One of animation studio Telemagination first big productions, Telebugs was broadcast daily on Children's ITV from January 1986 to December 1987 (with intervals), spanning three series. These little Buggers were three cute-as-a-modem robots created by Professor Reginald Brainstain: CHIP (Co-Ordinated Hexadecimal Information Processor), SAMANTHA (Solar-Activated Micro Automated Non-InTerference-Hearing-Apparatus) and BUG (Binary Unmanned Gamma-camera). Although programmed to help people in need, like every good Superhero they needed a day job and the very first episode saw them hired as reporters (what else?) for Mr. McStarch's local TV station. This suited them well, having TV sets where their heads should be (the only relation they bear to the infamous Teletubbies) and a flying handy-cam 'dog' called MIC (Mobile Independent Camera) following them around.
Each episode was a stand alone adventure, but usually the entire week's worth amounted to one story arc. The 'bugs battled nemesis-es such as Baron Bullibyte and his evil computer Angel Brain, the evil Telebug ZUDO (Zero-Failure Universal Data Optimizer) and Brainstain's younger brother Dr. Albert. Typically for a mid-eighties cartoon, the animation was cheap and fast: The same drawings could be used over again and characters would often be speaking with their back to the camera. Telebugs was obviously aimed at children too young for Transformers and Go-bots. The professor even had a Azraël like cat (only much nicer) named Grumble. Ron Moody and Susie Westerby provided all the voices and managed to give each one of them a distinctive accent and or speech impediment.
To promote the show somebody actually built a life size SAMANTHA, with a working TV-set (rather than a computer monitor) face. This SAM did the rounds on Children's ITV (and beyond) and soon became a regular on TVS's flagship show, "No 73". Voiced in this incarnation by Kate Copstick, the writers basically neglected her origin from the cartoon and turned her into a talking computer who fell in love with a different house hold appliance each week, including the fridge, the spin dryer and a tape recorder named Dickie Hart (of "Dickie Hart and the Pacemakers").
While Telemagination went on to great success with 'non toy-line based' cartoons such as "The Animals of Farthing Wood" and "The Cramp Twins", one wonders if somewhere stuck in a corner of an old TVS studio, SAMANTHA might still be scanning her little faceplate off, in search of her Telebug companions.
8 out of 10
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