I have a very soft spot for children’s productions. These tend not to be the jobs that impress other people, but they seem less subject to fashion trends and so keep going from one generation to another, and they can be great fun to work on.
I started millions of years ago with a company called Scripture Union who produced films and videos with a specific Christian message for children of all ages. The first one I did was called The Green Bear featuring John Glover and this became a big hit with kids who managed to track it down.
The Sunday Gang
The Sunday Gang was also a great kid's show, produced by Norman Stone and BBC TV. Go to the Family section to see a small clip from the very first show featuring Tina Heath. Several years later I was asked to write for the new animation production of Roger Hardgreaves' Mister Men and Little Miss. I co-wrote the songs with Richard Everett (legendary playwright and director) who has remained a great chum, and working partner over the years.
This series features The Goodies and in all we made 40 programmes which have been broadcast in the UK, USA, Europe and pretty much worldwide.
To celebrate an amazing 50 years of a great programme, I was asked to re-arrange and produce the Blue Peter title music which included the opening, closing and all incidental themes. We also used 40 talented children who had won a competition for the programme called Music Makers. So not only does the music feature all of these players, it attempts to add a contemporary flavour to an old favourite. I hope you agree. If you want to hear another interesting feature on the Blue Peter theme tune including a Beat Box rapper, then go to this site.
A series of silent comedy sketch programmes. Armed with an old BBC computer with 32k of memory(!), a TV screen and two keyboards, I dutifully wrote and then transported the gear to the old TMS studios in Lime Grove (now a housing estate) and glued the music to tape. It was the start of writing music and sound effects to picture using click tracks, timecode and all that stuff and although it was relatively primitive, it sounded pretty good and ran for a considerable time both here and in 40 countries worldwide.
Featuring Paul and Barry Chuckle, which to date has managed 20 series (almost 300 episodes!) and promises further new programmes. The old album is available here for download. I will also feature some of the Chucks' incidental music here for those who like that sort of thing.
The Audition. This was based on Xavier Roberts Cabbage Patch Kids a fantastic 7 minute short as a pilot for a full feature film. Animated features included: The New Kid, The Clubhouse. Saturday Night, The Screentest and Vernon’s Christmas. It’s unlikely that you will find them in the country but if you ever go to The States, then try to find them in any local music and video store. Or you could try www.cabbagepatchkids.com and check out the videos on their web site. Rosie O'Donnal who hosts a coast to coast chat show in USA picked up on these videos and has been promoting them and singing the songs from the films. I'm still trying to get on her show to play a couple of tracks live with Jemma, my daughter, who sang on the album. There’s stuff from these movies on the Animation section.
Other kid's stuff from this era includes Astrofarm and Molly's Gang, The Pondles. And stacks more.
Rocky Kids came about through necessity rather than choice. I was looking for some decent Kids songs to sing and could find nothing I liked. Paul Field had written a couple of albums called Fit or Life and Pass it on, but apart from these, there was a serious drought in the Land!
Click here to go to the Rocky Kids songs, Videos, and downloads and find out more about this rather jolly product.
A series of story books, presenting Bible stories for children from 3 – 6 years old. There are 17 stories in total.
Charles Dicken’s David Copperfield, Wind in the Willows and Midsummer Night’s Dream were all commissioned by BBC Education. Also, a series on famous Explorers and a series called All About by BBC Education. Something to think about.
An animation series called The Secret World of Benjamin Bear. A 26 episode series produced by Amberwood animation. Check out www.amberwoodanimation.com for further details. I have an episode or two available here for download.
An amazing site for schools and kids to learn about giving to charity. www.gogivers.org.
Most of these productions can be seen on the new showreel The Video Files available from firstname.lastname@example.org. If you want a copy then let me know. It’s free.