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MICHAEL BENTINE'S POTTY TIME - THE COMPLETE SECOND SERIES
DVD region 0. Network.

Michael Bentine's Potty TimeWhen I was a kid, ITV's children's programming was, for some reason, the forbidden fruit. While the commercial channel was perfectly fine for evening viewing, the kiddie TV slot was firmly reserved for the BBC, and so I only ever caught rare glimpses of ITV stalwarts like Magpie, The Tomorrow People and Potty Time, usually when I'd flicked channels while unsuccessfully trying to retune the Tv to pick up distant ITV regions that were showing things like Return to the Planet of the Apes and Batman.

But although I only ever saw a couple of episodes, Potty Time stuck in my memory for years, with it's strange puppets, weird sets and madcap humour. And thankfully, for once memory hasn't played tricks on me, as this double DVD set proves the show to be hugely entertaining stuff.

Michael bentine's Potty TimeIntroduced by Bentine - the very definition of dapper - and his puppet assistant Professor Potsworthy, the format is simple - the pair look up a subject in the Potty Encyclopaedia and then meet the protagonists in assorted historical or literary tales, who tell their story in a decidedly potty manner. And what is a potty? Well, it’s a four-fingered puppet about a foot tall that has its face obscured by a mass of hair. Not the most sophisticated of characters perhaps, but entirely suited for the stories, written by Bentine, that have enough of his Goonish comedy traits to work for both kids and adults.

The stories took two formats – either the full sized Potty characters would tell a fairly character-led tale, or else we’d have elaborate sets where invisible Potties would enact larger scale tales, with rickety cars wobbling across the scenery with hilarious ineptness. You can sometimes catch glimpses of the puppeteers, which rather adds to the fun.

Silly, surreal and low rent, Potty Time remains entertaining - I imagine this might be as much fun for kids today as it was back in the 1970s, and adults will get a nostalgic thrill from it too.

DAVID FLINT

BUY IT NOW (UK)

 

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