In the pre-'Tiswas' early '70's, I.T.V. filled up Saturday mornings with repeats of 'Captain Scarlet & The Mysterons', as well as American imports like 'H.R. Pufnstuf' ( starring the late Jack Wild ), 'Elephant Boy', and, of course, 'Tomfoolery' ( though it was actually made in Britain ).
To give it its full title, 'The Tomfoolery Show' was a Rankin-Bass ( also responsible for 'Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer' and 'Frosty The Snowman' ) animated sketch show based on poems by Edward Lear and Lewis Carroll, such as 'The Owl & The Pussycat' and 'The Courtship of The Yonghy Bonghy Bo'. 'Yonghy', incidentally the only vaguely normal looking character in the show, shared billing with 'The Scroobious Snake' ( who wore a straw hat and bow tie ), 'The Enthusiastic Elephant' ( who talked like W.C. Fields ), 'Fastidious Fish' ( who lived in a goldfish bowl and moved around on stilts ), 'The Umbrageous Umbrella Maker' ( whose face was permanently obscured by a brolly ), and a hyperactive bird who kept flapping about and going 'Don't worry! Don't worry!'. These ludicrous characters were like something out of a nightmare and yet were indisputably funny. Much of the humour raided classic comedy films such as 'Hellzapoppin' and those of Abbott & Costello ( their famous 'Fliegel Street' skit was recreated by the Enthusiastic Elephant ). Amongst the regular items was 'Brainy Lecture', where quite useless facts would be presented in a deadly serious manner.
Typical 'Tomfoolery' moment: a General is giving his troops a final briefing before the commencement of battle.
GENERAL ( in a low voice ): We attack the Grimbo-Grumbo at dawn. SOLDIER ( also in a low voice ); Sir, where are the Grimbo-Grumbo? GENERAL ( still in a low voice ): One hundred miles away. SOLDIER ( raising his voice to a near-shout ): One hundred miles away? Then why are we whispering? GENERAL ( in an even lower voice ): Sorry. I've got a sore throat.
If Spike Milligan's 'Q' series had been a cartoon, it would have looked very much like 'Tomfoolery'. The anarchic humour, the revelling in silliness for its own sake, the daft sound effects, all had a Milliganeque feel. Spike's own 'The Ning Nang Nong' would have fitted perfectly into the show. The songs were great too; one went like this: 'Bibbedy-bobbedy, that makes good sense, good old nonsense. Bibbedy-bobbedy, ladies and gents, pennies are pence to me." ( you had to be there, folks ).
Voices were provided by Peter Hawkins ( who also did 'Captain Pugwash' and 'the Daleks' ) and Bernard Spear.
Needless to say, this was a show I loved, more so than 'The Banana Splits' which was on the B.B.C. at the same time.
Surprisingly, it is still not available on D.V.D., though clips are to be found on 'You Tube'. Great nostalgia!
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