you go down to Cloppa Castle,
be prepared to stay awhile..."
In this splendid series, Cloppa Castle is a medieval
fort under permanent siege
from a band of angry rebels, bent upon usurping the
throne and laying claim to
the oil resources found beneath the castle grounds
- that's unless it's tea time,
then this friendly enemy will partake of a cuppa
with their opposite number....
Cloppa Castle is the stronghold of the Bygones,
a mixed bunch of crazy courtiers
headed by a matronly battleaxe called Queen Ethelbruda.
She's often seen
driving around the castle grounds on her Brudabanga
- a kind of wooden horse
and chariot combination with caterpillar tracks
of wooden posts to drive it
along instead of wheels. At Ethelbruda's side,
or more likely quaking behind
the throne is her lackluster husband King Woebegone.
They have a sap of a son,
Prince Idlebone and a fizzy-headed daughter Princess
Tizzibel (Tizzy, for short).
There's a befuddled Royal Sorceror called Mudlin,
a cheesy jester called Jest
A Minit, an inventor boffin called Cue-Ee-Dee and
a bright young page called
Albrite. Royal security is managed by an oaf called
Elbow, who spends much
of his time harassing an unfortunate subordinate,
the lovable, luckless Osmosis.
There's also Useless, a woad-encrusted Celtic warrior
who's as hopeless as
her name, and a lippy moping guard called Gippo.
Last, but by no means least,
is the oversize dinosaur Dippy. Hatched from
an egg this Diplodocus quickly
out-grew the castle and departed for the country, but
he still returns from time
to time to assist his Bygone friends...
Besieging Cloppa Castle are Beosweyne and his
army. Beosweyne is a growling,
graveled leader who roars like a tiger but is as
harmless as a pussycat. Looks
a little bit like Zak Dingle from "Emmerdale",
doesn't he? - Anyway, he's most
commonly assisted by Hench, a gloomy sidekick with
little hunger for battle and
a thick lip of despair beneath his helmet. Hench,
Beosweyne and the rest of the
Hasbeene soldiers regularly fall foul of their own
plots and schemes, which almost
always backfire. And if the Bygones are enjoying
a laugh or joke, it's almost always
at the Hasbeenes expense...
"Cloppa Castle" was brought to us
by Mary Turner and John Read, veterans of
Gerry Anderson's Supermarionation crew. Indeed John
was there at the very
beginning. In 1956 Gerry co-founded AP Films with
Arthur Provis, Sylvia
Thamm (later, Sylvia Anderson), Reg Hill and himself.
He had previously been
employed as special effects supervisor on films like
"The Dam Busters". At AP
John was director of photography, cameraman and engineer
and Thunderbirds. Mary, meanwhile,
was employed as puppetmaker,
sculptor, and operator alongside Christine Glanville.
She sculpted the beautiful
heads for Stingray's Troy Tempest and Marina, and
Thunderbirds' Lady Penelope
whom she actually modelled on Sylvia Anderson.
Mary and Christine often
shared operational duties on the productions
- it was very much a 'hands on'
affair, working on an Anderson series. Mary helped
develop the 'stringless
puppet' techniques employed on the later series,
and John contributed to
the miniaturization of the voice boxes used
on the puppets so that they could
be fitted in the chest, rather than the head,
and thus reduce the over-proportioned
features of the marionettes. On Captain
Scarlet, Mary was credited as Puppetry
Co-ordinator, whilst John's role evolved into Associate
Producer. It was only a
matter of time before they stepped out on their own.
And when they eventually did, Mary and John
struck tv gold with their very
first series, The
Adventures of Rupert Bear. This beautiful - and in The Hound's
eyes, definitive - tv adaptation brought the little
bear from Nutwood, Raggety,
Bill and all of his friends into glorious puppet
life. An equally-successful
adaptation of Mumfie
the Elephant followed. "Cloppa Castle" was their third
commission, and afterwards came The
Munch Bunch, a tossed salad of
delights starring a multitude of walking, talking
fruit and vegetables.
Castle" was filmed in a converted church in Southwark Park Road,
in London. At its peak it was the top-performing
kids TV show in its
lunchtime slot. And now we've a confession
to make. "Cloppa Castle" is
The Hound's most favourite ever television
series. Beautiful puppets, brilliant
banter, a marvellous theme tune and a fast
pace that keeps it fresh and funny
and bright throughout. Indeed, even now, thirty-plus
years on from its first
broadcast it remains a joy and a hoot to watch!
prepared to stay a while...
Standon, John Kaned
Judith Shutt, Trica Brummer,
Joyce Wren, Chris Covington
Brown, Clive Coker
Weston, Patrick Campbell-Lyons
by Rainbow Cottage
Mutter, Richard Dacre