Created by John Read and Mary Turner, both of whom had parted company with their former employer, Gerry Anderson, in 1969, this series of pre-school animated fun had a much longer run than most other series of this genre.
Read was a director of photography on such shows as Four Feather Falls, Supercar, Fireball XL5 and Thunderbirds, and Turner was a puppeteer who had worked on all of those shows plus a few others, such as Joe 90 and The Secret Service. In 1970, both were approached by ATV to work on The Adventures of Rupert Bear which became a great success. They were subsequently hired to direct another stop-motion animated series aimed at younger children titled Here Comes Mumfie. As filming of Mumfie was coming to an end, Read and Turner approached ATV with an idea of their own: Cloppa Castle.
Set in the Dark Ages, Cloppa Castle follows the adventures of two groups of people - The Byegones and their enemy The Hasbeenes. The Byegones live in Cloppa Castle and the Kingdom is ruled, as far as his subjects are concerned, by King Woebegone. However, he is far more content to occupy himself on less pressing matters, such as visiting 'ye old wine cellar', than running his kingdom. He has two children who are named Prince Idelbone and Princess Tizzidel, neither of which shows any inclination towards ruling. As a result, it's The King's nearest and dearest, Queen Ethelbruda, who is the real decision-maker and holds the reins of power.
The Byegones have been under permanent siege by The Hasbeenes who are led by the black-bearded Beosweyne, assisted by right-hand-man Hench, and supported by an army of rogues who appear to be permanently encamped outside the castle without making any progress.
In the first episode, The Byegones are digging for water inside the castle when they accidentally strike oil. The Royal Inventor, Cue-Ee-Dee, is called for to find the best way to extract the oil and to decide how best to put it to use. But on hearing of the Byegones' good fortune, Beosweyne is now more determined than ever to find a way beyond the castle's walls. Although, when the clock strikes three, everything stops for tea.
Other characters who appear in the series are Albright - a pageboy and sometimes inventor's apprentice, Elbow - in charge of castle security, Osmosis - the castle's pint-sized head guard, Muldin - the magician, Jest A Mint - the court jester, and the Bygones' only ally - King Cedric the Depleted.
Running at just under 10 minutes each story, 52 amusing episodes of Cloppa Castle were filmed at an old church hall in Bermondsey, London, between 1978 and 1979. The series spawned a number of merchandise items such as painting sets, jigsaw puzzles, confectionary, figurines and a 1980 annual. The voices were supplied by husband and wife Charles Collingwood and Judy Bennett. John Read worked on The Munch Bunch in 1981. He passed away in 2006 aged 85 years old. Mary Turner was a puppeteer on David Bowie's movie Labyrinth in 1986.
Published on October 29th, 2023. Written by Malcolm Alexander for Television Heaven.