The Family Ness (CBBC, 1984-1985)
This is yet another cartoon that was shown on CBBC in the mid-80s. When I decided to watch a few episodes again recently, I noticed that it had a rather similar animation style to the distinctive look of Jimbo And The Jet Set (that I reviewed recently), and the simple explanation for that is that it was produced by the same people (and the same actors provided the voices), although the idea is rather different.
The idea of The Family Ness was that Elspeth and Angus McTout are two children who live near Loch Ness is Scotland, which is believed to contain a monster or two. They both have a thistle whistle, and every time they use it, they discover that not just one monster living there, but an entire family, and they all have adventures together. The adults don’t realise this though.
Their father who is the keeper of the loch is rather sceptical about all of this, like most of the other people who live nearby, having never seen a monster for himself. Many people try and tell the local policeman Sergeant MacFuzz that they have seen one, but he never believes them. All of the monsters have names that are a play on words that sum up their personality, including Ferocious Ness, Baby Ness, Naughty Ness, and many more.
One of the most memorable things about The Family Ness was the opening sequence where the monsters grabbed the musical notes that were coming from the bagpipes that Elspeth and Angus’s dad was trying to play. It also seems that the theme music “You’ll Never Find A Nessie In The Zoo” was released as a single, although unfortunately it never challenged for the Christmas Number One.
The Family Ness was originally shown as part of CBBC’s afternoon strand in the mid-80s, but the first time that I remember seeing episodes was as part of the morning strand, and it was still being repeated as late as 2002, almost two decades after it was made. So I was surprised to discover that there were only 25 five-minute episodes made, as it was shown so frequently for a while I presumed there were many more.
There was also some merchandise. Along with the single, there were plenty of books, and some episodes were released on VHS, although I didn’t have any of those. Some (but not all) episodes were released on DVD too. There was even a comic strip in the short-lived Beeb magazine. In the late-80s the same team went on to make one more cartoon for CBBC that was Penny Crayon, I watched that one too and I plan to review it soon.