An iconic British children's programme broadcast in 1975, which follows the adventures of a round-headed boy called Bod and his four adult friends Aunt Flo, Frank the Postman, Farmer Barleymow and P.C. Copper. Fondly remembered for its Limited Animation, simplistic designs (all the characters were created from nothing more than basic geometric shapes), and catchy theme music. The Bod stories were narrated by John Le Mesurier, famed for his portrayal of Sergeant Wilson in Dad's Army. Bod originated as a series of picture books by its authors Joanne and Michael Cole in the late 1960s, which were adapted for a storytime segment on Play School, which Michael Cole was working on at the time, a year before the animated series was commissioned. In North America, the show would be used as imported animation interstitials on Nickelodeon's series Pinwheel.
Thirteen episodes were produced, initially as four-minute standalone cartoons, but when Bod was scheduled in the 3:45-4pm Watch with Mother block, the cartoons had to be expanded to fill 15 minutes, so they were accompanied by songs and short, interactive puzzles (most notably the matching card game Bod Snap), as well as a separate feature, Alberto Frog and His Amazing Animal Band, with artwork by Joanne Cole and narration by Maggie Henderson. These segments (which sometimes share themes with the corresponding Bod episodes) see Alberto and his orchestra helping people out of quandaries by playing famous pieces of classical music; when asked what he would like in return, Alberto invariably asks for a milkshake.
The series provides examples of:
- An Aesop: Michael Cole was a keen student of Daoist philosophy when he wrote the Bod books, and it features in several episodes. Most notably, in "Bod and the Cherry Tree", Aunt Flo is told not to be upset about the leaves falling from the cherry trees, as they make way for the blossoms in the spring, and the blossoms then make way for the cherries, and even if the cherries are eaten by the birds before they can be picked, the trees are full of birds singing as a result. The moral: we shouldn't be saddened by death and decay in nature, as they frequently precede rebirth and renewal.
- The Baby of the Bunch: Bod himself appears to be the youngest of the main cast.
- Catchphrase: P.C. Copper, like the policeman he is, usually says "Hullo, hullo!" whenever he appears on the scene.
- Every Episode Ending: The Alberto Frog stories end with Alberto receiving a milkshake as a reward for solving a problem... while the rest of the orchestra gets nothing. (They don't seem to mind, and content themselves with guessing which flavour milkshake Alberto will ask for.)
- Leitmotif: Every character has one, composed and performed by Play School presenter Derek Griffiths. They're pretty infectious too!
- Bod, as the title character, gets the longest theme, an energetic blend of piccolo, fiddle, and scat singing from Griffiths.
- Aunt Flo gets a more sober theme for two clarinets.
- Frank the Postman gets a jaunty "doo doo-n-doo doo" vocal theme.
- Farmer Barleymow gets the most laid-back theme of the group, once again for two clarinets.
- P.C. Copper gets a military-sounding "pa-pa-pa-pum pum pum" vocal theme accompanied by snare drum rolls.
- Limited Animation:
- Bod has some pretty limited animation going on. Movements are very limited and often recycled (the characters' walk cycles are repeated in every episode) but it fits with the simplistic character designs and minimalist backgrounds.
- Alberto Frog and His Amazing Animal Band has even more limited animation; the camera mostly pans around still images, except when Alberto is drinking the milkshake he invariably asks for in return for his orchestra's services.
- Meaningful Name: P.C. Copper (a "copper" is a slang term for a British police officer), Farmer Barleymow (a barley mow is a stack of harvested barley, a staple crop of British fields) and Frank the Postman (even now you can rent a special machine that can "frank" a letter or parcel with prepaid postage).
- Minimalist Cast: If you don't count the occasional appearance of an animal (such as the dogs from Bod and the Dog and the birds from Bod and the Cherry Tree), only the core five characters ever appear.
- Public Domain Soundtrack: The Alberto Frog stories use orchestral classical pieces for their soundtrack, such as the slow movement from Haydn's Surprise symphony.
- Shout-Out: In "Bod at the Beach", Aunt Flo is stranded on a rock by the incoming tide, and is told, "Don't panic!" - a Catchphrase of John Le Mesurier's Dad's Army castmate Clive Dunn as Lance Corporal Jones.