Sunday, January 9, 2011

Torchy the Battery Boy : Pom Pom and the Toys (1958)

Torchy the Battery Boy was the second television series produced by AP Films and Gerry Anderson. It was another collaboration with author Roberta Leigh and was directed by Anderson, with music scored by Barry Gray, art direction from Reg Hill and special effects by Derek Meddings. The second series of 26 episodes was produced by Associated British Pathe, but Gerry Anderson and AP Films were not involved in their production. Both seasons are now available on DVD.

The series followed adventures of the eponymous boy doll with a battery inside him and a lamp in his head, and his master Mr Bumbledrop, voiced by Kenneth Connor (who is probably best known for being a member of the Carry On ensemble cast) who also voiced a number of other characters. Puppetry was still fairly crude then and their strings are easily visible unlike in later Gerry Anderson shows.

Each show's titles started at night with a rocket outside a cottage and Torchy sitting inside it. It would take off with lots of sparks and then would begin the theme tune which would tell you about Torchy and his magic light as the rocket went through space. In the first episode we are introduced to Mr Bumbledrop who had lots of toys and loved children and his dog, Pom Pom, a white French poodle with straight hair which needs curlers in every night. Also to Bossy Boots, a nasty little girl who likes pulling her toys to pieces but a trip to Topsy Turvy land reforms her. Flying kites, the bad children (Bossy Boots, her brother Bogey, etc.) playing in Mr B's garden tie their toys to the kites they are flying and a strong wind comes along and blows all of the kites and toys away as well as Pom Pom who tries to save them. The children leave and being all alone, Bumbledrop decides to make a boy for himself. In four hours it is completed and Torchy wakes up and knows Bumbledrop's name and all about his magic beam. He has to recite special words for his magic beam to find something. torchy has a battery inside him which powers him but unlike the other toys, if it runs down even on Topsy Turvy land, he is helpless till a new one is put in. Torchy presses the switch on his jacket and uses his magic beam which can shine anywhere to find Bumbledrop's missing glasses then he bursts into song. Out in the garden, Torchy uses his magic beam to locate the lost toys on the twinkling star. Next morning Bumbledrop builds a rocket of cardboard and such and by nightfall it is finished and Torchy flies off to the twinkling star (these are the scenes which are used at the start). In the second episode, the toys decide to stay on the twinkling star where they are safe from naughty children. As well as Flopsy the Rag Doll, there is Pilliwig the Clown. Flopsy who was Bossy Boot's doll hasn't got enough stuffing inside her because it has been pulled out so is a bit dim as her head is empty and uses the phrase "Piggle-poggle". In this magic land, there is lollipop fields, cream buns grow on trees as well as bullseye bushes.

The third episode has Torchy on the twinkling star where he meets Squish the Spaceboy (with a water pistol ray gun), who came from America and got to the twinkling star by rocket, which broke on arrival. Squish steals Torchy's rocket and manages to crash it too. Pom Pom gets to sing a song, being able to talk by the magic there. Torchy has to get back to Earth otherwise his battery will run down. We find that Torchy's magic beam allows him to talk to people it is shining on, even Bumbledrop on Earth. Episode four they go to an orchard where all the fruit is enormous and they built Frutown by hollowing out these fruits and living in them. Torchy uses a pineapple for his own house and Squish makes Flopsy a house out of a cherry. In episodes 9 & 10, Bossy Boots wants her stuffed doll, Flopsy back so Torchy takes her to the twinkling star. It is Topsy Turvy Land where grown ups become as small as toys. Torchy lands A strange effect in the episode nine. As Torchy is singing a song, Bossy Boots fires a cannon and the picture shatters showing blackness and Torchy appears, face blackened. Bossy Boots learns her lesson there before being taken back to Earth. Other toys joined the show, notably ruler King Dithers who was as dithery as his name suggested. He lived in an orange peel palace (which looked like a normal palace) and seemed to have no soldiers. Pongo the Pirate (who had belonged to bad boy Bogie) sailed the oceans in a pirate ship made of fruit. His comical song sung by Kenneth Connor was:
"I'm Pongo the Pirate and I live in a grapefruit sloop and with my spy glass I spy and I peer and I snoop. I'm Pongo the Pirate, I love to pinch and spank. If I should catch you, I'll make you walk the plank. Pongo bad, Pongo bold. Pongo always looks for gold. Pongo bad, Pongo bold. Pongo always looks for gold. Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!"

Gerry Andeson would later go on to produce the shows , Supercar, Fireball XL5, Stingray, Thunderbirds, Captin Scarlet and Joe 90

15 MIN

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