Thursday 6 June 2013

Scragtag and his Tea Time Telly

Genre: Childrens
Channel: BBC1
Transmission: T.T.V: 31/10/1985 - 25/04/1985. Scragtag: 18/09/1986 - 18/12/1986

Some cats you want to sit on your lap and purr approvingly as you slurp a cup of tea and watch telly. Other cats you physically cross the road from just in case you catch something - you know the types, the scraggly looking ones who are most at home when they're rummaging through a bin. You wouldn't think they'd make a great children's TV host, but it turns out Scragtag wasn't too revolting.

A Scraggy Old Cat

Scragtag's first vehicle was Tea Time Television and this series saw the raggedy kitty living in a chest of drawers behind a secondhand shop. In amongst all the junk of the yard, Scragtag discovers an old TV which transmits 'T.T.V' - a curious collection of quizzes, stories and cartoons. And old Scragtag wasn't on his lonesome as he was accompanied by his loyal friend Tim. A gnome. Made of stone. And mute. Nothing mental there then!

Tea Time Television only lasted one series, but a year later the format was rejigged ever so slightly under the banner Scragtag and his Tea Time Telly. And lawks a lawdy, a bit of a spanner had been thrown into Scragtag's plans! You see, his beloved chest of drawers had gone missing, so it was time for an epic quest up and down the country to get his grubby paws back on his furniture.

Behind the Puppet

Scragtag was operated and created by Marcus Kimber who started off working with the subversive puppets on The Young Ones - once his showbiz career was over he later became a secondary school teacher. At least that's what one errant ex pupil told us. Roy Milani produced the series' and Ian Stubbs was on hand as director to guide Scragtag on his motivation.

Tea Time Television was never repeated, but 6 episodes of Scragtag and his Tea Time Telly were repeated in mid 1988 on BBC One. Scragtag also popped up as a guest on an episode of Take Two in May 1986 where he discussed Tea Time Television with Phillip Schofield. Scragtag's final hurrah was in 1991 in Scragtag and Toddles, Ace Detectives. 

A series of books followed the TV series', but are more narrative affairs which present a much more humble and innocent Scragtag. Interestingly, the books reveal that there was a Scragtag fanclub you could join. We recently saw a Scragtag badge up for sale on Ebay - we cruelly missed it - and suspect this was part of the fan club package.

Meeting Scragtag 

Despite being just about old enough to catch Scragtag, the series' completely passed us by at the time. It was only whilst rifling through some dusty Radio Times that we discovered the show.
Scragtag looked a verminous chap and therefore he was right up our alley, so we headed to the BFI Archive to investigate this grimy feline.

Scragtag, himself, is amazing. A great creation packed full of jokes, arrogance and confidence, Scragtag drove the show forwards effortlessly and had one of them great cockney accents that you just don't get in children's TV anymore - God knows why Children's TV execs fear the glottal stop, but they do. Anyway, Scragtag, yeah, as we said he's amazing. In fact, he's second only to Roland Rat in the pantheon of 80s puppet frontmen.

One of the episodes we saw featured The Chuckle Hounds aka The Chuckle Brothers performing at a local theatre to a crowd of incredibly 80s schoolkids wearing parkas and clutching at mini thermos flasks. It's adds a nice variety feel to the show and gives Scragtag a chance to engage with the kids. And, again, it's here that his personality shines through, particularly on the old gag telling front - Scragtag LOVES a gag!

The cartoons and stories are pretty entertaining as well. Peregrine Piecrust is a series of animations linked with a surreal narration about a young Yorkshire lad called Peregrine. A rather bonkers, and Italian, cartoon entitled Mr Hiccup also concentrates on a behatted gent who can't stop hiccuping and causing chaos. It's manic, it's crazy and it's exactly what kids need to get their imaginations working on full throttle.


Radio Times 26th October - 1st November 1985

Thursday is a big day for a rather scruffy cat called Scragtag – he’s a guest on ‘Breakfast Time’ and in the afternoon, he’s starring in his own show (BBC1). Scragtag lives in an untidy back yard behing a second-hand furniture shop. Among the junk is an old television. When he switches it on the set gives him his very own channel – TTV, which stands for Tea Time Television. Scragtag makes a lot of comments – not always complimentary ones – about the shows on TTV as he invites young viewers on BBC1 to watch with him. On TTV there are cartoons like Mr Hiccup, quizzes, and the adventures of a boy called Peregrine Piecrust. Scragtag’s off-screen assistant, former Punch and Judy man Marcus Kimber – he also created the puppets in ‘The Young Ones’ – says this streetwise moggie will have quite a lot to say about TTV during the next 22 weeks.

Radio Times 13th September - 19th September 1986

Last year it was called ‘T.T.V.’ – Tea Time Television, the favourite ‘channel’ of a scruffy cat named Scragtag. Now the series has a new name – ‘Scragtag and his Tea-Time Telly’ – and instead of coming from the backyard of a second-hand furniture shop it’s now set in a boatyard. The ‘bloke with a bike’ will still get viewers’ letters to him, but Scragtag will also be going out and about himself. You’ll see him in a playbus and a classroom, where he’ll meet his young fans – and Tim the gnome. ‘Tea-Time Telly’ will have some new cartoons , too, and this week Scragtag will even be phoning Phillip Schofield.


  1. Didnt Flat Stanley appear on this???

  2. Not sure if he did, but his stories would have fitted in with the tone of the show!

    Loved Flat Stanley as a kid!

  3. Tee tee vee, teatime television
    I totally loved this show when I was wee. According to the dates, I was about 6 at the time so I should've been bored to my boots.

    1. Well, Mr(s) Anonymous, I'm pretty sure you bloody well loved it for a good reason, so any boredom is probably just some deceitful hindsight!

      Can you remember much about the show?

  4. Scragtag came to our school(Gossey Lane J & I) and myself and a few school friends appeared in an episode. For a long time I've been trying to find something online about it but no joy. Scragtag was fab!!!

    1. It's fantastic to hear from one of the stars of TTV! What was it like meeting Scragtag?!

  5. Ooo it was many moons ago. But I remember only a few children from each class got picked to film and it all being a big deal but lots and lots of fun too our parents all recorded the episode on vhs ha ha I'm now 34(nearly 35)

    1. Sounds amazing beyond belief! Let's hope some footage of TTV turns up online one day!

  6. I've been a regular reader of this site for about 6 months, but this is my first post - on an forgotten children's series from 30+ years ago that has always stuck in my head.

    I'm not sure if this is the sole reason TTV stuck in my head, but when I was about 8 (circa 1985/6ish) my dad gave me a clunky old portable cassette recorder, with microphone, that he had 'acquired' from work. Before long I was recording all sorts of sounds, which mostly consisted of holding the mic up to the telly and recording various clips to quietly listen to later than evening. I have a feeling, possibly save for the theme tune from that week's episode of 'The A-Team', an episode of TTV was one of the first things I ever (audio)taped off the telly.

    I clearly recall sitting in the back on my Dad's old Mark 1 Escort (it was an old car even then) one evening on the way back from wherever, tape recorder pressed against my ear listening to clips from 'TTV' I had recorded earlier and thinking I literally was living in the future.

    I can recall to this day the theme tune word by word:
    "TTV. ... Tea Time Television.

    Tonight's the Night... The Time is Right...
    For Tea Time Telly.
    TTV. ... Tea Time Television.

    What's on the show? If you really want to know...
    Watch Tea Time Telly. TTV."
    (The closing credits were a jazzy sax version of the theme)

    Scragtag himself was an 'orrible, mangy looking thing. I dare say I found him fairly amusing at times (oddly he's one of my vaguer memories from the show) but he was enough to make you itch just looking at him. My mum hated him and as such, didn't really like me watching the programme much. Silly moo.

    Scragtag's sidekick, of sorts, was Tim, a garden gnome. Silent, and non-moving, though I recall he would change positions when the camera wasn't on him.

    Of the actual content, I can remember Mr. Hiccup, the dodgy yet somehow charming Italian(?) cartoon about a fella who's never-ending hiccuping gets him into various capers - kinda like a Mr. Magoo but with hiccuping; who's "condition" saw him have capers trying to cross lakes and no doubt accidentally stopping the occasional bank robbery or such unwittingly.

    The other thing that sticks in my my was 'Periguin', typical generic schoolboy misadventures. The story that sticks in my mind (presumably one that I recorded) was Peregrine's love for bubble gum and how big he could blow bubbles, until one got so big it exploded all over him and had to be cut out of his hair. At the end he inists to his mum no more bubble gum, but "Is only chewing a bit of carrot... honest".

    I remember the name Quizicals but recall very little about it beyond the name.

    I'd forgotten the ChuckleHounds did segments til now; they went on to have their own short series, which I believe ran just before or concurrently with the classic 'Chucklevision' (I could look up dates to check, but... meh).

    I recall some sort of dancing mop head puppets, who looked a bit 'Button Moon'ish. Unless I'm very much mistaken, this "band" also had their own short five-minute series too.

    There was also some shenanigans with Philip Schofield, who Scragtag referred to as "Plip" and had some ongoing dispute (or admiration?) with him, until at the end of one episode (possibly the last in the series?) Philip arrived to see Scragtag; I did actually find a clip of this on YouTube a couple of years ago, not sure if it's been removed as no luck finding it now.

    When the series was tweaked in title and format, I vaguely recall it involving a big red bus in which the characters would travel and Scragtag travelling the country, even visiting a couple of schools. I remember thinking this tweaked series wasn't as fun; but then again, I was getting on towards, y'know, nine years old then.

    And there endeth my recollections of an obscure children's programme that has lodged in my head for all those years.

    1. Oh my goodness I thought I'd be the only one who'd remember this. The Ttv, tea time television, what's on the show......"
      Then of course Peregrine Pierust, " Peregrine, Peregrine, what kinda mess you been getting in" I think it went. Where can I watch it again?

  7. My Uncle Mark wrote the books, made the puppets and my sister was used in the books and the series, she spent the day at the zoo with Mark taking photos and my cousin Timothy. Sadly after Marks death and my aunt's soon after (Marion) I lost contact with my cousin's Tim and Michelle (both were used in the series). I had merchandise at the time, signed photos etc but over the years they have disappeared. I remember Phillip Schoffield was part of the series and I often wonder if he has any old footage as I would love to see some clips as not only did I enjoy the series he was also my uncle. As a child he would visit with a full punch and Judy set up, he would erect it in our lounge and put in a show for my sussis Sara and I (in the books my sisters name has been written as Sarah rather than Sara).

  8. Since no one else seems to remember this, I will mention it - originally before Scragtag TTV started as a storyline in (post-revamp) Play School which ran for one week several months before it got its standalone show. A TV set existed in the Play School studios and at some point the presenter would switch it on, sit back and let the programme-within-programme take over before five minutes later switching off and letting normal operations resume. The five minutes or so of TTV was generally a satirical parody of grown up daytime television presented by puppets Tim Him and Thora Her, featuring silly news/weather/travel/sport headlines and the odd studio guest puppet such as the hypnotist puppet who had the entire station saying "camel" in every sentence, resulting in a traffic report about how a camel had broken down on the M1, or the travel reporter puppet in parking wardedn attire announcing delays due to a sudden downpour of ping pong balls (at which point she was caught in said deluge.) The general aim was at kids who, when they occasionally caught some grown up TV, were too young to understand what was happening but did pick up on its general pomposity and bomblast enough to laugh at it. Some of the general ideas from the Play School TTV did impact on the Scragtag version as can be seen with Top Of The Mops (mops sing pop) from the Scragrag series.

    1. That's interesting to hear, Andy. Was the section called TTV as well on Play School? Or was it simply a TV broadcasting and no identity applied?

    2. Just been a bit of digging and, yes, it was named as TTV:

      Bit strange to have Tea Time Television in a show that went out in a mid-morning slot. Will have to try and watch a TTV Play School next time I'm at the BFI!

  9. I have a letter from Scrags and a luggage tag shaped pic of ttv and Scrags

  10. I can confirm that Marcus was a secondary school teacher as I sat with him in the staffroom at Gordon School in Gravesend. He brought the Young Ones rat puppets into the staff room to amuse us. He was a very amusing chap. I really can't remember if he was ex-staff coming back to meet friends or still on the staff. It was 40 years ago!

    1. I’m guessing that if it was around the time Scragtag was on then he was ex staff at your school, only because I went to school with his son in Suffolk. Nice kid, and I always thought it was really cool my mates dad was the guy behind SPG and Scragtag!

    2. Graham Powell
      I can also confirm that Marcus taught at a secondary school, circa 1986 as he taught drama/filming at Geoffreay Chaucer School in Canterbury. In his drama lessons he would have his latest puppets in the corner of the drama room and taught scenes/filming/producing.
      Wanted to write this as I've had my own TV programme for the last 12 years on Sky tv and put Marcus as one of the biggest inspirations, aged 15 of my life... Thanks Marcus wherever you are.