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Nick Mercer ...
Stella Goodier ...


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(26 episodes)


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Greenclaws: So great
1 January 2003 | by (Exeter, England) – See all my reviews

There was just something terribly bizarre about the programme Greenclaws. In kids' programmes of the 1980s, there were certainly a considerable amount of characters who looked like sure contenders for the title of 'Strangest looking creature ever' award, but I think Greenclaws would have beaten them all to it. Greenclaws can only be described as a six foot tall, bespectacled, long-haired, aged looking, clumsy, bug-type green monster with a weight problem. I believe he got his name from the term 'Greenfingers', the difference being that Greenfingers is a name given to HUMANS that are into gardening and plants etc, whereas, apparently, Greenclaws is a name given to monsters who are into gardening and plants etc, monsters having claws as opposed to fingers.

Anyway, Greenclaws lived in a house, which, to put it nicely, was a complete hole. It had only one room, I believe, and also, a greenhouse joined to it where you would expect a conservatory to be. I am not sure how he ended up being in possession of a house. Where would he get the money from to pay his council tax? He didn't appear to have a job (well, he was never heard to be complaining about what a hard day he'd had at the office, anyway), and, let's face it, there isn't exactly a great demand for clumsy monsters in British industry, and in 1988/89, jobs were all the more scarce, Britain being under Thatcher's rule and all. Unless he lived off the state, which wouldn't have been a very good example to set young children. And I wasn't aware that monsters qualified for unemployment benefit at any rate - though invalidity benefit would perhaps have been more appropriate. Anyway, he used to plant seeds and put them in his tree in his greenhouse to grow into plants. This tree was guarded by Owlma the owl, who made Greenclaws answer questions before being allowed to have his new plant. That owl was very vain and annoying if you ask me. What gave it the right to insist that he answered its stupid questions? And what right did it have to sit forever on a branch of Greenclaws' tree? If I was Greenclaws and had a gun, I'd have been tempted to shoot it. Anyway, Greenclaws' trusty companion who helped him plant his seeds and answer that stupid owl's questions, was Iris, a fully-grown woman with all the mentality, intellect and behaviour of a six and a half year old. She always looked somewhat disturbed, nervous and traumatised, but, to be fair, if I spent so much time with Greenclaws, I'd probably be just as bad. So, the intellectually-deficient Iris would somehow interpret what the owl, who spoke Owlmaese, I presume, said, when she was asking them those aforementioned questions which they had to answer in order to get their plant. The questions always went "twoo, twoo, twit, twit, twoo" or that's what it sounded like to all non-Owlmaese speaking persons. When they answered the questions correctly, they got their plant, which grew something or other. Throughout the programmes, they had plants which grew chocolate, bread and other things, but never once did it grow vegetables. But then, with Greenclaws and Iris around, there was hardly any great shortage of vegetables. Also, in each programme, Greenclaws would read a story to Iris (glad that at least one of them had learned to read) which usually was about one of Greenclaws' relatives. Also featured, was Greenclaws' pet macaw, Percy, who was probably the most intelligent of them all. He was less annoying than Owlma, despite macaws surely being more annoying than owls, usually.

Without a doubt, Greenclaws is one of the best kids' programmes ever made, boasting both good storylines and originality. I thoroughly enjoyed the programme, even if only because it made me feel intelligent. Two series were made: Series one was filmed between June and September 1988, and first broadcast Tuesday January 3rd 1989 at 3.55 (and then showed every Tuesday at this time for thirteen weeks), and Series two between June and August 1989. Both series were shown until 1995 on terrestrial TV, and more recently on the Digital channel Cbeebies - most recently in August 2002. There was also a repeat of both series from December - January 2000/1. Each episode lasted 15 minutes and was shown on CBBC.

The man behind the Claws: Nick Mercer

Greenclaws was puppeteered by Nick Mercer, who also appeared for eight years in person on Playdays as Charlie Grindle, a musical odd job man. He also briefly presented its predecessor, Playschool, and now puppeteers the character Jackson, in the BBC2/Cbeebies show The Story Makers, as well as providing the voices for all characters in the 'Blue cow' cartoons in the same show.

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