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|In the beginning...
Every television programme starts off
as an idea in someone's head, which then grows and evolves into the final
programme which we all remember. In this respect, the Trumptonshire series
are no different.
The Beginnings of Chigley
In March 1968 Gordon Murray submitted
an outline of his proposal for a new Watch with Mother series to Monica
Sims (Head of Children's Programmes at the BBC). The new series which he
called 'Chigley' would be related to Camberwick Green (first shown in 1966)
and Trumpton (first shown in 1967). It would be filmed in colour (a big
thing at the time) using stop-motion puppets
Chigley was to be a village situated two
miles from Camberwick Green and three miles from Trumpton.
It was to consist of:
|A doughnut factory
An extremely modern factory producing
"Duncan's delicious doughnuts". It was to be run by the general manager
Mr Gumble, who would live with his family on a modern housing estate. Mr
Duncan the managing director would turn up in his chaffuer driven limousine
to inspect the factory. As it was such a modern factory, cartons of doughnuts
would be automatically loaded into the fleet of yellow and green vans by
Mr Plant. Apart from Mr Gumble and Mr Plant, all the other factory characters
would dress and look alike.
|A biscuit factory
The doughnut factory, producing "Duncan's
delicious doughnuts" became the biscuit factory, producing "Cresswell's
Chigley Biscuits". The managing director Mr Duncan and General Manager
Mr Gumble were combined into one character: Mr Cresswell the owner/manager.
Mr Plant the van packer became Mr Fletcher, in charge of distribution
|A candle factory
An extremely ancient candle factory, run
as an old established family concern by the Hooper family. They would use
traditional manufacturing methods to produce decorative candles - including
those used on birthday cakes.
|The Chigley pottery
The candle factory run by the Hooper family,
became the Chigley pottery, run by Harry Farthing and daughter Winnie.
A stately home, complete with zoo and
private "Bluebell Line" type railway. This was to be the home of Lord Belborough,
assisted by her Ladyship and Brackett the butler. The manor would be open
to the public at weekends. The Belborough zoo and railway are extremely
popular with the visitors, and the railway would be used to transport the
output of the Hooper candle factory to the wharf.
Winkstead Manor became Winkstead Hall.
Lord Belborough and Brackett survived intact, but "her Ladyship" mysteriously
disappeared - as did the entire concept of a zoo.
Mr Digby the wharfinger would transfer
the loads by crane into Mr Farthing's barge.
Potley's Wharf, run by Mr Digby, became
Treddle's Wharf, run by Mr Swallow, and Mr Farthing the bargee became Mr
Rumpling the bargee (although the Farthing name was transferred to the
family at the Chigley pottery).
|A modern housing estate
||And Chigley's modern
housing estate was simply never built.
In addition to the new Chigley characters,
many familiar characters from nearby Camberwick Green and Trumpton would
be involved in the new series:
Farmer Bell would supply milk and eggs
to the factory, Roger Varley would sweep the factory chimneys, Mr Platt
would maintain the factory clocks, Mr Munnings would be handle the factory
printing requirements, Nick Fisher would attend to the doughnut advertisements
on the hoardings.
Chigley did use many previously introduced
characters from both Camberwick and Trumpton. In particular, in the episode
"Apples Galore" we see Mickey Murphy, Windy Miller, Farmer Bell and the
whole Trumpton Fire Brigade.
All but one of the Chigley episodes begins
with one of the familiar tradespeople from the previous series driving
off to Winkstead Hall, the biscuit factory or the Chigley Pottery.
However, of the 'familiar characters' suggested
in the original proposal, only Farmer Bell eventually turned up at the
factory as planned.
|So what changed ?
The Chigley which eventually made it to
our screens is largely the same as the programme proposal. It is
just the detail that has changed. We still have two manufacturing
establishments, a stately home and a railway, but they are not quite the
same as originally planned, and for some reason, almost every character
required a name change.
Why the changes ?
Monica Sims and Ursula Eason at the BBC
seemed to have maintained a fairly tight grip on the development of the
Trumptonshire programmes, with quite strong opinions on what they would
and would not accept.
Did they think the idea of a candle factory
would encourage children to play with fire ? Maybe. But what was so wrong
with doughnuts, that hey had to be changed to biscuits? Were doughnuts
And what became of Lady Belborough ? There
were already very few females in Trumptonshire, so why was she surplus
to requirements ?