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Toonhound presents...






It's A Puppet!

Hartley Hare - Pipkins star!

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Pipkins / Inigo Pipkin
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     puppet style:  hand operated puppets
        producers:  Michael Jeans for ATV

         episodes:   313 x 30mins


     "Inigo Pipkin... It's Inigo Pipkin... Inigo the puppet maker..."

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   "Pipkins" was originally titled "Inigo Pipkin", and the series took its name from
    the proprietor of a peculiar workshop-come-junkyard, which he inhabited with
    an assortment of misfit animal puppets. Their mission in life was to help people.
    If you had a little problem, or dilemma, Inigo and his puppets could help you out.
    There was Topov the monkey, penny-wise Tortoise, and greedy, guzzling Pig
    the madcap inventor. Octavia was a prancing Parisian ostrich, and Mooney
    a dizzy Irish badger. But most notably of all, there was Hartley Hare. This
    wretched, flea-bitten monstrosity ruled the Pipkins roost with a razor-sharp
    tongue and a deviant eye. He was in control of his subservient pals for nine
    extraordinary years...

    There's no escaping the fact that "Pipkins" was cheap. Cheaper than cheap.
    But that same cheapness brought with it an extraordinary appeal. Take that
    star hare, Hartley."Pipkins" may have been a lunchtime childrens' series, but
    Hartley was surely the stuff of kids nightmares - a tatty, Teniel Hare who
    took a wrong turn out of Wonderland. Some might even mistake him for roadkill.
    But he was fascinating to watch. Likewise Pig, Topov and the gang, who had
    such an intensity to them. Their accents were abrasive (Pig was a Brummie,
    Topov a Cock-a-ney), and their behaviour often quite manic, and they roamed
    a musty, Steptoe-like location, which was possibly more likely to haunt young
    minds than to stimulate them. The show's contemporaries included the
    multicoloured "Sesame Street", which was awash with bright-eyed excitement
    and activities. What a contrast!
    Of course, this reviewer has played up "Pipkins" miserly budget, because
    beneath its cheap exterior was a warmhearted - and indeed - forward-thinking
    series with its mixture of human and puppet stars hailing from a variety of
    cultural and ethnic backgrounds, and a faultless message of "helping others"
    underlying the stories.

    Hartley was operated and voiced by Nigel Plaiskitt, and he remained the hand
    behind the hare throughout the run of the show, whilst other puppeteers came
    and went. He also brought us Tortoise and Mooney, and even appeared in human
    form. Poor old Pig fared badly, having no less than four different performers.
    And Mr Pipkins himself was the most unfortunate of all, because the real
    life actor, George Woodbridge, died of a heart attack whilst filming the second
    series. But in a brave move, the production tackled his passing head-on, with
    a show all about his demise.
    Inigo's shoes were subsequently filled by his young assistant Johnny, and the
    series renamed as, simply, "Pipkins". Wayne Laryea played Johnny until 1978,
    when Tom (Jonathan Kydd) took over. And finally Peter (Paddy O'Hagan)
    was put in charge of the workshop. The changes also affected the puppets,
    with tweaks and redesigns of the characters as the series rolled by. But no
    amount of cosmetic work could beautify that rascally Hare. Which is just
    as well, because Hartley has become something of an icon for today's
    Nostalgia collective. And who knows, he and the rest of the "Pipkins"
    entourage may yet return from the dead...

   » Young Hartley wasn't a solitary hare. He was regularly contacted by his
        strange country relative, Uncle Hare, who lived in a telephone box, and
        wild Angus McHare from north of the border. Both, however, looked
        suspiciously similar to the young buck. Could they simply have been
        Hartley in disguise...?

» The memorable "Pipkins" theme song was sung by Jackie Lee. Her previous
        chart hits included the theme to "White Horses" (#10 in 1968), and the supreme
        and evergreen Rupert the Bear (#14 in 1971).

» Notice the name of Sue Nicholls, aka Audrey Roberts from "Coronation Street"
         tucked amongst the human credits. Likewise Charles McKeown, who has
         regularly associated with fantasy-maestro Terry Gilliam, and the Monty
         Python team.


     Pipkins on DVD

     UK DVD Pipkins - Volume 1
                Region 2 / 10 episodes / Network / April 2005

     UK DVD Pipkins - Volume 2
                Region 2 / 10 episodes / Network / September 2005


    created by Michael Jeans

    producer:           Michael Jeans
    directors:           Michael Jeans, Pembroke Duttson,
                             Dorothy Denham
    writers:              Susan Pleat, David Cregan, Billy Hamon,
                             Denis Bond, Gail Renard, Steve James,
                             John and Sandy Byrne, Michael Jeans
                             Vicky Ireland
    music:               Chris Hazell
    theme song:       written by Frank Weston and Ron Roker
                             sung by Jackie Lee
    puppets:            Jane Eve, Jill and Ian Lang
    graphics:            Alistair McMurdo
    designers:          Michael Eve, Leigh Malone
    floor mngers:     Richard Holoway, George Portway, Geoff Sax,
                             Pat Napper, Richard Jones, Guy Frazer-Jones
    stage mngers:    Sara Paul, Kate Colley, Anne Ibbotson,
                             Jane Cotton, Clare Sandford
    prod assts:         Liz Hetherington, Dolores Shine,
                             Glenys Collins, Margaret Maddison,
                             Jenny Mannion, Eunice Bird
    adviser:             Ronald Gulliford
    puppet stars:      Hartley Hare (Nigel Plaiskitt)
                             Tortoise (Nigel Plaiskitt)
                             Pig (Heather Tobias / Lorain Bertorelli /
                                   Ann Rutter / Alex Knight)
Topov (Heather Tobias / Lorain Bertorelli /
                                       Elizabeth Lindasy)
                             Mooney (Nigel Plaiskitt)
                             Uncle Hare (Nigel Plaiskitt)
                             Angus McHare (Nigel Plaiskitt)
                             Narrator (Nigel Plaiskitt)
                             Octavia (Heather Tobias
/ Lorain Bertorelli /
                                         Elizabeth Lindasy)

                                     Pigeon (
Lorain Bertorelli /
                                     Sophie the Cat (Ann Rutter)
                              Penguin (Diana Eden)

    human stars:      George Woodbridge (Inigo Pipkin)
                             Wayne Laryea (Johnny)
                             Jonathan Kydd (Tom)
                             Paddy O'Hagan (Peter Potter)
                             Jumoke Debayo (Bertha)
                             Royce Mills (Fredd Pipkin)
                             Charles McKeown (Fred)
                             Sue Nicholls (Mrs Muddle)
                             Nigel Plaiskitt (Eccentric Detective)
                             Preston Lockwood (Old Gentleman)
                             Billy Hamon (Genie)
                             Heather Tobias (Bag Lady)
                             Janet Dale (Granny) 

     On the web

      Greg Taylor's Pipkins Site
      Fully endorsed by  the copyright owners, this one has a precise
      series history and background, info. on the actors, puppeteers,
      WAV files and more...

      Little Gems
      And here's another "gem" from the Gems, with lots of pics and info...

      Nigel Plaiskitt
      "Hartley" has his own web site here...

      A concise, precise page from the BFI, plus some extra media files...

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