Although the action takes place in the present half of the characters are dressed in clothes from around 1900, mixing incongruously (but charmingly) with the 1966 technology and with the dress of the other characters. See more »
...wound up and ready to play. But, this box can hide a secret inside it. Can you guess what is in it today?
So began all the episodes of 'Camberwick Green', a peaceful, sleepy village in Trumptonshire, the first of the Gordon Murray puppet series. One would be on the edge of one's seat, trying to guess which character would come turning up out of the music box, to the haunting, high-pitched tune.
It might have been Peter Hazel the Postman, Jonathan Bell the farmer, Mickey Murphy the baker, Mr. Carraway the fishmonger or - best of all - Windy Miller. Each episode centred on this particular character, the story and events developing around him or her. The viewer tended to follow the character through a day, seeing where he or she lived and worked, and trying to join in with his or her own, catchy little song.
For example : "Mr. Murphy is a master baker, pudding, pie and pastry maker, biscuits, buns and birthday cakes; everything is masterly that Murphy makes!"
The episode ended with the character's return inside the musical box, with narrator Brian Cant wishing them, "Good-bye!"
The strengths of the series were its good plots, repeated sequences (so important for children, like the musical box) and its rounded, memorable characters. Who can forget nosey gossip Mrs. Honeyman (we never saw her chemist husband - with a wife like her, he probably never spoke), Mrs. Dingle in the Post Office with her yappy dog Packet, P.C. McGarry Number 452, wealthy Dr. Mopp with his grand house and car and - above all - Windy Miller, with his penchant for home-brewed cider? There was room enough in Camberwick Green for Pippin Fort, where lived Captain Snort, Sergeant Major Grout and the six Privates Armitage, Featherby, Hopwood, Higgins, Lumley and Meek. ("Driving along in an army truck, in a humpity, bumpity army truck...").
Such was their popularity that ornamental figures of many of the characters in 'Camberwick Green', 'Trumpton' and 'Chigley' have been available for sale in the last few years. Videos of some episodes have been also produced. It is a compliment to the programme that I can remember so much about it, so many years later.
My brother and I loved 'Camberwick Green' and its offshoots. In the early 1970s, we were fortunate to attend an exhibition of life-size puppets of the series, in Clacton in Essex, and we still have the photographs! The series deserves to be repeated; it was a classic.
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