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Toonhound presents...






British TV series
Larry The L-L-Lamb

   Stories From Toytown


   Larry the Lamb

   producers: Larry the Lamb Ltd for Thames TV
stop-motion animation
    episodes: 26 x 11mins

    "Oh Mister M-M-Mayor, Sir!"
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Welcome to Toytown, the busy bustling home of Larry the stuttering young lamb
    and his best friend Dennis the Germanic Dachsund. These two get up to all
    sorts of innocent mischief around town, much to the chagrin of the egocentric
    Mayor, Ernest the stout policeman, the bumbling Magician, miserable miser
    Mr Growser, the Inventor, Mrs Goose, Mr and Mrs Noah and the rest.

    Toytown folk enjoy attending their local theatre, they get up to "dreadful doings"
    in Ark Street, regularly run into Highwaymen on the Toytown Road, and set sail
    with the haughty Captain Salt of the good ship Mermaid (bound for the
    Cannibal Islands, I'll be darned). Most of all, they are unctuous and dismissive
    of their ghastly neighbours from nearby Arkville..

      Toytown folk    Larry and Ernest The Policeman

    Twenty-six Toytown stories were adapted for tv by Hendrik Baker, a close friend
    of the creator of the original characters and settings, the late great S G Hulme
    Beaman. The TV stories were filmed by Bura and Hardwick, who also brought
    Gordon Murray's three Trumptonshire series to life. The characters designs
    stuck closely to Hulme Beaman's original figures, with their chunky,
    squared-off heads and bodies. Likewise much of the language and narrative
    from those original stories remains intact. Characters bowdlerise and expectorate
    in a most-particular way. Old-fashioned to some in this new millennium, but
    endearing to just as many others of a particular generation weaned on the
    books and radio shows that preceded the series.

    Toytown's story

    The Toytown stories and characters were created by Sydney George Hulme
    Beaman. They date back to the end of the First World War, when Hulme Beaman,
    a theatre hall actor by profession, turned his artistic talents to carving small
    wooden animals, figures and vessels. Excited by his models of Mr Noah and
    Noah's Ark, folks invited commissions from him for various wooden characters
    and a mini-industry was born. In 1923 The Golders Green Gazette published
    Hulme Beaman's comic strip "Philip and Phido". His pen and ink characters
    were deliberately styled after his wooden creations. Several Toytown stars
    emerged from the strips, like the Mayor who developed from a self-important
    Admiral figure. Now on a roll, Hulme Beaman wrote and illustrated a number of 
    classic storybooks after the same fashion, before the first true Toytown story
    "The Road to Toytown" was published in 1925.

    Anthologies of Toytown stories followed, and by chance "Tales of Toytown",
    published in 1928 was happened upon by May Jenkin who portrayed
    "Aunt Elizabeth" on the BBC's Children's Hour radio programmes.
    Hulme Beaman was eventually commissioned to write some 28 Toytown stories
    for the BBC. It was through these shows that the characters of Larry and
    Dennis were developed from bit-part characters to true Toytown stars.
    The BBC programmes were hugely successful, but Hulme Beaman himself
    wasn't quite fulfilled. He continued to develop his carved figures and vessels
    alongside his writing and even went so far as to construct a model stage show
    with accompanying string controlled puppets for a performance of "The
    Arkville Dragon". It proved to be a stepping stone on to a fully-fledged
    animation experiment, shot with the assistance of the Pathe film company
    in 1932. Sadly, though, Hulme Beaman died of pneumonia that February.

    The Toytown stories and characters lived on, though. There was even a command
    performance given in the presence of Royal Family at Broadcasting House
    in 1939. Toytown tales continued to be broadcast and performed for more
    than three decades, through to 1963.
    Toytown to own

    Numerous promotional items, published material and tie-in products have
    been produced over the years. Larry The Lamb annuals and picture books
    abound. The Hound's favourites are the series of 20 page A5 picture booklets
    published by George Lapworth and co. some time in the 30s/40s (they're
    undated and thus tricky to tie down to a date). These reprint "The Original
    Toytown Story of the famous Broadcast Play" with illustrations by Ernest Noble
    and they go by the generic banner title of "The Adventures of Larry the Lamb"
    - fabulous little things, these...

     Pistols For Two - a Larry The Lamb AdventureThe Brave Deed Of Ernest The Policeman - a Larry The Lamb adventure  The Book Of Toytown

    Two Larry The Lamb LP records were released by EMI featuring artistes from
    the theatrical productions. In the 1970's several Toytown stories were reprinted
    as TV tie-in editions with stills from the show accompanying the tales. But
    better yet, in 1979 a retrospective anthology "The Book of Toytown and Larry
    the Lamb" was published by Harrap. Along with a well-chosen selection of Hulme
    Beaman's illustrated stories this volume contains colour photos from the TV series
    and a short but informative biography of the creator by Hendrik Baker. A great
    introduction to Hulme Beaman's extraordinary world...

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    Toytown TV episodes

   Toytown Goes West
   The Tale of Captain Brass the Pirate  
   The Extraordinary Affair of Ernest the Policeman  
   The Disgraceful Business at Mrs Goose's
   Golf (Toytown Rules)
   The Arkville Dragon   
   The Tale of the Inventor 
   The Tale of the Magician  
   The Theatre Royal 
   The Toytown Treasure  
   Tea For Two
   Mr Noah's Holiday
   The Toytown Mystery
   A Portrait of the Mayor
   Pistols For Two
   How the Wireless Came to Toytown
   The Brave Deed of Ernest the Policeman
   The Tale of Ernest the Policeman
   The Showing Up of Larry the Lamb
   Larry the Plumber
   The Mayor's Sea Voyage

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     adapted and directed by Hendrik Baker
     from the Toytown Stories by S G Hulme Beaman

     settings in the Toytown Tradition
     by Colin Large

    animation:   Bura and Hardwick
    animators:   Pasquale Ferrari, Denis Russo
    music:         Barry Cole
    sound:         United Motion Pictures
    voices:        Patsy Blower (Larry)
                      Wilfred Babbage
                      Peter Hawkins

                      Paul Bura

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      On the web

      Little Gems
      Lots of Toytown goodness here...

      index »    previous »   next »

© S.G. Hulme Beaman / F2012