This weekend I became obsessed with this photo –
Ignore the fat sleeping child, which is me. What has really grabbed my attention is the collection of videos, sat minding their own business on the wall unit behind me.
I’ve gone a bit mad trying to identify these videos, and have been surprisingly successful, with the help of various geniuses on Facebook and Twitter. I’m not going to bore you with my dad’s collection of Shadows videos, or the random blank ones that no doubt have episodes of Minder taped on them; I’ll just stick to mine, which were the best.
Obviously, I owned all the really awesome videos on the wall unit, because I was the coolest person in the house, and because I needed something to keep me quiet on a weekend. Because of this need to keep me entertained, the wall unit is stuffed to the gills with cheap cartoons, Rainbow videos, and childhood obsessions of mine captured on film. I’ll be honest, I don’t remember some of them, but I’m not going to let that stop me trying to sound like I know what I’m talking about, because that’s what I do.
1. Gladiators – Into The Arena
This was a brilliant behind the scenes look at the show, mixed with a documentary of how the show came to be. The video contained fascinating information about the show, such as Jet’s shoe size, Jet’s favourite coffee brand, and what the other gladiators think of Jet. Special backstage footage includes the gladiators rehearsing for a show, Jet rehearsing for a show, and the male gladiators arguing over who gets to ask Jet out this week.
This video contained four random episodes, including the one where Pebbles is born, and one featuring a rip off of Ann Margaret (“Ann Margrock”) who, if I remember correctly, comes to stay for some reason, and winds everyone up and tries to have an affair with Fred, although I might have dreamed that bit.
This was the only Hanna Barbera video I owned permanently, but my parents would regularly take me to the video shop to rent Top Cat, Huckleberry Hound or similar. They never let me rent what I really wanted to rent, which was The Fly.
3. Rainbow videos
Of course. Of course. I can’t remember a time when I went a whole day without watching Geoffrey wearing hotpants while Bungle wore nothing. In fact, I made the mister watch Rainbow with me last night. Sometimes I’m not sure why he goes out with me. Anyway, classics featured in the wall unit include Super Bungle, and the Christmas video special containing three festive episodes, all of which I’ve seen approximately 73,978 times.
4. Cockleshell Bay
A lovely little stop motion show that began life as a set of stories on Rainbow, and later became its own series. Featured twins Robin and Rosie and their boring adventures living at the Bucket and Spade guest house. Robin and Rosie lived with their parents, their fat grandmother, and a seagull, because apparently that’s the only kind of pet people have when they live at the seaside. Most episodes also featured their neighbour Mr Ship, who never seemed to have anything to do but brag to the kids about how he used to be a sailor or something.
6. Little Lulu
From the questionable sounding ‘Cartoons R Fun’ collection, which has the effect of making me think they are nothing of the sort.
I’ve heard of Little Lulu but I don’t remember watching it, so I looked at a random episode on Youtube. Odd is the only word to describe it, although Lulu does have the most adorable voice. Ostensibly about a naughty child and what she gets up to, the one I watched was more like the ‘Pink elephants on parade’ dream sequence from Dumbo – a surreal piece of animation featuring kids shooting each other with fireworks, giant books, and some vaguely racist representations of Native Americans finding the fountain of youth. No wonder I grew up how I did.
7. Marvin, Baby Of The Year
Another one I have absolutely no memory of, or should I say had no memory of, because I’ve just watched a clip of it and spent the whole five minutes going “OHHHHHH THAT!”
Marvin was a cartoon baby that had adult thoughts; mostly these mocked his parents and the world around him – think Garfield but wearing a nappy. Originally a comic strip, this spin off short movie was produced, and somehow found its way into my video collection. The plot centers around Marvin and his cousin Megan being entered in a baby beauty contest. Megan was the character who really jogged my memory, mostly with her way of wailing into Marvin’s face before proclaiming “I am woman, hear me roar”. Sadly I can’t find the whole thing online, so might actually have to buy the VHS in order to be able to sleep at night.
8. Children’s Bedtime Stories
A triple bill of Rainbow, Button Moon and Sooty –
Rainbow – Whispers. Bungle thinks everyone’s talking about him behind his back, and laughing at him for being a fat moaning carcass that nobody likes. What they’re actually doing is organising a surprise birthday party for him. But he’s still a fat moaning carcass that nobody likes.
Button Moon – Bundle And Fluff. A vacuum cleaner is playing hide and seek with its friends Bundle and Fluff, who are two balls of random dirt and crap. After that, Mr Spoon looks through the telescope at a man who gets three wishes, but wastes them all on a trip to Blackpool, as you do.
The Sooty Show – Stargazing. Soo, in her role as ‘the girl one’ isn’t allowed into the space rocket with the others, because she might damage it with her hormones and periods. Under the guise of cleaning the rocket, which she is allowed to do, Soo buggers off to space and has a jolly good time. Then we find out it was all a dream, and that Soo is as annoying as ever.
9. Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory
The original, starring Gene Wilder as Wonka. Of course it bloody was – it’s not going to be the Johnny Depp version in 1992. I really didn’t need to point that out did I?
My dad promised to buy me this video, but only after I’d read the book. What he didn’t know was that I was actually pretty good at reading by this point, so his plan to get out of buying me the video was foiled by me actually reading the book. Ha! Although I think my dad got the last laugh after I shit my pants and started crying over the infamous boat ride scene.
10. The Adventures Of Lariat Sam
No idea whatsoever, but this must have been mine because I was the only child in the house. My sisters were teenagers by this point, so they were more bothered about recording the Top 40 off the radio and going out with boys who smelled of TCP.
Upon watching it, this became another one of those videos I immediately remembered, and now it’s like I only watched it five minutes ago. Which I did, but you know what I mean.
Lariat Sam is one of those charming little cartoons from the 1960s that somehow found its way into my possession. It features a Wild West sheriff and his horse, Tippy Toes, who constantly foil plans by ‘Badlands Meeney’, a generic bad guy who wants to do naughty stuff for no apparent reason.
In the episode I watched, Meeney wants to ruin ‘Keep the town tidy week’, again for no apparent reason. His plan to mess the town up is to grow huge tomatoes and hope they burst all over town. I won’t spoil the ending, mainly because I didn’t watch it, but I’m sure it involves Badlands Meeney covered in exploding tomato goo.
11. Blue Peter – Here’s One I Made Earlier
A selection of make and dos from the famous beige kids’ show. I was never much of a Blue Peter fan; it was always slightly too goody goody for me, but I do remember there being some quite good ideas on this video. It also had Yvette Fielding in it, before she went off to be all stupid on Most Haunted.
Things to make included an organiser thing to hang on your wall, and some other stuff I can’t remember because I was too busy pretending to be on Gladiators by this point.
12. Pinchcliffe’s Grand Prix
This was the one that really drove the adult me mad, with good reason. After a long search (half an hour and asking some people), it turns out this was a cheap knock off of an obscure Norwegian stop motion film. I challenge you right now to think of anything more specific than that, ever.
I remember liking this film a lot, and am sorely tempted to buy it on Amazon, where there is one copy on sale for 20 quid. I’m not the richest person in the world right now, having spent a lot of my money on other crap, but I figure I can afford it – food is overrated anyway.