"I'm a great big old hector!"
Hector is a pompous, bowdlerising dog. He lives
in a country house with his
charming feline friend ZsaZsa, and the duo get up
to much merriment and fun
in and around their walled garden with their mutual
friend and neighbour Kiki
the frog (or 'Mrs frog' as Hector prefers to call
her). Kiki is regularly found
spying on the duo from her ladder, perched against their
wall. She then enters
their property via a small door hidden in the base
of the wall. But this strange
behaviour doesn't appear to irritate Hector or ZsaZsa.
Mind you, Hector is usually
so full of his own pomp and circumstance he probably
doesn't have time to
consider her strange behaviour. Together these three
speculate the world,
construct things, take up new hobbies and games,
and sing songs - usually
in a kind of mock operetta fashion. Come what may,
at the end of each
escapade our Hector will eventually turn to camera and
inform us that he's
just a big "pompous" old Hector, or "foolish"
old Hector, or whatever suits
"Hector's House" feels wonderfully, eccentrically
British in concept, but it isn't
really British at all. It's yet another import to these
shores, brought in from France
adapted for and adopted by UK viewers, just like Magic
Roundabout. The series
was created by Georges Croses and was originally titled
"La Maison de Toutou".
Unusually, the French title is still present in
UK broadcasts, with our own English
title presented top and bottom. Hector, ZsaZsa and
Kiki are hand puppets,
extended in length to encompass the operator's arm
within their body. The
puppet hands and forearms are quite rigid, but even
so, the operators skilfully
generate much movement and character from this restricted
Funnily enough, although the title refers to Hector's
house, the action always takes
place in that there garden, in the pond, down the well,
up in the fruit trees, outside
Hector's shed, or by his garden gate but never actually
in the home. Indeed, the
most we get to see is when a character appears in one
of the front windows of
Speaking of "seeing", Trivia Hounds should
track down the episode called
in which we finally get to see Hector's sneaking feet!
The very first episode is a cliff-hanger. It's called
Visit" and it
introduces us to Kiki. She has a fondness for hats,
it seems, especially the little
pink checked number that she accidentally drops in Hector's
meanwhile, sniffs an intruder, and in the following
he takes up his shotgun, determined to tame the
ruffian. But Kiki is already
"tame". She works for the Weather Forecasting
Bureau in London, apparently.
But she never actually seems to go to work at all.
Likewise Hector and ZsaZsa,
who never to refer to any employment of their own. Nor
do they ever reveal the
nature of their strange relationship. Strangely, we come
to learn more about
Kiki than the other two. Hector irregularly refers
to her not just as "Mrs Frog",
but also as "Mrs Frambert". And in the
episode called "The
shows us and them a postcard from her friend Rebecca
who works in the
Weather Forecasting Bureau of New York...
The show's Gallic origins rarely intrude, but Trivia
Hounds will note the sign
on Hector's shed in the first episode; "Interdit
aux chats". Hector adds a second
sign below it in the episode titled "The
Funnel". This one reads "Et aux grenouilles".
Kiki introduces her friends to a very odd French
boardgame in "Rainy
The garden flora and fauna is Gallic too. The characters
climb nut trees, and
listen to the chirruping mockingbird (who also features
at the start of each
Hector loves to make things in his shed, or adapt
existing apparel. In "Deep
he makes himself a kennel; somewhere for him to meditate, apparently.
Then in "Silence
is Golden" he paints it light blue and adds air conditioning
Hector loves his jalopy-style motor car. He becomes
a racing driver for a wee
while. Then in "Hector
the Brave Fireman" the pontificating pooch transforms
the same motor car into a bright red fire engine.
"Hector's House" was a hit both on and
off screen. Numerous tie-in products
and apparel were produced including a series of
fabulous BBC tie-in books
featuring stills from the series. Fans should track
down the BBC Annuals too.
These were splendidly illustrated by David
McKee. Hector remains as popular
today as ever, and indeed, he's even starred in a
recent retro ad campaign
for The One/RBS...
"Don't you know that after dark, under threat
You are not allowed by law, to disturb the silence...'
The Gems present a great
guide to the first thirteen episodes,
plenty of screen grabs spread
over four pages - top stuff!
fine page with plenty of screen grabs, and useful series info.
Leads to a second page featuring
some Hector merchandise...