producers: John Grace / FilmFair
Central Television animation:
stop-motion animation episodes: 26 x
''Oh, come with me to the rolling sea,
While the weather's calm and still..."
Portland Bill is the keeper of the Trinity
House lighthouse, on Guillermot
Rock, and he's ably assisted (or not-so), by
red-capped Ross and
goatee bearded Cromarty. Oh, and there's
Dogger, he's Bill's pet pooch.
Life in the lighthouse is never dull,
with all the repairs and cleaning to do,
storms to weather and inspections to pass.
Not to mention, the visiting
mermaids and ghostly penguins. Even so, from
time to time, Bill takes
his old rowboat The
Puffin over to the mainland, and the seaside village
of McGuillycuddy to stock up on provisions
from Eddy Stone's store, and
to catch up on all the village happenings
with Grandma Tiree, the crofter
Finisterre, Fastnet the fisherman and
old Mrs Lundy...
Hmm. Are you detecting a theme here? That's
right. All the characters
in this seaside series take their names
from the shipping forecast and/or
British sea regions and nautical terms.
McGuillycuddy surely takes its
name from Macgillycuddy Reeks in Ireland.
And even the lighthouse has
a real-life twist, having been inspired by
the Portland Bill lighthouse,
"Portland Bill" was devised,
designed, scored and scripted by John Grace. Sadly,
John passed away in March 2004. His animation
CV was extensive and varied
and included "Pablo -The Little Red
Fox", "64 Zoo Lane", "Kipper", "Big
"Boris the Bat" and "Ethelbert
the Tiger". His shows won a shelf-load of awards.
On top of all this, John co-created the
breakthrough CGI series "ReBoot" - what
a world away from the salty delights on offer
Trivia Hounds will note that the late
great Norman Rossington provided the
"Portland Bill" voices and narration.
Norman's film and tv appearances included
"A Hard Day's Night", "Charge
of the Light Brigade", "Digby - The Biggest Dog
in the World", "I Claudius",
and three early Carry-On movies. He died, aged 70
Eddy Stone is McGillycuddy's star resident.
He not only runs the village
store, but he also serves as the local
electician, postman, milkman,
policeman, mayor, meterman and waterboard
Eddy keeps each of his professional hats
hanging - quite literally - on the
front of his delivery bike, as he cycles
around town. He also takes to the
sea in his boat The
Kipper, laden down with provisions for Bill and the boys
at the lighthouse.
Poor old Eddy is a worrier, he's always
fretting about something or other,
so it's just as well that Bill is often
on hand to take charge of affairs. Still,
he often finds the time to delve into
the pages of his favourite weekly.
"The Trino" is obviously fashioned
after a certain DC
The comic's never mentioned by name, but
Eddy's seen reading it in
several episodes - and hastily putting it under
the counter whenever
Bill is around...
Now here's a bit of fun spied in that
splendidly irreverent 80s comic Oink!
It's from the October 1988 edition #67
and it's a spoof on "Portland Bill" titled
"Portland Pratt". Dross, Crockerty
and the gang are expertly caricatured by
artist Ed McHenry. Charlie Brooker's script
has Bill/Pratt making a right fool
of himself when, after a day off from
lighthouse duty, he comes back and
switches off the light. Amongst the casualties
who wreck themselves on the
rocks is none other than the spinach-master
There were two series made, each comprising of 13 x 11minute episodes.
And the individual episodes featured
two 5 minute stories, with a musical
interlude betwen them.
The Hound is still tracking down the
second series titles, but below
is a list of the first series titles,
and some additional series notes.
Dogger's Best Trick
The Fishing Match A
Knot For Everything
The Seaweed Clock
The Wind Powered Vacuum Cleaner
Busy Day The
Good News Storm
The Sea Monster The
Bedtime for Cromarty
The Brithday Surprise
The Jam Session
The Lost Key
An Inspector Calls
Sick as a Parrott
Important message Portland
Bill and The Mermaid
Buried Treasure The
Big Shopping LIst
The Day the Sea Froze
The Fisherman's Ball
Introduces us to Bill, Ross
and Cromarty, who reveals his hometown when
he announces that he could have been "The
Leonardo da Vinci of Dunbar".
Gives us our first look at McGuillycuddy.
We meet Eddy Stone and Grandma Tiree at his store. Eddy is also billed
as being the town's electrician, postman,
milkman, policeman and mayor. Finisterre and
Fastnet also feature for the
first time, but they do not speak, and
are not named.
This features Dogger's first
appearance. Fastnet is named. We then meet Mrs Lundy for the first time, and
finally, Finisterre is named.
Now we learn that Eddy Stone is also
the McGuillycuddy meterman.
And we see him on board his boat, The
Kipper, for the very first time.
This stars Inspector Ronaldsway
in his first and only appearance.
Eddy is seen with "The Trino"
for the first time, though the title is not revealed.
Eddy dons his policeman's hat, and a
new one; a waterboard inspector's hat.
Knot For Everything
We meet young Gail and Finisterre's
two escaped sheep, Flotsam and Jetsom, before we're introduced to
Boulmer the Highland bull, who
pops up again in at least two later
Introduce's us to Valencia. She's
a scrawny green and yellow
parrot belonging to Ross' Uncle.
as a Parrot
When Cromarty falls ill, he takes to his
bunk with a copy of The Trino!
Bill and the Mermaid
Ross meets a real-life mermaid, called
Big Shopping List
from Texas. He's working on the Faroe oil rig.
by John Grace and Barry Leith
series adapted for TV by Ian Sachs
director: Barry Leith
exec prod: Graham
prod co-ord: Barrie
Parsons John Grace
asst animators: Humphrey
model makers: Martin
as told by: Norman
Abbey distribute the UK DVDs. They have their
own web store too...
John Grace used to hold a staff post
here at Loughborough University,
where he was a Research Fellow
in Animation Studies. He had been
helping to construct a centre of excellence
for animation students...