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A six-part 1992 BBC miniseries based on Mary Norton's children's book series, The Borrowers, about a race of tiny people known as "Borrowers", who live in the human world and survive by "borrowing" food and everyday items from humans, but try to keep their existence a secret. It starred Ian Holm as Pod Clock, Penelope Wilton as his wife Homily and Rebecca Callard as their spirited daughter Arrietty. It was followed in 1993 by another miniseries, The Return of the Borrowers.

The Borrowers came 79th on a 2000 list of the 100 greatest British television shows of all time.


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Tropes in this series include:

  • Aesop Amnesia: Arrietty never seems to learn that revealing herself to a human will inevitably lead to trouble for her family.
  • Cassandra Truth: Naturally enough, whenever any human spots a Borrower, no other human believes them. Mrs Driver is assumed to be mad.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Arrietty's ability to read comes in handy at the end of the second series.
  • Cliffhanger: Every episode of the miniseries ended with one of these.
  • Contrived Coincidence: In the Platters' attic, Arrietty just happens to find some instructions for building a hot air balloon, and all the materials with which to build it.
  • Crapsack World: The human world is a dangerous place for Borrowers.
  • Deadly Prank: All of Ditchley's pranks nearly have deadly consequences.
  • Deus ex Machina:
    • This intervenes quite often to save the Borrowers. At one point Mildeye appears to have them cornered when he gets interrupted by a policeman.
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    • Averted the final time the Clocks are captured. No one is coming to their rescue and they have to build their own hot air balloon.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Ditchley and Ilrick pull the out bath plug, releasing all the water onto the Clocks and Spiller, who are leaving the house via the pipes. But, as Pod later points out, that was the last supply of water in the house (the water has been turned off as the house is now unoccupied by humans), so thanks to Ditchley's prank, the Harpsichords now have no water.
  • Earn Your Title: Borrowers are known as such because they "borrow" everyday items from humans.
  • Freak Show: The Platters plan to display the Clocks in a glass house.
  • Insistent Terminology: Borrowers do not steal, they borrow.
  • Jerkass: Mrs Driver, Ditchley and Ilrick, Mildeye.
  • Karma Houdini: Ditchley and Ilrick escape any serious consequences for their antics. They do get a The Reason You Suck speech from Pod, who informs them that as a result of them pulling out the bath plug, there is now no more water in the house and the Harpsichords will therefore have to leave.
  • Lilliputians: The Borrowers.
  • Meaningful Name: Many Borrowers are named for where they live, such as Clock, Overmantel or Harpsichord.
  • Mouse World: The Borrowers essentially live in the same world as mice.
  • Named by the Adaptation: George, the human boy who befriends the Clock family, is never named in the original books.
  • Never Learned to Read: Pod, who apparently had to start borrowing at a young age and therefore never had time to learn. Averted by Arrietty, who has taught herself to read.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: George's well-meaning efforts to help the Clocks lead to them being discovered (and almost killed) by Mrs Driver.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: Mrs Driver and the Platters capture the Clocks, but then the Platters go and keep them in an open box, in an attic full of hiding places and ideal Scavenged Punk materials, allowing them to escape.
  • Noodle Incident: The incident involving Eggletina being seen. It is implied that she died, but Pod and Homily are reluctant to give more details.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: The Clocks do not move or speak in Sidney and Mabel's presence. Sidney and Mabel assume they are stupid, and just leave them in an open cardboard box in their attic.
  • Obnoxious In-Laws:
    • The Harpsichords to the Clocks.
    • Also Mrs Driver for George.
  • Posthumous Character. Arrietty's cousin Eggletina. It is revealed in Return of the Borrowers that Eggletina is actually very much alive.
  • Scavenged Punk: Inevitably, as pretty much everything the Borrowers possess has been scavenged (or borrowed) from humans.
  • You Have to Believe Me!: Mrs Driver has this when she sees the Borrowers, but understandably no humans believe her.
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