Fireman Sam (CBBC, 1987-1994)
This is yet another children’s TV show I remember watching that started in the late-80s. Fireman Sam was a stop-frame animation, similar to a few other shows that I have reviewed recently, including Bertha, and I released that the cast’s mouths don’t move in this one either. The show is set in the sleepy Welsh village of Pontypandy, which stars Sam as “the hero next door” (as the opening theme goes). All of the characters were voiced by John Alderton.
Sam is a firefighter who clearly enjoys his job, and the moment his alarm goes off, he slides down the stairs and is ready for action, which is good news for any cats stuck up a tree. Even if he has to leave behind his cup of tea, he always remained cheery. Among the other characters were Sam’s work colleagues, who included the bumbling Elvis (who definitely had a resemblance to the rock’n’roll star with the same name), and the grumpy station officer Basil with his terrific moustache.
Also in the village were Dilys and her rather hapless son (and Curly from Coronation Street lookalike) Norman, Trevor the bus driver (and occasional fireman), Sam’s niece and nephew Sarah and James, and Bella, who ran an Italian cafe that Sam often visited for a sandwich. Whenever there was an emergency, Sam and his crew would think nothing of jumping in their big red fire engine called Jupiter and saving the day in a style that I’m sure would’ve put many an episode of London’s Burning to shame.
There was a more serious side to the show though as it aimed to teach young viewers (and indeed adults) about fire safety. Fireman Sam originally ran for four series on CBBC (along with S4C) with ten minute episodes (that were also repeated on BBC2 in the See-Saw strand which is where I saw most of them), in the 80s and 90s. As usual, there were plenty of tapes released, and there was also an annual that I remember having (and I think that I actually do still have it somewhere). The original run ended in 1994.
But this was another one of those shows where there were several revivals, and in the 2000s Sam and the cast returned to the screen for more adventures, although this time it was computer generated, and a variety of people provided the voices. Most of the episodes from this era have been shown on CBeebies and released on DVD, but the original version will always be the one that I am most fond of. There have been over 200 episodes, and it’s now been a hit with viewers for over 30 years.