Seminal chilren's television programme from the late seventies and early eighties (UK), used very simple animation and bold bright colours. Not only did it feature a whole story about Bod and his friends but also it treated us to an 'Alberto Frog and his Amazing Animal Band' yarn too. The programme always ended with Bod-Snap, a pre-cyber audience participation thing.

Bod was an odd looking kid in an A-frame coat: he had an Aunt Flo, and was friends with Frank the Postman, PC Copper, and Farmer Barleymow. Nothing very much happened, I don't think, but it was much loved because of its repetitive formula and very groovy music. Each character had their own signature tune, played whenever they appeared. And great they were. Aunt Flo's was sort of jazzy, Frank's cheery, Copper's official, Barleymoe's languid and pastoral. Fabulous stuff.

Alberto Frog wasn't animated at all. It was just a story with still pictures, but the camera zoomed in and out on various bits (actually the milkshake at the end was animated... but it wasn't a hugely techincal affair - just someone pulling out a piece of coloured card from behind the picture to the sound of a swany whistle). The story always concerned people who needed music in order to do something, and Alberto always volunteered the services of his famous orchestra, all animals. When they had helped he was asked what he would like as payment. In true dictatorship style he never asked his workers what they would like (after all, they did all the work: he just stood up front and waved his arms about). All he wanted was a milkshake. The animals, disempowered by this stage and listless, could find amusement only in trying to guess what flavour he would be getting, and they could only longingly gaze at. The flamingoes were usually right.

Bod snap involved two playing cards being shown to the viewer, each with a character from 'Bod' on it. The female voice would talk us through whether or not the pairing constituted 'snap', whether or not they were the same. It always took her about four seconds to explain why it was or wasn't. I never worked out why this was. Were the programme makers trying to convince children that they must be intelligent if they could work it out faster than her? Or did they genuinely believe that this kind of very technical card game needed that much explaining? It made my head hurt.

Each show would end with Bod walking away from the camera: 'There goes Bod and his friends' the voice would say. And it was marvellous.

1. A colloquialism meaning chap, cove, bloke, now rather old-fashioned. Short for body.

2. A nickname for Temple in the Jennings books by Anthony Buckeridge. His initials are CAT so naturally he got called Dog, or Dogsbody for short. Because this is longer (as Jennings pointed out), he was actually called Bod for short.

3. The native Tibetan name for Tibet (in Classical Tibetan: the modern name is Pö). Also gives its name to Bodic, a major branch of the Sino-Tibetan language family. Ethnologue database lists 134 Bodic languages (and calls one large subgroup of them Bodish), including many of those of Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan, and some of those in neighbouring regions of China and India. The Bodic languages include Tibetan and Bhutanese (Dzongkha). (However, Nepalese is Indo-European, not Sino-Tibetan.)

Bod, BBC 1975

Writer: Michael Cole
Narrators: John Le Mesurier, Maggie Henderson
Music: Derek Griffiths
Producer: Michael Cole

There is an interesting rights issue where Bod is concerned. Although each episode of the TV series contained a Bod story, an Alberto Frog story, a song and a game of Bod Snap, the video release contains only the Bod stories.

The reason behind this is due to the ownership of copyrights. Bod was originally released as a book, penned by Michael Cole and his wife Joanne. Cole later became a producer for the BBC, and the series of programmes was created. The rights for the Bod stories lies with BodFilms Limited whereas the remaining work is copyright of the BBC.


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