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Fingermouse, Flash the Tortoise, Scampi and Yoffi

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      23.06.2004 19:24
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      Relive your wasted youth with the complete Fingerbobs! That's what the cover says on this DVD. I'm not sure my youth was entirely wasted, but I did wanted to relive some parts of it, and Fingerbobs was something I remember very fondly. We're talking the 70's, the early part of it. It must have been repeated many times though on TV, before they decided it was no longer suitable - as I always remember it being on. You wouldn't have thought it, but there were only 13 episodes ever made, but I guess this is what makes it one of those special programs which didn't get spoilt by running out of ideas. Yoffy, is a Canadian guy, a bit bald, but with a bushy beard, nice jumper and a neck scarf. He's got a smile, which I find a bit eerie, even now. He sings rather strangely too, perhaps even slightly scary at times. He's a genious with his hands though, making the characters Fingermouse (obviously a mouse), the seagull "Gulliver", the tortoise "Flash", and Scampi who I think is a shrimp of some sort. Gullivers head is made of a ping pong ball, the rest of them with various bits of paper or card. They are all quite cute. Basically each episode follows the same kind of route. Yoffy wants fingermouse to go off and collect various items such as soft stuff, rough stuff, prickly stuff...you get the idea. This in itself is quite funny, fingermouse will ask a sheep for instance to brush up against a holly bush, so he can take some wool. The commentary is mildy amusing, in fact I'd say there are a lot of more adult humour in it that children will simply miss! There is an element of educational value in the stories, which follow the collecting of items, however it's not great, and many of the stories are just for fun. There are however some good ideas f or you to try at home - drawing faces onto pebbles perhaps? The DVD is split into Gullivers Stories (Bumpy, Stones & Feathers), Flash's Stories (Paint, Seeds & House), Scampi's Stories (Sounds, Wood & Shiny), and of course Fingermouses (Shadow, String, Shapes & Bricks). You can select individual stories, or play them all. The menu system is quite trippy in the colours it uses. When you select an episode to play, you'll get a short clip of it, bfore you press - play again. As well as the 13 episodes, the DVD features some extras, although they aren't particularly exciting. Fingerbobs karaoke basically puts up the lyrics to some of the popular songs, so you can of course sing along - karaoke style. There are only 5 songs to choose from, my favourite being Gullivers....why worry, what's the hurry. The History of Fingerbobs is just several pages of text explaining how Fingerbobs came about. Fingerbobs Jazz Club is a short clip of the various characters playing instruments - it's a bit bizarre really. Create your own fingerbob shows you how to make your own - it's pretty simple with just some text and a shape you can trace on the TV. The running time for this DVD is 183minutes! If your kids like it, just thing how much peace that will give you! If they don't like it, watch it yourself and just think how much peace you'll give the kids! At the moment, Amazon.co.uk is offering this for just £5.99, an absolute bargain!

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        26.04.2002 22:24
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        Nowadays, if you’re a middle aged man with a taste in jumpers that can only be described as Brandrethesque, and you entertain kids by putting bits of cut-out paper on your fingers, you run the risk of being ‘named and shamed’ by a Sunday red-top and having ‘phervet’ (sic) scrawled across your double-glazed French windows. However, back in the 1970’s, a man by the name of ‘Yoffi’ was seen by millions of children waggling his digits in the art of creative play. Yoffi was also known to many as the non-as-good-as-Floella-Benjamin-but-better-than-Fred-Harris one from ‘Play School’. Looking like a geography teacher that you wouldn’t really want teaching you about contours, Yoffi WAS ‘Fingerbobs’ – every single character… Each persona (unique and special in their own way) were created by pieces of paper strategically place of Yoffi’s fingers. They included a mouse (‘Fingermouse’ – duh), Flash The Tortoise, Gulliver the seagull and Scampi, complete with his horde of groupies. Yes, even shellfish get admirers. More often than not, the creatures had disabilities such as wrists stuck where their tails or legs should be, but hey, let’s not get too picky. Yoffi then always proceeded to tell stories about the animals by moving his fingers, providing all the voices, as well as movements. Yes, it was that sophisticated. The various stories highlighted contemporary urban themes such as homelessness, poverty and drug abuse. No, actually, that’s a lie. There was very little point to the stories at all, and it could never really be bracketed as ‘educational’ in the same way that maybe ‘Play School’ could (who, it must be said, tackled the Hamble smack-addiction with sensitivity and respect). I remember one episode where the various animals had to gather feathers and stones. Sounding li ke ingredients for some middle-ages heist, we instead found out that the stones were needed to raise the level of water in a slim-necked jar in order for the bird to be able to drink out of it. Clever, yes. Hygienic, no. Quite where the feathers came in, I don’t remember. A gift for Dame Edna Everage, perhaps. Whilst Yoffi was waving his fingers around in a pastel-coloured BBC studio, you couldn’t help but notice the lack of professionalism in the direction of the story segments. They made absolutely no attempt to blend in Yoffi’s jumpers with the background, which meant you had to try really hard to believe that the characters had a life of their own. In fact, it was so bad that you could almost see and smell Yoffi perspiring as he manoeuvred the various characters around the set. I also recall that there was an animated story that went with some of the episodes. This included the same sorts of basic materials as the live-action ones (pebbles, feathers, any prop that was lying around after Blue Peter). ‘Fingerbobs’ was later superceded with ‘Fingermouse’. A sort of ‘same meat, different gravy’ spin-off, although this lacked the variety of characters that ‘Fingerbobs’ had. On Channel 4’s ‘Top 100 Kids TV Shows’ recently, Yoffi declared that after each series, he would kill off the various characters by dunking them in coffee. Despite appearing bitter and even more twisted than he did all those years ago, Yoffi still hadn’t lost his ‘taste’ for knitwear, and seemed glad that he was back on the small-screen. On reflection, I don’t think that ‘Fingerbobs’ was one of my favourite childhood TV shows. Being more of an 80’s kid than a 70’s one, I don’t think it can match up to the likes of ‘Play School’, although it can be held in much higher esteem than the disorg anised palaver that was Sophie Aldred’s ‘Bitsa’. It may have been simple, but due to the short running times of the episodes (around 5 minutes), you could never get too bored. However, ‘Fingerbobs’ must lose one star for having the creepiest theme music ever. ‘Yoffi lifts a finger, and a mouse appears’, Yoffi sang with a kind of malicious and cunning lilt in his voice. So much so, that you really did fear that one day Yoffi would turn around and admmit that he had Scampi on toast that day, and Fingermouse was for supper. Still, maybe it was only me who thought that. After all, my psychiatrist did tell me that watching the ‘Charley Says’ public information films too much would make me paranoid about kettles and middle-aged bearded men. Like all those other classics that we remember so fondly though, ‘Fingerbobs’ will probably never be seen on TV again. However, if your idea of fun is seeing Yoffi lifting a finger or two, 12 of the ‘best’ episodes are available on video and DVD from all good retailers...

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          28.10.2001 02:51
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          Everyone who grew up in the 1970’s / 1980’s surely must remember this classic, now awarded cult status, children’s TV programme. If you were unfortunate to have been born on Mars or after 1987-ish; Fingerbobs featured an old hippy guy (Yoffy) who used his hands and crude props to perform a kind of puppet show. See, us children of the 1980’s didn’t have luxury animations or computer technology, we had to make do and mend. The theme tune was probably the best bit, on reflection, and it went something like this: "Yoffy lifts a finger and a mouse is there Puts his hands together and a seagull takes the air Yoffy lifts a finger and a scampi darts about Puts his hands together and a tortoise head peeps out His hands were made for making And making they must do! I am a mouse called Fingermouse” The programmes usually featured Fingermouse himself, a Seagull (called Gulliver), the tortoise called Flash (there’s a joke there somewhere) and Scampi (a scampi). Yoffi (kind of like the storyteller) would then interact with these animals and ask them to go off and find objects to help him tell the story. Yoffi, for all you children’s TV buffs out there was in fact a man called Rick Jones who used to do Playschool a lot. There was usually a story featured in the show – after speaking to many people, the only one that keeps re-occuring in people’s memories is the one of the crow who wanted a drink of water from a jug that was only half full, so it dropped rocks into the jug until the water reached the top. I’m sure there’s a moral in there somewhere, and I’m sure there must have been other stories. In fact, if you are at all interested, you can now obtain all the episodes on video and even DVD from all good emporiums. There’s not much on the internet devoted to Fingermouse fanatics like myself, I only managed to find a couple of references, the main one being on the 80’s nostalgia website. There’s not a lot else to say about this programme, except to say “simple, but effective”

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            23.02.2001 06:05
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            Fingerbobs is a show from the early 70's featuring a man known as Yoffi (he was really a Playschool presenter at the time) who has little fingerpuppets that he talks to - yup hes a nutter! These fingerpuppets go off and gather together items that he can use to illustrate his stories. The fingerpuppets also talk to each other and even argue?! And this show was for kids - no wonder I grew up like I am! The fingerpuppets - Fingermouse the mouse, Flash the tortoise, Scampi the Scampi and Gulliver the seagull. Each have their own little songs when they go off on their adventures - eg: "Finger mouse, finger mouse - I get round cats so easily with my amazing body swerve!" Well I did say Yoffi was a bit of a nutter! The show was one of the very few childrens shows to spawn a spin off show called - Fingermouse! Of course fingermouse was never as good as Fingerbobs and disappeared very quickly. I bought this videocassette about a year ago and its a cracking 45 minutes. From the opening song from the show (Yoffi lifts a finger - and a mouse is there!) I was immediately a child again watching the magic telly! Get it - its great! Even if your kids hate it, you'll be glued to it!

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