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Literature / Professor Branestawm

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Professor Branestawm is a series of thirteen humorous children's books by Norman Hunter, published between 1933 and 1983. They revolve around the misadventures of the titular Professor and his many odd inventions.

Books in the series

  • The Incredible Adventures of Professor Branestawm (1933)
  • Professor Branestawm's Treasure Hunt (1937)
  • The Peculiar Triumph of Professor Branestawm (1970)
  • Professor Branestawm Up the Pole (1972)
  • Professor Branestawm's Great Revolution (1974)
  • Professor Branestawm Round the Bend (1977)
  • Professor Branestawm's Perilous Pudding (1979)
  • Professor Branestawm and the Wild Letters (1981)
  • Professor Branestawm's Pocket Motor Car (1981)
  • Professor Branestawm's Mouse War (1982)
  • Professor Branestawm's Building Bust-Up (1982)
  • Professor Branestawm's Crunchy Crockery (1983)
  • Professor Branestawm's Hair-Raising Idea (1983)

The series has been adapted into a TV series, a radio adaptation, and two television films.

Contains examples of:

  • Absent-Minded Professor: Professor Branestawm himself.
  • Alliterative Title: Several of the books have one.
  • Apple for Teacher: In "An Apple for the Teacher", the Professor's housekeeper's sister Aggie's little girl Esme decides she wants to take her teacher an apple after reading that kids in America do so. The teacher doesn't like apples, but she's too polite to refuse and figures she can give it to her brother. Unfortunately the idea soon spreads to all of Esme's classmates... then the whole school... then every school in Pagwell, resulting in chaos as the shops start running out of apples, while the schools are accumulating thousands of them. An attempt to solve both problems at once the obvious way creates a new problem, as soon the same apples are being circulated round and round until they rot; the Professor tries to solve this problem by inventing lifelike plastic apples, but this also creates a new problem as people occasionally want to, you know, eat apples. Then the problem abruptly goes away by itself as the kids get bored with the apple thing and decide they're not doing it any more. The adults breathe a collective sigh of relief... and then Esme takes an orange to school for the teacher.
  • Audio Adaptation: Five stories were adapted for BBC Radio 4 in 2001, with the Professor voiced by John Fortune.
  • Baby Talk: An amusingly literal example. Professor Branestawm invents a language to be understood by babies. It's understood by everyone but babies.
  • Character Name and the Noun Phrase: Almost all the titles.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: The Professor.
  • Cloudcuckoolander's Minder: Mrs. Flittersnoop, the Professor's housekeeper.
  • Enmity with an Object: While never presented as sentient, exactly, the Professor's inventions are prone to going particularly wrong if they "don't like" how people are using them.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Many, many of the Professor's inventions. Case in point: the clock that never needs winding up. It also never stops adding more chimes to the hour once past 12, meaning it ultimately never stops chiming, and its chimes get faster and faster and louder and louder until it's screaming, and then...
  • Literal-Minded: At one point the Professor encounters a footbridge in a railway station, with a sign saying that passengers must cross the line by the footbridge. So he crosses the footbridge, only to find another sign at the other end with the same message. He obediently crosses back, and comes to the first sign again...
  • Long-Runners: Started in 1933, ended in 1983 (but with a 33-year gap in the middle).
  • Motor Mouth: Horace Hokkibats, a sports commentator who speaks so quickly that the players have difficulty keeping up with him.
  • Non-Indicative Name: The tearooms at Pagwell Parva all have these — the Old Stone House is built partly of brick and partly of wood, Riverside Tea Gardens is so far from the river you need to stand on a chair and use binoculars to see it, and so on.
  • Punny Name: Nearly all the characters:
    • Professor Branestawm.
    • His friend Colonel Dedshott, who lives in Shoobangfire Cottage, Missfire Lane.
    • Commander Hardaport, RN (Retired)
    • Horace and Hetty Hokkibats, sports fanatics.
    • Doctor 'Mumpzanmeasels.
  • The Show of the Books: In 1969 the first two books were adapted into a 7-episode television Sitcom called The Incredible Adventures of Professor Branestawm by ITV franchise Thames Television, starring Jack Woolgar as Branestawm.
    • Two hour-long TV film adaptations called The Incredible Adventures of Professor Branestawm and Professor Branestawm Returns, featuring Hunter's characters and setting but original plots, were broadcast on BBC One at Christmas 2014 and 2015 respectively, starring Harry Hill as the Professor.
  • Sorcerer's Apprentice Plot: In one story, the Professor builds a cake-baking machine so that Mrs Flittersnoop can keep her promise to do the baking for the church garden party. He shows her how to use it, but neglects to tell her how to turn it off when she's finished.
  • Super Window Jump: The Professor runs right through a window without stopping to open it when he realises a clock is about to explode.
  • You Already Changed the Past: Subverted. Thanks to one of the Professor's inventions, he and Colonel Dedshott go back in time to win a war for the side that lost it, but they don't change it back.
    ...[T]he people who write the history books had an awful time clearing up the tangle they'd made of Squiglatanian history by winning a battle for the side that really lost it.