The Adventures of Portland Bill

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The Adventures of Portland Bill
Created byJohn Grace
StarringNorman Rossington
Country of originUnited Kingdom
No. of episodes25 (2 stories per episode)
Production
Running time5mins
Production company(s)FilmFair London
DistributorDHX Media
Release
Original networkITV Network
Original release4 October 1983 – 25 June 1986

The Adventures of Portland Bill is a British stop motion animated children's television series made in 1983. It is set in a fictional lighthouse on the Guillemot Rock, just off the coast from the fictional village of McGuillycuddy. Norman Rossington provides the voice of all the characters, with Portland Bill acting as the narrator of each episode.

Characters[edit]

Most of its characters were named after British Sea Areas and coastal weather stations and other words that occur in shipping forecasts:

These live in the lighthouse:

The rest of the characters live elsewhere:

  • Fastnet: fisherman, lives on the island
  • Mrs. Lundy: owns cottage on mainland
  • Grandma Tiree: makes oatcakes for the lighthousemen
  • Inspector Ronaldsway: belongs to the lighthouse service
  • Finisterre: owns a croft
  • Eddy Stone: owns the village shop; also is the village's milkman, mayor, postman, meter-reader and policeman.
  • Young Gail: lives in McGuillycuddy

Places[edit]

Location[edit]

Whilst commonly believed to be based on the real Portland Bill Lighthouse and Isle of Portland, there is no evidence to back this up beyond the main character having the name Portland Bill. In fact, with the name of the nearest village, and the proximity of a croft owned by Finisterre the Crofter, there is evidence to suggest it is actually based in Scotland.

Boats[edit]

  • The Puffin: rowboat, belongs to Portland Bill.
  • The Kipper: used by Eddy Stone and Inspector Ronaldsway.

Animals[edit]

Credits[edit]

Series 1

  • Originated by: John Grace
  • Director of Animation: Barry Leith
  • Designed by: John Grace, Barry Leith
  • Assistant Animators: Humphrey Leadbitter, Heather Boucher
  • Model Makers: Martin Cheek, Gordon Tait, Linda Thodesen
  • Music by: John Grace, Mik Parsons
  • Editor: Robert Dunbar
  • Assistant Editor: Andi Sloss
  • Production Coordinator: Barrie Edwards
  • Stories Adapted for TV by: Ian Sachs
  • Executive Producer: Graham Clutterbuck

John Grace/FilmFair Ltd MCMLXXXIII

Series 2

  • Originated by: John Grace
  • Director of Animation: Humphrey Leadbitter
  • Designed by: John Grace, Barry Leith
  • Assistant Animator: Martin Cheek
  • Model Makers: Martin Cheek, Jo Pierpoint White, Gordon Tait
  • Music by: John Grace, Mik Parsons
  • Lighting by: Ted Martin
  • Edited by: Andrew Sloss
  • Assisted by: Richard Ireland
  • Producer: Barrie Edwards
  • Production Assistant: Mark Woodroffe
  • Executive Producer: Graham Clutterbuck

John Grace/FilmFair Ltd MCMLXXXVI

Transmission guide[edit]

Series 1: 13 editions from 4 October 1983 – 3 January 1984 (aired on Tuesdays)

  • Changeable Weather (4 October 1983) – When Ross and Cromarty's efforts to paint the lighthouse end in slapstick fun, they conjure up rain and snow effects to keep Portland Bill inside.
  • The Tourists (4 October 1983) – Portland Bill visits McGuillycuddy and makes the tourists' day trip a memorable one.
  • The Fishing Match (11 October 1983) – When Ross and Cromarty stage a fishing match they catch more than they bargained for.
  • The Seaweed Clock (11 October 1983) – How does Portland Bill manage to tell the time by his seaweed clock?
  • Portland Bill's Busy Day (18 October 1983) – Portland Bill has a day off on the mainland and manages to help all his friends with their jobs.
  • The Sea Monster (18 October 1983) – Laughter on the night watch when Ross and Cromarty find a sea monster in the living room.
  • Bedtime For Cromarty (25 October 1983) – Portland Bill recommends an effective but most unusual remedy for Cromarty's hiccups.
  • The Birthday Surprise (25 October 1983) – Eddy Stone's delivery day has a surprise in store for him at the lighthouse on the Guillemot Rock.
  • The Jam Session (1 November 1983) – Cromarty and Finisterre's unexpected jam session in the lighthouse turns into musical mayhem when Portland Bill joins in on the bagpipes.
  • An Inspector Calls (1 November 1983) – The assistant keepers do everything wrong when the lighthouse inspector calls but Portland Bill is pleased with his final report.
  • Important Message (8 November 1983) – A misunderstood semaphore message results in a slap-up tea for the lighthouse keepers.
  • Buried Treasure (8 November 1983) – Cromarty finds more than he bargained for when he embarks on a treasure hunt in the village of McGuillycuddy.
  • Atmospheric Interference (15 November 1983) – Cromarty's weather forecasting kit comes in handy on the day of the cup final.
  • Dogger's Best Trick (15 November 1983) – When the water pipe in McGuillycuddy is threatening to burst, Dogger the dog manages to save the day but he takes the sausages when he tries to get Eddy Stone's attention.
  • A Knot For Everything (22 November 1983) – Portland Bill's ability to tie all sorts of knots is tested on his visit to McGuillycuddy.
  • The Wind Powered Vacuum Cleaner (22 November 1983) – Cromarty invents a wind powered vacuum cleaner to speed up spring cleaning in the lighthouse. All is fine until the wind changes direction.
  • The Good News Storm (29 November 1983) – Ross and Cromarty find out that even the fiercest storm can be good news on the Guillemot Rock.
  • The Whistling Kettle (29 November 1983) – A whistling kettle helps Eddy Stone to pacify a runaway bull.
  • Baking Day (6 December 1983) – Cromarty's expertise as a chef comes into question on the day that Eddy Stone's boat loses its anchor.
  • Bird Watching (6 December 1983) – A penguin's visit to the lighthouse has chaotic results, but Ross and Cromarty are too busy bird-watching to notice.
  • The Lost Key (13 December 1983) – The keepers search high and low for a special lighthouse key. Valencia the parrot and Dogger the dog know where it is all the time.
  • Sick As A Parrot (13 December 1983) – It's riotous laughter for all when Cromarty and Valencia the parrot find that they have something in common.
  • Portland Bill And The Mermaid (20 December 1983) – Ross and Cromarty refuse to believe in mermaids until they meet one face to face.
  • The Big Shopping List (20 December 1983) – The order from the oil rig is the biggest that Eddy Stone has ever had but he is able to fill it with some help from Portland Bill.
  • The Day The Sea Froze (3 January 1984) – The lighthouse keepers use spectacular methods to keep warm on the day that the sea freezes around the Guillemot Rock.
  • The Fishermen's Ball (3 January 1984) – Poster pasting ends in fun and laughter at the fishermen's ball.

Series 2: 12 editions from 9 April 1986 – 25 June 1986 (aired on Wednesdays)

  • The Guided Tour (9 April 1986) – Ross and Cromarty await the Lighthouse Inspector only to find they’re besieged by tourists.
  • Beach Combers (9 April 1986) – Miss Shannon so longs to own her own pottery, what can Portland Bill do to help?
  • The Foggy Day (16 April 1986) – Bill jokes that the incoming fog will bring King Neptune to the lighthouse.
  • Kite Flying (16 April 1986) – It's a windy day in the village of McGuillycuddy, ideal kite flying weather.
  • Football Pie (23 April 1986) – After mistaking a pumpkin for a football, Ross and Cromarty have a surprise treat for tea.
  • Gone Fishing (23 April 1986) – Ross and Cromarty have a fishing match but what they catch certainly isn't edible.
  • Bad Dogger (30 April 1986) – Dogger is acting very strangely, barking at everybody, what can be wrong?
  • The Garden Party (30 April 1986) – Bill invites all his friends to a Garden Party at the lighthouse, but he doesn't have a garden.
  • A Quiet Night (7 May 1986) – Being on nightwatch at the Lighthouse can be a bit boring, except when something goes wrong.
  • The Phantom Piper (7 May 1986) – Strange music is heard in the village, could the Legend Of The Phantom Piper be true.
  • Forty Winks (14 May 1986) – Eddie Stone is so tired he falls asleep, but he’s at sea and there’s a storm blowing.
  • Last Jam Tart (14 May 1986) – Whoever finishes their work first gets the last Jam Tart, but who will it be?
  • Penguins (21 May 1986) – Bill's orders to Ross are, Don't feed the penguins, but surely one little biscuit can't hurt.
  • Super Sale (21 May 1986) – Eddie Stone decides to have a Super Sale at his shop.
  • Painting The Lighthouse (28 May 1986) – Cromarty tries his hand at being an artist.
  • Hot Gossip (28 May 1986) – A Royal welcome is in store for Valencia the parrot, when she’s mistaken for a Princess.
  • Good Ideas (4 June 1986) – Cromarty has a list of chores to do before Bill and Ross get back from the mainland.
  • Sky High (4 June 1986) – Ross and Cromarty take a ride of a lifetime when they open a package they shouldn't.
  • Weather Forecast (11 June 1986) – Whatever day Cromarty chooses to do the washing it always seems to rain.
  • Dogger To The Rescue (11 June 1986) – Dogger hates having a bath, but loves a swim in the sea, which is just as well for Bill.
  • St. Bozo's Treasure (18 June 1986) – Ross and Cromarty decide to go out hunting for treasure.
  • The Runaway Sheep (18 June 1986) – Chaos is caused the day Finisterre’s sheep escape in the village.
  • The Sea Chest (25 June 1986) – When Ross and Cromarty have a fishing match, Cromarty decides to cheat.
  • The Big Catch (25 June 1986) – Fastnet bets he can catch more in his fishing nets than Bill, but can he?

Trivia[edit]

  • The series was narrated by actor of Spooner's Patch and Big Jim and the Figaro Club, Norman Rossington.
  • In the US, the show was redubbed in 1990 by Canadian voice actor Garry Chalk, and was broadcast on Disney Channel
  • The show also aired on ABC in Australia (10 August 1987 – 28 February 1992). However, whereas two episodes were shown back-to-back in the UK, each episode was screened individually in Australia.
  • Each broadcast consisted of two episodes back-to-back connected by a song. Unfortunately, the songs are not featured on the VHS and DVD releases, but one song, ‘Eddy’s Song’ has been uploaded on YouTube.

VHS releases[edit]

Snapdragon Video released a collection of 10 Portland Bill stories from the second series:

Title Catalogue number Release date Episodes
Portland Bill: 10 Stories from the Classic TV Series SD 9001 7 October 1991
  • Dogger to the Rescue
  • Gone Fishing
  • Kite Flying
  • Forty Winks
  • Bad Dogger
  • Last Jam Tart
  • Sky High
  • St. Bozo's Treasure
  • Penguins
  • The Phantom Piper

In the 1990s Castle Communications Plc released three videos with four episodes (or eight stories) each:

VHS Name Castle Vision Catalogue Number Playbox Catalogue Number Episodes
Portland Bill: 45 Minutes of Fun CVS 4040 PVC 145
  • A Jam Session / A Visit from Inspector Ronaldsway
  • The Wrong Semaphore Message / Cromarty's Treasure Hunt
  • A Weather Forecasting Kit / Dogger Saves the Day
  • A Knot Tying Day / A Wind-Powered Vacuum Cleaner
Portland Bill: Four Original Episodes CVS 4041 PVC 146
  • A Slapstick Fun Painting Effort / A Memorable Day Trip
  • Staging a Fishing Contest / Telling the Time by Seaweed
  • A Day Off That Gets Busy / A Scary Night Watch
  • Cromarty Gets Hiccups / A Surprise for Eddie Stone
Portland Bill: Four Classic Adventures CVS 4042 PVC 147
  • The Storm That Does Chores / A Whistling Kettle for a Runaway Bull
  • Baking with the Wrong Flour / The Causing-Chaos Penguin
  • Valencia the Parrot
  • A Mermaid Trick / The Oil Rig Customer

DVD Releases[edit]

Abbey Home Media released two DVDs containing twenty four episodes from the first season. The episodes are presented in single bill format and do not include the songs that were originally featured between two episodes each.

Title Release date Episodes
The Adventures Of Portland Bill: Changeable Weather 12 June 2006
  • Changeable Weather
  • The Tourists
  • The Fishing Match
  • The Seaweed Clock
  • Portland Bill's Busy Day
  • The Sea Monster
  • Bedtime for Cromarty
  • The Birthday Surprise
  • The Jam Session
  • An Inspector Calls
  • Important Message
  • Buried Treasure
The Adventures Of Portland Bill: Atmospheric Interference 26 March 2007
  • Atmospheric Interference
  • Dogger's Best Trick
  • A Knot for Everything
  • The Wind Powered Vacuum Cleaner
  • The Good News Storm
  • The Whistling Kettle
  • Baking Day
  • Bird Watching
  • The Lost Key
  • The Singing Parrot
  • Portland Bill and the Mermaid
  • The Big Shopping List

See also[edit]

External links[edit]