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Flumps, The (1977)

Courtesy of Double Take

Main image of Flumps, The (1977)
BBC, tx. 14/2 - 9/5/1977
13 x 15 min episodes, colour
ProducerDavid Yates
Production CompaniesDavid Yates Ltd
 BBC Television
ScriptsJulie Holder
MusicPaul Reade

The adventures of a family of burrow-dwelling furry creatures.

Show full synopsis

When Julie Holder's youngest child took one of his mum's Flump stories along to read at school it greatly impressed his teacher; as luck would have it, the teacher's husband was a BBC producer.

It's hard to say just what the Flumps were. This stop-motion series related the goings-on of a family of fluffy, furry balls in woolly hats and that's as much as was certain. Where they lived was unclear, though tree roots running through their home suggests a burrow. Although the Flumps appear to reside at the bottom of a forgotten and rather grimily forlorn garden, unlike The Flowerpot Men (BBC, 1952-54) of old there's no sign of any human gardener, or any relations with people at all.

There were six Flumps: Mum baked cakes and made dinners, Dad did gardening and mending and Granddad played his flumpahone in between naps. The stories concentrated, though, on three energetic and curious younger flumps, Perkin (a boy Flump), Posy (a girl) and the youngest son, Pootle.

While there was pleasingly wistful surrealism at times - particularly in the best-recalled episode, in which a grumpy Perkin finds himself literally under a cloud - the show's defining characteristic was its regional accents, giving the series a unique feel for the time, distinct from the prevailing rather clipped BBC Received Pronunciation. Musical stage actress Gay Soper was second choice for narration and singing duties (June Whitfield proved unavailable) and settled on a broad Yorkshire accent.

The Flumps had their own language quirks, using obscure or nonsense words. Dad used the phrase 'all of a tiswas' long before the ITV Saturday morning show TISWAS (ITV, 1974-82) popularised the term nationwide, while a down-in-the-dumps Perkin complained of 'feeling umpty'. Little Pootle used mangled malapropisms such as 'extra-plorer' and 'hodgeheg'. His distinctive, cute adenoidal tones were in fact inspired by a silly voice put on by Soper's one-time Godspell stage co-star Julie Covington.

Lesley Judd showed how to make your own Flumps from woolly pom-poms on Blue Peter (tx. 21/3/77), but oddly there were fewer tie-ins than might have been expected. This may have been down to reported disagreements with Holder over a projected second and even third series; no sequel runs ever transpired.

Repeats from Spring 1978 in the Sunday morning slot opened up The Flumps to a far wider audience than would have seen the original lunchtime broadcasts, cementing its popularity.

Alistair McGown

Click titles to see or read more

Video Clips
Complete episode (13:35)
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Fingerbobs (1972)
Children's TV in the 1970s