Thursday, 15 March 2012

"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 legendary Camberwick Green produced by the BBC in 1966 was a British Childrens' Television series, originally seen on BBC One, featuring stop - motion puppets. It was one of the first British television series to be filmed in colour.

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 the legendary Brian Cant. There are 13 fifteen-minute colour episodes produced by Gordon Murray pictures. The inspiration for the name is believed to have stemmed from the East Sussex village of Wivlesfield Green supported by the nearby villages of Plumpton (Trumpton) and Chailey (Chigley).
Each episode begins with a shot of a Musical Box which 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 - but nevertheless efficiently functional - Windmill and 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 Academy run by Captain Snort and Sergeant-Major Grout. Almost all the characters have their own theme songs. There is one other character who never appears in the stories: an unnamed Clown or Pierrot who 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 Oats on 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 by saying: "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
Chippy Minton features in the opening and closing sequences of the 2009 BBC Children in Need charity single Peter Kay's "Animated All Star Band" video when Peter Kay as Roary the Racing Car's Big Chris asks Postman Pat over the phone if Chippy is "ex-directory". Big Chris acts in a 'Bob Geldof' role to recruit characters from children's TV shows, past and present, to star in a Band Aid style video covering a range of songs by the Beatles to Take That. Windy Miller and Miss Lovelace also appear.

The Major Characters

Mickey Murphy the baker

Mickey lives on Camberwick Green with Mrs Murphy and their children Paddy and Mary. His bakers shop sells delicious walnut cakes at 5 shillings each.
Mr Murphy is a master baker,
Pudding pies and pastry maker,
Biscuits buns or birthday cake,
Everything is marvellous that Murphy makes.
Camberwick Green

Windy Miller

Windy lives in Colly's Mill, a windmill which has its own particular rhythmic sound when turning. Windy is very adept at walking between the turning sails. As well as being a character in Camberwick Green, he also appears in the series Chigley, the fictional neighbouring village to Camberwick Green. Windy is known for brewing his own cider, which makes him very 'sleepy'. He rejects modern ways and prefers to live a self sufficient life. He keeps a cow for milk and free range chickens for eggs. Windy is superstitious and believes in whistling for the wind and that touching a chimney sweep's collar brings good luck.
Windy Miller, Windy Miller sharper than a thorn,
Like a mouse he's spry and nimble when he grinds the corn.
Like a bird he'll watch the wind and listen for the sound,
Which says he has the wind he needs to make the sails go round.
Camberwick Green

Farmer Jonathan Bell

Farmer Bell runs his farm using modern machinery and practices. He is very proud of his milking machine and forklift loader. In this he is the very opposite of Windy Miller who he often teases about his old-fashioned ways. Despite this they are good friends.
A go ahead farmer is Jonathan Bell
Who works his farm and he works it well
He doesn't hold much with the good old days.
In modern times use modern ways.
Electric mechanical all that is new
Which does the work that men used to do.
He swears by it all and he proves it too
On his modern mechanical farm.
Camberwick Green

PC McGarry number 452

Police constable McGarry is the local 'bobbie'. He rides around on his motorbike and talks to HQ on the bike's radio.
Here comes the policeman,
The big friendly policeman,
PC McGarry number 452.
Lost dogs, thick fogs,
Don't know what to do.
Then get the policeman,
The big friendly policeman.
PC McGarry number 452. Here comes the policeman,
The big friendly policeman,
PC McGarry number 452.
Lost a key, cat up a tree,
Baby lost a shoe.
Then get the policeman,
A big friendly policeman.
PC McGarry number 452.
Camberwick Green

Mr Carraway the Fishmonger

Mr Carraway runs the fishmongers shop on Camberwick Green. He enjoys fishing in the river that runs behind his shop.
Fresh fish! fine fresh fish!
Herring, plaice, mackerel turbot,
Whiting, cod, halibut, dab,
Prawn, crabs, crayfish and lobster,
In green parsley and set upon a slab.
Fresh fish, fine fresh fish.
Camberwick Green

Peter the Postman

Peter Hazel is a postman who empties the postbox and delivers the mail. He travels on foot with the mail in a large sack upon his back.
Peter the postman is a very busy man
He empties the boxes as quickly as he can
He puts all the letters in a great big sack
And whistles as he marches with his load upon his back.
Camberwick Green

Mr Crockett the garage owner

Mr Crockett operates a petrol station and on the outskirts of Camberwick Green. He also does automotive repairs and runs a breakdown truck.
If your car is needing petrol, if your van is broken down,
If your motorcycle engine starts to stick,
Then go to Crockett's garage, to Mr Crockett's garage.
He will do the work and he'll do it very quick. Fill her up, fill her up, the petrol pumps are working,
Pump them up, pump them up, you know what tyres are.
Hurry up, hurry up, there is no time for shirking,
If you want a very super sort of car.
Camberwick Green Doctor Mopp

Doctor Mopp

Doctor Mopp drives a vintage car (reg 1901) and wears a top hat and beard.
If you want a doctor,
Get Doctor Mopp,
For he can stop
A sneeze or a wheeze,
Or a lump or a bump,
A headache or a sprain,
Or rheumaticy pain. So if you're feeling sickly,
Please call him quickly.
He can cure all ills,
With his pale pink medicine,
And sugar coated pills.
Camberwick Green Roger Varley The Sweep

Roger Varley the chimney sweep

Roger would travel around on his motorbike & sidecar.
Sweep all,
Here comes Roger Varley,
As black as a crow,
To sweep all your chimneys,
Which stand in a row. Big chimneys, small chimneys,
Low chimneys tall chimneys.
Chimneys so straight and chimneys awry,
With his rod, brush and sack,
And his suit shiny black,
He'll purl and twirl his brush,
Up the flues to the sky. Sweep all.
Camberwick Green Mr Dagenham The Salesman

Mr Dagenham the salesman

Mr Dagenham is a travelling salesman and drives a red sports car. He sells everything from table lamps to forklift loaders. In one episode he tries to sell a helicopter to Farmer Bell.
Our Mr Dagenham, he can sell anything,
Anything, anything money can buy.
A tea set or a jacket,
A pram or tennis raquet,
A telly or a toaster,
A trumpet or a trike,
An overcoat, a motor boat,
A holiday in Africa,
A bathtub or a button,
A bugle or a bike.
Our Mr Dagenham, he can sell anything,
Anything, anything money can buy.
Camberwick Green Captain Snort

Captain Snort

Captain Snort runs a military academy for boys located in Pippin Fort. Members of the academy all wear red shirts in the style of the British Empire.
Captain Snort is a soldier man,
Scarlet and gold a soldier man.
He'll work a boy as hard as he can,
To turn him into a soldier man.
Captain Snort is a soldier man,
Who lives in Pippin Fort.
Camberwick Green Mrs Honeyman and her Baby
Mrs Honeyman
Mrs Honeyman is the Chemist's wife and always appears carrying her baby. She is the local gossip.
Chatter chatter have you heard the latest gossip?
Not a word to anyone...
But do you know that natter natter well my dear
You could have knocked me over with a feather.
I was shocked !