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Toonhound presents...






British TV series

Portland Bill

 The Adventures
   of Portland Bill
      producers: John Grace / FilmFair
                        for Central Television
stop-motion animation 
        episodes: 26 x 11mins

   ''Oh, come with me to the rolling sea,
    While the weather's calm and still..."

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    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,
    in Dorset.

     Cromarty, Eddy Stone and Ross...

    "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 Hug",
    "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 here...

    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
    in 1999...

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    Eddy and The Trino

    Go Eddy!

    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 inspector!

    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 Thomson title.
    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...

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    Portland Pratt - an Oink! comic spoof

    Portle chortle...

    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 himself, Popeye!

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    Episode info

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.

    Changeable Weather           Atmospheric Interference
    The Tourists                      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 Whistling Kettle
    Bedtime for Cromarty          Baking Day   
    The Brithday Surprise          Bird Watching
    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

    series notes

    Changeable Weather
     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.

       Busy Day
     This features Dogger's first appearance. Fastnet is named. We then meet
     Mrs Lundy for the first time, and finally, Finisterre is named.

     Birthday Surprise
     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.

     An Inspector Calls
     This stars Inspector Ronaldsway in his first and only appearance.

     Buried Treasure
     Eddy is seen with "The Trino" for the first time, though the title is not revealed.

     Dogger's Best Trick
     Eddy dons his policeman's hat, and a new one; a waterboard inspector's hat.

     A 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 episodes.

     The Lost Key
     Introduce's us to Valencia. She's a scrawny green and yellow
     parrot belonging to Ross' Uncle.

     Sick as a Parrot
     When Cromarty falls ill, he takes to his bunk with a copy of The Trino!
     Portland Bill and the Mermaid
     Ross meets a real-life mermaid, called Belle.

     The Big Shopping List
     Features "Oil" Derrick from Texas. He's working on the Faroe oil rig.

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    Portland Bill on DVD

    UK DVD Portland Bill - Atmospheric Interference
                Region 2 / twelve stories / Abbey Home Media / March 2007

     UK DVD Portland Bill - Changeable Weather
                Region 2 / twelve stories / Abbey Home Media / June 2006

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      the Adventures of Portland Bill by John Grace

      designed by John Grace and Barry Leith
      series adapted for TV by Ian Sachs

      anim director:     Barry Leith
      exec prod:         
  Graham Clutterbuck
      prod co-ord:       
 Barrie Edwards
  Mik Parsons
    John Grace
  Robert Dunbar
      asst editor:         
Andi Sloss
      asst animators:  
Humphrey Leadbitter
                             Heather Boucher
      model makers:    
Martin Cheek
                             Gordon Tait
                             Linda Thodesen
      as told by:           
Norman Rossington

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     On the web

     Little Gems
     Once again the Gems have come up trumps...

     The Gems chat to Mik Parsons       
     Better still, here's a splendid Little Gems interview with Mik Parsons!...

     Abbey Home Media
     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...

      index »    previous »   next »        

© John Grace / FilmFair Ltd / F2008