1 9 6 6 (UK)
13 x 15 minute episodes
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?
Camberwick Green burst on to BBC1 on 3 January 1966 as the latest addition to Watch With Mother and ran for 13 episodes. Two other series followed; Trumpton (1967 – also 13 episodes) and Chigley (1969 – again 13 episodes).
Even though there were only 39 episodes made, they remain one of the most popular series of children’s programmes ever made by the BBC.
This is not surprising, given the excellent scripts, songs, and animation.
All the scripts were written by Gordon Murray (Alison Prince co-wrote Trumpton), and the songs by Gordon Murray and Freddie Phillips. The animation was handled by Bob Bura and John Hardwick.
The other major factor in the success of these series was the inspired casting of Brian Cant as the narrator.
He brought Trumptonshire to life in narrating the stories, speaking – or shouting in the case of Sergeant Major Grout – the words of the characters, singing the excellent songs, and – in Camberwick Green and Chigley – talking to the characters directly.
Each of the series had its own particular locations. Camberwick Green never strayed too far from the village green, Colley’s Mill or Pippin Fort.
Trumpton was firmly based in and around the Market Square, and Chigley seemed to rely on travelling from Winkstead Hall via the Chigley Pottery to Treddles Wharf, with just enough time to get back to the Biscuit Factory for the six o’clock whistle.
The landmark buildings included a Fishmongers, Bakery, Chemist, Post Office, Dairy, Colley’s Mill (a Windmill), Farmer Bell’s farm and Pippin Fort. Camberwick Green has been described as “the posh bit of Trumpton”.
The series (along with Chigley and Trumpton) was animated by Bob Bura and John Hardwick and filmed in stop-frame animation – in the same manner as The Magic Roundabout.
At the start of every episode, a musical box would play and out of the rotating top would pop the “secret” of that particular episode. It was always a character from Camberwick Green (and was, more often than not, Windy Miller).
What was the story with Windy Miller? Every time Farmer Bell couldn’t sell his eggs to any of the shops in Trumpton, it was because Windy Miller had undercut him by flogging off his cheap “homemade” ones.
When the dairy smashed all its milk bottles by accident, it bought cheap milk from (yep, you guessed it) Windy bloody Miller . . . He even had a special arrangement with the army from Pippin Fort . . . Was Windy Miller the original Del-Boy Trotter?!?
It was never clear in which era Camberwick Green was set, but Mrs Honeyman, the chemist’s wife, had a long skirt with a hint of a bustle, the soldiers from Pippin Fort wore ‘Quality Street’ uniforms, and Dr Mopp wore a top hat and drove an old boneshaker of a car, so perhaps the show was meant to be set in the Edwardian past.
Mickey Murphy the Baker
Mr Carraway the Fishmonger
Farmer (Jonathon) Bell
Peter Hazel the Postman
Mrs Dingle the Postmistress
Packet the Puppy
Thomas Tripp the Milkman
Roger Varley the Chimney Sweep
PC McGarry (number 452)
Sgt Major Grout
Peter the Postman | Windy Miller | Mr Crockett, the Garage Man | Dr Mopp | Farmer Jonathan Bell | Captain Snort | Paddy Murphy | Roger Varley the Sweep | PC McGary | Mr Carraway, the Fishmonger | Mr Murphy the Baker | Mrs Honeyman and her baby