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Toonhound presents...






It's A Puppet!

Captain Abercromby

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(2002 -2003)

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producers: Wark Clements for the BBC
       puppets: hand puppets
     episodes: 26 x 15mins


     "I'll find that watch one day..."

    Nine year-old Abercromby lives with his sailor Granpa, in a seaside house
    filled with maritime flotsam and jetson. Granpa used to have an old gold pocket
    watch, a treasured possession lost at sea when his ship sunk, and that watch is
    always the last thing on Abercromby's mind when he goes to sleep at night...

    Oh, but Abercromby doesn't just sleep. He also dreams. And in his dreams he
    becomes "Captain" Abercromby, in an extraordinary make-believe world filled with
    sea-creatures and pirates and adventure. How extraordinary? Well, his ship (the
    Hope) is piloted by a living tree called Great Oak, and crewed by a walking,
    talking suit of armour called Arthur, a purple dogsbody called Poindexter, and
    Siren the feisty Mermaid. Abercromby seeks Granpa's long-lost pocket watch, but
    he has to stay on his toes because the incompetent Pirate Jake and his gang,
    are in constant pursuit on board the Thunderbottom. Jake's motley crew include
    his "parrot" spider Bobweb, Clawdia the vain ship's cat and a hopeless lobster
    cook called Snappy.

    Jake tries all manner of underhand schemes and deeds to get his hands on 
    Granpa's watch before the good guys, but his ruses always seem to go
    spectacularly wrong. By the end of each adventure, Jake's been foiled,
    but Abercromby is invariably no nearer his goal. Then the lad's alarm clock
    starts ringing and our Captain wakes back home, in his bed once more...
        Great Oak at the helm!    

    "Captain Abercromby" is fantastic. The series was created by Scottish artist-
    illustrator John Gorman and there's a galleon's worth of creativity poured into this
    vessel. Two splendid ships, desert islands, and scurvy taverns play host to a
    wealth of characters, and in and around the stars are an ever-present flock of
    foolhardy puffins, seagulls and seafolk, mocking our heroes and villains, and
    generally getting up to much background mischief. The ships "sail" on a CGI-sea,
    which cleverly masks the operators and their operations, and the waves splash
    up handfuls of dreamy glitter. The characters sparkle, too, with some witty
    one-liners and put-downs aplenty. Beneath the waves are bubble mixture
    bubbles, Big Blue Fish, seahorses and merfolk too...

    This series feels like a Jim Henson production, but the £1.2million show was
    actually produced in Scotland, by Wark Clements, and this was their very first
    children's project. The first episodes went into production in the spring of 2001
    and set sail on CBBC2, on January 4th 2002.

» Abercromby's heroic exploits are kept in check by Admiral Dobbin of the navy,
        who puts in a regular appearances to ensure all's well and proper on the Hope.

» The crews often stop by Limpet Inn, where Lily Limpet furnishes them with
        food and drink, and aquatic aid....

» Rabadabdab, meanwhile, plays host to a crazy Sultan (an Arabian puffin, no less)

» Snappy's culinary skills are somewhat limited. His menu appears to consist
        entirely of seaweed!
» In "Arthur's Family Tree" we learn that Arthur's ancestral home is "Castle
        Bravepants", which in danger of becoming an American theme park...

» Oh, and if you thought a talking tree was extraordinary, stay tooned for
        the episode "Bully for You", where Pirate Jake takes delivery of Conan the
        talking Cannonball!


    Episode titles

     Trumpet Boy                 Big Blue Fish
Sailor of the Year           Mummy's Little Treasure          
     Birthday Bash
               Bobweb's Machine
The Duel                      Bully for You
Captain's Cook              Captain Invisible
     Extra Pair of Paws         
     Unlucky for Some           Navy Blues
     The Right Treatment      The Sultan's Challenge
     The Rule Book               Lights Out
     The Sultan's Visit  
     Mrs Jake         
     Arthur's Family Tree
     Gee a Genie


created and designed  by John Gorman

    director:            Doug Williams
   Doug Williams, Ken Anderson,
                             Dominique Middleton
    writers:              Keith Brumpton, Doug Williams
    script editor:      Mike James
    music:               Rowland Lee
    lyrics:                Rowland Lee, Keith Brumpton
    puppeteers:       Colin Purves, Dave Chapman,
                             Syman MacIntyre, Damian Farrell,
                             Lynn Robertson Bruce, Geoff Felix
       Neil Sterrenberg, Victoria Willing
         Grant Mason, Sarah Cowlinshaw
    with thanks to:    Scottish Mask & Puppet Centre
     Daedalus Models, Neil Sterrenberg
    set design:
        The Quickening, WM Design
          Neil Querras
    asst art dir:        Dave Turbitt
    art director:        Ewen Duncan
    accountant:        Scott Harper
    lighting camera:  Gary Morrison
    camera asst:       Keith Ingram, Shu Lorimer
    lighting:              Steve Arthur, Chris Batchelor
    grip:                   Lucien Grieve    
    sound sup:          Steve Thom
           Pictures on the Wall
    asst dub mix:      Dave Soutar        
    dubbing mixer:    Mike Powell
          Kate Hedvettor
                              Mark McDonnell
                             Jo James
                             Barbara Raffety
                             Lewis MacLeod
                             Ian Sexon


     On the web

       Producer Ken Anderson is part of this colourful cartoon crew...

Keith Brumpton

 Have a picnic with Abercromby's Keith Brompton...

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© Wark Clements / BBC / F2006