Wednesday, 19 December 2012

The Story Store - Music and Moonlight

Whenever we watch a Christmas animated special, you may notice that many fall into a similar pattern - that the main character/s either have to save Christmas / Santa, or learn that Christmas doesn't come gift-wrapped. Clich├ęd as they may seem, there are plenty that manage to twist either format into a fresh new approach, while others become preachy as preachy can be...

This Christmas Special definitely falls into the "fresh" approach. And it's all thanks to one man.

As Brian Trueman had for many of Cosgrove Hall's shows, Joe Austen was a vital contributor to Storyland Ltd. During his time with the company he had created, written and illustrated just about everything for Storyland; some that sadly did not get enough establishment to be developed further (Bud, Atoz) while those that did became true little gems to those who remember them - these being The Magic House and The Story Store.

The company, in a desperate attempt to regain focus from today's generation, even snapped up the rights for Biker Mice From Mars...but that's another story.

The Story Store focused mainly around George and his small assistant Pip, as they managed the magical products of the Story Store to their local customers, like a charming old-fashioned corner shop - from the exemplary Granny Clump and her idiotic grandson Sammy, to Victoria Pumpkin the Dancing (and accident-prone) young hippo.

Despite having a 13-episode run in 1995 on CITV, the charm of Joe's imagination and the craftsmanship of the stop-motion models (by Mackinnon and Saunders, I believe) remains as fresh as ever. A brilliant series that ought to resurface even for a mere DVD release at least.

Even so, Joe got the chance to present a Christmas Special for 2002. While the TV Series had been narrated by the gentle Alan Bennett, Rory Bremner was called upon here when Bennett was taken ill. And thanks to everyone's efforts at Storyland Ltd, it retains all of the magic of the Story Store and more - there is a message somewhere like all Christmas Specials, but it's woven so delicately in this delightful tale that you'd hardly even notice ;-)



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4 comments:

  1. I created all the sets for Story Store and loved every minute of my intense year's involvement on this unique series.

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    1. Oh, how very nice! Always lovely to hear from some of the original crew members of the show. Hope you're keeping busy with future / current projects since then :)

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  2. My son loves the story store and I cannot find it on DVD anywhere , and I was told it's not sold in the us , so is there a website I can get the full collection from?

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    1. Hi Rachel,

      I don't really know if there is a complete collection available. I tried contacting Storyland Ltd some years ago in the hope that they might upload further episodes to their official YouTube page - their response as follows;

      "...Unfortunately the viewing figures on YouTube combined with lack of broadcast interest means it is not yet viable to create further digital electronic copies..."

      You could try your luck on Amazon and see if there might be any Story Store-related items floating around somewhere. It would be nice if there were any readily available :)

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