First episode date
3 October 1985
Country of origin
Final episode date
13 April 1989
3 October 1985 – 13 April 1989
Children's television series, Live action
The Riddlers, Art Attack, Dramarama (TV series)
Puddle lane episode from 1986
Puddle Lane (or Tales from Puddle Lane) is a 1980s British pre-school children's television programme written by Rick Vanes with animated stories written by Sheila K. McCullagh, author of Tim and the Hidden People. A long series of books based on the stories was produced by Ladybird Books, also under the title Puddle Lane.
Puddle lane w neil innes clip 1
The programme was made by Yorkshire Television in Leeds for ITV and ran on from 1985 (as a replacement for Mooncat) until 1989. The main characters were the Magician (played by Neil Innes, who also composed music for the programme), and a Spell Dragon named Toby (voiced by Richard Robinson); the Magician told Toby stories by moving his finger around in a puddle (when using the interior set) and a bird bath (when using the exterior set) and producing images. He also had a cauldron inside and water barrel outside, both of which could talk. The stories he told were presented as animations, narrated by Kate Lee (who also played a minor character, Aunt Flo). The Magician lived in a large house at the end of Puddle Lane, hence the name of the programme.
In an interview in 2014, Neil Innes recalled his involvement with Puddle Lane:
A series of 54 books (plus two standalone volumes) was produced for Puddle Lane, published by Ladybird Books. The texts, based on the animated stories, were written by Sheila McCullagh. Illustrations for the books were provided by several different artists (Tony Morris, Gavin Rowe and others). There were five sets of books (with a different cover colour for each set), the first set (Stage 1) being the easiest to read and the last set (Stage 5) being the hardest. Since they were intended for children who are learning to read, the books with lower reading stages would present the text in two versions: the left page contained the full version, to be read aloud by the parent, while the right page contained a simplified version for the child. The books are currently out of print.
Other Puddle Lane merchandise included audio tapes supplied for the books, jigsaw puzzles, dominoes, picture word cards, and several educational products: The Magician's Activity Book, The Griffle's Activity Book and Puddle Lane Fun Frieze.