Little Gems - Snippets from the past
Click here for an Interview with John Basset who played Boots the Tiger
Made by Yorkshire Television Ltd. Production studios in 1975 onwards, I believe, this preschool children's lunchtime program was shown on I.T.V. around midday. It was similar in some respects to the Banana Splits in that there were four men inside large costumes with huge animal heads. Each member of the group played a musical instrument. These guys were weird with a capital "W." Even now they are a bit spooky especially Rory the lion who seemed to be the leader of the group. I think it had something to do with the huge boots attached to the long thin legs on which was placed an oversized slim but thin rubber head (freaky). In the opening animated titles all four characters would appear in a flying saucer which would descend from the heavens (presumably the planet Popland) to land on earth. What this had to do with the show, I'll never know as there was no mention of their origins in either their music or the stories that were read out each week. The show was mainly about music but would also have a tale or two read by Rory the lion. The other members of the group would all begin chanting "Rory, Rory tell us a story", "Rory, Rory tell it like it is."
Click here to listen to the Rory...Rory (150Kb mp3 file)
Click here to listen to one of the stories (1.15Mb mp3 file)
Rory the lion would then tell us all a story often with a moral attached to it. Rory was a lion, Boots was a tiger (he had a patch over one eye), Twang was a monkey and Bongo was a dog. At the end of each episode the four would board the flying saucer and leave for the stars. There were at least 39 or so episodes of the show covering what was then three seasons. Each episode lasted approximately fifteen to twenty minutes. I have found material in an old TV -Times that shows they were actually on television on Christmas Day morning back in 1979. They starred alongside well known others such as Jimmy Tarbuck, Mike Harding and Ward Allen at the National Children's Home in Harrogate. This was on a show called "A Merry Morning" another Yorkshire Television Production. I seem to remember it finishing not long after the late 1970s early 1980s - I may be wrong here so please feel free to correct. The catch phrase for the show was to "Keep Kwacking."
I was contacted recently by Atalanta with the following information. Atalanta (Bongo) went on to play HIPPY many years later on POTAMUS PARK, Carlton Television as well as a cameo on TWEENIES. Bev (Rory) went on to write episodes for Eastenders and concentrates on scriptwriting. John (Boots) had a recording studio and publishing business in East London whilst Step (Steve - Twang) still plays bass guitar on gigs. Many thanks to Atalanta for the information. Bongo was replaced in the second series by Peter Eden who actually wrote the original music for the show.
|Rory on Guitar (Played by Bev Doyle)||Bongo on Drums (Played by Atalanta Harmsworth)||Twang on Guitar (Played by Step Morley)||Boots on guitar (Played by John Basset)|
Music (by Peter Eden) below:
Start Theme Tune (671Kb Wav)
End Theme Tune (635Kb Wav)
A hardback book by Terry Eden called "Animal Kwackers - Popland Storybook" was released in 1977. The book was 62 pages in length and published by Redwood Internat. This was the first of the animal Kwackers books. It may have been the last as well.
Interview with John Basset who played Boots the Tiger - Many thanks to John for taking the time to answer the questions and to Doug Boyes of 2dB Music Productions for sending them to me.
What led you to do the part in Animal Kwackers ?
The original session drummer broke his leg in a car accident so I stood in for him for the TV recording of the music and got the contract for performing and playing lead guitar as Boots (my mate wasn't upset and his leg is fine now)
How old were you and the other members of the Kwackers group ?
I was in it for ten years, from 18 to 28!
What was the reaction of friends and family to you being on television ?
They thought I was a God that no one could see
Was that your first appearance on television ?
Yes, before that I toured in various bands playing drums. (I play guitar, drums, brass and keyboards)
What other jobs have you been doing since those days of animal Kwackers ?
I designed and owned two recording studios and now own one of the UK's biggest children's video and CD companies (CYP)
What are you doing now ?
I created and produced an animated kids TV series with Dawn French called The Wheels On The Bus (seen on GMTV and other broadcasters)
Do you still hear from other members of the program ?
Yep , still see them for a curry now and again (I'm now 51!) One of the kwackers is now a major TV celeb. Cant say who though!!!
What are your current favourite films and television ?
Pretty Woman, Top Gun, TV UKGold comedies
What children's TV did you like to watch when you were a kid ?
Magpie, How, Thunderbirds, Fireball XL5
Anything else you would like to add which we have not thought of ?
We played live to over 250,000 kids in the 10 years around the UK
Many thanks again to John and Doug for their help in providing the above information.
The Animal Kwackers foursome then went on to release a couple of albums one of which was called "Animal Kwackers 20 TV. Favourites." It was released in 1977 under the label/Cat No. Sidewalk, RRS 501. It had the following tracks Rory, Rory tell us a Story; Rockin' Rollin'; Singing in the Rain; One Man Went to Mow; When the Rain comes Down; Sing; Sing-Along; Skip to my Lou; Help-a-Reggae; Travellin' shoes; Help Somebody; Gooseberry Pie; Football Crazy; Lavender Blue; Four Legged Friend; How Much is That Doggie in the Window; There's a Hole In My Bucket, Dear Rory; Play With Us; 1-2-3; Mr Foggy Went-a-Courting; and School Days. Peter Eden was the producer with Bernard Lee as the executive producer.
Anyone with corrections, suggestions or help etc. then please email me at the usual address.