The Herbs and The Adventures of Parsley
On this page ..... How a BBC Radio One show single-handedly kick-started a Herbs revival at the end of the 80's
At the end of the 80's,Simon Mayo hosted the Radio One Breakfast Show with help from Sybil Ruscoe & friends.
Comfy listening for an ageing demographic.
Where the poptastic playlist lived happily with the "what you upta at the weekend,mate ?" type-chat.
And all worth the license fee on its own of course.
During one particular discussion about childhood tv favourites,both Simon and Sybil revealed a particular soft spot for you know who.
Which proved to be surprisingly empowering for all those listeners of a similar age who'd previously thought they really shouldn't admit to such things.
In fact it led to such a large response that the original series producers,Filmfair,were finally persuaded to actually get some product on the shelves -which had been glaringly Herb-free up until that point.
So 2 vhs videos featuring original episodes were released.
And the 2 people directly responsible appeared in some specially shot footage to link them all.
Which entailed interacting with the original models,who were also specially animated for the occasion.
In short,a highly significant moment in the series timeline.Assuring Sybil and Simon's place in Herbal history.
And the 2 video sleeves are pictured below ....
It's great to see the original models were still in good nick.
And also particularly interesting to be able to gauge their actual,real life size for the first time.
It's also nice that the production company went to the time and expense of animating them,rather than just using them as inanimate topics of conversation.
Although it's not a true mix of live action and animation,because humans and Herbs are never seen together in the same frame with both moving.
But that was never going to happen with the time and budgetry constraints.And no big deal anyway.
But,perhaps most important of all,it's possibly the last time we'll ever see those models used in new material.
Because you can't help feeling that if the series were ever re-made,they'd probably use CGI rather than stop-motion.
And what a disaster that would be.
Because you really can't underestimate the warmth that stop motion brought to the originals.
The main downside is that all the insert footage is exactly the same for the second video as the first,with only the chosen four episodes being different.And the reason why no reference is made to any specific episodes in the links.
Which is a bit of a shame.And also a bit disingenuous,as there's nothing on the sleeves to let you know.
The other regret is that we don't get to see or hear anything from Ivor Wood himself.
Presumably because he didn't fancy being in front of the camera .... or just found something better to do that day !
And he wasn't involved with the animated segways either,as these were done by fellow Filmfair stalwart Martin Pullen, who also doubled as the director,with his wife,Jo,acting as writer / producer.
I'm not sure how much directing experience he had outside the animated world,but asking 2 non-actors to act "spontaneously" maybe wasn't the best idea.
It never works,and it looks a bit awkward here in places.
Which is unfortunate,and unfair on them.
But they always give the feeling that they're genuinely happy to be there.Which is heartening to see.
In fact Simon even does a passable rendition of Sage's song,complete with wing action.Despite looking a bit sheepish doing it.
And no-one but no-one does 'enthusiasm' better than Sybil.
So,hats off to both of them.
But,most of all,a huge amount of kudos for proving the demand for a product that even the producers couldn't see !
Sadly the original narrator,Gordon Rollings,had passed away by the time these were made.
So the Herbs' voices for the link segments were done by actor Charles Pemberton. Click pic for his IMDB cv.
He was clearly told to be as true as possible to the original accents and intonations,and it's actually a pretty
good impersonation if you didn't know any better.
Why Charles ?
Probably because he worked with Gordon in several of the famous John Smith's beer commercials,filmed shortly before Gordon's death.
And,if you're interested,I've uploaded one of them and put it at the bottom of Gordon's page.
Where are they now ?
Simon Mayo is still on the radio and has also become a successful author. wiki Sybil Roscoe - Simon actually took over the Five Live early afternoon show that Sybil hosted when she left to work on Channel 4's cricket coverage.But she now seems to have moved away from presenting into other areas. wiki
Radio Two morphed into a remodelled 80's version of Radio One and enjoyed great audience figs.
Radio One tried to re-position itself as a yoof station and probably doesn't.
The Herbs models are alive and surprisingly well,and still under original ownership.
Radio One jocks ? Check out the RadioRewind site. Thoroughly recommended. Click icon >
BTW... The gent operating Simon is newscaster Rod McKenzie. And,no,Sybil isn't standing in a hole -she really is quite petite.
Video contents ....
As mentioned above,these didn't just feature a selection of episodes.
But also included specially shot segments featuring both Sybil and Simon interacting with the original puppets.
Which,to my knowledge,was the first time they'd been used since filming both series.
And here's a quick rundown of what they got up to .... ( pics further down )
The opening shot shows a hand-written invitation from The Herbs asking them both to come and visit.
Suitably persuaded,we cut to them both walking towards what's presumably either Ivor Woods London mews home or a Filmfair office.Accompanied by a bit of gratuitous map jiggling and some "are you sure this it ?" banter.
It is of course,and the front door magically swings open ( nice touch ).
Undeterred by the fact no-one's around ( "they must be at lunch" ) they go in and have a wander round -as you would !
And soon discover all the lifeless models lined up on some shelves.
They take Parsley and Dill over to a sofa and with Simon trying to remember Dill's song,he comes to life and sings it for them.( Dill not Simon ! )
Then after a bit of chat between the four,Parsley calls all the other characters over and they climb down from the shelving and congregate at their feet.
More general interaction between humans and Herbs follows,which act as links between the original episode re-runs -each of which is started by Dill pawing the 'play' button on a remote.
At the end,the gang all return to the shelves and our visitors say their farewell's and exit before the occupants return from lunch.
And being uninvited guests of the nice and desirable kind,they don't make off with the VCR either !
Strange how these London mews properties could look so unappealing from the outside despite their sky high price tag.
If you're going to pay through the nose for an address ....
why not go the extra mile .... and pop out to B&Q !
" Why couldn't you have said
you loved Mickey Mouse ?
We'd be poolside in Florida ! "
( Dill on the table next to the remote,
and Parsley nxt to Simon btw. )
I sent a similar letter to Frank Sinatra.
Didn't work though.
Dormant since the late 60's ..... Then their agent calls !
An understated foot,bottom left,gives way to socks in full bloom. And a fashion fine from Knapweed.