Friday, 17 January 2014

Towser (1982)

As I may have mentioned before, Tony Ross is one of the UK's busiest children's writer and illustrator with hundreds of thousands of books to his name. But strangely, with few TV credits. Only a handful of his books and characters have been adapted to television - his Little Princess, several stories for Anytime Tales and my personal favourite, Towser.

Towser is without doubt one of Tony's most brilliant creations, a character children and adults of all generations will adore. Tony has had enough sense not to talk down to kids when writing for them, instead using humour as his secret weapon with creative storytelling.

The hero of the original books is a little terrier dog with a gloomy-looking face, who somehow manages to stumble into a variety of odd adventures with even odder characters. What I think makes Towser so appealing is that there are many sides to him: sometimes he's helpful, sometimes he's cheeky, but what he does not lack in is determination and a sly attitude. He even follows in the paw-prints of Bugs Bunny at times when it comes to dealing with troublesome characters like the Terrible Thing, Goblin Gobble and a rather confused Alien Invader from the Planet Nice, all by using his brains.

Towser, the Alien and the Owl
But that's not all: Tony Ross throws in a good range of characters for Towser to play off, all who offer fun, varied storytelling potential - magic from the Wizard, science with Dr. Smellie, royalty with the King and "normal" characters like Sadie the Kitten for some down-to-earth humour. There's even the Owl, who fulfils a role similar to Hamlet the Cat of King Rollo; aka, a curious observer of the main story.

Towser and Friends
And when King Rollo Films adapted Tony's stories to the small screen, the fun just doubled from there! Although uncredited, animator Leo Nielsen (now Owner and Producing Director of the company) brings such life and energy to each character, all with their own unique style of movement. And all with the use of cut-out animation, which continues today, albeit within the use of computers than the traditional means. Tony even went as far as drawing the artwork himself for Leo to use, which included backgrounds and every character limb necessary.

Roy Kinnear (SuperTed, Bertha) adds the icing to this wonderful cake as the storyteller, delivering each one-liner from Towser perfectly. No one could have done a better job with his gentle yet enthusiastic style, and giving just the right voice to all characters, main or secondary.

Towser meets the Nosey Parker
I used to adore watching Towser when it was part of the children's line-up for Channel 4 once upon a time, and so I was delighted to see that all 26 episodes had made their way to DVD at long last. Demand Media have done an exceptional job of restoring the episodes with clear sound and even clearer picture (not unlike King Rollo, which suffered a good deal of grain on-screen due to age), and I surely hope that those who grew up with the series themselves will buy it for their little ones to enjoy almost as much as they (and I) surely have =)


Happy 2014

Late for the 2014 party with this blog, but oh well - better late than never!

I couldn't decide which doodle to turn into a completed pic for the New Year, so I decided to go out with puns a-blazing! ;-)