TV Cream

TV: C is for...


Is that the best picture you could find?More weirdness from that mid-’80s period when CITV tried to steal a march on its freshly-Broom-Cupboarded-up rival by commissioning the first thing that came into the various regional studios’ heads. Here was Central’s rummest contribution to the bonkers Year Zero effort, a tale of two gnomes who live in the backyard of a fish and chip shop (hence confusing title) and pledge, by ‘The Code of the Gnomes’, no less, to help anyone with a problem who comes along, which was often. This strangely affecting do-good moral malarkey made rather good use of outsize sets to suggest a mountainous backyard, and good old TONY AITKEN, who was barrow-pushing gnome Mr Wheeler to MIKE ‘KEN off of CITIZEN SMITH’ GRADY’s toadstool-squatting Mr Fisher. Throw in a toy robot, a man in an outsize cat suit, a tortoise with the voice of Julie Andrews and some snigger-baiting gnomic jargon (humans are ‘big ones’, apparently), and you’ve got a weird, downbeat musical whimsyfest which was doomed to semi-obscurity from the moment of inception, but still haunts many a vague memory to this day, in a wistful sort of a way.



  1. Ste

    November 26, 2009 at 10:48 pm

    I saw a production of this at Darlington Civic Theatre by The Whirligig Theatre Company, before it hit the small screen. Our eponymous heroes went off on holiday to an island, which turned out to be, wait for it…. a traffic island. Hilarious. There was even a song that went along with it called “Holiday Island”. I even got a free Whirligig badge. If only I had kept it as there are some on ebay commanding prices of up to 99p.

  2. Ste

    November 26, 2009 at 10:53 pm

    THE IDEAL GNOME EXPEDITION was the title of the production and it played in 1980, according to Google, as if anyone is bothered.

  3. TV Cream

    November 27, 2009 at 10:00 am

    You had us at ‘Whirligig Theatre Company’. Ahh, whimsically-named children’s theatre troupes. One day we should get round to cataloguing memories of that stuff. Thanks for the info.

    • TV Cream

      November 27, 2009 at 12:22 pm

      Whirligig update – they’re still going strong today!

      Actually, if anyone saw a production of ’75’s Rock Nativity (Music and lyrics by the Neighbours theme dream pairing of Tony Hatch and Jackie Trent), we’d love to hear from them.

  4. Lee James Turnock

    May 5, 2010 at 4:21 pm

    When I went to see the West End musical CATS (yeah yeah, can your sarcasm at the back), I remember leafing through the programme and I found out one of the cast members listed Chish ‘n’ Fips on his CV quite prominently. I wish I knew if it was the bloke in the cat suit, that would just be too perfect.

  5. Tony Aitken

    July 5, 2010 at 4:08 pm

    Oddly the series never got repeated, or even a DVD release, and let’s face it with “Last of The Summer Wine” coming to an end even Grady could do with the dosh!
    There was an outake shown several times on blooper shows, and that made me more money than the actual series!
    Quite fun times we had up at the ATV Birmingham studios, they were still doing Crossroads at the time, and the soap stars would often have to put up with two grumpy gnomes pushing into the lunch queue…code of the gnomes you see…

    • Tom Ronson

      March 25, 2022 at 3:30 pm

      Can I be the first to say… WOW! TONY AITKEN!?

  6. Matty

    April 26, 2011 at 8:09 pm

    For years I thought this was called “The Code of the Gnomes” (which I sometimes remembered as “The Gnomes’ Code”) thanks to vague childhood memories of the title (or possibly end-credits) song which featured them going on about it a which I remember featured the lines “It’s up to us, it’s up to us” over and over again.

  7. Lee James Turnock

    June 18, 2014 at 3:37 pm

    If you’re interested in whimsically named children’s theatre groups, there was one that came to my middle school a few times in the eighties called the Seagull Theatre Company, based in Lowestoft, I believe. They did Animal Farm, the Sword and the Sceptre and some shit about pirates.

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