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Toonhound presents...






It's A Puppet!
"Torchy the Battery Boy" (Roberta Leigh / Pelham Films)

 small spacer
Torchy the
 Battery Boy 

 small spacer      puppets: marionette puppets
  episodes: 52 x 15mins b/w

                      Pelham Films
                      AP Films / ABC Weekend TV

                      1958 / 26 x 15mins

                      SERIES TWO

                  Pelham Films / Associated British-Pathe

                      1959 / 26 x 15mins

   "Torchy, Torchy the battery boy
    I'm a walkie-talkie toy!"

  spacer number two

    Torchy is a battery-powered toy boy with a lamp in his hat, and an on-off
    switch on his chest. He lives with old Mr Bumbedrop and his straight-haired
    poodle Pom-Pom in a little cottage with a large garden that's always full of
    children. Torchy's lamp is magic. He can shine it away into the night and
    talk to people far away, like the toys who live in Topsy Turvy Land.
    Mr Bumbledrop has built Torchy his very own space rocket too, which can
    whisk him away to this amazing realm where the toys frolic in lollipop
    fields and cream buns grow on trees, and there are lots of exciting things
    to do and to discover in Frutown, if your battery doesn't run down...

Mr Bumbledrop in "Torchy the Battery Boy" (Roberta Leigh / Pelham Films)  Bossy Boots in "Torchy the Battery Boy" (Roberta Leigh / Pelham Films)

    "Torchy" was created and produced by Roberta Leigh via her new production
    company Pelham Films, and the first series of twenty-six episodes utilised
    the talents of Gerry Anderson and AP Films. It was a continuation of the
    production relationship they had on The Adventures of Twizzle, and it
    was made with almost double the budget, with each episode coming in
    at around £27,000. The two firms parted company after the first series
    was concluded, but it was an amicable split and Roberta Leigh held
    on to all rights for the show, its music, puppets and sets. She also took
Provis with her. She produced the second series with Associated
    British-Pathe, and you can't see the join between them. You can see the
    strings, however, because this series bridged the gap between traditional
    TV marionettes and the future puppet series Roberta Leigh and Gerry
    Anderson went on to produce.

    "I wish I had a little boy of me own
     who would help me..."

    We find out the whys and wherefores of young Torchy in the very first episode
    "Pompom and the Toys". The children, Bossy Boots and Bogie, are playing
    with kites in Mr Bumbledrop's garden when, in a somewhat rash act, they
    decide to tie a bunch of toys and - yikes! - Pompom the dog to their kite
    strings, and away they sail, off into the sky, ne'er to be seen again.

    Poor Mr Bumbledrop is quite heartbroken at the loss of his beloved pet,
    so he has the inspired idea to to create a his very own "toy boy" to help him
    look for the critter. He settles down to work at two o'clock, and by six o'clock,
    he's built young Torchy. After a brief interlude in which the duo look for the
    old man's glasses, we head outside and watch as Torchy shines his magic
    torch light. And there, his beam illuminates the toys and Pom-Pom, safe
    and well on a twinkling star in the night sky. But how is he to get them back?
    Mr Bumbledrop is once more inspired, and the next day he builds Torchy
    a great fizzing rocket ship which takes him to Topsy Turvy Land.

    By the end of the second episode, Torchy has met and played with the toys
    who have decided to stay on the star to avoid any further incidents with the
    the children in Mr Bumbledrop's garden, and subsequent stories see
    Torchy and the kids shuttling backwards and forwards from the earth to
    this extraordinary place, and Bossy Boots and Bogie are taught several
    life lessons along the way...

    "Hello, dear old Bumble-wumble-drop,
     I'm so glad you've made me!"

    "Torchy" proved to be very popular with its contemporary young audience,
    and folks of a certain age still look back at it with nostalgic affection. It was
    packed full of whimsy, with all sorts of a fantastic occurrences taking place
    in Topsy Turvy Land. And from a historical perspective this was an important
    series, involving as it did so many key figures in British TV puppet circles. It
    was another stepping stone to greatness after "Twizzle", and you can
    clearly see the progression as the production team honed their puppet
    construction skills, and developed their skills with in-camera effects.    

    Roberta Leigh subsequently brought us "Sarah & Hoppity" (1962), the sci-fi
    extravaganza that was "Space Patrol" (1963-1964), and more.

    As for Gerry Anderson and AP Films, well, we all know what they got
    up to over the next decade. What is particularly interesting here is the way
    in which both production teams forged ahead with ever-more dynamic and
    unique supermarionated adventures and indeed, AP Films made their
    change of direction apparent within a few short months, when the team
    headed out West with Tex Tucker and the posse in Four Feather Falls.
    All that tough talk and trigger-happy gunplay really is a world away from 
    Torchy's battery-operated whimsy...


    Beam me up

    Torchy's magic beam only works if he recites the following request:

   "Magic beam that is so bright,
    will you shine your lovely light!"


    broadcast info

    The series first aired regionally, on the ITV network. It premiered in the
    Midlands and the North on Sunday, 11th January 1959, and was aired
    on a bi-weekly basis...

    It took a full twelve months for Torchy to reach London, when the series
    was included as part of ITV's "Small Time" line-up, premiering on 23rd
    February 1960...


   The garden gang
   Mr Bumbledrop (Torchy's inventor)
   Bossy Boots (a snooty girl)
   Bogie (a bothersome boy)
   Pom-Pom (a straight-haired poodle)
   Topsy Turvy Land
   Flopsy the Rag Doll
   Pilliwig the Clown
   Squish the Space Boy
   King Dithers
   Pongo the Pirate
   Gilly Golly


   Torchy episodes

  Series One
Pom-Pom and the Toys
Topsy Turvy Land
Torchy and Squish
The Building of Frutown
Torchy and the Broken Rocket
King Dithers
Torchy Goes Back to Earth
Bossy Boots Goes to Topsy Turvy Land
Bossy Boots is Taught a Lesson
A Bell for a Penny Farthing
A Trick on Pom-Pom
Torchy is Stolen
King Dithers Loses his Crown
Pilliwig Gets a Present
Bad Boy Bogey
Torchy and the Strange Animal
Bossy Boots Forgets to be Good
Hungry Money Box
The Naughty Twins
The Twins Learn a Lesson
King Dithers Goes Down to Earth
Torchy Escapes at Last
Torchy and the Man in the Moon
Bogey and the Statues
The Moon Falls Asleep
Torchy's Birthday

Series Two
Flopsy Goes on a Picnic
Torchy Gets a Surprise
Banana Bridge
King Dithers and Daffy
The Toys Get the Collywobbles
Bogey Learns Another Lesson
The Pollikan Bird is Stolen
Torchy Has an Accident
Sparky the Dragon
Bogey is Naughty Again
Pilliwig Cleans the Chimney
Pongo the Pirate
Pongo and the Gold Mine
King Dithers' Birthday
Washing Day in Topsy Turvy Land
Gluebell Wood
Squish Falls Down a Well
Flopsy in Trouble
The Big Storm
Daffy's Birthday
Flopsy Makes a Christmas Pudding
Gilly Golly in Trouble
King Bumbledrop
A New Suit for Pilliwig
The Obstinate Donkey
Pom-Pom Gets the Hiccups


     Torchy on DVD

     UK DVD Torchy the Battery Boy: The Complete First Series
                Region 2 / Network / April 2005

     UK DVD Torchy the Battery Boy: The Complete Second Series
                Region 2 / Network / September 2005


    Series One credits

    by Roberta Leigh

    made by APF Maidenhead
    a Pelham Films production

music & lyrics:

arranged by:
director of

art director:

editorial supervision:

Gerry Anderson
Robeta Leigh
Robeta Leigh
Roberta Leigh
Barry Gray

Arthur Provis
Reginald E Hill

David Elliott
Christine Glanville
Mary Turner, Sam Kemp

   character voices:

   Kenneth Connor (Bumbledrop / King Dithers)
   Olwyn Griffiths (Torchy)
   Jill Raymond (Narrator / Flopsy / Bossy Boots)
   Patricia Somerset

   Series Two credit changes

    a Pelham Films /
Associated British-Pathe production

director: Vivian Milroy


     On the web

     Roberta Leigh
     Roberta's official site...

     Your starting point for all-things Anderson...

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© Roberta Leigh / F2012