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Rag, Tag and Bobtail (1953-54)

Courtesy of BBC

Main image of Rag, Tag and Bobtail (1953-54)
BBC, 1953-54
26 x 12 min eps (2 untransmitted) in two series, black & white
ProducersFreda Lingstrom
 David Boisseau
WriterLouise Cochrane

Narrators: Charles E. Stidwill, David Enders, James Urquhart

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The gentle countryside puppet adventures of a hedgehog, mouse and rabbit.

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The third of the BBC's 1950s daytime pre-school series (after Andy Pandy, 1950, and The Flower Pot Men, 1952-54) took up a Thursday afternoon slot to form a Tue-Wed-Thur three-day schedule. The strand seemingly having reached critical mass, the new Watch With Mother banner was adopted.

These were the simple adventures of three (male) woodland creatures - hedgehog Rag, mouse Tag and rabbit Bobtail. One surviving episode demonstrates the level of storytelling - in this example some rabbit babies get dirty in a mud puddle but the day is saved when Tag finds a cleansing spring of water by divining with a hazel twig. The episodes used a straightforward single narration to describe events and provide character voices - there was none of the interactive song-and-dance elements of Andy and the Flower Pot Men.

While Andy, Bill and Ben were controlled from above on strings, Rag, Tag and Bobtail were glove puppets manipulated from below. The puppets were filmed using a camera with just one plane of motion, left to right, which slowly scanned along a basic countryside set; there were no close-ups or cut-aways. Each 13-minute episode seems to be shot in one take with no editing.

26 episodes were made but although the first two went unaired (presumably they were technically deficient?), the remaining 24 were run repeatedly every Thursday until finally rested in December 1965.

Alistair McGown

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Video Clips
Complete episode (9:15)
Lingstrom, Freda (1893-1989)
Watch With Mother