Good Old Bod

BodI loved Bod with his funny walk, bald head and apple pip eyes. All the characters had their own theme music including pom-pom-pom music for the policeman who had a plodding walk. Bod’s music was a chirpy little piccolo or flute. At the beginning you’d just see a blank screen with a little dot getting bigger and eventually this would turn into Bod or one of the other characters. You had to guess who it was going to be.

The actual program was called Here Comes Bod, I think, but we always called it simply Bod. The animation was minimal with the only things that moved on a character being the legs and the backgrounds were block colour. When they were walking towards the viewer, they just got bigger and their legs went up and down. It was very funny. The story was narrated so the characters didn’t even have to open their mouths and their speech was reported. As far as I can tell from research, the show was based on a series of books, though I don’t remember ever seeing the books. There is a current Here Comes Bod website, but no more Bod shows only repeats.

To watch it now is amazing nostalgia, not only for the simplistic animation compared to today’s children’s programs but for the fact that all the characters are white and holed up into nice little gender and class categories. Although interestingly the creators assert that Bod means anything with no race or gender. According to an interview with the adult children of the creators of Bod, there is a deep philosophical significance behind the program. I didn’t notice it as a child, possibly because everything was magical and philosophical to me back then. Great marketing though! They did it with Pooh Bear, now they’re doing it with Bod.

Bod and friends

 Each episode was only five minutes long according to wikipedia, but strangely I remember them as being longer. Maybe that’s just my faulty memory. At the end of the Bod adventure, there was another mini program within the program (see the post-modern metatextuality there?) about Alberto Frog and his travelling band. The band was made up of different animals and they usually had to play somewhere – the frog was the conductor. Then Alberto would ask for a milkshake and you had to guess which flavour he would choose. I didn’t like the Alberto Frog bit as much as I liked Bod. I think it was because I didn’t like how the Alberto narrator talked, and listening to her on youtube I can understand why, because I never did respond well to being patronised.


Josie Henley-Einion, author, blogger, Legend in my own Living Room

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Captain Pugwash

Captain Pugwash with Tom the Cabin BoyOne of my favourite cartoons in the Seventies was Captain Pugwash. Although the last series was produced in 1975 (according to Wikipedia) I remember watching it throughout the Seventies, so was probably watching repeats.

Contrary to popular urban mythology, there was no Seaman Stains or Master Bates. I do remember references to Tom the Cabin Boy being ‘the Captain’s favourite cabin boy’ but that’s about the most innuendo that I can recall.

Captain Pugwash was a pirate but a nice one, not the nasty sort. He was funny and had a lot of funny swearwords, the only one of which I remember is ‘shiver me timbers’ but Wikipedia has a nice long list.

The animation style is minimal, like cardboard cutouts that move around on fixed backgrounds. You can see this from clips on YouTube. The modern reinvented Pugwash uses computer animation which is not so endearing.


Josie Henley-Einion, author, blogger, Legend in my own Living Room

Catweazle

Geoffrey Bayldon as CatweazleI loved Catweazle! I love cats and always have, and I wanted to be Catweazle because he lived wild, was a magician and completely barmy. Oh and he went around in raggedy old clothes and didn’t care how dirty he got. That would have been me at age around six. Catweazle has nothing to do with cats, by the way, but with the name and his whiskers there’s a link.

Catweazle had a frog called Touchwood (sounds a lot like Torchwood doesn’t it??) and he had funny names for things like he called the telephone the ‘telling bone’. There was a lot of real magic in the program, scrying and runes and things that are authentic for his period (1066, Catweazle was a Saxon). There aren’t a great many special effects in the program, as it was a budget British 1970 TV show, but some great acting. I always got the feeling that it was ‘proper’ magic rather than flash-bangs, and now I’ve found a photo of him I know for sure. Whoever designed the costume either was pagan themselves or knew someone who was.

In the beginning, Catweazle is escaping the Norman soldiers and accidentally escapes into a 1970 farm. There he meets the farmer’s son, Edward, and the first thing he says is ‘art thou Norman?’ to which Ed replies, ‘no my name’s Edward.’ Classic. I remembered this scene from the book, which I read when I was about nine.

In some ways, Catweazle is similar to Wurzel Gummidge who was a scarecrow that came to life. I loved Wurzel Gummidge but I loved Catweazle more because of the magic. According to Wikipedia, the programme was also popular in New Zealand, The Netherlands, Germany, Australia, Sweden and Norway. There is a fan club and you can order the DVDs on Amazon.


Josie Henley-Einion, author, blogger, Legend in my own Living Room

Enid Blyton Books

Enid Blyton was my first writing heroine. Though the first ever book I read was The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle, Enid Blyton books were much more prevalent. She died before I was born, but her popularity continued well after her death, and continues today.

Children of Cherry Tree Farm book cover, still got it!

Bimbo and Topsy I love it!!!Naughtiest Girl

Starting with Bimbo and Topsy (we had a cat named Bimbo after this book), progressing through Pip the Pixie and Mr Pinkwhistle and onto The Children of Cherry Tree Farm. The first book I ever got to choose and buy for myself was a sixty pence paperback, The Naughtiest Girl In The School (the irony was not lost on me). I’ve still got The Naughtiest Girl, and I read it hundreds of times.

I loved Enid Blyton books as a child and was still reading the Famous Five and the Mallory Towers series when I was fourteen, in between the Dickens and John Wyndham. They were my comforting trash when other children were watching Neighbours. I’m not ashamed to say that my writing has been heavily influenced by Blyton.

The most recent Blyton I’ve bought is The Six Bad Boys which was first published in 1951 but reprinted in 2001. This is an incredible leap from her usual fluffy fairy stories and is about a group of children who end up in juvenile court. Although it is still as riddled with racist, sexist and classist bloopers as her other books, it is at least a genuine attempt at social commentary.

Even though my life was nothing like the jolly old lashings of ginger beer life enjoyed by the lovely tomboy George and her faithful dog Timmy, I could still dream. And one day, one day, I was determined that I’d get to do all of those daring things and go on those exciting adventures. Boarding school was my chief ambition, but I would have settled for a camping trip with a group of friends on an island or a night in a lighthouse.

When I did eventually get to boarding school, I was sorely disappointed that it didn’t have its own swimming pool carved out of the rock and filled by the sea at every high tide. It didn’t have stabling or hockey, or even midnight feasts. And I never once met anyone like Darrell Rivers, for whom I had a passion that almost rivalled the pash I had on George.

Enid Blyton is still popular today, rising above politically correct protests. I had a friend who banned her daughter from reading them. Unfortunately this resulted in the books becoming exceptionally desirable objects, as were toy guns to her brother. For my own son, we decided to ban guns and sexist books up until he was old enough to understand why they were banned. Now he’s reading Five go to Mystery Moor and enjoying it, while also being able to discuss any issues that arise.


Josie Henley-Einion, author, blogger, Legend in my own Living Room