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Trumptonshire Trilogy (1966-1969)

The animated villages of Camberwick Green, Trumpton and Chigley

Main image of Trumptonshire Trilogy (1966-1969)

When Camberwick Green debuted as part of the BBC's Watch With Mother strand in 1966, Radio Times located the sleepy village as lying "deep in the heart of never-never land". Over three inter-connected series, Gordon Murray produced a vision of an English idyll, a sunny county comprising the market town of Trumpton, outlying village Camberwick Green and the new industrial greenfield site of Chigley. At first glance, this might appear rather bland and simplistic - a relentlessly cheery, unrealistic utopia - but the series subtly portrayed rural life co-existing with modern values and technology.

These were independent productions, Murray having risked much of his money and time to produce a Camberwick Green pilot film for BBC approval. They were products of a cottage industry, with music and sets assembled in people's homes in their spare time. It's this homespun quality and sense of 'Englishness' that stands comparison with the work of Oliver Postgate and Peter Firmin.

Murray's background was string puppetry, but he realised that string puppets on television - the glossy works of Gerry Anderson apart - looked old hat by 1965. Murray created the characters and storylines (children's writer Alison Prince collaborating on Trumpton and Chigley) and also made the original puppets - with ping-pong ball heads and foam bodies - but he was not an animator. His old friends Bob Bura and John Hardwick adapted Murray's figures by adding wire frameworks and painstakingly filmed the three series as stop motion animation. By suggesting colour filming, Bura and Hardwick had helped create a durable product that would be repeated for years to come.

The foam and wire characters were not built to last, and Gordon Murray burnt his dilapidated puppets in the late 1980s (although two Pippin Fort soldier boys are thought to have gone AWOL beforehand). In 1999, the press reported the clear out as if it were an act of mass murder.

References and Further Reading
Cornell, Paul, Martin Day, Keith Topping, The Guinness Book of Classic British TV, Guinness, 1993, pp200-1
Lowe, Andy 'A-Z of Trumptonshire', Cult TV, Future Publishing, vol 1, number 3, October 1997, pp56-9
Trumpton Riots: Pugwash, Windy and Barney McGrew. Radio programme. tx BBC Radio 4, 29/12/95. Presenter: Fred Harris. Producer: Laura Druce
Trumptonshire Web
The Trumptonshire Trilogy

Alastair McGown

Related Films and TV programmes

Thumbnail image of Camberwick Green (1966)

Camberwick Green (1966)

Animated series about the sleepy village of Camberwick Green

Thumbnail image of Chigley (1969)

Chigley (1969)

Animated series set in the industrial hamlet of Chigley

Thumbnail image of Trumpton (1967)

Trumpton (1967)

Animated series set in a busy market town

Related Collections

Thumbnail image of Watch With Mother

Watch With Mother

Pioneering programming for 1950s tots

Related People and Organisations

Thumbnail image of Murray, Gordon (1921-)

Murray, Gordon (1921-)

Producer, Director, Writer, Animator