Underground Ernie

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Underground Ernie
Undergroundernielogo.png
Created by John Deery
Sid Rainey
Starring Gary Lineker
Janet Brown
Emma Weaver
Tim Whitnall
Chris Jarvis
Howard Ward
Theme music composer Miles Hunt, Sid Rainey, Martin Bell (The Wonder Stuff)
Opening theme "The Importance of Being Ernie"
Ending theme "The Importance of Being Ernie" (Edit)
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of episodes 26
Production
Executive producer(s) John Deery
Sid Rainey
Running time 12 minutes
Production company(s) Joella Productions
Distributor BBC
Release
Original network CBeebies, BBC Two
Original release 5 June (2006-06-05) – 25 December 2006 (2006-12-25)
Chronology
Related shows Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends
Chuggington
Dream Street
Bob the Builder
External links
Website

Underground Ernie is a British computer animated children's television series produced by Joella Productions in the United Kingdom on the BBC on both CBeebies and BBC Two, and sold around the world by BBC Worldwide. It is set in International Station, a fictional worldwide underground network, and focuses on the everyday adventures of Ernie, a friendly underground supervisor, Millie, his multilingual colleague, and Mr. Rails, the lovable maintenance man.

The locomotives under Ernie's watchful eye all have characters of their own. In October 2005, the series was officially announced, with it premièring the following year. There is Bakerloo, Victoria, Circle, Jubilee and the twins, Hammersmith & City. From time to time they are joined by their friends from across the world including; Paris, Brooklyn, Moscow, Sydney and Osaka.

The show is aimed at children between the ages of three and eight years old. The initial series has twenty six episodes each, lasting twelve minutes. Its first showing on was on Monday 5 June 2006 on BBC Two at 9:00am. It later premiered on CBeebies.

Première[edit]

In its première run, Underground Ernie was broadcast twice a day five days a week, firstly on BBC Two at 9 am, and then repeated on CBeebies at 4.30 pm.

In the series première, "Pop Decoy", pop superstar "Sam 7" is performing at the theatre, and Jubilee has to get him there without hundreds of fans finding out. Alas, the excitable Jubilee can't keep a secret, and he and Ernie have to come up with a plan to get Sam 7 safely to the theatre.

Poster for Underground Ernie

Design[edit]

All the visuals for the show are produced using CGI computer graphics, and that largely explains the high cost of the production (USD$7 million/£4 million) [1]. The first series was produced using LightWave 3D software.[2]

Some critics have pointed out the similarities between Underground Ernie and Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends and Chuggington, in that all 3 series feature anthropomorphic locomotives. Whilst acknowledging a similarity, the producers make it clear that this is very different from Thomas and Chuggington, and is very much based in the twenty first century. Despite being underground engines, they often travel overground around open countryside to various stations, including one seaside resort.

The overall design is inspired by the real London Underground, and Transport for London has allowed the series to use design elements directly taken from their brand, in particular the use of their distinctive Underground logo, or 'roundel' as it's known.

Characters[edit]

Humans[edit]

  • The eponymous Underground Ernie is a supervisor who owns the International Underground station (voiced by ex footballer and television sports presenter Gary Lineker[1]).
  • Millie (voiced by Emma Weaver) is a computer expert working on the network, and the co owner of the station.
  • Mr. Rails (voiced by Howard Ward) is the maintenance man.

Trains[edit]

The majority of the characters are trains most of which take their names from lines of the London Underground network, though in Underground Ernie's world it is called "International Underground".*

There are also five international trains, which Millie visits when she goes abroad every weekend. She always bring back exciting stories for Ernie, as well as a souvenir:

Storylines[edit]

In each twelve minute episode Ernie faces a problem, which he needs to fix with the help of the trains. This will typically involve one of the locations on International Underground or visitors coming via the Underground, often both.

Number Title Writer Synopsis Airdate
1 Pop Decoy Louise Kramskoy Jubilee lets slip his secret about pop superstar Sam 7. Bakerloo gets into pop. 5 June 2006
2 Sir Clunkalot Diane Redmond The medieval pageant sees Ernie save a damsel in distress. 6 June 2006
3 Mister Rails Never Fails Diane Redmond Ernie's heavy cold leads to confusion over the arrangements for Mr. Rails' surprise party. 7 June 2006
4 Brooklyn and Rocky Two Shoes Diane Redmond American athlete Rocky Two Shoes rides over on Brooklyn and overcomes his fears. 8 June 2006
5 Pulling Together Jan Page Hammersmith and City have split loyalties while Victoria gets into football. 9 June 2006
6 Caught Purple Handed Diane Redmond A rather absent-minded explorer brings a rare plant to the Underground. 12 June 2006
7 Ernie's Big Trip Jan Page Paris visits. Is Ernie going to France forever? Don't go, Ernie! 13 June 2006
8 Finders Keepers Jan Page A Golden Ticket becomes lost property. 14 June 2006
9 The Magician's Assistant Diane Redmond Millie assists as Paris brings Maestro the magician to town. 15 June 2006
10 Cover Story Ross Hastings Ernie tries to take some pictures for Tunnel Times; Sydney is in town. 16 June 2006
11 Millie's Day Dream Ross Hastings Millie's won a dream day. Can the Underground cope without her? 19 June 2006
12 Mr Movie Jones Diane Redmond A case of mistaken identity as Mr. Movie Jones visits Sea Shell Bay. 20 June 2006
13 Summer Breeze Louise Kramskoy Phew, what a scorcher on the Underground! 21 June 2006
14 Running Late Lisa Akhurst Is Victoria headed for the scrapyard? 22 June 2006
15 Light at the End of the Tunnel Jan Page A tiny crack opens and Miss Relic sees her mummy again. 23 June 2006
16 The Wreck of Sea Shell Bay Diane Redmond Sam and Dan are seriously bad kids - but they get lucky. 26 June 2006
17 Catnapped Louise Kramskoy Pippa's cat Patch goes missing as the rain pours down. 27 June 2006
18 Monster Mystery Jan Page Monster on the Underground? Not a good time for a practical joke. 28 June 2006
19 Bon Appetit Jan Page Millie cooks for French chef Marcel Le Magnifique, who arrives on Paris. 29 June 2006
20 A Change Is as Good as a Rest Diane Redmond The trains decide to swap lines; Pippa doesn't hear the announcement. 30 June 2006
21 Elementary, My Dear Bakerloo! Jan Page A jumble sale saves the nature reserve. 13 November 2006
22 The Magic Lamp Louise Kramskoy Is this a genie I see before me? A theatre prop spreads confusion. 14 November 2006
23 How Great The Art Ross Hastings Modern art - who wants it? How about a squashed wheelbarrow for Brooklyn? 15 November 2006
24 The Mayor's Visit Ross Hastings Mr. Rails gets the wrong end of the stick. The mayor gets stuck. 16 November 2006
25 Techno Trouble! Lisa Akhurst Osaka gives Jubilee some Japanese technology that is just too good. 17 November 2006
26 Snow Go Jan Page The Underground suffers from the wrong kind of snow as Moscow visits. Series Finale 25 December 2006 (Christmas Day)

Merchandising[edit]

Toys[edit]

In November 2005, Halsall International Ltd. announced that they had secured the rights to produce merchandising linked to Underground Ernie [3]. The products became on sale by September 2006, with a comprehensive range being available in 2007. The use of London Underground names and trains is a deliberate step to lead into merchandising suitable for children's gifts the revenue, from which were shared with Transport for London. Halsall International Ltd have, since 2009, have stopped making 'Underground Ernie' models.

DVDs[edit]

Warner Home Video released four compilation DVDs of the show, which was later compiled into a boxset forming the complete first series. These releases are now out of print, and are very hard to find. Only a few clips and one nearly full episode are available online. And no known copies of any of the DVDs still exist. We would like to think that this was due to some heroic action from someone who destroyed the last copy of the last Underground Ernie DVD.

Day Out with Underground Ernie[edit]

In 2008, one railway in Hampshire called Eastleigh Lakeside Steam Railway secured the rights to hold children's days involving Underground Ernie, and held four Underground Ernie events a year called: Day Out with Underground Ernie.

Miniature versions of 'Jubilee' and 'Ernie 1' were created which passengers could ride behind, as well as meeting a larger than life version of Underground Ernie. The last Ernie event was held during late December 2009, ending in early January 2010. Day out with Thomas took over where it left off.

Underground Ernie charity evenings[edit]

As well as Days Out with Ernie, in 2008 and 2009, two Underground Ernie fundraising events were held at the railway which were hosted by The Karen Ingram Cancer Trust. With over £3,500 raised on the night at the first event, which raised money for the hospital which cared and looked after Karen Ingram, for whom the events were in memory of. Co creator John Deery also attended the special charity evening, along with his family.

With Eastleigh no longer hosting events involving Days Out with Ernie, a final fundraiser was held at the railway in 2010, however this was not themed to Ernie, due to the railway no longer having the Ernie characters available to use.

Theme song[edit]

The show's theme song, performed by members of The Wonder Stuff under the name "HRB Music",[2] is called "The Importance of Being Ernie". This is a reference to Oscar Wilde's play The Importance of Being Earnest (Ernie is short for Ernest).

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Tube trains get lines in series". BBC News. 10 October 2005. Retrieved 2015-06-03. 
  2. ^ Roach, Martin (2006). The Eight Legged Atomic Dustbin Will Eat Itself. Independent Music Press. p. 107. ISBN 0-9549704-0-3. 

External links[edit]