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Grasshopper Island

1 9 7 1 (UK)
12 x 15 minute episodes

Fed up with being looked after by a succession of carers, collectively known as The Voices of Authority (all played by Tim Brooke-Taylor), three brothers – Smarty (Max Whitby), who has answers for all the questions; aspiring soldier Toughy (Tim Whitby) and cheese-loving sibling, Mouse (Nick Whitby) – decide to run away to sea.

No boats are willing to take them on until they stumble upon the Elderly Boy (Charles Hawtrey) who is quite unlike any sailor they’ve ever seen before.

Not quite old and not quite young, the Elderly Boy is the proud owner of a converted lifeboat and rather keen on finding an uninhabited island.

Joining forces, the quartet sets sail and eventually land on a deserted island which they name Grasshopper Island. The Elderly Boy soon decides, though, that the island is lacking in comforts and departs, leaving the brothers to set up home in an abandoned cottage.

But the brothers are not alone. A most curious couple lives on the other side of the island . . .

Cornelius Button (Julian Orchard) is a bumbling, childlike eccentric who has lived on the island for over 20 years and dedicated his life to studying grasshoppers and gobbling pungent cheese.

The odour of this cheese, however, is one of many sticking points for his domineering no-nonsense housekeeper Lupus (Patricia Hayes), who is exasperated by Cornelius’ every action.

After a month or so of making grasshopper wine, foraging for eggs and digging up a dairy-heavy treasure, the brothers eventually become acquainted with Cornelius and Lupus. Striking up firm friendships, the two camps appear to have settled into a joyful existence.

Unfortunately, Cornelius’ arch-nemesis, the meddling Dr Hopper (Frank Muir), arrives and is determined to take ownership of the island. The only way Cornelius can keep control of the island is by producing proof of the rare Blue Buttons grasshopper – but it’s so rare that he hasn’t seen one for 20 years.

Filmed in Corsica, Grasshopper Island first aired on ITV in the Granada region only before gradually spreading around the other ITV franchises.

Smarty
Max Whitby
Toughy
Tim Whitby
Mouse
Nick Whitby
Cornelius Button
Julian Orchard
Lupus
Patricia Hayes
Elderly Boy
Charles Hawtrey
The Voices of Authority
Tim Brooke-Taylor
Dr Hopper
Frank Muir

Episodes

Escape | The Elderly Boy | Supplies | Beds don’t grow on Trees | The Egg Tree | Strangers | Cheese | The Big House | Discovery | Grasshopper Wine | Rescue | Button’s Blue