Sunday, 11 December 2011

The Munch Bunch have run away, the Munch Bunch are here to stay: The Munch Bunch have found a home, with a garden!

The Munch Bunch is the title of a series of children's books, written by British author Denis Bond (under the Pen name Giles Reed) and illustrated by Angela Mitson, a teenager who had created the characters. They were published between 1979 and 1984 by Studio Publications (Ipswich) Ltd. in the UK and Rourke Publications, Inc. in the US. The Munch Bunch are a group of unwanted vegetables, fruits, legumes and nuts who were swept to the corner of a shop but ran away together and set up home in and around an old, forgotten garden shed.

There was also a 1980 marionette/puppet-based television show that I remember very well, produced by long-time Gerry Anderson associates Mary Turner and John Read for ITC Entertainment, that featured the characters from the books. The stories for the television series were different from those contained in the books and were written mainly by Denis Bond (this time under his real name), though other writers such as Rosemary Kingsland also contributed. The series characters were voiced by the husband-and-wife team of Judy Bennett and Charles Collingwood probably best known for their work in The Archers. 52 ten minute editions were produced.

  • Series 1: 12 editions,first shown from 24 September 1980
  • Series 2: 13 editions, first shown from 25 March 1981
  • Series 3: 21 editions, first shown from 30 September 1981
  • Series 4: 6 editions, first shown from 7 April 1982

The books went out of print in the mid-to-late 1980s after a fire at Studio Publications apparently destroyed all the original artwork, and the brand name only survived as a range of yoghurts. These had been launched circa 1981 to coincide with the launch of the television series, with Mitson's characters as well as a few non-book characters such as Jenny Cherry and Charlie Chocolate but by the 1990s had struck out completely in their own right retaining only the logo and a few character names.
The brand did enjoy something a resurgence in the UK during the mid-1990s, largely thanks to a popular TV commercial for the Munch Bunch"pot shots" range (a petits-filous type yoghurt aimed at the young) set in a pool hall which ran from May 1994 until February 1996, although this renewal in popularity proved short-lived, and only three of the Munch Bunch characters were featured in the "pot shots" range. A completely different series of Munch Bunch books was published in 1998 by Ladybirds Books in the UK to tie in with the yoghurts following the resurgence brought about by the TV commercials of 1994-96. Denis Bond and Angela Mitson had nothing to do with these and the characters were different although a few were similarly named e.g. Sally Strawberry.
The Munch Bunch yoghurt brand name itself nevertheless still continues to this day under the Nestle umbrella, although it is now almost completely unrecognisable from the 1980s and 1990s, with the "fruit and veg" characters having been dropped completely and replaced by a "cow" mascot named Munch.

The Original Characters:
  • Aubrey Aubergine
  • Adam Avocado
  • The Banana Bunch
  • Barnabus Beetroot
  • Billy Blackberry
  • Bounce (spring onion)
  • Button and Tiny (mushrooms)
  • Casper Carrot
  • Chunky Pineapple
  • Corky Coconut
  • Corny-on-the-Cob
  • Dick Turnip
  • Emma Apple
  • Lizzie Leek
  • Lucy Lemon
  • Merv Marrow
  • Nurse Plum
  • Olive
  • Olly Onion
  • Peanut
  • Pedro Orange
  • Pete Pepper
  • Penny Parsnip
  • Percy Prune
  • Pippa Pear
  • Professor Peabody
  • Rory Rhubarb
  • Rozzy Raspberry
  • Runner Bean
  • Sally Strawberry
  • Scruff Gooseberry
  • Spud (Potato)
  • Supercool (cucumber)
  • Suzie Celery
  • Tom Tomato
  • Wally Walnut

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