From the 1970s onward, Peter Usborne’s children’s factual publishing empire was the Oxford University Press for the pre-secondary set. Their colourful info-packed tomes, liberally sprinkled with friendly, big-nosed cartoon characters, were the darlings of the school library (when The Sorcerer’s Apprentice was on loan, at least). The Usborne Book of Things to do on a Rainy Day was a self-explanatory favourite. Two friendly, big-nosed cartoon clowns guided the indoor-bound reader through a plethora of homely activities: growing washing soda crystals, making paper hats, etc. The friendly, big-nosed, overcoated spies dotted throughout the Usborne Spy’s Guidebook inhabited an exciting world where unbreakable codes could be written on a belt wrapped round an old stick, and oppressive Eastern Bloc governments thwarted with the cunning deployment of lemon juice as writing medium. More heavyweight was the Usborne Book of World Geography, a comprehensive guide to the friendly, big-nosed peoples of the Earth, full of inoffensively rendered world facts. For instance, comparative gross national product was indicated by figures in national dress holding appropriately scaled money bags: while a sheikh from the United Arab Emirates rejoiced in his ten-foot sack, a peasant representing Bhutan put a bravely cheery face on his golf ball-sized pouch. Best of all, however, was 1979’s Usborne Book of The Future: A Trip in Time to the Year 2000 and Beyond: a mind boggling grab-bag of never-going-to-happen wonders like lunar Olympics, nuclear-powered artificial super-hearts, domed underwater cities, and Jupiter being taken apart and rebuilt as a big shell around the sun, for some unfathomable reason. Its timeline of inventions from 1980 to the twenty-second century has, twenty-five years in, so far proved to be something of a disappointment to the legion of thirtysomethings still awaiting that robot butler.
TVC on Twitter
Creamguide's Pick of the Day
Given it’s now been over fifty years, there possibly will come a time in the not too distant future where the vast majority of the public suspect that Archie Andrews never actually existed and is just a joke, given how ridiculous the concept of ventriloquism on the radio appears. The general concensus is that Peter Brough packed it in because when he went on telly everyone saw he was a pretty crap ventriloquist, but apparently he was also fed up with people having no interest in the man behind the doll, and the suspiciously large number of incidents of Archie getting “lost” on his Wikipedia page would suggest Brough was getting pretty careless. Here’s a new drama where Rob Brydon plays Brough and aims to work out what it was that saw him give it all up to run a textile factory.
Subscribe to Creamguide
Points of View
- In 'Juliet Bravo', Palimpsest says: "Gyroscope police badge motif and a strange episode about glue sniffing."
- In 'New Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The', THX 1139 says: "As Sammy Snyders (Tom) would tell you, what Mark Twain really missed out was a talking teddy bear and a pit full of ravenous..."
- In 'Ripcord', Lina B. Umpierre says: "As the late Larry Pennell (* Uniontown, Pennsylvania, United States of America/February 21, 1928 – + ?/August 28, 2013) as the colorful and..."
- In 'Ripcord', Lina B. Umpierre says: "Mental note: If you really want to parachute and/or skydive, just remember always the audacious and brave “Ripcord” men, Ted McKeever..."
- In 'Ripcord', Lina B. Umpierre says: "This is the most danger-packed adventure show on television of the early 1960s ever made. Every jump and aerial maneuver are real, photographed..."