Wednesday, May 17, 2006

DVD Review - Camberwick Green

"Here is a box, a musical box, wound up and ready to play. But this box can hide a secret inside. Can you guess what is in it today?"

That’s how each episode would begin, with the black-and-red, hexagonal music box gently turning on the animators desk before up pops the star of that week's episode, one of the inhabitants of Camberwick Green, ready and able to deftly deal with some minor middle England village crisis. Guessing who the episode was about was all part of the fun of watching (in the same way that correctly picking one out of the three windows in Playschool made who a psychic god back then).

The big question here is weather it still works? Yeah, 'coarse it does…

Due to the sheer volume of repeats, this is a show that more than one generation can call their own. Even today, in an experiment worthy of Pavlov, I sat my little 8-year-old niece (hello Helena, told ya I’d say “hi”) down in front of Camberwick Green one Sunday afternoon and she was riveted to the screen for a full 13 episodes.

This programme is bordering on a national institution and if a statue of Windy Miller appeared in the centre of my hometown I would happily applaud the local council. This show is an icon of England right up there with Big Ben, fish and chips and red telephone boxes. Like some Orson Welles for pre-school generation x-ers, Brian Cant's voice is reassuringly comforting, bringing with it the feeling of there being a certain ‘rightness’ about the world so reflected in the harmless goings-on in Camberwick Green.

Friendship and post war stoicism is what binds the villagers together, with no one ever losing their temper with another (that wouldn’t be cricket). Captain Snort and the boys at Pippin Fort might get a tad bemused when their morning parade is interrupted, but they soon calm down when an explanation is forthcoming. There may be ‘a fussing’ as village gossip Mrs Honeybun (avec baby) takes a stroll between the shops on the green, but it's all going to happily come to nothing by the end of the day. Farmer Bell might be a midges annoyed when his truck runs out of petrol whilst racing Windy Miller on his trusty tricycle, but it's all settled, once again, over a glass of Windy’s home-brew Scrumpy and a cheese and pickle sandwich.

Anyone who remembers these from their childhood will probably want to buy them out of nostalgia and they might well be suprised with how much they enjoy revisiting the world of Trumptonshire and be pleasently pleased with how their own children (if they have any!) react to this classic.

Okay, so the animation (while cutting edge at the time) isn’t in the same league as the likes of Wallace and Gromit, but the series has been digitally cleaned up and regraded on video, so colours are strikingly vivid compared with the sorry state of the show’s previous video outings, and an enormous amount of film dirt has been removed.

As Helena and I waved goodbye to the character in the music box, sinking slowly back into the animators desk, we gathered our coats and headed for the old windmill at Heage. When we got back, we made our own bread for tea and (at her insistence) watched Camberwick Green all over again.

MOVIE: 4 out of 5
EXTRAS: 3 out of 5

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