is Hatty Town, where all the people live in hats..."
Keith Chatfield's "Hattytown"
stories first appeared on our tv screens in 1968,
via a show called "Small Time".
In this original guise the stories were simply
read aloud, by Peter Hawkins, with
pictures by John McLusky accompanying
the storytelling. But this is Toonhound's
page devoted to the later tv series,
brought to life by Ivor Wood and the
FilmFair team, in 1980.
Hatty Town is home to a population
of anthropomorphic hats, with legs and
arms and faces. And the unlikely
star "hat" is a wandering sombrero character
called Sancho and his special
friend Carrots the donkey. Our duo regularly
encounter members of the Hatty Town community
in distress, or requiring
assistance in some way and with Sancho's
timely help, problems are solved
and mysteries unravelled, enabling
the Hattyland residents return safely to
their hat-houses for another day.
Amongst the regular "hats"
are Posty the postman's hat, Mr Bun the baker's
hat, Mr Wimple the Mayor, Bobby the policeman's
helmet, Milko the milkman's
hat and Simon the deerstalker who is,
naturally, an amateur detective. But,
of course, a concept like this lends
itself readily to an ever-expanding range
of characters, so in the course of the
books and series we have also met
Mr Bishop, The Royal Guards, Farmer Oatfield,
Cyril the fishmonger, Scouty,
Felix the fireman, Ethelbert the King
of Hattyland, Mrs Wimple the Mayor's Wife,
Mrs Bagwash, Mrs Mobcap the teashop
lady, Sailor Boy, Mr McTammy,
Mr Spud the barrow owner, Harold the
railway ticket inspector and more.
Hatty Town itself mirrors its occupants,
in that the buildings are all oversize
hats - hats with windows doors,
chimmneys and what-not - each styled after
its occupant. Thus Sancho lives in a
big straw hat, Bobby lives in a larger
policeman's helmet, etc. Hatty Town also
has a Royal Palace and Town Hall,
with Top Hat Square nearby. When
time allows, the Hattys will take the the
Hatty Town Express Train to the sandy
shores of Hatty Bay...
It's intriguing to to see how many
similarities there are between this animated
production and The
Magic Roundabout - another famous FilmFair series that Ivor
Wood helped design and direct. Hatty Land
features numerous small geometric
flowers and trees set upon a white background,
just like The Magic Garden.
Carrots the donkey with his dangling
carrot, is rather Dylan-esque. There's also
a melancholic tone to the narration.
However, where "The Magic Roundabout"
has irony, "Hattytown Tales"
has no such pretence. This is a gentle children's
series, nothing more, nothing less.
Creator Keith Chatfield also introduced
us to Issi Noho the popular panda
character, who made it to our screens
in the 1970s. Keith has written a whole
range of children's picture books and
stories over the years, and many are
available to purchase directly through
his web site - including two fab Hattytown
Vs Hatty Town
In case you get confused, just remember
that the series is called
Hattytown Tales. But Hatty Town
is a separate place, so the words
are separated too...
Now here's a question for you: What
do Hatty Town and Fleetway comics
star Cheeky have in common?
Given up yet? - Well I'll tell you.
Legendary comic artist Frank McDiarmid
who brought us the weekly delights
of Cheeky, Boy Boss, and numerous
other star strips co-illustrated
the Hattytown annuals and books with Percy
Blayney. And in case you don't
believe me, here's Mr McDiarmid's daughter
Mandy recalling those days:
"I distinctly remember, as a young
child, Dad doing the
Hattytown series which was also
on TV. It was indeed him.
I remember there being pictures taken
of his original work
on the living room floor to record this
fantastic new project
he was working on. We were living in
Carnoustie at the time.
It was particularly memorable since it
was the first time I
remember him working in colour - all
the comic stuff was
done in ink...."
What an extraordinary connection!
- Frank McDiarmid is still going strong
today, exhibiting and selling his
scenic oil paintings - like those on display
over at Nicholson's.
Meanwhile those wishing to wallow in the delights of
his Fleetway past should toddle
on over to Fleetway St....
Mr. Wimple's Breakfast Rolls
Bobby's Flower Garden
Milko's Day Off
Simon's Magnifying Glass
Potsy's Old Boots
You Cannot Please Everyone