of Tim Firth's children's programmes come under the umbrella
of The Children's Company, which was initially set up
Tim Firth and Robert Howes to produce the first Rottentrolls
book. The Children's Company has gone on to produce other programmes which include Ripley And Scuff and Combat Sheep.
Rottentrolls is written by Tim Firth and is based on characters
created by Gordon Firth (Tim's dad).
The first series won a
BAFTA and subsequent series garnered several more BAFTA and RTS
The Rottentrolls started life
as tiny little booklet produced for
WHSmith. The original commission was to provide a 'spooky story'
for children as part of a series of children's books but the
only truly original 'spooky' story to hand was one Tim's dad
had told him as a kid whilst on holiday in Yorkshire. This related
to a village and valley called Troller's Ghyll, home (allegedly)
to some trolls and a dog-like beast called the Barguest. (The
village, ironically, was Appletreewick, less than a mile from
Burnsall where twenty years later 'Calendar Girls' was filmed).
Assembling the cast list of
trolls was achieved in a rather unusual way. " I put a compass
in the OS map of the area, centred on Troller's Ghyll and drew
a circle of about 5cm radius. I then harvested the strangest-sounding
villages and geographical features. These then seemed to suggest,
bizarrely, the colours of various different mad characters. Yockenthwaite
would clearly be an idiot because it had a 'k' in it. Sigsworthy
Crags would clearly be off his trolley, but older. Penyghent
would be female….and so on. I wish every assembly of characters
was that easy'.
The Rottentrolls was turned
into a television series for ITV by the Children's Company, founded
by Robert Howes with Tim. Tim's dad - the original storyteller,
headteacher and now artist - drew up the designs for all the
characters from which the puppets were made. Tim wrote all 39
episodes of the four series.
The voices of the Rottentrolls
were provided in the first series by John Thompson, Phil
Cornwell and Rebecca Front, who was replaced by Ronnie
Ancona for the subsequent three series. The narrator in each
series was Martin Clunes and the part of the child was
played by Nick Barber. In the last two series Nick was
joined by Holly Grainger who had first worked with Tim
at the age of four as 'Kirsty', the focal point of the main story
in Preston Front. By now she was about eleven. The first series
won a BAFTA and subsequent series garnered several more BAFTA
and RTS nominations.
There have been two spin-offs
from the Rottentrolls: a pre-school series called Ripley
And Scuff which also won a BAFTA (and featured Tim's dad
Gordon as its resident artist) and Combat Sheep.
Ripley & Scuff
COMBAT SHEEP is an adult Christmas special centring
on Commander Harris, the deluded ex-army sheep mascot from the
show. It is a heart warming Christmas story of four army mascots
who have been made redundant due to army cutbacks and are jettisoned
into the cold to face civvie life and its bleak options on offer.
The voices this time were
provided by Steve Coogan (HARRIS), Ronnie Ancona (PEACHES), Mark Williams (MOOSE) and Kevin Eldon (COOPER).
It also featured two non-sheep, Christopher Ellison & Mark
Created by Tim Firth
Additional Material by Peter
Baynham & Graham Duff
Directed by Domonic Brigstocke
Producer Robert Howes
Executive Producers: Steve
Coogan & Henry Normal
A co-production by Baby
Cow and The Children's Company
DVDs are available:
Other scripts, CDs and DVDs of Tim Firth's work are available.