Salty's Lighthouse

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Salty's Lighthouse
Salty's Lighthouse title card.jpg
Salty's Lighthouse opening screen.
GenreChildren's television
Created byNina I. Hahn (show concept)
Robert D. Cardona (original Tugs footage and Tugs characters)
David Mitton (original Tugs characters)
Developed byNina I. Hahn
Ellen Schecter
Written byBarry Harman (Salty/Tugs segments/lyrics)
Ricky Harman (Salty segments)
Donna Harman (Salty segments)
Steve Edelman (Salty segments)
Scott Guy (Salty segments)
Mark Stratton (Salty segments)
David Bucs (Salty segments)
George Arthur Bloom (Tugs segments)
Brian Meehl (Tugs segments)
Noel MacNeal (Tugs segments)
Ronnie Krauss (Tugs segments)
Directed byDavid Mitton (original Tugs footage)
Chris Tulloch (original Tugs footage)
David Bucs (animation art)
Bill Hutten (animation/timing)
Jeff Hall (animation/timing)
Dora Case (animation)
Sue Peters (animation)
Carole Beers (animation/timing)
Terry Klassen (voice)
Gail Fabrey (assistant)
Charles J.K. Choi (supervising)
Chris Cho (technology)
Oon Heung Yo (B.G.)
Voices ofKathleen Barr
Ian James Corlett
Paul Dobson
Rhys Huber
Janyse Jaud
Andrea Libman
Scott McNeil
French Tickner
Lenore Zann
Theme music composerChase Rucker Productions
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of episodes40
Executive producer(s)Joe Bacal
Tom Griffin
C.J. Kettler
Carole Weitzman
Producer(s)Mark Stratton
Geraldine Clarke (supervising)
Larry Houston (animation)
Bonni Freeman (coordinating)
Jodey Kaminski (associate)
Production company(s)Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
Sunbow Entertainment
Smiley Guy Studios
TLC Originals
Original networkTLC (U.S.)
CBC Television (Canada)
Original releaseMarch 21, 1998 – July 20, 2002

Salty's Lighthouse was a series for young children, produced by Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Sunbow Entertainment, Smiley Guy Studios and TLC Originals in 1998 to 2002 in association with the Bank Street College of Education in New York. The show centered on a young boy named Salty, as he played and learned with his friends in a magical lighthouse. As well as the animated adventures of Salty and his friends, the series used live-action footage from the British children's television series Tugs for various segments. 40 episodes were produced in the series. It ran from March 21, 1998 to July 20, 2002 on TLC and later on Channel 4 in the UK, MBC 3 in the Middle East, Fox Kids in Australia, SABC2 in South Africa, TV3 in Ireland, TVN in Poland, the Arutz HaYeladim in Israel and UBC Kids in Thailand, in addition also airing on CVM Television in Jamaica.


Salty is a young boy who loves using his imagination. Every day, he goes to the lighthouse near his home to play with his seaside friends: Ocho, the octopus; Claude, the hermit crab; Sophie and Sadie, the bird twins; a group of tiny clams; Aurora, the light that shines over the ocean; and lighthouse owner Aunt Chovie. Through their adventures in each episode, they learn moral lessons that help them overcome their problems. Tied into each story are other segments, told through live-action footage:

  • Through the eyes of Seymour (a walking pair of binoculars), the characters look out beyond the lighthouse to see what the tugboats in the harbour are doing. Their stories relate to the situations of the main characters. The tugboat footage is composed of live model animation, taken from the British television series Tugs (see below for more information).
  • Some episodes include a segment called 'Salty's Song Time' introduced by the lighthouse clock. These consist of original songs, which relate the moral of the episode. The songs are set to an arrangement of footage, mainly from stock libraries and silent films including Charlie Chaplin, Commando Cody & specially added animation for some scenes in the songs.


  • Rhys Huber - Salty
  • Kathleen Barr - Ocho and Aunt Chovie
  • Janyse Jaud - Sophie and Sadie (The Seagull Sisters)
  • Andrea Libman - Claude
  • Lenore Zann - Aurora, Sunshine, Captain Star, Lillie Lightship, Little Ditcher, and Sally Seaplane
  • Ian James Corlett - Ten Cents, Otis, Zeebee, Zip, Lord Stinker, Frank, Eddie, and Lighthouse Clock
  • Paul Dobson - Big Stack, Hercules, Captain Zero, Izzy Gomez, Sea Rogue, Billy Shoepack, Mr. Boffo, Mr. Socko, Cappy, Tramper, Old Rusty, Scoop, Municipal Garbage Corporation, Stoney, and Chooch
  • French Tickner - Top Hat, Warrior, Grampus, Steamer, and Scuttle Butt Pete
  • Scott McNeil - Zorran, Zak, Zug, Bluenose, Boomer, and The Fultan Ferry

Episode list[edit]

  1. Mixed Signals (March 21, 1998)
  2. Too Young to Be Included (March 28, 1998)
  3. Taking Off (April 4, 1998)
  4. Let's Party (April 11, 1998)
  5. Blackout (April 18, 1998)
  6. Eight is Too Much (April 25, 1998)
  7. One Bad Day (May 2, 1998)
  8. Hands Off! (May 9, 1998)
  9. Salty Come Lately (May 16, 1998)
  10. It's Magic (May 23, 1998)
  11. Count on Me (May 30, 1998)
  12. Knot So Nice (June 6, 1998)
  13. Taking My Turn (June 13, 1998)
  14. Backward Day (November 20, 1999)
  15. Banana Splits (November 27, 1999)
  16. Clear the Decks (January 15, 2000)
  17. Claude in Charge (January 22, 2000)
  18. The Favorite (January 29, 2000)
  19. Strike Up the Band (February 5, 2000)
  20. Blankety Blank (February 12, 2000)
  21. Last of the Red Hot C Gulls (February 19, 2000)
  22. Farley Frog (February 26, 2000)
  23. Boss Man (March 4, 2000)
  24. Sophie Come Home (March 11, 2000)
  25. Who Took My Crayons? (March 18, 2000)
  26. High Spirits (March 25, 2000)
  27. Some Guys Have all the Luck (April 1, 2000)
  28. Dream On (April 8, 2000)
  29. Sound Off (April 15, 2000)
  30. Treasure Hunt (April 22, 2000)
  31. Who Turned Off the Lights? (April 29, 2000)
  32. If the Clue Fits, Wear It (May 6, 2000)
  33. Desperately Seeking Sadie (May 13, 2000)
  34. Colossal Crab (May 20, 2000)
  35. The Big Birthday Splash (May 27, 2000)
  36. Stop the Music - (June 3, 2000)
  37. Let's Wing It (June 29, 2002)
  38. No Strings Attached (July 6, 2002)
  39. Guilty Gull (July 13, 2002)
  40. Bivalve Blues (July 20, 2002)


In the US, each of 2 episodes were released on "Video Buddy" VHS. In 2005, Metrodome Distribution (a distributor owned by Sunbow owners TV-Loonland) included the episodes 'Taking Off' and 'Let's Party' on a UK release called 'Toddler Time'. As of 2012, episodes are available online on Kidobi, a video streaming site for preschool content.[1]

Comparisons with TUGS[edit]

The segments featuring the tugboats in the harbour used footage from the British television series TUGS, a series produced in 1988 by Robert D. Cardona and David Mitton, who (along with Britt Allcroft) produced the popular series Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends. Whilst Allcroft drove the Thomas series to popularity among American audiences (through the PBS series Shining Time Station), Tugs did not spread far beyond its country of origin, lasting one season of 13 episodes (although it was aired and merchandised in the Japanese and Australian markets).

As a result of this, Sunbow saw fit to use the series' animation as a part of Salty's Lighthouse, licensing the use of the footage from Cardona: however, they repurposed the footage drastically to suit the needs of Salty's Lighthouse - a programme intended for the preschool American market. (Cardona was not involved in the show's production; however, he was credited as creator of the model footage.)

The original episodes of TUGS centered on two rival fleets of tugboats, working in 'Bigg City Port' during the 1920s, with its plotlines involving action and drama intended for an older audience of children. Due to the difference in intended demographic, the original plotlines (as well as the premise of rival tug fleets) were not used. Instead, the producers of Salty's Lighthouse wrote entirely new stories of the boats in 'Snugboat Harbour', relating to the theme of the main animated segment, with footage from the series edited and redubbed to tell these stories.

(This creates an interesting comparison to the Thomas segments of Shining Time Station; as Britt Allcroft intended to introduce Thomas to America through that series, its stories were redubbed and slightly rewritten, but still faithful to their source. In the case of Salty's Lighthouse, the show was completely repurposed for a new market, instead of attempting to create a faithful 'equivalent' of TUGS.)

Along with the newly created stories, various changes were made to the characters featured in them. The characters of Sunshine, Captain Star (the narrator), and Little Ditcher were made female, presumably to appeal to a wider audience of children. (Sunshine was also referred to, in some episodes, as fellow switcher Ten Cents' sister.)

The American accents of the new voiceover replaced a range of British accents from the original characters (for example, the Glaswegian Scottish of Big Mac, or the Cockney accents of Ten Cents and Zorran).

Some character names were also changed, usually to avoid confusion with others of the same name. The characters who are renamed have their original name (which is painted on the side of their bow) censored in black. Of the main characters: Big Mac became 'Big Stack' (possibly to avoid legal trouble from McDonald's over the name of their famous sandwich, or possibly as the character was not given a Scottish accent as he was in the original series), O.J. became 'Otis' (possibly to avoid confusion with O. J. Simpson, or the fact that O.J. can stand for orange juice), and Zebedee became 'Zeebee' (even though his original nameplate is left uncensored, which indicates his name may have been consistently mispronounced).

Many supporting and incidental characters were also repurposed, to fit particular Salty's Lighthouse stories:

  • Izzy Gomez was given an American accent instead of a Mexican one (despite still having a few Mexican features).
  • Sea Rogue was used as a villain, stealing cargo.
  • The scrap dealers, Burke and Blair, became movie producers named 'Mr. Boffo and Mr. Socko'.
  • Two different characters, Coast Guard and the Coast Guard's Messenger, were merged into a single character named 'Cappy'.
  • Johnny Cuba, a smuggler, was written as a friendly character named 'Steamer'.
  • Nantucket went under the name 'Tramper', and also became a friendly character. Sometimes he appeared in speaking parts, and sometimes only communicated through a foghorn.
  • Jack the Grappler became 'Scoop'.
  • The Fultan Ferry was given a voice (despite not having a visible face or megaphone), and was confirmed as a male character. He also went under the name 'Fultan' by Grampus.
  • The Quarry Master gained the name 'Stoney'.
  • Puffa was mostly referred to as "The Train" for most of the time. In one episode, however, he was briefly referred as 'Chooch'.

Some of the other characters (such as the Fire Tug, Big Mickey, Mighty Mo, Pearl, the Shrimpers, the Goods Engine, and the Buoys) do make several appearances, but don't have any dialogue whilst some such as Sea Rogue's Uncle and the Pirates (a.k.a. The Green-Eyed Things) never made any appearances (although Sea Rogue's Uncle did appear as a cameo in the episode "Who Took My Crayons?", and the Pirates were shown in the place of Sea Rogue in two scenes where he covered the bell buoy and Lillie Lightship with a blanket in the episode "Dream On").

See also[edit]

External links[edit]