Flower Pot Men

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The Flower Pot Men is a British children's programme, produced by BBC television, first transmitted in 1952, and repeated regularly for more than twenty years, which was produced in a new version in 2000.


Original series

Originally, the programme was part of a BBC children's television series titled Watch with Mother, with a different programme each weekday, and all involving string puppets. The Flower Pot Men was the story of two little men made of flower pots who lived at the bottom of an English suburban garden. The characters were devised by Freda Lingstrom and Maria Bird. Three later stories were written by Hilda Brabban. The puppeteers were Audrey Atterbury and Molly Gibson. The voices and other noises were produced by Peter Hawkins, Gladys Whitred and Julia Williams.

The plot changed little in each episode. The programme always took place in a garden, behind a potting shed. The third character was Little Weed, of indeterminate species, somewhat resembling a sunflower or dandelion with a smiling face, growing between two large flowerpots. The three were also sometimes visited by a tortoise called Slowcoach. While the "man who worked in the garden" was away having his dinner the two Flower Pot Men, Bill and Ben, emerged from the two flowerpots. After a minor adventure a minor mishap occurs; someone is guilty. "Which of those two flower pot men, was it Bill or was it Ben?" the narrator trills, in a quavering soprano; the villain confesses; the gardener's footsteps are heard coming up the garden path; the Flower Pot Men vanish into their pots and the closing credits roll. The final punch-line was, "and I think the little house knew something about it! Don't you?"

The Flower Pot Men spoke their own, highly inflected version of English, called Oddle Poddle. However, the popular notion that they ever said "Flobbalob" or "Flobbadob" is an urban myth; if one listened carefully to their banter, one could hear words like "Loblob" ("lovely") and "Flobberpop" ("flowerpot"), either of which could have given rise to the urban myth. At the end of each adventure, they would say bye-bye to each other and to the Little Weed - "Babap ickle Weed" - to which the Weed would inevitably reply with tremulous cadence "Weeeeeeeeeeed". This language, like that of the Teletubbies in the 1990s, was invented by Peter Hawkins and was criticised for hindering children from learning proper English.

2001 series

On 2 January 2001, a second series[1] named Bill and Ben began on CBeebies, this time involving stop-motion animation and full colour, and made by Cosgrove Hall Films with a team of ten animators. Ben was narrated by voice actor Jimmy Hibbert.

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