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Toonhound presents...






It's A Puppet!

Blast off to Button Moon! (Ian Allen & John Thirtle / Playboard Puppets)

   small spacer
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     puppet style:  
string and hand puppets
Ian Allen & John Thirtle
                           Playboard Puppets
91 x 10mins / eight series
                           Thames TV series

     "We're off to Button Moon
     We'll follow Mr Spoon..."


     Focus your telescope on the inky blackness of Blanket Sky and you'll find the
     shiny four-holed Shangri-La that is "Button Moon". Each episode we'd blast off
     for this yellow world with the Spoon family on board their bean tin spaceship.
     Mr Spoon, Mrs Spoon, Tina Teaspoon and her pal Egg-bert encountered
     a giddy assortment of creatures and creations composed of equally
     colourful, oversize household implements, products and packages.
     Chief amongst them were the bottles, Captain Large and Small and Little,
     and the other manic members of the Bottle Army. Large and Small were
     forever up to mischief and making a mess of various grand schemes - they
     were the Laurel and Hardy of Button Moon
. Then there was Rag Doll,
     could be a bit of a nuisance, especially to her pals Freddy Teddy, Sofa
     and Wibbly Wobbly Man. And there were always lots of folks frequenting
     the Button Moon Theatre.

     Mors Spoon & Tina ("Button Moon" / Ian Allen & John Thirtle / Playboard Puppets)   Mr Spoon & The Spaceship ("Button Moon" / Ian Allen & John Thirtle / Playboard Puppets)

     But we didn't just meet moon-based folks. Egg-bert's family would regularly
     visit the Spoon family home. That's Mum Vanilla, and Daddy Egg-bert the
     ice cream vendor. Winny Wilson was Egg-bert's babysitter, whilst Tina
     Teaspon would be looked after by the nurse, Miss Johnson. And on occassion,
     Mr Spoon would set up his telescope to spy upon the menagerie on high,
     around Blanket Sky...

     This highly creative puppet series for younger kids ran for five hugely
     successful seasons and was swept into the upper echelons of tv cultdom
     courtesy of its memorable theme tune and those distinct, utensil puppets
     who were eco-friendly stars on a par with those Wimbledon Wombles.

     Mr Spoon and friends were created by Ian Allen and the late John Thirtle
     of Playboard Puppets. Their puppet designs have always been instantly
     recognizable. On stage and in earlier tv productions puppets were regularly 
     presented against velvet black-drops, masking the performer and allowing the
     bright simple puppets to shine.

     Prior to "Button Moon", Playboard's tv forays had brought us the delights
     of Mo and Hedge in their self-titled "Playboard" series and lots more
     black-dropped critters in "Rainbow" and "Playschool".      

     The Button Moon puppets first appeared in a 1978 Playboard theatre show written
     by Allen and called "Mr Spoon on Button Moon". The theatrical performances
     continued alongside the tv shows and beyond, touring theatres and civic
     halls around the uk for up to eight months a year, with a regular three-week
     Christmas run at London's Jeannetta Cochrane Theatre. A Button Moon sequel
     "The Grotty Rotters of Button Moon" premiered there during Christmas 1984.

     Now here's an Urban Myth proven correct for once: The Button Moon theme
     tune was actually sung by ex-"Dr Who" star Peter Davison and his actress
     wife Sandra Dickinson (Trillion in BBC TV's "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy").
     Playboard feature "Dr Who" on their list of TV credits - which is presumably how
     this bizarre duet came about...?

     Twenty years on, "Button Moon" is a continuing success story. There are
     DVDs, greetings cards and more out there for fans to collect. And trendy
     students have seized up the show's effervescent ecology. Mr Spoon is now
     something of a Poster Boy for the environmentally aware, and indeed he
     would make an excellent campaign mascot for folks or companies on a
     clean green mission. Bring back Button Moon, we say!

   Playboard Puppets

     Playing the field

     The Playboard CV is extensive with tv credits as diverse as "Marmalade
     Atkins", "T-Bag Strikes Again" , "That's Life", "Top of the Pops", "Playdays", 
     and 80s breakfast show TV-AM. As well as theatre and tv creations, Playboard
     have created the puppet stars for a number of high-profile filmed ads. Remember
     those Quaker Harvest Crunch squirrels? - They came from Playboard. And so
     did that family of NatWest piggy-banks and a three-year-running Boots Christmas
     campaign featuring Santa and a host of puppet shoppers. In 1992 they created a
     cycling shark, bison, dinosaur and who-knows-what-more for two complex
     Robinsons drinks ads.

     Playboard's unique creations earned them the honour of being the first
     company to receive an annual grant from the Arts Council of Great Britain.
     Post "Button Moon" they brought us those jolly Spooks of Bottle Bay
     and the mousey stars of a Dutch series called "Medical Centre Mice".
     Playboard's official site fleshes out the detail for you...


     See also

     High in Blanket Sky
     Toonhound takes a whistle-stop tour of Button Moon!...


     Series One 

     The Three Pigs
     The Witch's Toast
     Billy Goat's Gruff
     Sid and Baby
     The Three Wishes
     Scruffy and the Bone 
     The Grasshopper and the Ants
     The Magic Wand     
     The Hare and the Tortoise
     The Fox and the Hen
     House For Sale

     Series Two
     A Witch Comes to Stay
     The Caterpillar Who Loved his Greens
     The New Canoe
     The Biggest Tomato in the World
     Scruffy and the Sparrow
     The Dragon Has a Cold
     The Flying Jam Sandwich
     Music in the Air
     Scruffy at the Seaside
     The Little Red Hen
     Getting Away With it all
     The Nose that went Honk
     The Persian Market

     Series Three
     Looking for Button Moon
     Tina and the School Mouse
     A Daytrip to Button Moon
     Shoebox Station
     Two Sticky Mugs
     Button Hole Pond
     The Scouts Garden Fete
     Queen Jelly
     Painting the Pipes
     Freddy Teddy
     The Clown Who Lost his Smile
     Happy Birthday Mrs Spoon
     Bundle and Fluff

     Series Four
     Egbert Goes to Button Moon
     The Spaceship Breaks Down
     Playing Games on Button Moon
     The Gravy Boat
     Sticky Sweets
     Picnic on Button Moon
     The Cake Fairy Goes Ice Skating
     Rag Doll Marries a Dinosaur
     Egbert Goes Camping
     Banana Birds
     Pink and Purple Dinosaur
     The Shark in the Bath
     The Paper Parade

     Series Five
     A Hole in Blanket Sky
     Egbert Wants to Help
     Tutti Frutti Ice Cream
     Granny Spoon and the Missing Apple Pie
     Rain Stopped Play
     Bottle Party
     Paperchase on Button Moon
     Winter Sports for the Frozen Vegetables
     Ding-a-Ling Ice Cream
     Blue Button Moon
     Crazy Games
     The Royal Handkerchief Ballet
     The Holiday Weekend

     Series Six
     The Good Luck Bird
     Hose on Charlie's Nose
     Planet Doughnut
     Rag Doll Has a Cold
     Mrs Spoon's Jumble Sale
     Buttonhole Pond
     Missing Martha Muggins
     Barn Dance
     Bobbing Bottle
     Cows on Button Moon
     Cinders and the Magic Beans
     Queen Jelly Loses Her Cherries

     Series Seven
     Button Moon Boat Race
     Vacuum Cleaner for Sale
     Benny Bin
     Little Bottle Floats Away
     Button Moon Talent Show
     Mr and Mrs Spoon's Anniversary
     Mice Play on Button Moon
     Dotty Teapot
     Rag Doll Moves House
     What's the Matter with Marrow?
     Egbert's Birthday
     Cold Cows on Button Moon
     The Snoring Princess

     Series Eight
     Still to add...


    Broadcast info 
     "Button Moon" premiered on ITV, on December 8th 1980....


     Button Moon on DVD

     UK DVD

     Button Moon: A Hole in Blanket Sky
Region 2 / three eps / Fremantle / June 2008

     Button Moon: Talent Show
Region 2 / three eps / Fremantle / June 2008

     Button Moon: Boat Race on Button Moon

Region 2 / three eps / Fremantle / June 2008

Adventures on Button Moon
     Region 2 / 10 eps / September 2001

     Cult Kids Selection Box
     "A Day Trip to Button Moon" is included in this splendid
     4 disc compilation


     created by Ian Allen and John Thirtle
     directors:      John Darnell, Neil Stinchcombe
     producer:      Charles Warren
     writer:           Ian Allen
     narrator:        Robin Parkinson
     button moon theme:
     sung by by Peter Davison and Sandra Dickinson

     playboard puppets:
     Tony Holtham, Alistair Fullarton, Ian Allen, John Thirtle  

     On the web

     Playboard Puppets
     The official site, with a history page, tv details, Button Moon
     intro and more...

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© Playboard Puppets / F2010