Love Rastamouse? Then Try Post-Punk Pat and Mad Ferret

Rastamouse is the current television darling of kids, amused parents and lazy freelancers. But how might previous generations of animators have made a children’s television programme out of the musical genre of the day? Here are some suggestions...
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Bee Bop (1952)

A jazz alternative to Walt Disney’s Fantasia, Bee Bop follows the fortunes of a worker bee, known as Bop, who pollinates an opium flower by mistake, with hilarious contrapuntal consequences. Arriving back at the hive, Bee Bop persuades the other bees to stop making honey and start jamming instead. Before long, the whole swarm is smacked up, find their yellow and black stripes have turned a kind of blue, and decide that they are not bees any more, but a load of cats.

Progtopus (1973)

In the deep purple of the Topographic Ocean lives Progtopus, a multi-talented musician who used his eight tentacles to play two mellotrons, a Hammond and a sixteenth century harpsichord all at the same time. Together with his sidekick Fish, Progtopus would be summoned by ocean ruler King Crimson to solve such mysteries as the disappearance of the crazy diamond, the curse of the tubular bells and just what all those songs about goblins and pixies were all about.

Ambie-Ant (1979)

Somewhat slow moving detective series, originally set in an airport, where shiny topped Ant Brian would his own mixing devices to solve complex cases in his own time signature. This usually involved a lot of thinking, the occasional odd sound effect, and not much else. Under-appreciated at the time, the programme later became a cult favourite among students, who would watch it in the small hours when they came home from a heavy night out.

Post-Punk Pat (1981)

A somewhat moody and introspective tea time animation, Post-Punk Pat (and his black and white strat) delivered P45s and redundancy notices to early eighties Britain, with a Valentine’s Day special of ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ greeting cards.The dark atmosphere was compounded by a backdrop of exploding teardrops and killing jokes, a feel which was continued in the ghost town setting of the two tone spin-off show, the Specials Delivery Service.

Fuelled by a diet of cigarettes, alcohol and lasagne, Mad Ferret’s original nemesis was the all-knowing Owlbarn, but in later and somewhat darker episodes, he become fixated with a George Orwell style ‘Big Brother’ figure

Baggypuss (1989)

Northern children’s show from the late eighties, in which the eponymous hero would given some old piece of tat, like a pair of flares and a sample of ‘Funky Drummer’, and magically turn it into a fully-fledged musical scene. Among those helping Baggypuss was the book-end woodpecker, Judge Fudge, and the marvellous mechanical Charlatans organ. After a successful first run, Baggypuss then went off the air for five years, while Gabriel the banjo playing toad struggled to write the second series.

Mad Ferret (1994)

Mid nineties Mancunian cartoon romp starring a self styled beady-eyed ferret, a one creature crime fighting machine who wasn’t afraid to dish out justice with his own paws, particularly when it came to the camera wielding paparats. Fuelled by a diet of cigarettes, alcohol and lasagne, Mad Ferret’s original nemesis was the all-knowing Owlbarn, but in later and somewhat darker episodes, he become fixated with a George Orwell style ‘Big Brother’ figure, who cruelly mocked the efforts of ‘Our Kid’ at every given opportunity.

RoMole (1996)

Much hyped cartoon series in which an intrepid group of melody makers decided what the nation needed was a revival of new romanticism, and thought they’d discovered it in an eyeliner wearing group of underground creatures. But the mountain of promised publicity turned out to be just another made up molehill, and one that RoMole’s arch foe, ‘The Enemy’, quickly squashed. Taking evasive action, RoMole returned to the safety of the musical underground before the hits started landing.

The Pigeon Streets (2001)

Animated series that offered a bird’s eye view of the goings on of an inner city estate. When the local police couldn’t crack a crime, they’d hand over the rap sheet for their very own ‘pigeon detective’ to solve. Cases included the pigeon fancier who fancied himself (it was a fit up, but he knew that), and the discovery that Clara the long distance lorry driver had been illegally trafficking Chinese migrant workers. Each episode would end with the hero delivering his famous ‘coo de grace’: ‘dry your eyes’, he’d tweet dismissively as the cell door slammed shut, ‘it’s over.’

Rod Hull and Emo (2005)

Somewhat macabre noughties series in which a death obsessed emo kid decided to team up with the former Rod Hull to form a ‘Weekend at Bernies’ style crime fighting duo. It was usually the local groundsman, ‘Parky’, who’d done it.

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