A while back I found this old photo –
Ignore the fat sleeping child, which is me. What really grabbed my attention was the collection of videos, sat minding their own business on the wall unit behind me.
With the help of social media, I was able to identify some of the blurrier ones. I’m not going to bore you with my dad’s collection of Shadows videos, or the blank ones that no doubt have episodes of Spender on them; I’ll just stick to mine, which were the best.
Because I needed something to keep me quiet on a weekend, 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 Gladiators and Contenders were picked. The video contained fascinating information, 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.
2. The Flintstones
This video contained four 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. No kid in 1992 knew who Ann Margaret was.
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. Classics featured in the wall unit include Super Bungle, and the Christmas special containing three festive episodes, including the one where Bungle is inexplicably the Angel Gabriel.
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 grandma, and a seagull, because 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 pirate or something. 10/10.
Dull dull dull. Even as a kid I remember being so bored with this that I’d voluntarily go tidy my room instead of watching it.
6. Little Lulu
I don’t remember watching this, so I looked at a random episode on Youtube. 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, kids shooting each other with fireworks, giant books, and some Native Americans finding the fountain of youth.
7. Marvin, Baby Of The Year
Another one I have no memory of, but I just watched a clip of it and spent the whole five minutes going “OHHHHHH THAT!”
Marvin was a cartoon baby that had adult thoughts – think Garfield if Garfield shat his nappy. Originally a comic strip, this spin off short movie was produced, and somehow found its way into my video collection. The plot centres 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”.
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. For more on this episode see here.
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
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. Although I think my dad got the last laugh after I shit my pants and started crying over the 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.
This became another one of those things I immediately remembered after watching it on Youtube for three seconds. Lariat Sam is about 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 shit.
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, 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 scared 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 something more niche than that.
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. sadly that’s going to have to wait, as I’ve just squandered all my money on a vintage ‘prize every time’ Lucky Egg Machine, because I am cool and great.