Fraggle Rock (CITV, 1984-1990)
After pleasing many viewers with Sesame Street and The Muppet Show, Jim Henson and his production team came up with another show that was enjoyed by people of all ages, and again it featured some creative puppetry. Fraggle Rock always began with a memorable opening song that everyone could clap along to (indeed, it was even a hit single, being released in February 1984 and reaching No. 33).
The aim of the show was to be sold around the world, so various segments were recorded for various countries along with the main story. For the UK version, the segments were produced by TVS and featured a lighthouse, that the Fraggles lived under. The keeper, who was accompanied by his puppet dog Sprocket, never noticed them of course.
In the early series this was the captain (Fulton Mackay), who was then replaced by his nephew PK (John Gordon-Sinclair), and finally his son BJ (Simon O’Brien). For the American version, Doc appeared in all the series alongside Sprocket. There was definitely a lot of anticipation for the show, and it even received a TV Times cover in 1984.
The Fraggles were small furry creatures who were various colours. There were lots of them, but the main ones included Wembley, Mokey, and Red, and they also had an unusual fondness for radishes. Another regular was Uncle Travelling Matt, who featured from somewhere in the world where he tried to understand how those silly humans functioned, and he would often send the Fraggles a postcard.
The other main characters were the Doozers, who were very small and wore hard hats because they constantly liked to build structures. And there were also the Gorgs, huge creatures who considered themselves to be royalty and much better than the Fraggles. There would also be a few songs in every episode along with some nice sound effects, and plenty of lessons were learned.
It’s no surprise that Fraggle Rock did well, as along with the hit single, there were also comics and books. There were 96 episodes, the run on American TV was 1983-1987, and in this country it was shown on both CITV and LWT in the afternoon. Uncle Travelling Matt also hosted CITV in March 1985, and he was almost as good as Glenn Kinsey.
After the original run ended, there was also a short-lived spin-off animated series in 1987, but I prefer the original myself, and the Doozers got their own show too. There were some episodes released on VHS a while ago, but because of the ongoing TVS archive shambles, the British version is rarely seen on TV now, and is unlikely to be released on DVD.