The Herbs and The Adventures of Parsley Classic BBC kid's animation by Michael Bond
On this page..... a look at a BBC info-mmercial celebrating 50 years of their kids tv output.
They cram a lot in,although there are some notable exceptions (Clangers dropped !) But it's only 3 minutes long,so clearly something had to give-and at least it wasn't The Herbs.
PLUS 4 original BBC publicity stills to finish.Unrelated and Herbs-specific,but still BBC promotion
He was shown actually walking through the original sets,standing right next to their stars and even doing the odd bit of interaction with them-although,for the most part,he talked directly to camera about the Beeb's contribution to kids tv as he went from one series to another.
It's just 3 minutes long,but took 3 months to plan,script and storyboard and 10 days to shoot.The content was split fairly evenly between animated and live action series,and each threw up its own restrictions and problems.
A lot of the animated content was specially shot (re-shot) for the ocassion,to enable Scott to interact with all the different characters.And it all had to be as faithful to the originals as possible of course.Which was
particularly tricky for the visits to Camberwick Grn,Trumpton and Chigley,because creator Gordon
Murray had disposed of all the original models and sets.So everything had to be re-created from
scratch,and very good it is too.But Pugh,Pugh,Barney McGrew,Windy Miller,Mrs.Cobbitt,Lord
Belborough and chums are indeed all body-double imposters !
Fans of the Trumptonshire Trilogy may be surprised to see Chigley get a mention at all,as it's
usually the one that's forgotten about.Until you notice that Lord Belborough's train provides a
rather covenient link into the Magic Roundabout bit.
Although it was the most memorable bit of the series to be fair. Remember his song ? -"Time flies by when I'm a driver of a train,as I ride on the footplate there and back again........"
And with so many series to acknowledge,it's no surprise that those sorts of links were used to try and fit as many in as possible.......
So,at the very beginning,we see all the early black and white favourites like Andy Pandy and The Woodentops clustered around a suitably b & w Scott. And later on he's walking down Mr.Benn's Festive Road with Crystal Tipps and Alistair walking past,Mary Mungo and Midge looking out of a window and Roobarb & Custard up a tree. Simple but effective.
And the Herbs ? Well not too much to report really.
Scott gets dropped off at the gate courtesy of Noddy (see top pic) and walks through the garden with Parsley and Dill in attendance.There's no verbal interaction,and whilst they're not the original models they're not bad recreations,apart from Dill's slightly bouffon hairdo.
Overall,none of the animated sequences are particularly ambitious.But the main aim was simply to recreate the originals as faithfully as possible.And it's hard to argue with the results quite frankly (pic of animator's studio)
Any good ?.....Well, I think it's a really nice piece of work.
Ok,it's self-congratulatory.Yes we do pay for it all,
and,yes,we do indeed "make it what it is".
But like any big organisation,the Beeb's always an easy target for a good kicking -whether it's justified or not.
I reckon they more than delivered for kids of my generation, and I'm perfectly happy to raise a glass to them.
In fact,I might even crack open a sherbert fountain.
It's just a shame that we only had to look across the Atlantic to see what multi-channel tv was like..........
and we still thought it was a good idea.
And when the Beeb's eventually (inevitably) stripped of the license fee we'll truely get the tv we deserve,
and this clip will be stored in the British Library under "Here's what you could've won" -if it isn't already.
All rather depressing frankly. Or maybe it's just me (quite probably)
These last offerings are nothing to do with the above,apart from the fact that it's also promotional material.
- Herbs publicity stills issued by the Beeb to coincide with the original transmissions.
They're in black and white,which is rather fitting seeing as The Herbs were originally transmitted in good old monochrome.And the collector's among you will no doubt spot that colour versions of the last 2 formed part of the eponymous BBC postcard series.(in memorabilia section here)
If it's not working or you find a better quality version on YouTube,
then please let know (email on HomePage). Thanks.
But the really nice thing about them is the clarity of detail they show -even allowing for a little quality loss transferring them from the actual photo to an online image.
Look out for things like the stitching detail on Sir Basil's jacket and the tissue paper (?) crest at the very top of Sage's head.Which really gives a much better appreciation of the work that went into them and how far removed they are from the illusional world of CGI.
And I'll end by thanking Tony Clark for sending them in and sharing them with us.
The only new Herbs material shot since the original series was for the Mayo & Ruscoe videos (using the old models) and this BBC info-mmercial made in 1998 (using new versions of Parsley & Dill)
Called "Future Generations",it was produced to celebrate 50 years of BBC kids tv.And was first aired in full during that year's "Children In Need" telethon,and repeated in varying lengths thereafter.
With 5 yr old child actor,Scott Chisholm,taking us on a tour through the archives.
But he wasn't just a sideline narrator.
Getting Scott to properly interact with the old live action stuff was another matter entirely of course.
And they got round the problem by mixing the original footage with some specially filmed inserts using human body doubles.Which works far better than you might imagine.Most noticeably with the famous Blue Peter elephant,(the aptly named "Lu-Lu"),where members of the production team were used as stand-ins for Val,John,Pete and the zoo keeper and shot from behind so their faces weren't shown.
All very cleverly done and it probably wouldn't even register if I hadn't mentioned it.
So maybe I should shut up now and just let you enjoy it ! Here it is in full