Monday, 1 August 2011

Stop, Hey, What's That Sound?, Cuthbert, Dibble, Grubb! *PHEEEEEEP*

Alright, so either very few of you enjoy lengthy digressions about archaic radio magazine shows, or there's been a collective sigh of post-view-occasioning relief that the previous instalment actually got around to addressing the ostensible 'point' of all of this nonsense, or - and somewhat more likely - Derek Griffiths is still very popular indeed. Whichever of these, or indeed whichever combination of these, was responsible, it gives no small pleasure to report that Here Is A Box is now seemingly through the worst of the 'Cancellation Crisis', and Ian Levine didn't even have to make a substandard disco record about it. Or smash a TV for that matter. We're back in business, and back mistyping 'relief' so many times it has long since ceased to be amusing (though that's hardly likely to prevent it from becoming an increasingly tedious running joke), and what better moment to move on to a subject that will almost certainly increase the viewing figures by several million - Eve Myles T... oh, alright then, Trumpton.

As was promised several millennia ago, in the nearest that this unravelling thematic concept has ever got to anything resembling a cliffhanger, Trumpton was the second instalment in the oft-referenced Gordon Murray-helmed Brian Cant-narrated Freddie Phillips-soundtracked trilogy that later brought forth Chigley. It was also, as you may have worked out already, the one that gave said trilogy its commonly-bestowed name of 'Trumptonshire'. And more also still, if we're going to keep on pushing obscure lexicographic in-jokes that about three people reading this will understand and probably none of them will laugh at (and that's not counting the newly-minted 'more also still'), it should technically be referred to as Popsike Pipedreams. And no, it's still not time to explain just how this so-called 'trilogy' actually consists of four shows just yet. There's some wisecracking spoons, sinister circus employees, Krautrock-soundtracked luddism and unfunny bollocks about milk bottles to get through first. Not to mention Trumpton itself.

Whereas Chigley was more or less a giant industrial park with some toff's private railway running conveniently through it, Trumpton was a bustling residential area complete with an imposing Town Hall and a clock so big it was in danger of being fashioned into a natty 'accessory' by Flavor Flav. While The Mayor, along with his clerk Mr Troop and suspiciously-named chauffeur 'Philby', got on with the administrative slash rosette-awarding side of things, various tradespersons from carpenter to miliner went about their business until, inevitably, running into a problem that would necessitate the intervention of the Trumpton Fire Brigade. Needless to say, due as much to animation-related fiddlyness as any safety-related concerns, this never involved either fire or water, with Captain Flack and his impractically-fringed firemen (Pugh, Pugh, Barney McGrew, Cuthbert, Dibble and Grubb) acting as general all-purpose teetering structure-demolishers and retrievers of things from very high places, before retiring to the Trumpton Park bandstand for a daily concert played on brass instruments that sounded suspiciously like varispeeded acoustic guitar.

For 1967 (which, patronisingly-obvious-fact fans, is when it was first shown), this was all very modern and fast-moving stuff indeed, and in a stylistic sense vaguely reflected the 'Swinging London' pop music and fashion of the day. This sociocultural allusion also kind of works for Chigley, whose pastoral-yet-industrial concerns reflected the era when the erstwhile 'Swinging London' popsters got to work on their double-album opuses yet retreated from the capital for the purposes of 'getting it together in the country'. This would technically make Camberwick Green (which we'll come back to - when else? - later) redolent of that lost world of black and white TV and social realism, when light and simplistic pop music provoked girls with beehive hairdos into stamping their heels and shouting "We want to be... Smi-iths Crisps" (actually, that joke would have worked better as "I'm in pieces for Bitza Pizza", except that if anything that's probably even more obscure), which in a way it sort of does, but - as we shall see - there's something more complex and less of-its-time about it which has something vaguely to do with Ewan MacColl turning round a roller caption. And the fourth one doesn't fit into this analysis at all. But more on that - you guessed it - later.

Having been a constantly-rotated favourite for almost a decade by the time that Music From BBC Children's Programmes came out, Trumpton was the proverbial shoo-in for inclusion, taking up the entire seventh track of side one. Once again the compilers reached straight for All The Music From Trumpton And Chigley, but with a greater amount of recognisable 'music' and indeed more instrumental tracks to play with, they came up with a medley that more or less constitutes 'Trumpton's Greatest Hits', especially if you don't count A Trip To Trumpton by Urban Hype. But how did it start, how did it end, and what was in the middle? Come on, you're ahead of us there, surely...

1 comment:

  1. If I don't choose Walkers, I'm a hard-boiled head case...