Stop-Motion Animation Films are made using models or objects usually made of clay, modelling clay or cloth. They are put into position and a picture is taken. Then they are moved to another position and another picture is taken, and so on. When all of the pictures are put together and run in sequence it appears the model or object is moving.
Bagpuss (the most magical saggy old cloth cat in the whole wide world) lived in the window of an old shop. A strange shop, for it never sold anything, but was run by a little girl, Emily, who would bring something old and broken and place it before Bagpuss. She would encant the magic words to wake him up and then Bagpuss and his friends would wake up. Six mice (ornaments on a mouse-organ), Madeleine (a rag doll), Gabriel the toad, and Professor Yaffle (a carved wooden bookend in the shape of a woodpecker), could be counted among Bagpuss's friends. Professor Yaffle would inspect the thing that Emily had brought, the Mice would mend it and Gabriel and Madeleine would sing about it. And when it was fixed, Bagpuss would dream a story about it.
At the end of the story, the mice would put the fixed item into the shop window, in order that the person who had lost the thing would see it and possibly come in to claim it. Then Bagpuss, evidently tired out by so much excitement, would give a big yawn and settle down to sleep.
When Bagpuss fell asleep, all his friends would fall asleep too, and become the lifeless toys and ornaments they had been. Even Bagpuss himself - once he was asleep - was just a saggy old cloth cat. Baggy, and a bit loose at the seams. But Emily loved him.
Bagpuss was narrated by its creator, Oliver Postgate, who also narrated and co-produced (along with Peter Firmin) Ivor the Engine (see Cartoons) and The Clangers. Emily was one of Peter's six daughters.
Unfortunately there were only ever 13 episodes made.
Camberwick Green, 1966
The first 13 episodes were created as part of the Watch With Mother series but then it was given its own slot and another 26 episodes were made. The series was narrated by Brian Cant and has memorable characters such as Windy Miller. Ahem.
Celebrity Deathmatch, 1997
This is a Claymation series created by Eric Fogel and John Lynn (of Beavis and Butthead fame) and is currently running on MTV and Channel 4 (in the UK). The premise of the programme is that you can watch your favourite, or least favourite, celebrity being beaten to a pulp resulting in death for one or both!
The most memorable matches include:
- Christopher Walken v Gary Oldman
- Jerry Lewis v Dean Martin
- Oprah Winfrey v Rosie O'Donnell v Jerry Springer
- Queen Elizabeth II v The Prince of Wales
- Quentin Tarrantino v Spike Lee
- Hilary Clinton v Monica Lewinsky
- Liam v Noel Gallagher
- Trent Reznor v Puff Daddy
- Jack Nicholson v Leonardo Di Caprio
- Hanson v The Spice Girls
Charlie Chalk, 1988
Charlie Chalk was a stop-motion animation series made by Woodland Animations Ltd. The voices were done by Ken Barrie, Joan Baxter and Mike Redway. The songs were written by Mike Redway and published by Redrock Music.
Charlie Chalk was a clown who fell asleep in his boat and ended up drifting ashore on Merrytwit Island. He now lives in a caravan which is bigger inside than outside. Luckily he wasn't alone. On the island he made many new friends, including his constant companion, Arnold, a pink elephant who sniffs a lot.
There is also a ship that has been washed up on the island and the captain, Captain Mildred, has pretty much decided that she's in charge and bosses people about occasionally. Her conversation is punctuated by letters such as, 'A, what was that? and B, where did it come from?' (to which the answer was, 'It was a coconut and it came from the, er, from the sky.')
There is a know-all duck called Lewis T Duck and he's always right. You can tell this from conversations such as:
Lewis T Duck - Arnold, tell Charlie I'm right.
Arnold - Charlie, Lewis is right. Lewis is always right. What are you right about this time Lewis?
There is a character called Trader Jones who is the only one who actually does any work. He is a taxi driver, an odd job man, a fixer of things, an apothecary and a trader. He often cycles around on his taxi with Edward on the back.
Edward is a bear who is always asleep. ('I'm Not Asleep, I'm Just Resting my Eyes' is a song in the programme).
There is also Mary, The Hover Fairy. She looks like a little white-haired old woman with glasses. She doesn't have wings because she's a modern fairy. She has a little yellow hat with a little red propeller on the top which propels her around.
There is The Litterbug. He is a bug who everyone thinks litters the place because of his name. In fact, he's a very tidy bug. He goes around the island picking up litter. Actually, it's a little more complicated than that because, although he doesn't know it, he has a hole in his sack. This means that, although he thinks he is tidy, he actually wanders around trailing litter behind him.
One episode involved the mountain moaning. The intrepid trio of Charlie, Arnold and Lewis wondered into a cave and eventually, after falling down a ravine and unable to get up found a little cave full of furniture. This cave turned out to belong to Bert, a monster. He is big and shaggy and strong and looks as if he's wearing several fur coats. He has a thin neck and huge goofy teeth. Luckily, due to an accident, the clumsy pink elephant fell through the wall in the cave giving Bert a new front door. Bert says silly things like, 'Uh hur hur hur' a lot. A typical Bert comment would be, 'Did I hear you say you were going to build a road starting at my mountain? Cos if you build a road starting at my mountain, I could take trips to just about anywhere, Goody Goody, I'll go and pack a picnic!!'.
Other delights of the programme include the lateral thinking of the characters. They needed to flatten the road and they didn't have a steam roller. After walking round the elephant a few times, Lewis says 'Lie down here and think of boiling water.' Arnold complies and says, 'bubble bubble bubble bubble bublbublblububl bublbublbulbublub bulbbbulbulbbublbl' and Charlie and Lewis push him up the hill and he rolls down to the sea with a splash.
The programme is fantastic! It has lots of fun characters, lots of interesting amusing bits, great songs, and it's all so wholesome, just the way a good kids programme should be.
Chigley, 1969 - 1970
The third of the Trumptonshire trilogy, this show centred around a small hamlet where the lord and lady of the manor were poor. To raise money they ran a small steam engine called Bessie, around the village doing errands for everyone. The train journey always seemed to travel from Chigley pottery to Treddles Wharf and then back to the biscuit factory for the 6 o'clock whistle when everyone would then go to the manor and dance.
Also narrated by Brian Cant.
Chorlton and the Wheelies
Another Cosgrove-Hall production, narrated by Joe Lynch.
The series was all about Chorlton Hardy, a happiness dragon who broke the evil Kettle Witch's spell over Wheelie World with his Happiness.
Fenella, the witch, lived in Spout Hall a large kettle in the Deadlands, along with Riley, Fenella's Irish telescope which she used to spy on Chorlton and Wheelie World, Claptrap Von Spieldebeins her german spellbook and Clifford, Fenella's 'wee' boy.
Fenella used Toadstools and Spikers as her army, to try and infiltrate Wheelie World.
The Wheelies included:
- Queen Doris and King Otto, the respected monarchy of Wheelie World.
- The Minister for Wheel Estate, responsible for all legislation in Wheelie World.
- Zoomer, the boy racer of the Wheelies.
- Jenny, the barbie doll of the Wheelies.
- Angus McWheelie, the travelling salesman.
Related site: The Chorlton and the Wheelies Shrine
The Clangers, 1969
The Clangers was first shown the year man landed on the moon. They were described by a NASA scientist as Man's attempt to bring a note of realism to the fantasy of the Space Race.
The Clangers are a race of highly civilised, small, bright pink, long-nosed mouse-shaped persons which stand upright on big flappy feet. They talk to each other by a kind of high pitched whistling and have large animated ears that they pull over their eyes when they are sad or distressed.
The Clangers live inside a small blue cratered planet which is covered in metal lids beneath which they hide from the cold and the numerous objects falling from space. They share their world with the Soup Dragon, who lives in the soup well and who provides the Clangers with green soup, the Glow Buzzers which provide light for the Clangers caves and tasty Glow Honey, and the conjuring froglets, inexplicable orange, oval stick-legged creatures which travel in a top hat and live in a vertical pond deep within the planet.
They enjoy the simple things in life, eating blue string pudding, watering various plants with the Cloud and radioing the Iron Chicken which lives in spiky nest somewhere in the sky above the Clangers’ planet. But a Clanger’s life is far from dull. They live in a world where music grows on trees and where notes, when collected may be used to propel space borne craft. It is a place where the most unexpected things can happen and usually do.
Related Site: The Clangers Website
The Magic Roundabout, 1965, recreated mid-'90s
These were created in France by Serge Danot and there are many urban myths surrounding the series such as Dougal the Dog being a parody of Charles De Gaulle, the former French President. They were discovered and re-narrated by Eric Thompson (father of Emma Thompson, the actress) and he created his own story lines. The series quickly became a hit partly due to the hippy nature of the programme and partly because it was shown just before the early evening news. The characters were:
- Dougal the Dog
- Ermintrude the cow
- Dylan the hippy rabbit
- Brian the snail
- Mr McHenry
- Zebedee, a creature on a spring with a moustache
- Mr Rusty, the owner of the roundabout
In the mid 1990s the series was re-narrated again by Nigel Planer, of The Young Ones. He followed Eric Thompson's example and created his own story lines. The series was massively popular.
Morph first appeared in Vision On and later in the children's art programme Take Hart but soon became so popular he was given his own TV show, The Amazing Adventures of Morph
He was made of reddish-brown clay and always wreaked so much havoc that the presenter of Take Hart, Tony Hart, often ended up picking him up and rolling him up so he was just a lump of clay once more. He had an enemy called Chas who looked just like him except he was made of whitish clay, and between them they used to wreck every picture Tony Hart tried to complete. They could both change shape and metamorphose into any object they wanted.
Morph has a squeaky voice while Chas' was a lot rougher. The word 'voice' is used in its loosest sense as no-one except Tony Hart could ever understand what either creature said. Morph still appears in children's programmes today.
Paddington Bear, 1975 - 1998
Discovered by Mr and Mrs Brown on Paddington Station, he was a bear in a blue coat, red hat and carried a suitcase. He came from darkest Peru and stowed away after being sent out into the world by his aunt Lucy with a sign around his neck saying 'Please Look After This Bear. Thank You.' He also had a penchant for marmalade sandwiches which he kept under his hat.
Paddington's best friend is Mr Gruber who runs an antique shop on Portobello Road and with whom he shares lots of cocoa and buns. He doesn't get on with Mr Curry, the Brown's next door neighbour quite so well.
The books and stories were written by Michael Bond and narrated by Sir Michael Horden.
Related Site: Paddington, The Official Website
Pingu is a naughty yet charming little penguin, made of modelling clay, who was created by Silvio Mazzola and produced by Trickfilmstudios in Switzerland. The films are only five minutes long and yet he has become famed all over the world and is heavily merchandised.
Pingu lives in an igloo with his mother, his father (a postman) and his baby sister Pinga. The house is in a small village on the ice cap with shops, a theatre, a skating rink and some ice sculptures. Their transport has a caterpillar track, a large bulb horn and a luggage rack on the back.
Pingu's trademark actions are stretching up and down to drastic heights and depths when excited and of pursing his beak like a trumpet and going 'meek-meek' to herald his arrival. He spends his time getting into scrapes with his penguin friends Ping, Pingo and his seal friend, Robbie.
There are some very nice touches to the programme such as Pingu's father doing the ironing or the Penguin skeleton that hangs in the Doctor's surgery.
Classic episodes include 'New Arrival' when Pingu's baby sister is hatched. The best bits are when the parents stretch their wings and tails out to stop Pingu seeing the midwife, who carefully strokes the egg with a large spoon before cracking it open.
Also 'Little Accidents' where Pingu gives his sister too much orange squash and he then desperately needs the loo as well.
Related Site: The Pingu Website
Trap Door, Late '80s
This cartoon was created by Charlie Mills and Terry Brain and was narrated by the late Willie Rushton.
It was about a blue blobby creature called Berk that kept house and cooked for The Thing Upstairs, a mysterious bad-tempered being that you never got to see but heard a lot. Berk's cooking centred around worms and slugs and the whole programme was full of yukky things like that.
The only rule that Berk had to obey was to never open the trapdoor because this was bound to let out one of the fierce and mischievous creatures that lived down there. Of course, he always did open it and something always escaped and caused havoc. Berk's friend Boni, a skull that lives in the wall, was usually the one who bore the brunt of the trouble caused and he invariably got covered in goo!
The second of the Trumptonshire trilogy, and possibly the most memorable. It was about a small team of firemen who lived and worked in Trumpton and all activity in the show took place around the village square. Named:
- Barney McGrew
Pugh and Pugh were twin brothers.
The square contained some memorable features such as a gothic town hall, a statue of Queen Victoria and, of course, the clock. Every hour on the hour all activity would stop and everyone would look towards the clock. A door would open either side of the clock face and out would come figurines called Sir Rufus and Lady de Tromp. They would chime the hour and then return to their doors. The day's activity could then continue.
There appears only to have been one fire in Trumpton, at the bakers. Other stories centred around rescuing cats from trees or retrieving the mayor's hat which had blown off in a gust of wind.
Every afternoon the firemen would double up as the village band and play for all of the villagers. Well, if there were no fires they had to occupy themselves somehow!
The series was narrated by Brian Cant who often spoke directly to the characters in the show. At the end of each episode a character would wind the crank handle on a box in time to the music.
Wallace & Gromit
Oscar-winning, feature-length animation by Nick Park about an inventor called Wallace (voiced by Peter Sallis) and his dog Gromit who both have an obsession for Wensleydale cheese.
A Grand Day Out
While searching for a holiday destination, Wallace realises that he is out of cheese. With Gromit's help he builds a space rocket and sets off for the moon. As well as finding some cheese, which is nothing like he's ever tasted before - and it's certainly not like Wendsleydale, he also finds a moon resident in the shape of what looks like a gas cooker.
The Wrong Trousers
Wallace buys Gromit some ex-NASA 'Techno-Trousers' for his birthday. Short on cash as a result, he lets out the spare room to a penguin who turns out to be the notorious jewel thief 'Feathers' McGraw. Disguised as a chicken (wearing a rubber glove on his head) Feathers uses the Techno-Trousers, with Wallace asleep inside, to stage a daring diamond heist.
A Close Shave
Wallace's Wash'N'Go window-cleaning service leads to romance when he washes the windows of a wool shop run by Wendolene Ramsbottom. However, Wendolene's evil dog Preston turns out to be responsible for a spate of sheep rustling (and a thriving dog food business). An escaped sheep falls foul of Wallace's latest invention, the Knit-O-Matic, and is is subsequently named Shawn.
Based on the books by Elisabeth Beresford and originally broadcast by the BBC, the wombles were cuddly figures who lived on Wimbledon Common and tidied up everyone's litter.
The series of 60 5-minute films were narrated by Bernard Cribbens. The Wombles were:
Great Uncle Bulgaria
A wise womble who wore a cape and glasses, and walked with use of a cane.
A false-french accented mother figure and chef.
Young womble with school cap and glasses.
Young womble who was always asleep instead of tidying up with everyone else.
The inventor and fixer-upper of all items that were found on the common.
The keep fit fanatic.
All of their names were chosen out of the atlas.