1 9 8 8 (UK)
18 x 30 minute episodes
Billed as “the world’s first electronic video comic” and made for Yorkshire Television by Hat Trick Productions, Round The Bend was conceived by Patrick Gallagher, Tony Husband and Mark Rodgers who were illustrators on the comic Oink.
The mixture of cheaply animated cartoons, cheaper gags, musical spoofs and daft features were linked by the comic’s editorial staff – four rubber animals who lived in the London sewer.
Editor Doc Croc referred to the viewers as “benders” and had the ability to use his tail as an extra appendage.
His three ratty underlings – comic “Vaudeville” Vince Vermin, upwardly mobile reporter Jemimah Wellington-Green and long-suffering Italian artist Luchetti Bruchetti aka Lou Brush – constantly dealt with distractions such as killer kung fu teddies (who, notwithstanding their black bandanas, looked like refugees from a vintage edition of Watch With Mother), American businesspigs, ghosts, robots that sounded remarkably similar to Julian Clary, pedal-powered time machines, alien pen-pals, sloppy popstars and even a potential Royal visit.
The puppets were made by the Spitting Image team and the animation was by Aardman Animations.
The comic strips themselves were mostly pastiches of currently trending cartoons, celebrities and movies such as Weeman and the Masters of the Looniverse, Botman, Star Wreck, Transformaloids – Totally Useless Objects in Disguise, Old Age Useless Nitwit Tortoises and Thunderpants.
There were also slightly broader pastiches such as the Lassie-esque Woolly the Wonder Sheep (who sounded a lot like Dustin Hoffman), high concept adventure in Tommy’s Magic Time Trousers and later Kenny McTickle and His Magic Kilt and even a stop-motion black and white B-movie serial called False Teeth From Beyond The Stars.
Most shows also featured the mildly alarming “Pzycho the Magnificent”, a deranged magician on the run from the police and the Galactic Grange Hill capers of Cosmic Comprehensive.
Each short would have its own style just like real comic strips with some not even being animated in full. Links came from John Potato’s Newsround and the myopic David Colemole’s Sportsview.
Alistair Fullarton/Simon Buckley