"Dear old Hoppity, naughty Hoppity
There is no toy more naughty than he!"
Sara Brown's parents own a special shop that's
not really a shop at all. It is
in fact a Toy Hospital, where folks can bring
in broken toys for Sara's mother
and father and Miss Julie to mend. The Browns
live above the little shop, with
Miss Julie above them, in the attic room. One
day, an old man brings in a odd
broken toy to sell. It's a curious wind-up toy
boy with one leg which the man
apparently found in a goblin ring. He's called Hoppity,
and Sara is immediately
smitten with him. Mr and Mrs Brown want nothing to
do with the old toy, but
Miss Julie comes to Sara's rescue. She gives her
sixpence to purchase
Hoppity from the man. Sara then scrubs Hoppity down,
and her father finds
a spare leg for the toy, though it's a tad shorter
than the one he's got.
Miss Julie gives Hoppity some clothes and Mrs
Brown gives him two shiny
beads for his eyes. She also cuts some of Sara's
own hair to put on
Hoppity's head, and Miss Julie gives Sara an apron
with a big pocket on
the front so she can carry the chap around. And
now Hoppity can be wound
up and set free, to dance his "falling over
dance" and sing his special
"Diddly-Dee" song, and to lead Sara off to
all sorts of hijinx and trouble
because, you see, Hoppity is a very mischievious thing
"He'll sing and he'll dance, all over the
And when he stands still then you wind him some
Sara and Hoppity had previously appeared in four
books by series producer
Roberta Leigh, with the first written in 1960.
And this TV adaptation was
Roberta's first new series produced without Gerry
Anderson and AP Films.
They had parted company after completing the first
season of Torchy the
Roberta had successfully snagged AP's Arthur Provis during
the breakup, and he took up the director's chair here.
And what a show it is! Beneath the series' apple-pie
crust there is a
very dark filling. Hoppity is a spiteful sprite.
He's the devil who sits on your
shoulder, egging you on, leading you into trouble.
There's that strange goblin
past, and the old man wanting rid, and - goodness!
- just look at him in that
screen grab at the top of this page. He's got
no eyes, he's bald and legless.
He is a totemic pagan creation who wouldn't look
out of place in an Amicus film.
And once he's reborn he's infused with a twisted, fiddling, kind
of glee. Well,
okay, it's easy to exaggerate, but many folks of a
certain age will tell you
that Hoppity left them sleeping uneasily in their
beds at night, and the chap
would surely jig his way into a future Top
Ten List here at Toonhound.
Of course, this isn't all spite for spite's sake.
Take Aunt Mathilda, who is
the recipient of Hoppity's very first bit of mischief.
She's a haughty old thing,
and it's very easy to side with Sara when she
cuts the flowers off the woman's
hat and puts them in a vase... Erm... But that
doesn't make it right, does it?
And Hoppity's cruely knows no bounds, because
poor Sara is left hopelessly
exposed when she tells the adults what happened. Why,
she can go straight
to her bed, without delay. But it was Hoppity
that drove her to the wicked
deed... Fiddling-diddling old Hoppity....
Bossy & Cruel
Spiteful children are Roberta Leigh's speciality.
Sally Cross (Twizzle),
Bossy Boots and Bogie (Torchy),
and Sara Brown all exhibit a particular
penchant for brattish and cruel behaviour. It
gives these three series a
particularly keen edge that stands them apart
from their contemporaries.
The series all played on the ITV network in direct
opposition to those
singsong "Watch With Mother" productions
on the BBC, and it feels
almost as if they are deliberately subverting that
nursery-bound format. Yes, this is what those spoilt
brats are really
like, folks. They're wanton, and just as cruel
as can be!
The series premiered on the ITV network on 27th
& Hoppity's adventures