Torchy the Battery Boy

One of the more unusual kids shows to appear on Australian TV in the very early 60s was the British made puppet series, Torchy the Battery Boy, which was an interesting variation on the Pinocchio theme. The series was actually made in the late 1950s by the independent film company AP and was co produced and directed by Gerry Anderson of Thunderbirds fame. Two series and 52 episodes were made in all, however the 26 episodes of the second series were made without Gerry Anderson and AP films.

Torchy the Battery Boy
The series has a peculiar, quirky charm and although it is very '50s' and thus dated, it has a simple, black and white morality and many fantasy elements that would probably still be appealing to very young children - talking toys, an adorable dog,  a planet that grows treats on the trees etc. It's also very English.

The Premise
An old man lives in a cosy cottage with a pretty poodle called Pom Pom and deals with loneliness issues by encouraging the local children play in his garden. Uh oh..already we're getting into dodgy territory, as these days an old man luring children to his back yard would be regarded with deep suspicion, if not outright hostility. Of course back then there was less moral panic about such things and the bearded  man is, after all kindly and harmless.  Anyhow, back to the storyline...

Unfortunately for Mr. Bumbletop (that was his name), one particular child in the garden - Bossy Boots, is a real piece of work and creates a drama, causing the children to abandon the garden en masse. Not only that but his beloved poodle, who somehow managed to get herself attached to a kite, is taken off by a sudden burst of wind, along with the children's toys. Dear oh dear...

Weighed down with a heavy sense of loss and loneliness, Bumbletop attempts to make a toy boy of his own and since he's clearly more technologically advanced than Pinocchio's Gepetto, the old man inserts a torch battery into the home-made boy, thus making him 'come to life'. Much to Mr. Bumbletop's delight, Torchy, complete with a torch embedded in his hat and a sterling British accent, can not only walk and talk but also compose his own theme song:

Torcheee Torcheee...
Torchy, Torchy, the little battery boy
I'm a clever walkie-talkie toy
With bright blue eyes and golden hair
I've a magic beam that can shine anywhere 

Torcheee Torcheee..the little battery boy
I'm a walkie-talkie toy
Press my switch, see my bulb start to beam
Its the most magic light you have seen

Topsy Turvy Land
Torchy on DVD
With his extraordinary magic beam, the little battery boy, who incidentally, seems to be suffering from a touch of ADD, is able to illuminate the whereabouts of lost things. He spots Pom Pom and the toys on another planet (yes, it's a very powerful light). Being a technological whizz, Bumbletop whips up a spaceship and Torchy is sent to retrieve the lost toys, who have come alive on the twinkling planet of Topsy Turvy, where everything is strange indeed -animals talk, cream buns grow on lollipop trees and bossy girls get reformed.

The First Episode

First Series Torchy Credits
  •  Directed by Gerry Anderson
  • Written by Roberta Leigh
  • Musical score by Barry Grey
  • Art direction by Reg Hill
  • Special effects by Derek Meddings
  • Voice overs by  Kenneth Connor (of Carry On movie fame), Jill Freud, Olwyn Griffiths and Patricia Somerset