Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Oh, Big Boy! Watch me Ride (hmmm) the Pony

THE PIPKINS - Hartley Hare visits the dentist


Oh, this is hilarious. Hartley Hare is a scruffy, wavy-armed looking puppet thing, with a camp but witty tone of manner, not to mention, he's got a bit of an ego, and a little off-the-wall. Watch, if only for him riding the rocking horse, in the Dentist waiting room! Here we see sweet tooth Pipkins go with his friend Johnny (played by Wayne Laryea) to the Dentist. Surely one of the best kid's shows from the 70s! This was suppoesed to be a pre-school programme. Seems quite advanced compared to what you have now. The Dentist gives a running commentary of what he's doing as the tiny puppet sits in the dentists chair, including cleaning and washing his teeth. It starts cut off from the beginning, but contains most of the episode. Nigel Plaskitt, who would later lend his voice in such programmes like "Spitting Image" and 2005's "Gerry Anderson's New Captain Scarlet", is the voice of Hartley Hare.

The programme focused on a group of puppets who lived in a puppet workshop with their maker. Hartley Hare is the most remembered, along with Pig, Tortoise (as shown in this clip), Topov the Monkey and Octavia the Ostrich. The show began in 1973, originally called "Indigo Pipkins", in reference to the elderly puppet maker of the same name. However the actor for the role, George Woodbridge died during filming of the second series, so the title just became "Pipkins". It ran alongside "Rainbow at the lunchtime hour on weekdays.

What was influential about the programme, was it referred on-screen about the death in 1974 as he was central to the show, becoming the first children's programme to make reference to death, long before "Sesame Street" did in 1983. It was also the first children's TV programme to feature regional accents, like Black Country and Cockney. The show ended in 1981, when multi-regional producers ATV(Associated Television),was dismantled to make way for Central Television, and replaced with "Let's Pretend". "Pipkins" was popular though, right to the end.

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