He may look like an upper-crust grasshopper,
but the star of this insectoid
series is actually a mantis. Monocled
Manfred mantis believes he's at the very
top of the garden food chain. He's affluent
and sometimes rather arrogant to
boot. Lady Louise Ladybird is quick to put
Manfred in his place, but the big
green buffoon usually leaps on anyway, into
his next debacle, and Louise,
Monty Moth, Fernandel the Fly, Trevor Trapdoor
and the rest of the
garden insects are left sidelined and
agog at his antics...
What a twit that Manfred is! - But he's not
a nasty mantis. Indeed, he's
always full of enthusiasm for his pals'
endeavours. He just happens to be
more capable than them... Or not. As
he finds out to his detriment each
Marall-Smith's thrifty series is very
much "of its time", with a distinctly
seventies look and feel - most notably
in the background layouts, with
their watercolour washes, and swatches
of colours and patterns.
There's one particular paisley-fied interlude
in "The Concert",
a group of dancing Flutterbye Girls that's
completely groovy. And that's
the crux of things. "Manfred"
hails from a production era when films
and series were produced on a shoestring,
by perilously small crews
who had to shared the workload around.
Whilst the purse-strings were
tight, creativity flourished. It's a world
away from today's preschool
manufacturers, with all those executives
shepherding through not
just the series, but the tie-in toys
and stage shows, etc. with
military precision. And it means that, for
Manfred's garden stone is a joy to turn over
Chris Smith at Marall-Smith
has passed on this handy guide to
Manfred and his garden pals:
Manfred Mantis (Praying Mantis)
A member of the insect upper-crust,
he sports a dinner-jacket and
monocle, believes himself the brains of the
insect world and speaks
with a posh accent.
A cross-eyed fly who gets into difficulties
because of this and his
inability to walk upside-down properly.
Fluffy chap with an eye for the night
Lady Louise (Ladybird)
Prim and fussy spinster who enjoys organising
everyone and gives
the appearance of great strictness, but is
really very kind.
Trevor Trapdoor (Spider)
Creepy but kind, he displays a mock ferocity
visually, but tends to
be shy and goofy.
Desmond Longfellow (Dragonfly)
Very business-minded and a steady worker.
The Flutterbyes (Butterflies)
The dancing girls of the garden
Humble Bumble (Bumble Bee)
Sleepy, easygoing duffer who is the
butt of many jokes,
but still quite lovable.
Millie Pede & Cathy Caterpillar (Millipede
Two glamorous girls of the garden, with
long fluttering eyelashes
and quite flirtatious
Sir Arnold (Ant)
Snappy retired officer of the ant army
who has all the answers.
A Surprise Package
The Cricket Match
The Honey Machine
The Boat Race
A Sticky Problem
Trevor Trapdoor's Birthday
Fun at the Factory
Lost in the Clouds
Manfred on DVD/VHS
single episode of this series previously appeared
on a video compilation:
Seventies TV Favourites - Vol. 1
2 VHS / Contender / February 1998
& animation: Christopher
Alan R Smith
Marall-Smith are involved
in a range of pre and post -production
activities. Their web site gives
you the lowdown, and they have
viewing copies of "Manfred"
available on DVD and VHS,
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