Roger and the Rottentrolls
|Roger and the Rottentrolls|
|Created by||Gordon Firth
|Narrated by||Martin Clunes|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of series||4|
|No. of episodes||36|
|Running time||10 minutes (approx.)|
|Production company(s)||The Children's Company in association with Meridian Broadcasting (1996-97)
Yorkshire Television (1998-2000)
|Original network||ITV Network (CITV)|
|Original release||13 September 1996– 25 February 2000|
Roger and the Rottentrolls (sometimes called The Rottentrolls) is a children's comedy television series made for ITV by The Children's Company, which combined puppets with live action human actors. It was first broadcast on 13 September 1996 and ended on 25 February 2000.
The first series won the 1997 BAFTA for "Best Children's Entertainment Show", beating the Ant and Dec Show. Later series were nominated for awards from both BAFTA and the Royal Television Society.
Roger and the Rottentrolls started life as a book and audio tape, written by Tim Firth and commissioned by EMI and W H Smith and produced by Robert Howes and The Children's Company, intended as a 'spooky story' for children part of a series, of over 30 titles.
Tim's dad, Gordon, who had originally invented the characters, drew the designs for all the characters from which the puppets were made.The pilot for the TV series was filmed in and around old lead mines in the Yorkshire Dales, by multi award winning documentary director /cameraman Paul Beriff, as a gesture of support for the project.
The series followed the adventures of Roger Beckett (aged 10¾) in Troller's Ghyll ("where the rocks are all slightly mad") as King of the Rottentrolls. He was crowned King of the Rotten Trolls after crashing his bike in the valley. As well as ruling over the Rottentrolls, Roger teaches them about things like sport and politics, and, in return, learns a few lessons himself.
Actors and Narrator
There were 3 humans on screen in the series:
- Narrator - voiced by Martin Clunes who told the story and, at times, interacted with the actors and the audience. He has been known to panic in crisis situations. He has some talent for JimJamJAHA which he used to get Roger's attention.
- Roger Beckett - the "Roger" of the title, played by Nick Barber. He became King of the Rottentrolls when he accidentally crashed in the Valley and screamed "Roger was ere!" the name of the mythical leader of the Rottentroll. He regularly attempted to teach the Rottentrolls new things. In series 3 and 4 his presence is reduced as High School takes up more of his time, so Kate handles day-to-day business herself. Roger of the characters trying to learn, shows the least talent for JimJamJAHA as he is only able to dislodge a tin can from 3 yards.
- Kate Beckett (also known as Princess Kate) - Roger's little stepsister, played by Holly Grainger. She follows Roger to the Valley and becomes Princess, taking over day-to-day running of the valley from the now overworked Roger (though in some rare situations she does pass the buck on to Roger as the higher authority). She has a natural talent for JimJamJAHA.
The Rottentrolls are a group of strange, knee-high creatures who have been waiting for the return of their king for centuries. A thousand years ago, their ancestors were accidentally brought by a snow cloud summond by Merlin, who was attempting to turn the valley into a ski resort for King Arthur. They found the name 'Roger Wasere' carved into a rock, and interpreted it as the name of their king. When young Roger entered the valley and shouted 'Roger was 'ere!', the current Rottentrolls crown him their king. The Rottentrolls include:
- Yockenthwaite - A lovable and daft Rottentroll who is always getting things wrong, often called a berk by others. His catchphrase is "Yo-o!". He is credited throughout the series as "the stupidest of the Rottentrolls". His favourite song, which he sang in the Rottentroll of the Year competition, is "Ten Thousand in the Bed". It is often Yockenthwaite who sets the plot of the episodes in motion through his blundering, yet, in some instances, he also manages to rectify the situation, either through chance or his above-average proficiency at map-reading (Commander Harris Loses It). Yockenthwaite is a slow reader and not very good with numbers but he is excellent at map reading.
- Aysgarth - The oldest and wisest of the Rottentrolls, he likes to think of himself as a leader. Following The Rottentroll Revolution, he becomes official leader in King Roger's absence. He is an accomplished artist, proficient at drawing landscapes and scenic portraits, but he doesn't approve of the more obscure forms of "modern" art. Despite his age and maturity, he has proved to be gullible (as when being hoodwinked by Blacksyke's story of "The Almighty Underwater Chicken") and also competitive (as when taking part in art competitions and roulette gambling).
- Penyghent - Penyghent is an artistic and creative female Rottentroll, with an impressive talent for football. Generally considered "the cleverest of the Rottentrolls". In the episode Rottentroll of the Year, Penyghent is the organizer of the titular competition and is crowned champion for her efforts.
- Kettlewell - A bad cook who often has a sudden desire to 'deck' people - hence "I'll deck yer!". She has muscles the size of potatoes, and her special dish is the garlic pasty, much to the chagrin of the other Rottentrolls.
- Askrigg - A completely sports-obsessed Rottentroll. He attempts every sport imaginable - without any team-mates. According to The Rottentroll Files, Askrigg is revealed to have "no brain", leaving him clueless on words such as "athletic" and "tomorrow".
- Blacksyke - The scariest and most mysterious Rottentroll, complete with her spiky umbrella and her cat. Her catchphrase is a pronounced "Cackle cackle cackle." Ironically, Blacksyke is a masterful practitioner of Jim-Jam-Ya-HA without knowing it; as she uttered the name of the practice in disgust, the bookshelf she was standing in front of collapsed on top of her. She is also responsible for instigating the Troller's Ghylle Crime Wave and for beginning the Movement of the Almighty Underwater Chicken.
- Trucklecrag - A failed wizard, prone to creating dustbins, toasters, and mackerel. On one occasion, during the Rottentroll of the Year competition, he tried a complex spell on Pennyghent that would lift her into the air, where, while floating on her back, she would gently spin anti-clockwise like a dervish. In practice, the spell simply turned her into a pizza. In spite of these failures and setbacks, he is sometimes the one approached for help.
- The Nab Twins - A pair of teenage rottentrolls who speak in slang terms which are now slightly dated, such as 'radical', 'spurious', and 'wicked'. They are also the members of a rock band called 'Cattlegrid'.
- Little Strid - Kettlewell's daughter, the youngest Rottentroll.
- Sigsworthy Crags - A failed inventor, who is completely mad. He often trails when speaking and starts making dog noises, the latter of which, he claims, helps to relieve stress. Used to be an estate agent prior to the death of his wife and loss of his children, the trauma of which sent him mad. Since then, his greatest ambition is to be the furthest-travelled of all Rottentrolls, to which end he attempted to build an airship and later a rocket. Four attempts were made to build a rocket; all but the third (upon which Sigsworthy forgot to embark) were met with failure. On the fourth attempt, he crashed underground and awoke to the sound of drumming on his rocket; looking for the source of the noise, he realized that he was reunited with his sons.
- Ripley and Scuff - A pair of young Rottentrolls, sons of Sigsworthy Crags. They appear in series 4, and in their own spin-off series, Ripley and Scuff. They seemed to have inherited their father's mental instability, or at least his tendency to make dog noises. They also communicate through making drumming noises.
Their names are all taken from places in Yorkshire. Tim Firth said about how he named the Rottentrolls: "I put a compass in the OS map of the area, centred on Troller's Ghyll and drew a circle of about 5 cm radius. I then harvested the strangest-sounding villages and geographical features. These then seemed to suggest, bizarrely, the colours of various mad characters. Yockenthwaite would clearly be an idiot because it had a 'k' in it. Sigsworthy Crags would clearly be off his trolley, but older. Penyghent would be female... and so on. I wish every assembly of characters was that easy."
- The Barguest is a menacing creature that lives in the valley and terrifies the Rottentrolls.
- Commander Harris is a sheep who used to be an army mascot - he always has a tale from his old army days to tell. He too lives in the valley. Commander Harris is an expert on the ancient art of JimJamYAHA and is regularly involved in Roger's adventures.
There were 4 series of Roger and the Rottentrolls and 36 episodes.
Series 1 (1996)
- 1 Coronation Valley - Roger crashes his bike into a valley of crazy, knee-high Rottentrolls. They think he's their king and plan a disastrous coronation.
- 2 The Rubbish Monster - Troller's Ghyll is invaded by two litter-mad survivalists. King Roger has to sort them out.
- 3 Rottentroll of the Year - King Roger is given the thankless task of choosing "Rottentroll of the Year" without upsetting all the other Rottentrolls.
- 4 The Extraordinary Dinner Telephone - King Roger invents an "Extraordinary Dinner Telephone" to summon the Rottentrolls to meals.
- 5 King Yockenthwaite - Roger lets Yockenthwaite, the stupidest of the Rottentrolls, take over as king.
- 6 The Giant Floating Sprout - Sigsworthy Crags (the maddest of the Rottentrolls) attempts to fly to Africa, having recently found a giant floating sprout.
- 7 The Great Rescue - Little Strid, the Rottentrolls' baby trollslip, has gone missing. King Roger has to rescue her from the horrible Barguest.
Series 2 (1997)
- 8 The Civil War - The younger Rottentrolls become infatuated with King Roger's old comics which leads to a craze for superheroes.
- 9 The Great Television Franchise - The Rottentrolls become addicted to television after Commander Harris accidentally picks up television on one of his radar dishes.
- 10 The Miners' Strike - An old fan heater causes an industrial dispute among the Rottentrolls.
- 11 The Gambling Crisis -The entire population of Troller's Ghyll is hooked on Slug Roulette.
- 12 The Art Gallery - The Rottentrolls paint pictures for the new art gallery.
- 13 The Football Sponsorship Scandal - King Roger has a new football and as all the Rottentrolls want to play, but Penyghent, a girl, turns out to be the best player.
- 14 Dirty Tricks - King Roger suggests the Rottentrolls elect a Prime Minister.
- 15 The First Rottentroll Revolution - The Rottentrolls are unhappy with their Prime Minister.
- 16 The Complimentary Cafetiere - Yockenthwaite arranges a demonstration for a vacuum cleaner just to get a free cafetiere.
Series 3 (1998)
- 17 The New Princess - Commander Harris spots a mysterious shape in the bracken.
- 18 The Monsters of Rock Festival - The Nab Twins decide that their band should be the headline act at the Rottentroll's first rock festival.
- 19 Commander Harris Loses It - Commander Harris takes Princess Kate, Yockenthwaite and Penyghent on an all-night yomp in the forest.
- 20 The Almighty Underwater Chicken - Princess Kate goes mad with the Rottentrolls when she finds them worshipping a massive metal chicken.
- 21 Twelve Angry Trolls - Aysgarth is the victim of a disgusting practical joke.
- 22 The Incredibly Frightening Sheet - Yockenthwaite enlists the help of Trucklecrag to make himself look really scary for Halloween.
- 23 The Rottentrolympics - Princess Kate tries to organise the first Rottentroll Olympic Games.
- 24 The Appalling Voice Swap - King Roger and Princess Kate walk up the valley chatting, but is all normal?
- 25 The Mid-Air Disaster - A gust of wind is enough to set Commander Harris' hut toppling and dangling by just a hoover flex - with Commander Harris, Yockenthwaite and Princess Kate inside praying for their lives.
- 26 The Time Capsule - The Rottentrolls bury a time capsule for future generations.
- 27 The Trendy Trainers - Yockenthwaite tries to be as cool as the Nab Twins.
- 28 The Stake Out - A crime wave hits Troller's Ghyll.
- 29 Trucklecrag's Aftershave - King Roger is invited to his first serious girl-kissing party.
Series 4 (2000)
- 30 Commander Harris In Love - Commander Harris' training programme for the Troller's Ghyll SAS comes a cropper when he falls head over hooves in love with a beautiful sheep called Peaches.
- 31 The Four Missing Eyes - Strid's painting of the time she was captured by the Barguest shows two extra pairs of eyes, peeking out from the dark corners of the Barguest's lair. Whose eyes are they? Princess Kate, Yockenthwaite, Penyghent and the Nab Twins mount a daring rescue mission to find out.
- 32 The Cattle Grid World Tour - King Roger has got tickets to see Catatonia, and this inspires the Nab Twins to take Cattle Grid on a world tour.
- 33 The Extremely Tempting Caravan - Yockenthwaite breaks the rules and leaves the valley, and ends up falling prey to temptation.
- 34 Full Metal Jim-Jam - Princess Kate is being bullied at school by nasty Hazel Bill, and turns to JimjamYaHa for help - but what will happen when Commander Harris himself takes on the bully?
- 35 Sigsworthy's Final Rocket - Sigsworthy Crags has one last try at blasting himself into orbit in a new spaceship made from a dustbin. Who knows what he'll discover?
- 36 Yockenthwaite, The Amazing Puppet - The Ministry of Defence arrive at Troller's Ghyll, convinced there are aliens. This episode includes Alistair McGowan as a man from the ministry.
The Rottentroll Files
A special documentary episode was also made and was released on DVD on the first volume of the second series.
VHS and DVD releases
The first series of The Rottentrolls was released on VHS as 'Roger and the Rottentrolls: A Complete Set of Adventures' in 1998. The second series was released in two parts: 'Combat Without Contact' (which also featured the special episode 'The Rottentroll Files') and 'State of Emergency', both of which were released on both VHS and DVD.
- Official Rottentrolls website includes Video and Audio clips
- Roger and the Rottentrolls at the Internet Movie Database
- Martin Clunes at the Internet Movie Database
- Holly Grainger at the Internet Movie Database
- Nick Barber at the Internet Movie Database
- Tim Firth at the Internet Movie Database
- Tim Firth's website
- Julian Kemp at the Internet Movie Database
- The Children's Company website
- Website of Simon Buckey - puppet co-ordinator
- BAFTA Children's Award winners 1996-2005