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Camberwick Green (1966)

Main image of Camberwick Green (1966)
Gordon Murray Productions for BBC
3/1/66 - 28/3/66
13 x 15 minute episodes, colour
ProducerGordon Murray
WriterGordon Murray
AnimationBob Bura
 John Hardwick
MusicFreddie Phillips

Narrator: Brian Cant

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Meet the people who live and work in the sleepy English village of Camberwick Green.

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"Here is a box. A musical box. Wound up and ready to play."

A figure emerging from a slowly spinning music box opened each episode of Camberwick Green (BBC, 1966) and the instalment would tell their story. The series was about these people, the jobs they did and the small but vital part each played in a friendly, tight-knit rural community. Dramatic excitement for these inhabitants - a swarm of bees laying siege to Micky Murphy's bakery was as exciting as it got round these parts - usually required the intervention of Captain Flack and the soldier boys from Pippin Fort.

The Victorian dress of some of the characters, and anachronistic touches such as a working windmill or a chimney sweep, might suggest a village lost in time but Camberwick Green was a village adjusting to the 1960s. Dr Mopp's antique roadster shared the country lanes with Mr Dagenham's shiny red sports car, while PC McGarry was not a village bobby on a bicycle but instead drove a gleaming motorbike.

The episode 'Farmer Jonathan Bell' best demonstrates the culture clash. Farmer Bell runs a "modern mechanical farm" and "doesn't hold much with the good old days." Bell and Windy Miller are drawn into conflict when Bell has trouble selling his battery-produced eggs to locals - he finds that they prefer to buy Windy's free range eggs. Their differences are resolved when Bell agrees only to sell his eggs in large bulk orders that Windy could never fulfil.

The series was an expensive gamble for creator Gordon Murray, whose pilot film was finally accepted by the BBC. Developed as Candlewick Green, when Murray's BBC contract arrived he was only too happy to hurriedly sign even though it erroneously referred to Camberwick Green.

Play School presenter Brian Cant narrated and sang the songs and would do so again in two successful sequels, Trumpton (BBC, 1967) and Chigley (BBC, 1969).

Alastair McGown

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