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Brighton Fringe 2012

Trumpton Comes Alive

Stephen Wrigley and chums

Genre: Musical Theatre


The Latest Music Bar


Low Down

"Renowned musicians behind Festival favourites, the multi-award-winning Brighton Beach Boys, lovingly recreate guitar virtuoso Freddie Phillips’ much-loved songs from Camberwick Green, Trumpton and Chigley. With Stephen Wrigley (MD of Sydney Opera House’ smash hit Lost and Found Orchestra), Adrian Oxaal (lead guitarist of James), Tom Arnold (of Brighton Beach Boys), and acclaimed comedian and singer Glen Richardson (Radio 2’s The Day The Music Died)."


I was delighted to see at least three generations in the audience to this homage to the music of Freddie Phillips. Trumpton, Camberwick Green and Chigley – these were the children’s television programmes created by Gordon Murray and narrated by the legendary Brian Cant with their memorable characters and tunes that lit up our Watch with Mother hours. In latter years we still watched with Mother, but as adults.

What a delight to see a packed house at the Brighton Five Pound Fringe at the Latest Music Bar. For we are in the territory of heart-fondness, nostalgic warmth and a wit that turned too readily into cold cleverness and technology in the realm of children’s television (except for Dangermouse of course). Ours are the memories of chee-chee-ka-boom-ter (how do you spell it) Windy Miller, cotton wool clouds and a six o’clock whistle that commanded more daily authority than any Cameron-esque austerity programme. We hark back longingly to a time when it was all simpler, when Lord Belborough handled things and when factory farming was acceptable because it was in the safe technological hands of Farmer Jonathan Bell. These were the days before NHS direct and then the only number you remembered was in the phrase MOP1.
Phillips wrote, played and produced the tunes and compere Glen Richardson "spiels" us through a humorous tale that behind in the sixties, introducing us to this Edwardian world that never existed.
We begin with the theme tunes and are then taken through favourites under the subtitle "Jobs", beginning with Mr Murphy the Baker, then ranging the professions from potter to train driver. Oh yes, you remember the driver of the train …
The music is played lovingly, often tenderly and a silence descends in our subterranean venue. So silent you can even hear Bill Smith plotting in the tower room high above.
Seeing past the memories, this isn’t just a reacquaintance with the music, the tunes such as "Roses" emerge as pieces of themselves and one realises that, even out of context, there is some sweet and lovely music here for example, The Flying Waltz, Fishing and The Round Pond.
Some of the repertoire are faithful reproductions, others sound like near versions, but all come together to evoke a time and a mood that took me to a place where I feel lucky to remember a happy childhood, safe in the heart of both Essex and Trumptonshire.
An outstanding example of its genre – this is a Trumpton show that leads the field of other Trumpton shows. They’ve treated this back catalogue with warm respect and an air of quiet but necessary celebration. Thank heavens for no film clips nor projected images – those were all there in my mind’s eye, a landscape kept safe by the likes of Freddie Phillips.