Roger And The Rottentrolls (CITV, 1996-2000)
This is a CITV show that was usually shown on Fridays (if I remember correctly) that featured some puppets. Roger And The Rottentrolls was created by Tim Firth (with a little help from his dad Gordon). In the early-90s Firth took part in the successful BBC Radio 4 comedy sketch show And Now In Colour, so it was clear that this was something that was going to be rather quirky.
One day Roger Beckett (age 10¾) is out on his bike in the picturesque Yorkshire Dales, when he encounters a rather strange group of characters who have lived in a hole for centuries. They have never seen anything like it, and they make Roger king of the Rottentrolls. These characters were mildly creepy-looking with their big eyes and crazed expressions, although they were nothing on the characters that appeared in the similar 90s CITV show The Spooks Of Bottle Bay (I might review that one soon too, if I have the courage).
Roger then tries to learn more about their world. All of the Rottentrolls were named after villages in Yorkshire, including Yockenthwaite (always claimed to be the stupidest), Aysgarth (the oldest), Penyghent (the cleverest), Kettlewell (the angriest), and The Nab Twins (the teenagers). There was also Commander Harris the sheep who was very skilled in the ancient art of Jim Jam Yaha.
There was also an impressive list of celebrities who contributed their voices to the show. The narrator was Martin Clunes (having a day off from Men Behaving Badly) who often spoke to Roger. The voices of the Rottentrolls were provided by Phil Cornwell, John Thomson and Rebecca Front (later replaced by Ronni Ancona). The cast also sang the show’s closing theme (and there was even a dance remix made).
There were 36 ten-minute editions of Roger And The Rottentrolls (although it seems that the later editions that I didn’t see many of as I had stopped watching CITV regularly by then were simply called The Rottentrolls following the introduction of Roger’s stepsister Kate). Tim Firth has gone to have much more success as a writer, including award-winning plays. The first two series were also released on VHS.
Roger And The Rottentrolls was good fun, it won a Bafta in 1997, and it did well enough for there to be the CITV 2002-2003 spin-off series Ripley And Scuff, concentrating on the adventures of two of the Rottentrolls (who only appeared in the fourth and final series). The same team were also behind the similar one-off Combat Sheep (which featured plenty of celebrity voices including Steve Coogan) that was shown on BBC2 in 2001.