Pugh, Pugh, Barney McGrew, Cuthbert, Dibble and Grubb
The names of the Trumpton fire crew are engraved in my memory. The call would be made to Trumpton fire station and the alarm would go. The six crew members would slide down a pole and line up before boarding the tender to attend to an emergency. Not once did they ever go to a house fire or a motor accident, though there was one episode where they had to retrieve something from a bonfire.
Trumpton was a regular feature of BBC Television’s Watch with Mother slot. After the lunchtime news, Watch with Mother must have superseded the Listen with Mother programme that was broadcast on BBC Radio’s Home Service or Light Programme.
Trumpton was probably my favourite of the programmes, possibly because its creator made it part of a triad of Watch with Mother features, the other parts being Camberwick Green and Chigley. One of my sisters used to get a children’s magazine based on BBC’s children’s programming and I remember reading an address which drew all three strands together: Chigley Hall, Camberwick Green, Trumptonshire. I liked the idea that Trumpton was a shire, Somerset and Dorset and Devon and Gloucester were shires, so perhaps it was not too far away.
Among the other programmes there was Bill and Ben the Flowerpot Men, which seemed entirely pointless. Bill and Ben stood in flower pots either side of Little Weed. Bill and Ben would make such comments as, “Flob-a-lob-a-lob,” to which Little Weed would reply, less articulately, “Weeeeeed.” Perhaps, in retrospect, there was some hidden meaning that I missed, The Flowerpot Men became the name of a 1960s American pop group who sang Let’s go to San Francisco, a city where people wore flowers and smoked pot.
The Herbs had a much more extensive line-up of characters than The Flowerpot Men, there was Parsley the Lion, Dill the Dog, Sir Basil, Lady Rosemary, Bayleaf the gardener, Mr Onion and the Chives, Sage the Owl, and various other garden herbs cast as animated characters. Reading details of the episodes now, the writers seemed to have cast the stories at two levels.
Mr Benn was distinctly odd. The tales of a man who went into a shop and put on different costumes to have adventures in the part for which he was dressed seemed surreal when compared with the everyday realities of the Trumpton fire brigade.
I struggle to remember the other programmes, perhaps because those doughty firefighters have fully occupied my memory.