Spot (franchise)

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Spot's First Walk book cover, featuring Spot himself, set in the Century Schoolbook Infant Bold font

Spot is a yellow puppy character created by Eric Hill, an English author and illustrator of children's picture books. The success of Hill's books about Spot led to other media productions, including television and home video titles, music albums and CD-ROM titles.

History[edit]

First published in 1980,[1] Where's Spot? was inspired while Hill was working in creative marketing; he noticed his three-year-old son was fascinated by the process of lifting up a paper, on a design he was creating. Captivated by this thought, Hill created a story about a puppy which incorporated the flap design.[1] During the late 1970s it was extraordinarily innovative concept, and it took some time for any publisher to take any notice of the idea before Puffin books decided to publish his book. Within weeks of the first book being released it topped the Bestseller list.

Hill said "When I first drew Spot I realised that when I came to draw the spot on his body and the tip of his tail I was copying the markings on an aircraft. I grew up drawing aircraft – that is how I learned to draw. "I am quite convinced now, as I look back, that the actual training of drawing cartoons – which is, of course, my style – led to my producing Spot. Cartoons must be very simple and have as few words as possible and so must the Spot books. I designed Spot out of my previous background as a designer and illustrator. It was quite unconscious but I can see now that I have created a ready-made trademark of its kind, with the essential spot on the body and a bit on the tail."[2]

Over time, the book was translated into more than sixty languages.[2] In Afrikaans versions of the book Spot is translated to "Otto", widely believed to be the surname of a South African friend of Hill's. This name has been attributed to Spot as many of the books were believed to be inspired by the life of aforementioned friend, J. Otto.[citation needed] In the Netherlands, Spot is known as Dribbel.

Characters[edit]

Main Characters[edit]

  • Spot: The protagonist of the series. A yellow puppy with a brown spot on each side of his body and a brown tip on his tail, Spot is full of curiosity, helpfulness, and a huge desire to learn. Spot appears to be a Beagle.
  • Sally: Spot's mother. She is also yellow and has a brown spot on her back that goes around the back of her body, as well as two brown spots on each side of her body. Much of the first story, Where's Spot?, involves her going around the house looking for Spot.
  • Sam: Spot's father. He is also yellow, but without spots on his body.
  • Susie: Spot's little sister who is also a puppy. Like the rest of the family, she is yellow, First Appeared in 2009 in books only.
  • Helen: A blue hippo who is Spot's best friend. Her colour is dark blue and she has sags under her eyes in the first series of The Adventures of Spot. Starting with later episodes of series one, she is redesigned with a more youthful and less intimidating appearance, turning light blue and losing the sags under her eyes. Starting with series two, she becomes an ever lighter shade of blue.
  • Steve: A brown monkey with a tan face, he is playful and full of surprises and is Spot's second best friend.
  • Tom: A green crocodile who is Spot's third best friend. He started out dark green in colour in the first series. He also sports rather sharp-looking incisors and a red colouring inside his mouth on the first series of The Adventures of Spot. Starting with later episodes of the first series, he is redesigned with a more youthful and less intimidating appearance, losing the sharp incisors and white eye sacs. Starting with the second series, he also turns to a lighter shade of green. He loves going fishing. Tom loves the snare drum, considered to be his favourite instrument. His dad is the mayor of the town.

Supporting Characters[edit]

  • Grandpa: Spot's Grandpa and Sally's father.
  • Grandma: Spot's Grandma and Sally's mother.
  • Miss Bear: Spot's school teacher, a brown bear who plays the piano.

Minor Characters[edit]

  • Billy: A brown bear who loves to eat. He appears in the first series of The Adventures of Spot.
  • Clare: A green turtle.
  • Cybil: An orange tabby cat who is the series' antagonist. She has a very rude personality, as seen in episodes "Spot's Lost Bone" and "Spot's First Walk" (where she scares Spot). She appears only in the first series of The Adventures of Spot. In the U.S., her rude personality was toned down.
  • Mr. Kangaroo: Spot's neighbour, a kangaroo that speaks with what sounds like an Australian accent since that kangaroos are a native animal of Australia. He appears only in the first series of The Adventures of Spot.
  • Leo: An orange lion.
  • Sidney: A yellowish-green snake.

Books[edit]

Since 1980 with the success of Where's Spot?, Eric Hill went on to create numerous other books, which most being translated to Welsh (as well as the TV series, commissioned by S4C),[3] some have also been translated into Scottish Gaelic, and Where's Spot? has been translated into Cornish.

  • Where's Spot? (1980); The first book in the series, it chronicles Sally going around the house looking for Spot. Sally and Spot are introduced in this book. Spot's main friends (Tom, Steve, Helen, and Clare) are also introduced in this book, but they were yet to be named and instead served as characters that Sally finds during her search for Spot. Unlike in all following books, where Spot is the main character, here, the protagonist is his mother Sally.
  • Spot's First Walk (1981)
  • Spot's Birthday Party (1982)
  • Spot's First Easter (1983); Helen is named for the first time here.
  • Spot Goes to School (1984); Spot's teacher, Miss Bear, is introduced in this book, and Tom, Steve, and Clare are also finally named. This book chronicles Spot's day at school (kindergarten).
  • Spot Goes on Holiday (1985); Spot's dad, Sam, is introduced in this book. In this book, Spot and his family go to the beach, and Spot meets a new friend (a brown Cocker Spaniel).
  • Spot's Goes to a Party (1982)
  • Spot Visits his Grandparents (1996); Spot's grandparents are introduced in this book. In it, Spot visits his grandparents' place and helps out in the garden. We learn about Sally when she was only a puppy.

List of Spot sound books[edit]

In the 1990s a number of books were released with sound effect, produced by Publications International and published by Frederick Warne.[4] The U.S. edition of the sound books were somewhat different from the U.K. editions of the book. The text in these editions is slightly altered, and in some cases, the title is changed as well. They are produced and published by Publications International.

Book design[edit]

The books are set in the typeface Century Schoolbook Infant, a very rare, single-story version of Century Schoolbook.

Television[edit]

With the success of the books the BBC commissioned an animated series, which first appeared on 9 April 1986;[5] with Peter Hawkins providing the narration, and re-narrated in 2000 by Jane Horrocks. Episodes of Spot also aired on ABC in Australia, TV One and TV3 in New Zealand, Treehouse TV and YTV in Canada, RTÉ in Ireland (with the series dubbed into an Irish language with the title Echtrai Bhrain), Mediacorp Channel 5 in Singapore, M-Net in South Africa and in the United States on The Disney Channel as a segment on the program Lunch Box from the late 1980s into the 1990s.[6][7]

The Adventures of Spot: series 1 (1986)[edit]

The first series of The Adventures of Spot, which was animated and produced by King Rollo Films, aired on the BBC between 9 April and 17 July 1987. It consisted of 13 episodes, each 5 minutes long. The episodes were narrated by Paul Nicholas (original version) and the music was composed by Duncan Lamont (original version).

Episodes in this series:

The Adventures of Spot: series 2 (1993)[edit]

The second series of The Adventures of Spot aired between 7 September and 30 November 1993, and, like the first series, consisted of 13 5-minute episodes. Once again, the episodes were produced by King Rollo Films. Paul Nicholas (original version) returned as the voices and Duncan Lamont (original version) returned as composer of the music.

Episodes in this series:

Spot's Musical Adventures (2000)[edit]

Spot's Musical Adventures, very similar to The Adventures of Spot, aired between 25 October and 10 November 2000. Like The Adventures of Spot, this series consisted of thirteen episodes, but this time, with a short song in them. The format of the series reverted to the narration format used prior to the specials. For these episodes, however, comedian Jane Horrocks was given the role of the narration and voices, instead of Paul Nicholas. Music was composed by Duncan Lamont with KiCK Productions and the songs are performed by Dan Russell. The U.S. release of this series (re-voiced and released as Discover Spot by Disney) have the songs performed by the characters themselves and also feature live-action segments. To coincide with these episodes, Jane Horrocks also re-dubbed Paul Nicholas' narration of the original Adventures of Spot episodes. Additionally, the original Duncan Lamont music was replaced with new tracks written with KiCK Productions, used for the Spot's Musical Adventures series. As of now, these are the only versions available on DVD in the UK, and while the original versions have been released on VHS, it is currently unknown whether or not they will resurface.

Episodes:

U.S. Original[edit]

Home Video release specials[edit]

A number of special produced VHS were created:

It's Fun to Learn with Spot – Phase 1 (1990)[edit]

The first phase of It's Fun to Learn With Spot, produced by Spitfire Television and Living Doll Productions and where released on VHS. It consisted of four episodes, each approximately fifteen minutes in length. These episodes were voiced and narrated by Peter Hawkins. The theme song used in The Adventures of Spot was licensed from King Rollo Films, so the familiar tune by Duncan Lamont was heard at the beginning and end of each episode. However, music on the show was kept to a minimum.

  1. "Spot's Alphabet"
  2. "Spot's Busy Year"
  3. "Spot Learns to Count"
  4. "Spot Tells the Time"

It's Fun to Learn with Spot – Phase 2 (1994)[edit]

The second phase of It's Fun to Learn With Spot and, like the first VHS, consisted of four fifteen-minute episodes. However the episodes were produced by King Rollo Films and retained the talents of Paul Nicholas and Duncan Lamont, in UK.

Episodes in this series:

  1. "Spot's Looks at Opposites"
  2. "Spot's First Word Game"
  3. "Spot Looks at Colours"
  4. "Spot Looks at Shapes"

Note: The two phases of It's Fun to Learn with Spot are often listed as one series, even on Penguin Television's website. However, as noted, the two phases were produced four years apart by two different companies and are very different in design.

Spot's Magical Christmas was released in 1995 and Spot and his Grandparents Go to the Carnival in 1997. These two specials, which are both thirty minutes long, have some notable differences from the normal series. First off, they have no narration, and each character is voiced distinctly. The characters' mouths also move to speech, in comparison to the other episodes, in which the characters' mouths remain static and the entire episode is narrated as a story. There are also several songs in the specials, as there were in It's Fun to Learn With Spot.

Voices

Other media[edit]

Music albums[edit]

A number of companies have released a number of CD featuring mainly nursery rhymes, under the name of the Spot.

  • Spot in the Park with the Flowerpot Gang Released in Australia by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in the early 2000s, Spot in the Park with the Flowerpot Gang consists of 26 nursery rhymes. Apparently, it is no longer published.
  • Spot's First Play Songs Published by Genius Entertainment and is also available in a box set titled Spot's Favorite Toddler Tunes (although in this edition, the "Alphabet Song" is excluded).
  • Spot's Farmyard Friends It is also published by Genius Entertainment and is also available in the Spot's Favorite Toddler Tunes box set.
  • Spot's Classics for Growing Minds Bidding on the success of the controversial Mozart Effect, Spot's Classics for Growing Minds contains twelve classical numbers from various classical composers. Also published by Genius Entertainment, this album has also made its appearance in the Spot's Favorite Toddler Tunes box set.

CD-ROMs[edit]

Two Spot CD-ROM titles were published by Europress and Hasbro Interactive. Both titles runs on both Microsoft Windows (Windows 95 or NT4 or newer) and Apple Macintosh (Os 8 up to OS 9.2.2, and in classic mode from PowerPC Mac OS X up until Mac OS X Leopard) computers. The PowerPC Mac version of the software would not run on newer Intel-based Macs as these newer Macs do not support classic PowerPC or 68k binaries, nor would they run on PowerPC Mac OS X Leopard-based PowerPC Macs as Leopard dropped support for the classic environment the titles would run on.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Eric Hill, creator of Spot the dog, dies at 86". The Telegraph. Telegraph.co.uk. 10 June 2014.
  2. ^ a b Alison Flood. "Spot the Dog creator Eric Hill dies aged 86". The Guardian.
  3. ^ "Books, eBooks, Kindles, Textbooks and Children's Books". Waterstones. Archived from the original on 1 February 2014. Retrieved 18 January 2014.
  4. ^ "funwithspot.com". funwithspot.com. Archived from the original on 1 February 2014. Retrieved 18 January 2014.
  5. ^ "The Adventures of Spot". BBC.
  6. ^ The Disney Channel Magazine, Vol. 7, no. 4, July/August 1989: p. 57.
  7. ^ Disney channel magazine, Vol. 9, no. 6, November/December 1991: p. 34.
  8. ^ "The Adventures of Spot".
  9. ^ "The Adventures of Spot".
  10. ^ "Children's BBC".

External links[edit]