Trumpton Firemen Facts
Q. Which series do they appear in ?
A. They don't appear at all in Camberwick Green.
They made their debut in episode 1 of Trumpton,and appeared in all 13.
And they went on to appear in one episode of Chigley. ie. they only appeared in 14 of the 39 Trumptonshire episodes.
Q. Why no appearances in Camberwick Green ?
A. It was made before Trumpton.
And Camberwick was too small to have its own fire service.
Camberwick being only a small village,and Trumpton a town.
Q. Who thought of the names ?
A. Alison Prince -a children's author who co-wrote Trumpton,
with series creator,Gordon Murray.
Q. How do you tell them apart ?
A. The names are always called out in the order they're lined up. From left to right ..
Captain Flack,calling out the names Pugh,Pugh,Barney McGrew,Cuthbert,Dibble and Grubb.
No christian names are ever mentioned in any of the episodes. [if we assume that "Barney McGrew"
was indeed a double-barrelled surname,minus the hyphen.]
Very much in command (physically denoted by his epaulettes) He's always seen taking the incoming call for help in his control room.And he's the one who does the famous roll call of course.
But he's also remembered for his 2 commands when the fire engine hoist is used - "eleee_vate" and "deee_scend".
Easy to spot with his moustache,he's given a suitably crisp and business-like voice by Brian Cant.
And always leading from the front too,even during the fireman's brass band concert at the end of every Trumpton episode, where he's the conductor.
But he's ultimately a life-unfulfilled character,which is slightly at odds with a place as upbeat as Trumptonshire.
A man who feels he should really be in the thick of it rather than tiptoeing round the edges.And when you factor-in the fact that he's desperately keen,utterly fearless and leading a team with slightly questionable abilities,then you can't help but think of another well known Captain .... Captain Mainwaring.
His crew ....
Their names have been made so famous by the roll-call that people often logically go on to assume that they were all proper fleshed-out characters in their own right.
But that was far from the case ....
Co-writer Alison Prince made them twins just because they looked the same.And it also helped the rhyme of course.
But,that aside,they're actually just "filler" characters who don't get any specific tasks to perform or have any centre-stage scenes,nevermind the wiff of a storyline.Their instruments of choice in the fireman's band are the trombone and clarinet.
The fire engine driver in every one of their appearances.His white beard is a pretty big clue he's a fair bit older than the others,which is further reinforced by his general gait and the fact that he never actually opens his eyes - ever. And it's his ability to drive like that that people most remember about him.
Because that aside,he actually does very little of note.
And even takes the least taxing role in the fireman's band too,playing the cymbals.
He not only rides along in the hoist bucket,but he's always the one who goes up in it too,(apart from one episode and more on that further down)
He's characterised by a very simple physical attribute -a fringe which always covers his eyes,making him look a bit dopey. Most notable though for being the only one of the crew that actually gets any real individual screen time.
A whole episode in fact -"Cuthbert's Morning Off" - when we get to meet his equally soppy aunty,who's come to Trumpton to visit him.And he plays the tuba in the band.
Much taller than the others.But that's the only reason he ever stands out because,as with most of his colleagues,he's just a non-descript team-player as far as airtime goes.And he plays the bass drum in the band.
You don't get much of a sense of it from the photo above,but he's noticeably more roly poly than the others.
Once again,he never does anything outside being a team player,although he does briefly feature centre-stage in the very first episode when he has a conversation with Bill Poster Nick.And he plays the trumpet in the band.
Q. Is it true they never put out a fire ?
A. Yes,it's true.
Fire and water,are both particularly tricky to represent using stop motion animation.
Especially when coupled with the sort of time and budgetry constraints the Trumptonshire animators faced.
So it was simply avoided wherever possible.
Running water was actually shown at various times in all 3 series (see world of water page) But,without fire,there was never the need for any of it to come out of the fireman's hose.And it obviously would have required a fair amount of both.
That said,the hose itself was actually featured several times and turned into a running gag,when the crew unwound it on arrival only for Flack to tell them to put it away ....
Example from Ep.3 - "No.No.No. Not the hose ! We don't want to wash the branch off the roof !"
And the lack of fire was also referred to directly on several occasions ....
Example from Ep.7 - "Poor Captain Flack. He never has a proper fire to put out"
And entirely sensible to tackle the issue head-on,because the audience may have been young but they were still old enough to know what firemen should be doing !
Q. Is it true they spent a lot of their time getting cats down out of trees ?
A. No. It's a classic urban myth.
In fact,they didn't rescue a single cat.
Although it's maybe odd that they didn't,as there was actually mention of one living at Mr.Clamp's greengrocers.
Q. So,what did they do then ? A. Good question,and here's a complete rundown ....
The Fireman's opening sequence.
The fireman sequence started the same way in all 13 episodes -as shown in the photos below.
It was largely,unchanged stock footage.
And simply an easy way to cut animating time and save money.Which did indeed make it very "samey" if,like a lot of young fans,you watched repeat after repeat.But just a necessary evil when working to a tight budget unfortunately.
However .... brace yourselves .... there were some variations ....
The only major deviation was in the episode called "Cuthbert's Morning Off" where,as the title would suggest,Cuthbert wasn't physically present at all and Flack's famous roll call was abbreviated to "Pugh,Pugh,Barney McGrew,Dibble and Grubb".
[ An episode also notable because it was the only time that anyone other than Cuthbert went up in the hoist,with Captain Flack leading from the front and filling-in.]
But,that aside,the only tweeks made were that you'd occasionally see a different bystander as they drove by.
And,remember the mention of the "tight budget" a few paragraphs ago ?
Well,if you ever wondered why the buildings they drove by looked so spartan it was simply because the husband and wife team who designed and made all the sets ran out of time to add any of the usual finishing touches ! [see the last photo of the call-out sequence montage,below]