Saturday, 31 May 2014

Creepy Crawlies (1987)

Throughout its legacy, Cosgrove Hall Films have brought to the world a great many shows, feature-lengths and TV Specials for audiences of all ages to adore. But with such hits like Danger Mouse, Count Duckula and the Wind in the Willows, it is rather a shame that Brian Cosgrove and Mark Hall's other lesser-known pieces are left behind and forgotten about - that is until a DVD release graces them for a second wind.

Take the case of this show then...

Created by Bridget Appleby, Creepy Crawlies told the stories of a band of insects who all lived near "an old broken sundial that nobody wanted". It starred Lambeth the strong-but-dim beetle, Suppose the mopy red-nosed worm, the snooty snail Mr. Harrison, Ariadne the friendly spider, Anorak the woodlouse (who insisted that he was a Pillbug), the gentle Ladybird who has trouble with her R's and the very old caterpillar known as The Ancient.

Yes, long before Anthony Ant, long before A Bug's Life, even longer then before Insektors, these little insects gave us a look in to the everyday lives of an Invertebrate...which, for this series, may not seem much to some. Compared to Cosgrove Hall's other shows like the Avenger Penguins or Victor and Hugo, there's not a lot that actually happens here that one may call exciting.

However, after finally getting the chance to watch this series for the first time, I am actually quite taken with the writing here. All 52 episodes were written by Peter Richard Reeves - who contributed a sizeable number of scripts for Count Duckula - and in my personal opinion, it feels as though he might have been inspired by the lines of A. A. Milne and Kenneth Grahames in terms of the writing style for Creepy Crawlies. In that there is a lot of verbal humour and vast amount of character interactions that glitters with intellectual dialogue...even Lambeth's muddled way of speaking feels very BFG-ish.

Mr. Harrison, Lambeth and Suppose
Then of course, equal amount of phrase goes to the modelling dept of Cosgrove Hall. The characters all look the part in their scaled up garden settings, which makes it all the more beautiful with every episode ending with the lead characters watching the sunset after every "adventure".

The character voices were provided by Paul Nicholas - who has done a lot of work on stage and in the charts over the years, but is probably remembered more for starring in the BBC sitcom "Just Good Friends". And the perfect package to this series is Keith Hopwood and Malcolm Rowe, who contributed the catchy theme tune and credit song.

With many modern-day animated shows becoming more colourful and wackier nowadays, it's no wonder why Creepy Crawlies has been left behind. Yet those that know me would know that I embrace the obscure, the diamonds in the rough - and I find that this show's slow yet timeless style of entertainment that has made it different amongst Cosgrove Hall's vast library. It's really a shame therefore that there have only been a handful of VHS cassettes and hardly anything else since.

But then we've seen several of Cosgrove Hall's other lesser-known productions make the jump to DVD, like their adaptations of Truckers and The Fool Of The World And The Flying Ship. So one can only keep one's eyes open for that old broken sundial and its residents to be given the same chance one day...

In keeping with the theme of gardens, Bridget Appleby went on to redesign Bill and Ben for a brief comeback return in 2001 as well as create the look for Fifi and the Flowertots in 2005 - all part of her 30 year career in animation!


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