Flicks… from Thames
Thursday, January 5th sees the first of a new thirteen week series. Flicks, based on picture books. The programmes are ten minutes long and will go out twice on the same day – 12.00 – 12.10 and 4.00 – 4.10. Each features a different story and is aimed, says Thames, at the five-year-old age group.
Flicks is the result of an association between Thames and Weston Woods of America whose animated films of books are the basis of the series. Morton Schindel, founder of Weston Woods, is delighted at the opportunities which the series opens up for introducing another generation of young children to some classic picture books. Weston Woods is currently planning a series of half hour book programmes for public TV in the States. `We want to use TV and video as we have been using film and other audio-visual media to lead children back to books. (Weston Woods has bought The Snowman, the beautiful, animated film of Raymond Briggs’ marvellous book and is making it available on video.) His only regret is that a few of the books featured in Flicks are either currently out of print or have not been published in this country. He is also faintly bemused by the apparent slowness of publishers and booksellers to capitalise on the series. ‘If you use TV to create a desire you must have the books available to satisfy it.’
Librarians and teachers – traditionally quicker and more eager to respond than most booksellers – will no doubt be doing their best to ensure that The Snowy Day and Peter’s Chair (Ezra Jack Keats), Rosie’s Walk and Changes, Changes (Pat Hutchins), Harold and the Purple Crayon and Harold’s Fairy Tales (Crockett Johnson), Moon Man and The Three Robbers (Tomi Ungerer), The Magic Pasta Pot and Charlie Needs a Cloak (Tomie de Paola) and The Happy Owls (Celestino Piatti), are on hand at the right time.
At the time of writing we haven’t been able to get a look at Flicks – although we can thoroughly recommend Weston Woods films. Morton Schindel told us he was delighted with Christoper Lillicrap, the actor Thames have chosen to present the series, ‘He’s nicely low-key and allows the books to speak for themselves.’ If the programmes aren’t too aggressively addressed to the younger viewer there should be good potential with these books for the 7-9’s who could just catch it after school. Or what about lunchtime viewing?
The producer, Charles Warren, has another thirteen programmes in the pipeline and hopes eventually to build the series into 52 episodes – all with films from Weston Woods. He would like to have bought and promoted home-grown films, but the quality simply didn’t compare!
Rumer Godden’s The Doll’s House arrives on TV.
‘Rumer Godden always wanted to try out the possibility of putting a murder in a children’s book. With Birdie being burned up in the candle in The Doll’s House she thought she’d brought it off!. the words are Kaye Webb’s – famous retired editor of Puffin – talking to us about her latest enterprise, producing a film version of The Doll’s House for Goldcrest Films.
As reported in BfK last September, the series (5 x 15 min episodes) has been sold to the BBC and the latest news is that it will start in the second week of February.
There are powerful themes at work in this story and a real sense of evil at work. Kaye Webb thinks that Oliver Postgate, the director, has not lost this. The moment when Apple’s celluloid mother, Birdie, sacrifices her life to save him from the candle flame where he has been lured by the beautiful, proud and thoroughly evil Marchpane, remains the dramatic climax of the film. Tottie, the little wooden peg doll, selfless and brave, is still the moral centre of the story.
Peter Firmin, Oliver Postgate’s collaborator on, among others, The Pogles, Bagpuss, The Clangers, Ivor the Engine, created the doll figures which were used in the animated film. The humans – the little girls who own the strangely assorted ‘family’ of dolls – are shown in a series of still photographs. Voices are provided by Una Stubbs, Anna Calder-Marshall. Olwen Griffiths and Oliver Postgate: and there’s a song by David Heneker, sung by Una Stubbs.
‘There are very few stories about dolls with such fully developed personalities’ says Kay. ‘Rumer Godden wanted people to care for their dolls, to feel when they passed them lying on the floor that they had feelings about life, about their environment.’
If caring about your doll’s feelings is part of learning empathy for other people The Doll’s House and (we hope) Tottie provide plenty to think and feel about.
In the steps of Jim lad
Jack Holborn, Leon Garfield’s vivid and exciting tale of piracy, shipwreck, murder and mystery is reissued (Puffin, 0 14 03.0318 9, £1.50) with a tie-in cover. The film – a West German production – dubbed into English – will be shown in twelve thirty minute weekly episodes, starting on Sunday, January 15th at 4.30. It originates from TVS and will go out simultaneously on all TV networks.
Moonfleet, J. Meade Falkner’s classic story of smuggling and adventure will be available next month from BBC/Knight (0 340 34846 1, £1.50) with a tie-in cover to coincide with the first episode on February 21st of a BBC TV adaptation which will run until the end of March.
Tucker, again… and again
The previous series of Tucker’s Luck will be repeated on BBC 2 in nine weekly episodes, starting 10th January. A new series begins on BBC 2 on March 13th. Which looks like 18 uninterrupted weeks of Tucker for his fans.
Emma and Grandpa
Two books by Joy Whitby based on her new television series about a small girl and her grandfather are published by Longman in February. The first programme in the series is scheduled to be shown on January 4th on all ITV networks: the first book, January, February, March relates the time Emma (borrowed from her Mum) spends with Grandpa in his country cottage and the things they get up to in the first three months of the year. A blend of information and story which continues in April. May, June. The books cost £3.95 each and the rest of the year follows in two more books in July.