- Camberwick Green
show_name = Camberwick Green
genre = Stop motion animation
writer = Gordon Murray
country = UK
language = English
num_seasons = 1
num_episodes = 13
producer = Gordon Murray
runtime = 15 mins
picture_format = PAL
3 January 1966
28 March 1966
imdb_id = 0059972
tv_com_id = 25857
"Camberwick Green" (1966) is a British
children's television series, originally seen on BBC One, featuring stop-motion puppets.
The series was written and produced by Gordon Murray and animated by Bob Bura, John Hardwick and Pasquale Ferrari. Music was by
Freddie Phillips, and narration and song vocals were provided by Brian Cant. There are 13 fifteen-minute colour episodes produced by Gordon Murray Picturesand FilmFair.
Each episode begins with a shot of a
musical boxwhich rotates while playing a tune. It is accompanied by the following narration:
"Here is a box, a musical box, wound up and ready to play. But this box can hide a secret inside. Can you guess what is in it today?"
The lid of the box then opens and the puppet character that is central to the particular episode emerges. After a brief introduction, the background appears and the story begins.
The series is set in the small, picturesque (and fictitious) village of Camberwick Green, Trumptonshire, which is inhabited by such characters as Police Constable McGarry (Number 452), Mickey Murphy the baker, Dr Mopp (who makes house calls in his vintage car), and the town gossip, Mrs Honeyman, who is always seen carrying her baby. Just outside the village lives Jonathan Bell, owner of a "modern mechanical farm", who has a friendly rivalry with
Windy Miller, owner of a clanking old windmilland a firm believer in old-fashioned farming methods. Mr Dagenham, a travelling salesman who drives an open-topped convertible occasionally appears, as do the staff and cadets of Pippin Fort, a nearby military academyrun by Captain Snort and Sgt Major Grout. Almost all the characters have their own theme songs. There is one other character who never appears in the stories: an unnamed clownor pierrotwho turns a roller caption to display the show's closing credits.
Each week the villagers undergo such domestic crises as a shortage of flour; a swarm of bees; a water shortage; and rumours of an unwanted electrical sub-station being built in the village. At the end of each episode the narrator bids farewell to the puppet character who was seen at the beginning, and the latter disappears back into the musical box.
"Camberwick Green" is notable for having no overt fantasy content (apart from the musical box). For the most part it is simply about ordinary people doing everyday things, and perhaps for that reason it has remained popular to this day. Unfortunately the original masters seem to have been lost; most of the surviving episodes tend to suffer from scratched, wobbly or grainy picture quality and a muffled soundtrack. "Camberwick Green" is available on DVD along with "
Trumpton" and " Chigley", its two sequels in a similar vein.
"Camberwick Green" was spoofed for a 1988 edition of "
Spitting Image", as "Gamberwick Greenbelt". The 90-second sketch had a puppet Nicholas Ridley, described as "Old Nicky Ridley, the village idiot", demolishing the village for redevelopment with the aid of a bulldozer.
The character Windy Miller and his famous windmill appeared in September 2005 along with some other "Camberwick Green" characters in commercials for
Quaker Oatson UK television. The puppets and setting are all re-creations because Murray destroyed the originals in the 1970s. The original narrator, Brian Cant, auditioned to do the voiceover for the commercials, before the job was instead given to Charlie Higson.
Episode five of the second series of the BBC's "Life on Mars" features a recreation of the opening of "Camberwick Green", with a puppet of the show's main character, Sam Tyler (
John Simm), emerging from the musical box and despairing over his colleague, Gene Hunt ( Philip Glenister), who can be seen in puppet form "kicking in a nonce" at the end. This later leads to Sam to threaten Hunt, telling him to "Stay out of "Camberwick Green"!". It emerges that Sam is tripping after being accidentally overdosed in his hospital bed. Again the voice-over was not supplied by Brian Cant, but is delivered in a similar style. It differs from the original as follows:
"This is a box, a magical box, playing a magical tune. But inside this box there lies a surprise. Do you know who's in it today?"
The narration was provided by Brian Little, the co-founder of
Hot Animation, the company that created the sequence. His recording was supposed to be a temporary guide track to help the animators time the shots, but the producers of "Life on Mars" were content to retain it for the final version. The one-minute sequence was designed and animated by Paul Couvela, the supervising animator of " Bob the Builder". ["Life on Mars: The Complete Series Two" DVD — "Behind the Scenes of Episode 5"]
; Created by : Gordon Murray ; Music : Freddie Phillips; Narration : Brian Cant; Settings : Margaret Brownfoot, Andrew Brownfoot; Animation : Bob Bura, John Hardwick, Pasquale Ferrari; Puppets : Gordon Murray; Produced by : Gordon Murray
* [http://www.t-web.co.uk/trumpgo.htm The Trumptonshire Web]
* [http://trumpton3.homestead.com The Trumptonshire Trilogy]
* [http://www.screenonline.org.uk/tv/id/561216/index.html British Film Institute Screen Online]
* [http://www.windmillworld.com/windmills/windymiller.htm Windy Miller]
* [http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/sundaybest/pip/doto1/ BBC Radio 4 "Sunday Best" - Here is a Box, a Musical Box]
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