The Herbs and The Adventures of Parsley
On this page ..... A detailed look at every character from both series.
Pashana Bedhi above right
Pashana is one of the best-remembered supporting cast characters,appearing in quite a few episodes of both series.
But,some 50+ years after the series first aired,it's probably true to say that not everyone will be totally comfortable with his "goodness gracious me" accent ... loin cloth and turban ... snake charming ... bed of nails ... and curry cliches.
Although it's important to put it in the wider context that all the human characters in the series are accentuated caricatures and stereotypes ... irrespective of ethnicity.
And that they are all portrayed in an equally affectionate manner,with no edge to them.
Suffice to say that,here at tvherbs.com,we view him totally in that way. A sort of pre-school Apu from The Simpsons !
But we can certainly understand why someone like the BBC might find it somewhat problematic.
Which is maybe one of the reasons why they haven't shown reruns for decades.
Not that any official reason has ever been given that we're aware of.
1) " I am Peshana Bedhi,very good at snake charming. Snakes that have by me been charmed,will not anyone be harming."
2) " I am Peshana Bedhi,very good at cooking nicely. All that has by me been cooked,surely will be hot and spicey."
In "The Herbs",he's a friendly,but timid lion,who doesn't speak and can't even really be described as the main character.
But in the sequel he's given a voice and is totally transformed into an intelligent,thoughtful and laidback counterbalance to Dill's "act now,think later" shenanigans.And they completely take centre stage.
In the sequel,he's a watcher rather than a "do-er" and he's given a nice sardonic turn of phrase and plenty of acerbic lines. And all delivered "in the style of" the famous 1960's UK comedian Tony Hancock -as was Dougal,of Magic Roundabout fame.
But whilst Eric Thompson also voiced Dougal to sound like Hancock too,Parsley is given a more upper class voice,whilst still "in the stye of" ( Tony Hancock wiki )
It's no surprise that someone so urbane can also read and write ( with pen in mouth ).
And he's often seen consulting "my book" ( pic 2,below ) -an encyclopedia that magically appears with a flash of light and a "ting" sound when he raises and lowers a paw.And a very handy and well-used narrative device it is too.
Here's his main song,plus a slight variation that was also used.
As it was common practice to tweek a lot of the character's songs to fit a particular storyline.
Although only in The Herbs,as they were dropped altogether for the sequel.
1) " I'm a very friendly lion called Parsley,I am always very glad to see you wave.
But please don't shout or speak to me too harshly, because I'm not particularly brave."
2) " I'm a very friendly lion called Parsley,with a tail for doing jobs of every kind.
But I mustn't treat it roughly or too harshly,for it's such a useful thing to have behind."
In both series he provides a real burst of childlike energy and enthusiasm that many of those watching can relate to.
And his sheer zest for life means he invariably throws himself into things without thinking them through.
Which is something that's used to good comedic effect of course.
But it's the sequel where he really comes into his own.
He's given a speaking voice to replace the yapping and panting noises he was restricted to in The Herbs.
And whilst merely a friend to Parsley in "The Herbs",he morphs into a full-blown sidekick and confidante in the sequel, where they both take centre stage.
He provides much of the narrative impetus,and is the main source of Parsley's observational dry humour.
He's far more than an Ernie Wise though,and gets plenty of good lines himself.
And whilst he may be impetuous he's certainly not stupid and is more than capable of holding his own in a verbal joust.
Moments of quiet reflection and insight also act as a nice counterweight to all his scurrying about.
And he's given a gentle child-like voice and is animated in a very sympathetic and playful way.
So he actually comes across as extremely disarming rather than annoying.
The Herb Garden's very own naughty-but-nice child.
1) " I'm Dill the dog,I'm a dog called Dill. Though my tail I'd love to get,I've never caught it yet !"
2) " I'm Dill the dog,I'm a dog called Dill. I'm rather small and furry,and often in a hurry."
3) " I'm Dill the dog,I'm a dog called Dill. On bones I love to chew,I can eat up quite a few."
Completeing the main trio of animals,Sage is the surreal looking owl who always gets out of the nest on the wrong side.
He puts up with numerous interruptions to his generally sedentary life style.Interruptions he could well do without and which are usually accompanied by some irritated squawks and wing flapping.
Flapping,but never any flying ( too time-consuming to animate ) Although you get the feeling he really couldn't be bothered to make the effort anyway.But if he could,he'd probably relocate to somewhere far more peaceful !
As with all his fellow animal characters,he's only given a speaking voice in the sequel- a wonderfully idiosyncratic and suitably crotchety one which fits him perfectly ( as do all the voices actually ).
That said,he doesn't actually say a great deal and is a relatively peripheral figure in both series.
So it's a testimony to his impact that he's so well-remembered.
Cuddly in his own strange way,but with that extra bit of edge and attitude.
A sort of ornithological Victor Meldrew and generally not as well recognised in kids' animation history as he should be.
Although that's maybe because his demeanour strikes more of a chord with adults than kids - ?
1) " I'm a rather fat feathery owl called Sage,let me tell you I've never been set foot in a cage.
To be truthful I've not felt the slightest desire,to be covered in wood held together by wire."
2) " I'm a rather fat feathery owl called Sage,I'm not at all happy,in fact in a rage.
It's bad enough having ones' home all upset,but to make matters worse,all my feathers are wet."
Sir Basil & Lady Rosemary
This husband and wife duo are the owners of the estate in which the garden sits and presumably live in the big house-although we never get to see it.
They're far more prominent in the original series,but do still pop up from time-to-time in the sequel.
Sir Basil is the bumbling Lord of the Manor.
Hopelessly dim,but harmless enough when he doesn't have a gun in his hands.
In fact,a very likeable fool really and more than happy to let his wife wear the trousers.
Which is appropriate because you get the feeling that by the time he'd figured out which way round they should go,she'd have had a pair specially made in the colonies,shipped over and fitted...and all before breakfast.Or,at least,made darn sure someone else did !
Without her around you'd imagine the whole garden would quickly descend into chaos.And to go with her decision-making and organisational skills,she's also blessed with more grey matter than Basil,Bayleaf and Knapweed put together -which admittedly isn't saying a great deal.
2 classic stereotypes of the British aristocracy.And so acutely well observed in their appearance,that if you only saw a picture of them without hearing them speak,you'd pretty much know what to expect.......and you'd be right.
Their songs are a particularly good appraisal of their characters too.......
1) " I am Sir Basil,King of all the herbs,I like huntin',shootin' & fishin'. But if there's any hard work to be done,you'll notice I'm generally missin'."
2) " I am Sir Basil,King of all the herbs,I'm very often in trouble. I'm not very good at sortin' things out,and often I get in a muddle."
1) " My name is Lady Rosemary,you'll find you cannot fool me. I have eyes both sharp and quick,to help me see through every trick."
2) " My name is Lady Rosemary,I am tall and willowy. Though my manner may seem cold,I really have a heart of gold."
The resident gardener charged with keeping everything looking good.
His appearance is just the sort of old school charicature you'd expect from someone in service in the grounds of a big Victorian house.Dovetailing nicely with a similarly old school heavy country accent.Think Devon / Cornwall or Norfolk / Suffolk and you get the idea.
He's not the brightest bloom in the flower bed and his ramblings are often cut short by an impatient Lady Rosemary.
But he's a decent enough sort,and a hard worker who only tolerates the antics of Parsley & Dill because he has to .....
" If you ask me, there's some of us would be better employed using their paws helpin' in the garrrrden !"
In fact,he's never too far away from a moan,or a reminisce about the "old days" but remains totally likeable throughout.
And,like Constable Knapweed,he's got the dual attraction of being a good straightman and amusing in his own right.
Which makes them very valuable members of both series.And,like Parsley and Dill,they practically become a double act in the sequel.
" I'm Bayleaf I'm the gardener,I work from early dawn. You find me sweeping up the leaves,and tidying the lawn."
( followed by an affirming "arrrr" to end )
Constable Knapweed above right
Very much a by-the-book kind of guy,he's supposedly there to see order is maintained.
But despite his endless note-taking and posturing,an awful lot still goes on regardless.And he's clearly no better at prevention than he is at detection.
Fortunately,like any pompous authority figure,he's perfectly set up for providing laughs at his own expense.
And the thick Yorkshire accent and Victorian-style whiskers and uniform set it all off beautifully.
Like many of the human participants he's a timeless caricature classic.
And a bonus mark goes to anyone who remembered he was a redhead !
" I am Constable Knapweed,and I keep law and order. I watch to see that all is well,along the garden border."
It was never mentioned who's aunt she actually was.
She spends all her time frantically knitting whilst sitting in a rocking chair that conveniently moves around the garden as and when she's required for a scene.
Which usually means when she's required to knit something to order,like a birthday present for Sage.
It's debatable if she could have been used to better effect as a more cuddly confidante to all and sundry.As opposed to the rather angular looking and detached character we actually get.
And her main claim to fame is arguably her slightly unsettling resemblance to Postman Pat !
Which may have a lot to do with the fact that the model maker & animator,Ivor Wood,was responsible for both.
1) " My name is Auntie Mint.If you should see me sitting don't think I'm doing nothing,for I'm busy with my knitting."
2) " My name is Aunt Mint,I'm always very busy, I often have so much to knit,it makes me feel quite dizzy."
Mr. and Mrs. Onion and the Chives
The Onions are the Chives' parents and Mr.Onion takes it upon himself to be their school teacher as well.
They use an open air classroom in the garden,with a suitably old-fashioned mix of wooden desks,blackboard,easel,and satchels.
His wife spends most of her time as an onlooker and usually in tears -just to cement the onion analogy.
But fear not,because it's explained that "the happier she is,the more she cries" -which is reassuring !
The 12 chives don't have mouths and consequently never speak.Although we do hear collective off screen cheers and background noise from them when the need arises.
They're also all identical.And whilst that saved the animators a lot of time worrying about continuity issues it didn't help to make them particularly memorable.
So,the undeniable star of this little grouping is Mr.Onion.
He appears the most and has a memorable authoritarian drill-sargeant delivery -as witnessed by this lovely bit of dialogue from the Birthday Party episode :-
"a good time will be 'ad by all.No stuffing yourselves with cakes iced,buns currant or trifles cream!"
Notice the silent "h" ,as in "'orrible" and you should be able to put a voice to 'im without the need for the hearing thereof ( although don't be tempted to lapse into cockney )
The whole family have the very dubious honour of being the characters that are modelled closest to the plants they're supposed to represent.And look just as bizarre as that probably implies.
Only the chives get a song.Although they're undoubtedly the ones in most need of a bit of lyrical clarification.
" Because there are so many herbs,all looking like each other. It makes it even hard to tell,a sister from a brother."
( and,intended or not,a nice little animator's in-joke ! )
Mrs Onion is the least aesthetically pleasing of all the models and with the least personality. So it's little wonder she's always crying.
The chives may be upside down botanically speaking,but the roots provide a funky hairstyle.
Although the whole family would clearly benefit from getting some sun !
Tarragon the Dragon
In the original series,Bayleaf accidentally tips a pile of plant food onto a tarragon seed and it grows into a beanstalk with a giant egg on top.
In the absence of anyone called "Jack",this is duely recovered by Parsley (lion's are good climbers),hatched by Sage (fair enough) and the resultant young dragon then finds a home with Sir Basil and Lady Rosemary (slightly less explainable).
Being a dragon,he does have that rather unfortunate habit of torching things at random.Although we only ever see white smoke coming out of his nostrils as flames are notoriously difficult to represent using stop-motion animation.
But,fortunately,kids of a nervous disposition are regularly reminded that he's only a small,young dragon.
The addition of a softly spoken voice,complete with a very disarming lisp,makes him even more palatable.
And he's popular ( and useful ) enough to makes a couple of appearances in the sequel as well.
" I'm Tarragon the dragon,I'd better make it clear,that nothing's safe when I'm about,things seem to disappear."
Trivia footnote. He pre-dates The Clangers Soup Dragon ( below,right ) by a year. Pure coincidence ?
Belladonna the Witch
Unlike Tarragon,Michael Bond went to town with Belladonna.
An architypal witch. Complete with stooping gait,maniacal cackle,beady eyes,huge grotesque nose and "deary"-type old lady voice.
Her "magic changes" are accompanied by a thunderclap and flashes of light and darkness.
Her aim ? Garden domination. Why ? Because she's "the deadly nightshade flower",as her song confirms.
Perhaps understandably for the times,the Beeb thought she was just a bit too scarey for the young audience though.
And she was dropped after just one appearance.
Fortunately,in the episode she does appear,she mistakenly flies off on Bayleaf's broom and crashes,leaving her own magic broomstick behind.
And very useful it is too,because each twig gives one magic power to the user.
Something which Michael Bond makes full use of whenever there's a plot difficulty.And which he's only too happy to acknowledge with this line .......
"Of course ! Bayleaf's magic broom.I don't know what they'd do without it sometimes !"
Er,quite Michael.And just as well it was a nice bushy one,because it's used to good effect in the sequel too !
" Belladonna is my name,I'm the deadly nightshade flower. I shall never be content,'till all the herbs are in my power."
Quote "She's done one of her magic changes.Even her best friend wouldn't recognise her.If she had a best friend -which I doubt." A lovely bit of writing. But it would take more than a change of clothing with a hooter like that !
As the narrator explains - "She's very nice really,but she does like things to be neat and tidy.Not just ordinary tidy,but clean and tidy.She won't like the Herb garden if it looks untidy like this one." And indeed she doesn't !
A neatly dressed spinster,with a touch of the Edwardian governess.
An O.C.D sufferer before it was even invented,she dusts plants with a pink feather duster and upsets everyone by being hyper-critical.
And Bayleaf decides she needs a husband to sort her out ( very 'new age' our Bayleaf ! )
So he takes matters into his own hands and ..........
" I'm a very neat herb and my name is Miss Jessop,I like everything tidy and shining and clean.
But all of the other herbs make such a mess-up,that sometimes the garden's not fit to be seen."
.......... and Good King Henry is the result,as Bayleaf grows him from seed in his greenhouse.
But he's too big to get out & they have to use the magic broom to turn the greenhouse into a carriage fit for a
king so he doesn't have to.
And whilst he may be minus a greenhouse,at least Bayleaf gets his genetics right,because Miss Jessop
and the King do indeed marry.
But all of that happens in just one Herbs episode.And their only other appearance is as cameos in the
full cast "Birthday Party" episode.With a complete "no show" in the sequel.
So they probaby deserve their own personal sub-heading of "the series least memorable characters"
" Good King Henry stands before you,such a royal and regal figure.
If from this greenhouse I do move,it's plain the doorway must be bigger."
Signor Solidago above right
An Italian music teacher with a leaning towards the operatic.
He has his base in the Herb garden conservatory,complete with white grand piano and what look suspiciously like the cherubs from the opening sequence.And anyone who can play the piano with fingers like his deserves some kind of respect.
Resplendant in white suit and spats he's the sort of "mama,mia" Italian cliche that you half expect to burst into
".....geeev eeet to meee" at any moment. Not that Cornetto's were around in 1968.
He's used very sparingly though,and his main appearance is a foolhardy attempt to try and teach Sage to sing sweetly. Something he singularly fails to do after much shattering of glass and cotton wool all round.
He's given a nice song himself though,which also proves that narrator Gordon Rollings had a more than acceptable singing range to go with his verbal dexterity
" My name let me say is Signor Solidago,sometimes I sing high and sometimes I sing lo_ow.
If I am happy,I sing a libretto,sometimes I sing both in bass and falsett_o."
So that's the full list of characters for both series. The Herbs truely sliced and diced !
If you haven't done so already,check out what Michael Bond had to say about them all and how he initially tried to tie-in the character's traits with their plant characteristics. here
And a reminder that all the differences between the 2 series are discussed on the "overview" page
A lot of his time is spent scurrying about but he's also perfectly capable of some moments of quiet reflection.
The bone fixation was a theme in both series. And he swapped his old kennel in The Herbs for a very desirable residence in the sequel.
The above screenshots are all taken from the sequel. Because that's really where he became the character people most remember.
Sage was mostly to be seen in his nest - invariably with his sleep being disturbed.Owls are nocturnal don't forget.But he did make forays to ground level,usually against his better judgement.And when practically coerced in to hatching Tarragon,he arrives suitably prepared for his 24 hour,all-weather vigil with a medicine bag, brolly, sunglasses, candle and pithe helmet. ( as you would ! )
But pic 3 is the nearest we ever get to see him fly.
The pearls and specs are a nice touch for her ladyship.
If the 2nd pic had a caption it might well read " Do I love him because he's so dim,or inspite of it ? "
But that's exactly why we all warm to him of course. Happiest with either a gun or fishing rod in his hand (pic 4),his equally apparent love of a tipple or 3 never gets a mention. Unlike fellow Watch With Mother stalwart Windy Miller,who's fondness for cider was openly discussed !
Bayleaf was rarely seen without his trusty broom or barrow Constable " I'll 'ave 'im " Knapweed. But he rarely did of course !
Not much to say about Aunt Mint. And that's the problem really. Pashana's a problematic charicature.
From a time when "PC" just meant "Police Constable"
There should always be room for a friendly dragon in kid's tv. And they certainly slotted in well for both The Herbs and The Clangers.
No new characters were introduced in the sequel,but there were notable differences in how some were portrayed.
And all the differences between the 2 series,whether character-related or not,are outlined more fully on this page.