Somewhere in the dark and nasty regions, where nobody goes,stands an ancient castle. Deep within this dank and uninviting place lives Burk, overworked servant of the thing upstairs. But that’s nothing compared to the horrors that lurk beneath The Trapdoor. For there is always something down there, in the dark, waiting to come out...
    Don’t you open that Trapdoor.
    You’re a fool if you dare!
    Stay away from that Trapdoor.
    'Cause there's something down there

Some things say with a person for life, the theme tune and lyrics to the trap door are permanently engraved in the minds of millions of British people who spent their growing-up years in front of 1980's television. The Trapdoor was a plastercine animation created in 1986, and stars the lovable, Devonshire accent sporting blue creature known as Burk, and the well-educated talking skull called Bony.

Burk was the man-servant to the thing upstairs, a creature never seen, although immense size and horribleness was implied. Burk also had a raspberry blowing spider 'pet' named Drut.

"'ere Drut what's that you're up t' there? Oh Globbits.."
This is a charming animated series produced by Queensgate Productions between 1984 and 1986. It was all animated in plasticine, a la a very low-budget Wallace And Gromit. Willie Rushton provided the voice.

Very distinctive style: Berk is a big fat blue blob with little cartoony eyes perched on top and a small smiley mouth; he waddled about on errands for "'im upstairs," on his great flapping flat feet, while Boney offered bone-dry taunting and abuse, and Drut or Durk or whatever it was called* blew raspberries, ate everything, and generally got in the way. In the midst of all this, Berk would realise he needed some crucial cake ingredient, or something, and would have to venture into the trapdoor... where who knew what nightmares would be unleashed?
* Drutt, apparently. Thankyou Oolong.

And then there were these worms that crawled all over the place. Really, all over everything. God, everywhere you looked... So many worms... All wriggly and clammy... The worms... God, I remember the worms...

It took on the conventions of yer Hammer Horror spooky castle, and sent them up, albeit gently. The scripts benefitted from the short-episode format: only five minutes long, but packed with 'mayhem.' What really made this show special, though, was the voiceover talent of the dearly missed Willie Rushton. He was perfect for the job, inspired, bringing Berk's long-suffering but cheerful provincial nature to life, drawing out the vowels as only he can. There are few men who could say "Oh, globbits" with the bitter edge of inevitable doom it requires: Willie could, and he made it funny.

The ZX Spectrum game of the show actually does quite a good job of animating the characters (nice big sprites) and capturing the general madness of it all, despite not being very much fun to play. Generally I'd open the trapdoor, and a great big pogoing chicken-beast would leap out, then Boney would shout "Send it back!" and everything would just go horribly wrong and I'd be stomped on.

You don't get entertainment like that any more.

A device to allow access to User Servicable Parts without having to take the machine apart.

Opening a trapdoor allows access to expansion sockets, while keeping the rest of the machine protected from damage by unskilled hands. Generally the trapdoor is easy to open, with no screws to lose. Trapdoors are generally seen in machines that would require a professional to take apart. Adding a trapdoor generally adds complexity (and therefore expense) to the system, as the system must be designed around it. Any user-servicable parts must be located together, in an area where a trapdoor can be added. Often, this is on the bottom of the case, and can involve mounting components on both sides of the motherboard.

High-end, modular, laptops (Dell latitude, Toshiba Tecra, for example) generally have trapdoors to allow access to the RAM and mini-PCI cards. Some even keep the internal hard drive in a trapdoor. Compare with all-in-one laptops like the Apple iBook and Toshiba Satellite, where the machine must be substantially disassembled to get at the few upgrade slots.

Examples of trapdoors in consumer goods include the Nintendo 64 and Commodore Amiga, which had a trapdoor to allow extra RAM to be added. Interestingly, the Atari STE had a trapdoor inside the case that allowed access to the SIMM slots without having to remove the motherboard shielding (which required the removal of the power supply, floppy drive, and 20-odd screws).

Trap"door` (?), n.

1. Arch.

A lifting or sliding door covering an opening in a roof or floor.

2. Mining

A door in a level for regulating the ventilating current; -- called also weather door.


Trapdoor spider Zool., any one of several species of large spiders which make a nest consisting of a vertical hole in the earth, lined with a hinged lid, like a trapdoor. Most of the species belong to the genus Cteniza, as the California species (C. Californica).


© Webster 1913.

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