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Chigley Review

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by Simon Crust Jun 7, 2006 at 12:00 AM

    So where is Trumptonshire? Many think perhaps Kent, or Sussex. In fact when asked Gordon Murray, the creator of the series' replied that the mountains in the background, which looked “rather nice” lead him to believe it is in middle England; so there you have it a 'actual' location from the creator himself. Where then is Chigly, the last of the three Trumptonshire shows of which Camberwick Green was the first and Trumpton the second? Chigley, again according to its creator, is a “tiny hamlet very near to both Trumpton and Camberwick Green, but for Winkstead Hall, one could drive through it without noticing its existence”. So there too is a precise location and description of this other sleepy English village that has become so loved over the years.



    There are four distinct areas of Chigley, Treddles Wharf, Winkstead Hall, the Biscuit Factory, and the Chigley Pottery; continuing the theme of 'old embracing the new' that is prevalent throughout Trumptonshire each of the above locations defines a distinct section. Treddles Wharf for example is service mainly by Lord Belborough's old steam locomotive, Bessie, his own home Winkstead Hall is open to the public to help with maintenance costs; the Biscuit factory is a hive of modern technology but its ingredients are on occasion supplied by Windy Miller's mill. At the end of the day, at six o'clock precisely, the whistle blows, the workers down tools to meet at Winkstead Hall for the nightly six o'clock dance. The show has a very different opening to the previous incarnations with the narrator speaking directly to, what will be, the main character for the episode, his line of "Are you going to Trumpton ? Camberwick Green? Chigley? Can we come with you " serving to tie the three shows together. This is further enhanced by a large cross over of characters through out the thirteen episodes. Such antics give Chigley the feel of the season finale, the final culmination of all the hard work brought together in fruition. Stories such as Apples Galore serving as a perfect example, with too many apples in Winkstead orchard, to prevent wastage Windy Miller suggest using his cider press to make juice for the six o'clock dance, and calls on the Trumpton fire brigade to pick them; a neat story that pulls together characters from all three series' to tie Trumptonshire as one.



    As in the previous shows this one is narrated by Brian Cant, the man is or was, a national institution, with giant shows such as Play Away (1971-1984) and Play School (1964-1988), although he had had a few 'serious' acting jobs, he will always be remembered as Brian Cant children's presenter. And the reason is, he is just so darn good at it; he has a calm and soothing nature, his voice, instantly recognisable, is like silk as he effortlessly switches between characters to tell the story. It's like listening to a favourite elderly relative regaling a story and that gives a feeling of comfort and support, Cant has that, and for generations of children he was their friend and teacher. His demeanour made him the perfect candidate to bring Trumptonshire to life.



    Chigley, then, for all it's all new setting and bright new characters was certainly not lacking in originality, but is reliance on bringing cross over characters into the scripts tends to lead the show into a cul-de-sac of inevitability, there is a sense of finality to the show, that it is the closing chapter, and that is a good thing. It rounds Trumptonshire out and makes it whole. The show is not quite as inventive as its predecessors, I won't say tired, but it was showing signs of dragging. Of course the music is as good as ever, and there are scenes that brought back floods of memories; Mr Brackett, the butler of Winkstead, walking along the corridor to find Lord Belborough; Bessie the train “Time flies by when I'm the driver of a train, And I ride on the footplate there and back again”; the Dutch organ and its tune with the townsfolk dancing below. All are timeless scenes and round off this enchanting series to be enjoyed, no doubt, by generations to come.