Best Song - "Time Flies by......"
Which,I admit,is hardly going out on a limb.But that's because it's head and shoulders above the rest.
Best Character - Lord Belborough.
Had the best song,best props,most memorable voice.Oh,and most distinctive walking style-with his hands at chest height and elbows pointing outwards making look him like Dick Van Dyke about to launch into a chorus of "the old bamboo".Not that he ever did sadly.
ON THIS PAGE - everything except the songs,which I still need to add.
THE TRUMPTONSHIRE TRILOGY
CAMBERWICK GREEN,TRUMPTON AND CHIGLEY
Like its 2 predecessors,Chigley had 13 x 15 minute episodes.
It was first broadcast on BBC 1 in the Watch With Mother lunchtime slot on October 6th,1969 and
ran for 13 consecutive weeks.And whilst all the initial broadcasts of Camberwick and Trumpton
were in black and white,Chigley's debut straddled the changeover to colour.So only the first few
weeks were in monochrome,although you did need to have a colour tv set and live in an area
that was covered by a colour transmitter to benefit -which many didn't.
It also had the slightly more dubious honour of being the last of the 3 series to have a full re-run
on the BBC in 1986.
Size-wise,Chigley was the smallest of the 3 locations,being little more than a hamlet.With Trumpton being a town and Camberwick a village.And because of the sparser population,a lot of familiar characters from the first 2 series reappeared throughout,helping to beef it up and tie all 3 locations together as part of Trumptonshire
Owned by Lord Belborough,who lived alone as far as we can tell.Certainly no mention of a Lady Belborough at any rate.
His main on-screen partner was his butler,simply called Brackett.And they enjoyed a very similar relationship to that of the Trumpton Mayor and his town clerk,Mr.Troop ie. a sort of star and straight man double act who's interaction helped the story along.
The only other member of staff ever seen was the gardener,Mr.Bilton.
And housed a very short walk from the Hall were his Lordship's working steam engine called Bessie and his stationary pump engine called Binnie both in the white walled engine shed
The design of Winkstead was loosely (loosely) based on Kedleston Hall in Derbyshire.
Belborough and Brackett were only ever seen in the 2 oufits pictured above or their matching brown steam engine overalls.Brackett always accompanied him on the footplate -presumably to shovel the coal,although we never actually saw him doing it.
There were both involved in the 2 main stock footage sequences in Chigley:-
1) When Brackett took a phone call requiring the use of the train (shades of Captn Flack in Trumpton),and he'd lollop along a corridor to tell his Lordship -who was always in either the study or library.And 2) When they both emerged from the Hall in their overalls,to take the short walk to the engine sheds (right) and set off on Bessie.
And a lot of the actual journey footage was reused too.Although there were more variations than the fireman's call-out loop that was used in every Trumpton episode.
The train configuration was always the same ie.train...tender...and 3 seated wagons,which also doubled as freight wagons -even including a loose load of coal during the Binnie & Bessie episode.
Mr.Bilton,the gardener,only appeared in one episode (aside from passive onlooker).But he's notable for being the only character in the whole of Trumptonshire to be given a noticeable accent.Because Brian Cant deviated from his usual path of just using variables of intonation and pitch to differentiate one from another,by borrowing from his own Suffolk roots. Subtle rather than full-blown "yokel" and completely appropriate to the character.But still an unusual departure.
The factory was actually in the grounds of the Hall. Mr.Cresswell was the hands-on owner in his white coat.His green dungaree'd number 2 was Mr.Fletcher.And the 3rd pic shows one of the workers -Willie Munn,who was the nephew of Camberwick greengrocer,Mr.Clamp,and featured in his own eponymous Chigley episode
Every Chigley episode ends the same way. (2 pics below)
The clock above the biscuit factory entrance hits 6 o'clock,the whistle sounds and all the workers stream out to take the short walk to an open air dance hosted by Lord Belborough in the grounds of Winkstead Hall.With the music courtesy of his Dutch organ which he took delivery of in episode one,"Lord Belborough's Secret"
Not just echoing the fireman's band concert that ended very Trumpton episode.But also the marriage of old and new that Windy and Farmer Bell both represented in Camberwick ie. a modern 60's Corbusier-style factory with plenty of talk of "efficiency". But still room for some old school Lord of the Manor patronage and traditions.
The main look inside the factory is during "Bessie to the Rescue".Some nice gleaming white machinery that shells the eggs,mixes,shapes,bakes and packs.With the boxes emerging out at the loading bay,to the right hand side,and into the waiting CCB vans for delivery.
.....there was a fountain to the front right of the factory.But it was never seen again after it was unveiled in its own episode.
.....was "Cresswells" a play on words of Crosse & Blackwell ?
.....shots of Cresswell's staff never featured any women.But the inference was that the 6 o'clock dance was for factory employees. So,who were the 2 ladies dancing ?
Camberwick had its village green and Trumpton its town square.But Chigley didn't really have a central hub.
The notional heart was Winkstead Hall,the home of Lord Belborough.And his private steam railway was used to link the various other locations.Regularly shuttling between the 2 of the 3 other main locations -Chigley Pottery and Treddles Wharf.But not the Biscuit Factory,which wasn't on his land.
So,just as every Trumpton episode had a fireman call-out sequence,every Chigley episode had a train journey.
And just as every Trumpton episode ended with the fireman's band concert,every Chigley episode ended with a dance.
There were no opening titles to speak of.Just the above caption fading into the opening scene which was always a different character just about to embark on a trip to Chigley.And when they agree to Brian's request to join them,off we go........
So,here are the 4 main locations,and all the characters who only appeared in Chigley. All highlighted in red
Chigley Pottery was owned and run by Harry Farthing,who was both a ceramics potter and stone sculptor.
His daughter Winnie was also featured regularly,took a lot of trips on the train and was the only child that lived in Chigley.No sign of a Mrs Farthing,and I'm pretty sure she was never even mentioned let alone seen.
Like most Chigley characters,Harry was less than memorable quite frankly,although Winnie seems to have struck more of a chord. Presumably because of her appearance and the voice Brian Cant gave her (imagine Valerie Singleton as a girl).
Just the one interior room was shown -the one above the front door with the big round window.
.....in the 1st Chigley episode the foreground view of the Pottery included a large mound of greenery and a telegraph pole and wires.But this was obviously reassessed and thought to be too cluttered,and the above left view is the one that appeared in the remaining 12 (the train journey scenery was also thinned out a bit too - more on the oddballs page)
Cresswell's Chigley Biscuits
This probably should've been one of the most memorable bits in Chigley because it had a crane and could be accessed by road,rail and river ie.plenty going on to keep kids interested.
But it wasn't really made the most of sadly.
The crane,in particular,was just an uninspiring box cab with a subdued "whirr" for a winch.When it should've been a high-victorian wrought iron,steam-powered effort with some bright paintwork and lots of puffing and clunking sound effects.
The "wharfinger",Mr.Swallow,didn't help either.Who actually remembers anything about him......or his song ?
Criminal really for such an important and potentially interesting location,because it could've been achieved with very little extra work.But there you go.
Swallow was usually to be found up on the viaduct talking to the train occupants,or at the controls of the crane.And the 2nd pic is all we ever see of the interior of the building.No family to mention either,which might have helped him a bit.But Windy and others had proved it shouldn't really have been necessary.
The river was the exclusive domain of Mr.S.Rumpling,the "bargee".And whilst not resident at the Wharf it's the only place he ever cropped up so he's included here.But he didn't really bring much to the party either,because his barge just looked nice and went "chug-chug" and he didn't have any personality,or a decent song,to compensate.More excusable though.
Train,barge & even Doctor Mopp in this pic. Treddles Wharf was a great idea,but only 7 out of 10 for execution.A high score for most series,but low for Trumptonshire. But that's just my opinion.
Mr.Clutterbuck the builder and his 2 brickies Horace and Cyril only appeared in "The Garden Wall" episode.Although which one's Horace and which one's Cyril wasn't clarified.
The 2 "corporation dustmen" pictured are widely known as Mr.Gubbins and Mr.Sneed. But they only appear in the "Lord Belborough's Lucky Day" episode,and those names are never actually mentioned.
The most we ever get is when one says "me and my mate,Harry".And,without checking,I'd imagine those names were probably added later for one of the LP releases.
Other Locations & Characters
The only thing that really seems to have caught the popular imagination was Lord Belborogh's iconic song "time flies by when I'm the driver of the train".And if merchandise is an accurate guage of popularity,then Chigley was indeed a very poor third of three.
All of which is maybe a little puzzling when you consider that it was basically just more of the same.
But Camberwick and Trumpton had been repeated mercilessly for nigh on 4 years by the time Chigley hit our screens.And it was simply unable to provide enough freshness and innovation to combat inevitable Trumptonshire burnout. Successfully maintaining the continuity,but just too indistinct to make anything like the same impact.
Perhaps not that surprising when you consider the tv law of diminishing returns.Because if Camberwick was an all time classic,and Trumpton merely confirmation of its genius then Chigley was probably just on a hiding-to-nothing.A tried-and-tested product,but ultimately just a victim of its' enviroment -a bit like a Siberian ice cream salesman.
Ask yourself the following :-
1) Imagine if the other 2 series hadn't been made and Chigley was a stand alone show with all the necesary continuity tweeks.Would it have had the same impact as Camberwick when it came out,and be hailed as a classic now ?
2) Or put another way,would Windy have been as popular if he'd only appeared in Chigley ?
Or would he have been as popular if he'd only appeared in Camberwick and it had aired last of the 3 rather than 1st ?
In short,Chigley was undoubtedly less effective simply because it was 3rd of 3.
But......some of that malaise was also self-inflicted because:-
a) The new characters are largely forgettable,with the notable exception of Lord Belborough.A point driven home whenever one of the Camberwick & Trumpton inhabitants arrive on screen and you suddenly think things are looking up.
b) The songs are generally less memorable.
Be honest. Apart from "Time Flies By",how many of the others do you actually remember ?
c) Chigley has no heart.It's just a disparate collection of locations rather than a community.
There's no bustling Camberwick village green or Trumpton town centre.And whilst I realise hamlet's don't have such things,it does little to help generate the feeling that Chigley is actually a specific location.Something that's further undermined by the regular appearance of Camberwick and Trumpton characters,who may have helped reinforce the idea of the "oneness" of Trumptonshire but only at the expense of diluting Chigley's own identity.
Some final thoughts on Chigley....
Best costume anomaly (aka the Doctor Mopp award):- The women who take part in the daily dance.Very bizarrely dressed and looking a bit like potato pickers from an old Soviet newsreel. Answers on a postcard please ! (or email)
Footnote :- The Chigley song lyrics are yet to be added......but will be soon !
But maybe we should have known the game was up right from the start,with the severely under-stated opening title sequence.....
The episode I've chosen is typical.Each one has the same languid little instrumental as we meet a Camberwick or Trumpton character just about to set out on a journey to Chigley. When Brian asks "May we come too ?" we ride with them using stock footage from the first 2 series to get us there..... and the same songs too.
Yes it's effective,but so are breeze blocks and I don't know anyone who gets particularly inspired by them either !
At best,it's rather underwhelming and,at worst,it's just plain lazy. Either way you could argue that it sets the tone for what's to come.
The well was clearly running dry.And,in the absence of a major spark of creativity,I think it's probably best they didn't do a 4th series.But let's end on a positive note.Because there's certainly more than enough good stuff in Chigley to be thankful they didn't just settle for two.
And here are my personal Chigley awards......