Thursday, 8 September 2011

The Winjin' Pom

It's completely natural to find a few forgotten gems from specific companies when one looks close enough - y'know, the stuff you knew they created and had remember seeing decades ago.

Stuff like Hanna-Barbera's Loopy De Loop, Cosgrove Hall's Victor & Hugo, those two episodes of It 'ain't Half Hot Mum that were lost during the first broadcast...

But out of the most obscure shows I've posted about so far, this is about as rare as the unpreserved J50 locomotives. A Children's TV Series created and produced by, of all companies, Spitting Image Productions (of Spitting Image fame)!!

The Winjin' Pom was a very short-lived series - consisting of 6 half-hour episodes in the early 90's - about a magical, flying camper van known for his grumbling by a band of Australians (the Gullagaloona Backpackers) on a mission to travel the world. But the Pom brings more bad luck than good when an evil Mafia vulture, name of Jay Gee Chicago, discovers the Pom's magic abilities and tries to hijack it for his own criminal deeds with his allies Howard Hyena and the Crow Brothers, Ronnie and Reggie.

"Stone the Crows!" The Pom and Aussies try to outrun the Crow Brothers.
Unlike Spitting Image, which often parodied famous celebs with rather...risqué humour, Winjin' Pom was scaled down for a slightly younger audience - although thanks to ace scriptwriter Richard Carpenter, this still offers plenty of humour in brief songs, slapstick, word play and terrible puns (as well as several in-jokes for the adults to chortle at!).

The series also impressed me with the many medias used - combining puppetry, stop-motion animation, greenscreening and live-action models to keep the visuals just as madcap as the storylines.

And to bring all the characters to life the vocal talents consist of Adèle Anderson, Mark Arden, Stephen Frost, Alison Jiear and William Todd-Jones (renown for plating Mopatop from Jim Henson's Mopatop's Shop).

The Pom gleefully "chokes" the Moon in 2D Animated segments before the ad breaks!
The only connection I had with this series at a young age was through a sole episode on an ageing VHS video, which dear old Mum had recorded from one of ITV's popular Saturday Shows at the time, Ghost Train. It was just as well that I kept it to this day as I would soon know how rare this show really is - the only source of merchandise it had was a book of all six episodes adapted into a novel (by Terrance Dicks) and a magazine - both of which I was very fortunate to nab!

The cover of the Winjin' Pom in novel form - illustrated by Graham Higgins
It's quite a surprise and shame that Spitting Image Productions chose to either ignore or fail to fully distribute what is possibly their only venture into Children's Production. Last I checked, the series is/was owned by Hit Entertainment, although news on whether the rights have been passed on have remained unknown - especially with a severe lack of an actual DVD release.

But as with many things in this life, this series is short but sweet. So if you come across a show that no one else has ever heard off - from a book to a single episode - keep it safe and Google for it. You never know the worth it may have to this day!!

 For now, until someone does decide to do something with this forgotten series, you're welcome enough to purchase a home-made DVD of all six episodes - CLICK THIS LINK!

And if you're lucky, try nabbing the book as well from Amazon!

A rare sneak peek of the series in action - Alison Jiear's performance as Bruce the Red Back Spider!


  1. Richard Carpenter is one of my favourite writers, and I practically have all of his shows available on DVD (Robin of Sherwood, Catweazle, Dick Turpin etc) - here's hoping The Winjin' Pom get released soon.

  2. I myself fondly remember The Winjin' Pom from 1991, when it was aired on Canal Plus as a part of the channel's children programs. If my memory is correct, i think i saw but one episode of the series, but i was imediately captured by the directing's quality and gritty humor. Years later, i was lucky enough to put my hands on both the aforesaid novel and magazine from an antique books shop, and was equally appaled. My only wish is that they'd finally do something with the rights for this series...