1 9 6 0 – 1 9 6 3 (UK/Canada)
52 x 15 minute episodes
1 9 7 1 (UK)
26 x 30 minute episodes
This children’s series featured real animals and related the adventures of two friends; Hammy (a hamster) and Roderick (a white mouse).
Both animals lived along a riverbank and shared adventures with their neighbours – a guinea pig, a raccoon, a squirrel, a chipmunk, a frog, a toad, a vampire bat (ok, we just made that one up) and various weasels and skunks.
The stars of the show were real animals, who were shown moving around in miniature boats, cars, balloons and aeroplanes and their homes were fully furnished with animal size furniture.
The fifteen-minute episodes were filmed at double the normal speed to allow the camera to slow down the movements of the animals.
Narration for each story was provided by Johnny Morris (who also appeared in his own show, Animal Magic) and the series was one of my big favourites as a young ‘un.
The original pilot of Tales of the Riverbank was produced in Canada but CBC turned down the production and so co-creator Dave Ellison approached the BBC in London who commissioned thirteen episodes, which they extended later. Much of the filming was done on location on the Isle of Wight.
The concept was to create a programme that was non-violent and highly entertaining, that kids would love, and that their parents could watch with them.
The show aired also in Canada, in Australia, and in 34 other countries around the world. An additional 26 half-hour episodes were produced in colour in the 1970s.