The Herbs and The Adventures of Parsley Classic BBC kid's animation by Michael Bond
On this page..... Of all the video releases,these 2 are worthy of special mention because they feature specially shot footage using the original Herbs models.......oh,and a couple of human celebs too.
So......during one particular discussion about childhood tv favourites,both Simes and Sibs revealed a particular soft spot for you know who.Which proved to be surprisingly empowering for all those listeners of a similar age who'd previously thought they really shouldn't admit to such things.
And it sparked such a large response that the producers,Filmfair,were finally persuaded to actually get some product on the shelves -which had been scandalously Herb-free up until then.
So,whether they like it or not,Sybil and Simon's place in Herbal history is assured.
And their reward at the time was to front the 2 videos pictured above.
UPSIDES It's great to see all the original models still in great nick,and to be able to guage their actual,real life size in relation to humans.
It's also nice that they actually went to the time and expense of animating them,rather than just having them as inanimate topics of conversation.Although it's not a true mix of live action and animation,because humans and herbs are never seen together in the same frame with both moving.But that was never going to happen with the time and budgetry constraints.So whilst it's hardly a feast,even a tasty morsel's a banquet to a starving man.
But,perhaps most important of all,it's possibly the last time we'll ever see those models used in new material.Because you can't help feeling that if the series were ever re-made,they'd use CGI rather than stop-motion.
And what a disaster that would be.Because you really can't underestimate the warmth that stop motion brought to the original.Although I fear it'll probably take a souless computer reworking for people to realise just what an important ingredient it actually was.
DOWNSIDES The main downside is that all the insert footage is exactly the same for the second video as the first,with only the chosen four episodes being different.Which is why no reference is made to any specific episodes in the links.
All of which is a bit of a shame,and as there's nothing on the sleeves to let you know,then you'd have the right to feel pretty short-changed if you'd bought both.
The other regret is that we don't get to see or hear anything from Ivor Wood himself.Which may have been because they wanted to create that same original feeling of being a rather privileged uninvited guest into a human-free world.Or simply because he didn't fancy being in front of the camera or found something better to do that day !
And he wasn't involved with the animated segways either,as these were done by Martin Pullen who also doubled as the director,with his wife,Jo,acting as writer / producer.Both having worked on numerous productions with Filmfair and others. With credits ranging from Huxley the Pig right through to the animated version of Viz Comic's "The Fat Slags" where Martin was co-director.So,an excellent replacement and a job well done.
But whoever thought of asking 2 non-actors to act "spotaneously" should definitely be held accountable.
It never works,and it looks a bit cringeworthy here in places.Which is unfortunate and more than a little unfair to expect them to be able to carry it off.
But they do at least look happy to be there,which always helps.
Simon even stretches to a passable rendition of Sage's song complete with wing action.Despite looking a bit sheepish doing it.And no-one but no-one does 'enthusiasm' better than Sybil.
So,fair play to them both on their commitment levels.
Footnote 1 Sadly the original narrator,Gordon Rollings had passed away by the time these were made.
So the Herbs' voices for the link segments were done by actor Charles Pemberton.
He was clearly told to be as true as possible to the original accents and intonations,and it's actually a
pretty good impersonation if you didn't know any better.
Why Charles ? Probably because they were friends.And they'd appeared alongside each other in several
of the famous John Smith's beer commercials filmed shortly before Gordon's death.
And his acting cv is on the IMDB site, here.
This last observation probably depends on how you view late 80's fashion.But Simon does look like a slightly apologetic Bros clone who could well have had a big gay following.And Sybil opts for a whacky dj sweater and sock ensemble, which makes the Herbs gathered round her feet look positively dowdy by comparison.
Sock Shop, Timmy Mallet,......ah,it all comes flooding back.Were those really the days ? What did I look like ?
Well,an adonis.....obviously.And actually in a suit most of the time.But you should've seen me on my days off lol.
Where are they now ?
Simon Mayo divides his time between BBC Radio 2 and BBC Radio Five Live.
Sybil Roscoe Simon actually took over the Five Live early afternoon show that Cybil hosted before she rather surprisingly left to work on Channel 4's cricket coverage.I'm not sure exactly what she's up to now since they lost the rights to screen it,but I understand she writes about cricket for The Telegraph.And hopefully she's doing very nicely thankyou.
Radio Two has morphed into a remodelled 80's version of Radio One and enjoys great audience figs.
Radio One has re-positioned itself as the yoof station it was always intended to be and doesn't !
Those original Herbs models. Not sure. They may be with Ivor Wood's family.Or they might be tucked away in a storeroom full of old Filmfair props somewhere.Which are the 2 most optimistic options, because it's not impossible that they've simply been lost or even binned.
CONTENT The opening shot shows a hand-written invitation from The Herbs to come and visit them.And,suitably persuaded,we cut to our 2 "jocks" walking towards what's presumably either Ivor Woods London mews home or a Filmfair office,accompanied by a bit of gratuitous map jiggling and some "are you sure this it ?" banter.
It is of course,and the front door magically swings open (nice touch).Undeterred by the fact no-one's around ("they must be at lunch") they go in and have a wander round -as you would- and soon discover all the lifeless models lined up on some shelves (all except Bayleaf for some reason) They take Parsley and Dill over to a sofa and with Simon trying to remember Dill's song,he comes to life and sings it for them.(Dill not Simon !) Then after a bit of chat between the four,Parsley calls all the other characters over and they climb down from the shelving and congregate at their feet.More general interaction between humans and Herbs follows,which act as links between the original episode re-runs -each of which is started by Dill pawing the 'play' button on a remote.
At the end,the gang all return to the shelves and our visitors say their farewell's and exit before the occupants return from lunch.And being uninvited guests of the desirable kind,they don't make off with the VCR either !
It's amazing how many London mews properties look so shabby.Especially when you consider they cost a bloody fortune.
In the words of that famous 13th century chinese philosopher ..........
" funny innit "
" If you'd done as I told you
and said Disney were your favourites,
we'd be in Florida by now ! "
(Dill on the table next to the remote,
and Parsley nxt to Simon btw. )
I sent a similar letter to
Didn't work though.
They only come to life ................
with a phone call from their agent
An understated foot bottom left ........
...... gives way to socks in full bloom,
And a fashion fine from Knapweed
If you're overcome with melancholy for those halcyon Fab FM days of Radio One, then I can thoroughly recommend the RadioRewind site
It's utterly poptastic mate.And all for charidee of course
The guy operating Simon is newsmeister Rod McKenzie .And,no,Sybil isn't standing in a hole -she's really quite petite.
At the end of the 80's,Simon Mayo hosted the Radio One Breakfast Show with help from Sybil Ruscoe & friends.
A time when the station was still in Smashy and Nicey Fab FM mode.
With.."posse's".."our tune".."quack,quack,oops"... ....Gary Davies' tan.....Steve Wright's plagiarism.. .....and so on.
Comfy listening for an ageing demographic, where the poptastic playlist lived happily with the "what you upta at the weekend,mate ?" type-chat
And all worth the license fee on its own imho.
( DLT to one side ! )