Marlene Marlowe Investigates (CBBC, 1993-1994)
This is another CBBC comedy show that ran for a short while, and contained the most amusing Marlene this side of Only Fools And Horses I’m sure. The character of Marlene Marlowe was created by children’s writer Roy Apps, and first featured in the BBC Radio 4 series The Puddlethorpe Carnival Coup in 1990. This then transferred to TV in 1993.
In this version, Marlene was played by Kate Copstick, the comedy Scottish woman with big glasses who appeared regularly on TV around this time, having already been a host of CBBC’s Saturday Morning show On The Waterfront in the late-80s. Marlene fancied herself as something of a detective up there with the best, but she was rather useless.
Her hometown of Puddlethorpe-On-Sea seems to be rather peaceful at first, but there are a lot of mysteries that have to be solved. Usually helping out though was Aunt Maud (Jo Kendall, who was also in the cast of the pioneering sketch show At Last The 1948 Show), who had a big bike that was known as The Mighty Moped, and was much more adept at solving crimes.
This show also had something of an distinctive look. Most of the backgrounds were drawn, and the characters were added into them after, with a few other visual effects, giving this a rather cartoon feel. Most episodes began with a breathless voice reflecting on the story so far, which usually spread over a few episodes, including the excitement of “The Phantom Floppy Fiddler”.
We also heard some of Marlene’s thoughts, whose accent had turned from a Scottish to an American one somewhere along the way. Lots of other amusing characters appeared, and the result of all this was meant that there was always something rather bizarre that was about to happen. There were 30 episodes of Marlene Marlowe Investigates in two series.
They were all first shown fairly early on Saturday Mornings and I’m sure that I never saw any of them at that time, but some were repeated in the main weekday afternoon slot. This hasn’t been seen on CBBC since 1994 though, and there hasn’t been a VHS or DVD release either. But there were some books released, although I never had any of those.