Roger and the Rottentrolls started life as a book and audio tape, written by Tim Firth, commissioned by EMI and W.H. Smith, and produced by Robert Howes and The Childrens Company, intended as a 'spooky story' for children, part of a series of over 30 titles.
Tim's dad, Gordon, who had originally invented the characters, drew the designs for all the characters from which the puppets were made.
A thousand years before the series begins, Merlin tried to create a skiing resort for King Arthur, when he picked up some strange Norwegian trolls in a snow-cloud. Cursing these "rotten trolls", he apparently abandoned the project, and the Rottentrolls, so named, made the valley they landed in their home.
The series follows the adventures of Roger Beckett (aged 10½... sorry, 10¾) in Troller's Ghyll, "where the rocks are all slightly mad"; after crashing his bike in the valley, it is soon discovered that he is The Chosen One and he is crowned King of the Rottentrolls. Cue four seasons of a pretty damn funny mix of live-action and puppetry. It won a BAFTA.
Examples of tropes:
- Appropriated Appellation: Played for laughs; the Rottentrolls take their name from an incident in which their ancestors ruined one of Merlin's spells, causing Merlin to declare angrily, "Oh, those rotten trolls have messed it all up!"
- Blatant Lies: The Rottentroll National Anthem, which must be heard to be believed:"The proudest troll is a Rottentroll,
Oh, the noblest troll is a Rottentroll.
All the cleverest trolls are all Rottentrolls,
And we're terribly modest as well!
Oh yes, we're simple and handsome,
And not at all totally,
Utterly, stark-raving mad...
- British Brevity: Four seasons, 36 episodes. The first two seasons are on VHS and DVD... alternatively, you could just watch them on YouTube.
- Bungling Inventor: Sigsworthy Crags. Out of four rockets he tried to build for interstellar travel, only the third one worked... and Sigsworthy forgot to embark.
- Call-Back: At the end of the pilot, Roger tells the Narrator that he's never coming back to Troller's Ghyll, with the Narrator calmly assuring the viewer that he will, or his name isn't... Narrator. The second episode comes around, Roger's back, with Narrator immediately calling him out on his prior statement; Roger says he's just passing, the Narrator calls him out on that as well...
- Closer to Earth: Pretty much all the female characters are shown to be at least a little bit brighter than the boys, with Penyghent pretty much being the Only Sane Rottentroll. Not used too badly, what with Roger and Aysgarth balancing things out as a pretty down-to-earth kid and a wise old Rottentroll respectively... until season 3, which introduced Kate, Roger's sister who pretty much ended up being a Canon Sue from day one, with her and Penyghent being The First Two Faces Of Eve pretty much every episode.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Sigsworthy Crags, the maddest of the Rottentrolls, has been referred to as "a complete blithering idiot" by Aysgarth, "well weird" by the Nab Twins and "nuts" by Yockenthwaite.
- Cool Old Guy: Aysgarth, who, in The First Rottentroll Revolution, managed to create an indoor garden for the other Rottentrolls to relax in when it rained.
- The Dreaded: The Barguest. Also Blacksyke, "the scariest of the Rottentrolls".
- Evil Laugh: Blacksyke engages in these frequently, though hers involves her quite literally saying "cackle cackle cackle".
- God Guise: All one needs to do to become a God-king of the trolls is to stand in the middle of an abandoned quarry and yell "Roger was here", as the trolls had an ancient document (graffiti on the wall of the quarry) that said those exact words.
- Green Aesop: First Season, Episode 2: If you litter in the woods when you're out camping, then you're a stupid, thoughtless berk.
- Grumpy Old Man: Aysgarth is a pretty mild example.
- I Know Kung-Faux: Jim-Jam Ya-HA! - The Secret Art of Combat without Contact... and the Old Master is a ram.
- Inept Mage: Trucklecrag, The Great But Slightly Disappointing Wizard Of The Rottentrolls. His spells usually make the valley full of dustbins.
- Lethal Chef: Kettlewell, The Dangerous Chef Of The Rottentrolls, who could rip old telephone directories with her bare hands. It would not be wise to criticise her garlic pasties...
- Location Theme Naming: Pen-y-ghent is a hill in Yorkshire, Yockenthwaite is a village in Yorkshire... and so on. Troller's Ghyll really exists, though it's a different valley to the one they filmed in.
- Mama Bear: Kettlewell, big time. "You made my baby drink puddles?! I'LL....DECK YA!"
- Merlin: He was the one who brought The Rottentrolls to Troller's Ghyll from Scandinavia (he was trying to make a ski resort for King Arthur) and named them (he actually called them "rotten trolls" but they were too dumb to realise it).
- Not So Above It All: Penyghent becomes a lauded football player and lets her newfound admiration go to her head.
- Aysgarth becomes a Sore Loser in The Art Gallery.
- Commander Harris falls into a Predator-style hallucinatory trance whilst on an all-night yomp in the forest.
- Officer and a Gentleman: Commander Harris. He's a ram and is the local leader of the SAS - no, not the Special Air Services, the Silently Armed Sheep.
- Oh, Crap!: Penyghent realises that Little Strid has been poisoned by Blacksyke's noxious new drink, which she, Penyghent, actually helped to market in the first place after being tempted by a huge financial reward. Also counts as a moment of My God, What Have I Done?.
- Rhymes on a Dime: Kettlewell developed this during The Appalling Voice Swap:Kettlewell: I'm afraid it's much worse than you feared.King Roger: No it isn't, Kettlewell, not if you're alright.Kettlewell: I woke up to find something weird.
- My words started to rhymeAnd then in no timeA limerick suddenly appeared!
- Riddle Me This: Spoofed when Roger answers The Great Magic Riddle Of The Rottentrolls:Aysgarth: What has four legs, is covered in wool and goes "Baa"?Roger: What, you mean a sheep?Aysgard: It is he!
- Scarecrow Solution: In Season 1, Episode 2, "The Rubbish Monster": The Rottentrolls need to scare away some Jerk Asses who're camping (and littering) in their valley, so Yockenthwaite says he'll make a pretend Barguest to scare them away. Sure enough, the two get scared away by two big red eyes and scary noises. Yockenthwaite is proclaimed the hero of the day ... except that when Roger goes to congratulate him, it turns out Yockenthwaite didn't make the pretend Barguest because... well... it's Yockenthwaite. But something scared the campers away, and it's a full moon tonight so... Roger and Yockenthwaite agree to let everyone think Yockenthwaite didn't screw up as usual, so he ends up as the guest of honour at the celebratory feast.
- Spin-Off: It got two; Combat Sheep which was pretty much a one-off special about Commander Harris and Ripley & Scruff, a So Average, It's Okay preschool show which happened to star some of the Rottentrolls who showed up in Season 4.
- Too Dumb to Live: Yockenthwaite. Hell, pretty much everyone in Troller's Ghyll qualifies, but he dials it Up to Eleven, so that even the other Rottentrolls think he's a berk.
- Totally Radical: The Nab Twins try to be this. The key word is "try".
- Ultimate Evil: The Barguest; all you see are the glow of its eyes.