The Herbs and The Adventures of Parsley
On this page ..... Of all the video releases,there are 2 worthy of special mention because they featured specially shot footage using the original Herbs models.......oh,and a couple of human celebs too.
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.[but only just]
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 of course.
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 original series producers,Filmfair,were finally persuaded to actually get some product on the shelves -which had been scandalously Herb-free up until then.
2 vhs videos featuring original episodes were released,and the 2 people largely responsible appeared in some specially shot footage to link them all- which included interacting with the original models,who were also specially animated for the occasion.
And quite a significant moment in bringing the series back into the limelight actually.
So Sybil and Simon's place in Herbal history is assured.As is their own page here.With the 2 video sleeves pictured below.
It's great to see all the original models still in great nick,and to be able to gauge 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.And no big deal anyway.
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 probably 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.
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 also a bit disingenuous,as there's nothing on the sleeves to let you know.
The other regret is that we don't get to see or hear anything from Ivor Wood himself.
Presumably because he didn't fancy being in front of the camera .... or just found something better to do that day !
And he wasn't involved with the animated segways either,as these were done by fellow Filmfair stalwart Martin Pullen,who also doubled as the director,with his wife,Jo,acting as writer / producer.
I'm not sure how much directing experience he had outside the animated world,but asking 2 non-actors to act "spontaneously" maybe wasn't the best idea.
It never works,and it looks a bit awkward here in places.
Which is unfortunate,and unfair on them.
But they always give the feeling that they're genuinely happy to be there.And that always goes a long way.
Simon even does 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,hats off to them both.And even more kudos for proving the demand for a product that even the producers couldn't see !
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. Click pic for his IMDB cv ...
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,if you're interested,I've uploaded one of them and put it at the bottom of Gordon's page.
Where are they now ?
Simon Mayo divides his time between BBC Radio Five Live and independent Scala Radio
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.She's still very much an active presenter/journalist,going where the work takes her.
Radio Two has morphed into a remodelled 80's version of Radio One and enjoys great audience figs.
Radio One has tried to re-position itself as a yoof station and probably doesn't.
The Herbs models are alive and surprisingly well,and still under original ownership.
Radio One jocks ? Check out the RadioRewind site. Thoroughly recommended >>>
The guy operating Simon is newsmeister Rod McKenzie. And,no,Sybil isn't standing in a hole -she really is quite petite.
Sybil 'n' Simes specially shot segments
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 nice and desirable kind,they don't make off with the VCR either !
Strange how these London mews properties could look so unappealing from the outside despite their high price tag.
If you're going to pay through the nose for an address,why not go the extra mile ......... and pop out to B&Q !
" Why couldn't you have said
you loved Mickey Mouse ?
We'd be poolside in Florida ! "
(Dill on the table next to the remote,
and Parsley nxt to Simon btw. )
I sent a similar letter to Frank Sinatra.
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