It was another day in the Land of Do-As-You're-Told...
Thus began one of the most surreal childrens programmes of the 1980s - Stoppit and Tidyup. Based on those phrases so beloved of parents, the programme turns them around, giving each its own personality.
Produced by CMTB animation and animated by Terry Brain, Steve Box and Charles Mills, it was always going to be something out of the ordinary - this is the team that brought us Trapdoor, while Brain and Box were later employed by Aardman animations. And, of course, there was Terry Wogan1, narrating the series.
Stoppit and Tidyup is based in the Land of Do-As-You're-Told, a charming place with lots of weird and wonderful characters. The characters are smaller than humans, with the biggest living in an old tree stump and the smallest fitting into a tin can. The land itself is extremely bizarre, but not completely detached from our own world - one episode features a busy road, one features children playing, and all include a visit to the dump.
There are a few slight differences, however. For a start, the gherkins. The gherkin is the food of choice in Do-As-You're-Told, which is handy because they grow absolutely everywhere. There appear to be many different types of gherkin, small and large, plain and striped, and all brightly coloured with green bits growing on top. And then, of course, there are the characters.
The characters are all named after various parental phrases, which their personailities reflect. None of them have the ability to speak, but always manage to get their message across using expressions, funny (and completely indescribable) noises, and Terry Wogan.
Tidyup is a purple creature, shaped rather like a big pear. He always wears one of his brightly coloured ties, and is famous for his Good Ideas which so often crop up. He is a perfectionist, and naturally very tidy - he takes pride in his spotless house and garden.
Stoppit is a red ball of fluff, with arms and legs. He lives in the dump, and has a very naughty nature, quite often tormenting Tidyup - but good-naturedly, since they are really the best of friends. He often loses his temper (much to the disapproval of Terry Wogan), and Tidyup has to bounce him like a ball in order to cheer him up.
Bee-Have and Bee-Quiet are giant bees - Bee Quiet is the biggest, and has a pursed up mouth, while Bee Have is smaller and smiley. The two of them fly peacefully around Do-as-You're-Told, occasionally helping characters in trouble.
Comb-Your-Hair Is a blue six-legged creature, with a shock of orange hair that completely obscures his face, making him frequently bump in to things. He walks on all six legs, and behaves like an animal, giving lifts to other characters, eating their food or wandering off and getting lost - it is for this reason that there is a bell around his neck.
Eat-Your-Greens is a green character, a little like a frog, with similar hopping abilities. His vocation in life is eating plants, whether they are garden plants, weeds or gherkins.
Calm-Down is a very little yellow creature who carries a dainty little umbrella. He is very timid, and until halfway through the series he was homeless, but don't worry - Tidyup saved the day by giving him a doll's house to live in.
Take-Care is a creature resembling a blue kangaroo, but with very tiny wings instead of arms, and an extremely worried face. He is the postman for Do-as-You're-Told, carrying the letters and parcels in his pouch. Unfortunately, he's not very good at flying (as Terry meanly points out serveral times), and his frequent crashes explain why his hair and tail are permanently bent out of shape.
Clean-Your-Teeth is the resident orange cool man, with a very big smile and his own stereo. As he walks he clicks his fingers, and he has the ability to make things appear at a click - from food to sandcastles. He is very good at everything, and always manages to out-do anyone else, which is why Stoppit thinks he's just a show off.
Wash-Your-Face is a basically a pear with wellies (Wellington boots) attached. His one aim in life is to jump in puddles - something he does extremely well, splashing everyone and everything in sight. Although he appears brown, his one and only bath revealed him to be pink, with yellow wellies.
Go-And-Play is a pale green character, who spends most of his time sitting on his rock playing with his toys. Probably the funniest line of the series referred to him:
Poor old Go-And-Play. He still hadn't managed to kick the ball yet... and he'd got those nice shorts.
Say-Please-And-Say-Thankyou is a plant. He has a pink oval head, with a face on either side. One face makes a squeak that is obviously a 'please', and the other makes a 'thankyou' squeak. He usually lives underground.
Go-To-Bed is a character that induces yawning just by looking at him2. A white, vaguely triangle shape, he is always either slumped over or lying down. All he wants from life is a place to sleep, which is why his eyes are always either closed or half-closed, and his mouth is always yawning.
Don't-Do-That is an even naughtier character than Stoppit. He has a little red and black shell, which he pops out of to reveal a red and black spider-like creature, with teeth that stick out, and crossed eyes.
Hurry-Up is a ball of yellow and black scribble, with eyes. He flies around very very fast, but he always tries to help when he can.
The Big, Bad, I-Said-No is the meanie of the series. He's very large, red, and always frowning and growling. He doesn't like people coming too near to his tree stump, and has a 'nasty little pet' called Not-Now, a pink thing that yaps like a little dog.
Sit-Downs are worrying things. They are white, and sit on toadstools all day, sometimes making a magical humming sound. That's it. They do, however, possess magical powers.
Naughties are tiny purple blobs with yellow spots. They turn up, giggling and bouncing, in every episode, but usually don't form part of the plot... until the day a mysterious gherkin is found in Tidyup's garden. This is no ordinary gherkin - it has holes in. On further investigation, a hoard of Naughties pop out - it's a naughty nest. The panic in Terry Wogan's voice when he tells us of the consequences makes it clear what a serious situation this is:
Oh dear. Oh dear, you should never touch a Naughty. D'you know what happens if you touch a Naughty? You catch Naughty-pox! And that's not very nice, I can tell you.
Naughty pox starts with yellow spots appearing on the patient's body. Next he starts to swell up, and finally ends up bouncing around just like a giant Naughty. The only cure for naughty pox is to spend time in the presence of one of the Sit-Downs.
Only 13 episodes were ever made of this fantastic programme. Each is named after, and features, one of the main supporting characters. Stoppit and Tidyup don't get any episodes devoted especially to them, but they co-star in all of them.
The episodes, in order, are:
'Bee-Have and Bee-Quiet' - Bee-Have accidentally flies off with the roof of Tidyup's house.
'Eat-Your-Greens' - Stoppit lets Eat-Your-Greens into Tidyup's beautiful garden, where he eats all of Tidyup's plants.
'Comb-Your-Hair' - Stoppit and Tidyup embark on a picnic, riding Comb-Your-Hair.
'Wash-Your-Face' - After a rain storm, Wash-Your-Face gets everyone muddy by jumping into all the puddles, so Stoppit and Tidyup set off to catch him.
'Go-And-Play' - Go-and-Play organises a football match for all the creatures of Do-As-You're-Told.
'I-Said-No' - on the day of the Great Gherkin Feast, the Big, Bad, I-Said-No steals all the gherkins.
'Hurry-Up' - After Tidyup catches Naughty-pox, Stoppit and Hurryup must rush to find a Sit-Down to cure him.
'Calm-Down' - On a particularly windy day, poor Calm-Down is blown all over the land of Do-As-You're-Told, until Tidyup has another brilliant idea.
'Don't-Do-That' - Stoppit accidentally brings Don't-Do-That into Tidyup's garden, where he causes havoc, destruction, and flying gherkins.
'Go-To-Bed' - Tidyup, in a fit of uncharacteristic meanness, refuses to let Go-To-Bed sleep in his lovely flower. Go-To-Bed then has to find a place to sleep - not easy in such a noisy land.
'Say-Please-And-Say-Thankyou' - Tidyup falls down a big hole in the dump, but luckily Say-Please-And-Say-Thankyou is there to show him the way out.
'Clean-Your-Teeth' - Stoppit and Tidyup visit Clean-Your-Teeth, who manages to out-do them at everything.
'Take Care' - Take-Care has the job of doing the deliveries on Present Day, but doesn't quite manage to get it right.
First shown in 1988, on BBC1, the whole series is currently still available on video.