"Here is the clock, the Trumpton clock. Telling the time, steadily, sensibly; never too quickly, never too slowly. Telling the time for Trumpton."
In honour of TV children's presenter Brian Cant, who died yesterday aged 83, following Blue Peter's wonderful John Noakes, we see the passing of another hero figure for many who grew up in the 1960s and 70s, and even later. Cant was a presenter on Play School for more than 20 years and sometimes on the musical variety-style show for slightly older children, Play Away, but as much as that he is best known as the narrator voice on the stop-motion programme Trumpton, which first aired 50 years ago in January to March 1967.
Trumpton, the second in the Trumptonshire trilogy, which comprised similar sister programmes Camberwick Green, Trumpton and Chigley, and created by Gordon Murray, has a deliberately nostalgic feeling to it. Easily lampooned since, of course, as white, middle England, but at least for one day, let us concentrate on its beautiful simplicity, with the roll call of "Pugh, Pugh, Barney McGrew, Cuthbert, Dibble, Grub," how much we still value the firemen and women of today in real life. There is the Mayor, Mr Troop the town clerk, Chippy Minton the carpenter and his apprentice son Nibbs, Mrs Cobbit the florist, Miss Lovelace the milliner and her trio of Pekingese dogs (Mitzi, Daphne and Lulu), Mr Clamp the greengrocer, Mr Munnings the printer and Mr Platt the clockmaker.
And with them, the colourful design, the animation by Bob Bura, John Hardwick and Pasquale Ferrari, and of course Cant's clear, magical voice. But it is also filled with fantastic music written by the classical guitarist Freddie Phillips, deceptively simple but not so easy to play, conveying the tick-tock of time, all the people of the town like integral parts of the clock working in their own small but vital way. Phillips was a very accomplished musician who also worked on many films, including Michael Powell's Peeping Tom, a work that couldn't be more different to the culture of Trumptonshire.
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