben see a hurricane has rapidly developed and is heading straight for Pontypandy; they immediately warn Sam. So it’s action stations as Sam has to rescue Penny and the kids from the old mines, Elvis helps prepare Pontypandy for the storm and Station Officer Steele gathers everyone at the new fire station.

But when a fire breaks out at the new fire station, it’s a race against time as Sam has to hurry back to Pontypandy to help the rest of the team and save the day.

The hurricane passes, Pontypandy made it through. As life goes back to normal in Pontypandy, Moose donates the amphibious vehicle to Sam and the team – newly painted in fire station colours and renamed Hydrus.

Critical response[edit]

The ABC website said of the series, "All the characters blend together into an appealing mixture of fun and entertainment for children everywhere."[5]

Common Sense Media recommended the 2004 series for ages 3 and up, praising it for showing how to "stay calm in a crisis" and rely on a team to solve problems. The American website found that the "distinctly Welsh characters, community, accents, and expressions may pose some minor comprehension problems for kids on this side of the pond", but considered it a useful example of life in another part of the world.[6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "About Sam". Retrieved 4 January 2011. 
  2. ^ "Awards for "Fireman Sam" (1987)". Retrieved 4 January 2011. 
  3. ^ "Company credits for "Fireman Sam" (1987)". Retrieved 4 January 2011. 
  4. ^ "The Ultimate Wedding and Function Band". SessionUK. 2013. Retrieved 2013. 
  5. ^ "Fireman Sam at ABC". Retrieved 4 January 2011. 
  6. ^ "Fireman Sam at commonsensemedia". Retrieved 4 January 2011. 

External links[edit]