The Poddington Peas
Apparently the Poddington Peas was created in 1986 and originally aired on the BBC in 1989, so I'm not entirely sure how I managed to watch it, seeing as I wasn't born until 1990. I'm guessing the BBC repeated it sometime during the 90s, probably at 6am; I used to get up very early in order to watch Tazmania, Noah's Island, and, of course, the Poddington Peas.
The theme tune of this show is wonderful, worth a listen if you're into cheery addictive cartoon theme tunes. At present you can listen to it at http://www.televisiontunes.com/Poddington_Peas.html.
The show was the brainchild of one Colin Wyatt, a cartoonist and writer who has also penned episodes of Eastenders, The Bill, Monarch of the Glen and Casualty. I'd love to hunt out these episodes and scour them for the kind of crackpot surreality that seems to lie behind his earlier works. The Poddington Peas are a group of anthropomorphic peas who live in a town- called Poddington, oddly enough- made up of overturned flowerpots at the bottom of a garden. It was narrated by Neil Pearson, who played Dave in Drop the Dead Donkey and, more recently, voiced the Raven in Terry Pratchett's Hogfather.
The peas of Poddington town have the most wonderful names. The majority of them describe the character's job or their main personality trait (similar to Mr Men). Many of them are plays on words containing the sound 'pea'. For your reading enjoyment- I certainly enjoyed recalling and researching it- there follows a comprehensive list of the denizens of Poddington:
- Black-Eyed Pea: one of the 'villains' of the show, a pea with a darker green hue than the others and a black eye patch. A constant companion of Creep-Pea.
- Bump-Pea: a strangely clumsy pea with a spectacular array of bumps, generally swathed in bandages.
- Captain Hop-Pea: often appears to be the leader of the pea community, a nautical 'captain' pea with a wooden leg.
- Chip-Pea: a female pea who works in the local fish-and-chip shop. If they have mushy peas on their chips, is it cannibalism?
- Chop-Pea: a stereotypical lumberjack figure, complete with hat and axe.
- Creep-Pea: another 'villain'. Like Black-Eyed Pea, is a darker shade of green than the others. Obviously creepy in appearance, with a long pointy nose. Imagine Gollum, but round and green.
- Dough-Pea: a pea of below-average intelligence (what is average for a pea?) who works as a cook. Apparently permanently attached to his big, white cook's hat.
- Dump-Pea: a pea with weight issues, generally seen eating. Looks more like a lumpy green hill than a pea.
- Garden Pea: strangely enough, enjoys gardening. Displays a straw hat and a spade at all times.
- G-Pea: a GP or general practitioner. Has white hair, glasses and a stethoscope.
- Grump-Pea: the name says it all (as ever). Often heard complaining.
- Hap-Pea: often appears as the main character in episodes. An affable, good-natured pea with a red baseball cap.
- Hip-Pea: the 'hippie' pea. Has long blonde hair with a matching moustache, plus a blue and white hippie headband. Plays the guitar.
- Jump-Pea: a pea with spring-like legs who uses them to jump really quite high.
- Nap-Pea: Penela-Pea's baby, who sits in a buggy and wears a large nappy.
- P.C. Pod: the policeman pea.
- Penela-Pea: pushes her baby, Nap-Pea, around in a buggy.
- Pop-Pea: an 'old man' pea with glasses, a walking stick and sparse white hair.
- Pup-Pea: small 'puppy' pea.
- Scoop-Pea: works as a newspaper editor for the Poddington Press, which doesn't appear to have any journalists, or, indeed, any staff apart from Scoop-Pea and his photographer, Snap-Pea. Wears glasses and a green eyeshade visor.
- Scrap-Pea: a scruffy tool and scrap worker, has blue hat, stubble and a hammer.
- Skip-Pea: a little girl pea with blonde hair in pigtails, always seen skipping with her skipping rope.
- Sleep-Pea: wears an old-fashioned nightcap and sleeps. A lot.
- Slop-Pea: an artist with messy red hair permanently covered in blobs of paint.
- Snap-Pea: the Poddington Press photographer, never without his hat and camera.
- Snip-Pea: a barber with a moustache and neatly combed hair.
- Snoop-Pea: a detective with a Sherlock Holmes-style deerstalker hat and magnifying glass.
- Soap-Pea: often blows bubbles, and always has soapy bubbles covering his head. Reasons unknown.
- Sweep-Pea: wears cap and carries a broom and bin. In employment as the town street-sweeper.
- Sweet Pea: a sweet-natured blonde pea, with a large pink bow holding her hair back.
- Tea-Pea: works as a tealady, consequently often seen carrying a teapot and teacup.
- Wee McPea: portrayed as a stereotypical Scot, complete with ginger moustache and a Tam o'shanter.
- Weep-Pea: an easily upset pea who cries at the drop of a hat.
- Zip-Pea: a pea who runs. Very fast.
Of these, only Chip-Pea, Penela-Pea, Skip-pea, Sweat Pea and Tea-Pea are female; the rest are all male. Personally, I'm rather worried about how many of these I could recall with perfect clarity.
Episodes and original air-dates included purely for the lovely names.
- The Vegetable Show (September 14, 1989)
- Creep-Pea Gets Carried Away (September 21, 1989)
- Dump-Pea's Diet aka The Great Escape (September 28, 1989)
- Mound of Trouble (October 5, 1989)
- Hip-Pea's Band (October 12, 1989)
- Well Done Dump-Pea (October 19, 1989)
- Zip-Pea Saves the Day (October 26 or November 2, 1989)
- Poddle Island Mystery (November 9, 1989)
- Dough-Pea Gets Lost (November 16, 1989)
- Zip-Pea's Shadow (November 23, 1989)
- Bubble Trouble (November 30, 1989)
- The Balloonatics (October 26 or November 2, 1989)
- Creep-Pea's Christmas Surprise (December, 1989)
In 1992, Phil Gardner was commissioned by Poddington plc to write episodes for a new series of the Poddington Peas, including a US pilot episode. Although none of these were ever aired, they can be found in part on Phil Gardner's website (http://www.philgardner.net/Bits.html, scroll down until you find the Poddington Peas section). Unfortunately the 'Which Poddington Pea are you?' quiz has been taken down.
Sometimes, I lie awake and theorise about the day-to-day lives of the Poddington Peas. How do they procreate? How do they cope with such a disproportionate male-female ratio? I wish I knew more about peas. Regardless, the Poddington Peas was, if I can ascribe such a lofty title to it, an important part of my childhood. It's odd what makes up each person's individual childhood. I guess it's oddly appropriate that mine should be made up of early mornings, addictive music and anthropomorphic peas.