Web Page No 2412
6th October 2017
First Picture: The only known picture of the Funny Machine
Second Picture: Diagram of the Funny Machine
Third Picture: Billy Bean toy.
Billy Bean and his Funny Machine.
Now here is a programme which I am sure many of you have forgotten. It appeared around the time of The Wooden Tops, the Flower Pot Men and Rag, Tag and Bobtail.
Do you remember Billy Bean and His Funny Machine the children’s TV series which was broadcast by the BBC, (there was no other channel at the time), in 1954 and ran for two years until 1956. It featured a uniformed puppet engine driver from an un-named railway, his name was Billy Bean. Apart from being part of this unidentified railway company, operated a large fantastic and puzzling machine that could somehow produce anything that Billy Bean drew on a special screen that was called a "cartoonorator". Many mistakes were made with humorous results, which was the aim and charm of the programme. The machine which featured such devices as a windmill, a Dorset-Faucet (whatever that may be!) and the cartoonerator. The voice of Yoo-Hoo was supplied by Ivan Owen, who later went on to voice one of the Britain's best loved puppets of all time, Basil Brush. Many back-room staff, who later went on to be involved in other puppet series, were involved in this early TV production. Peter Hawkins, who went on to make a career in children’s puppet TV, provided the voice of Billy Bean.
To a degree it could be said that the programme was an American import as it was based upon an American children's show dreamt up by Chuck Luchsinger's and called "Jolly Gene & His Fun Machine". There were many similarities, Jolly Gene dressed as a Railroad Engineer and drove a train; Billy Bean also drove a train and was dressed as a British train driver. For the programme John Wright made the puppets and all equipment including the funny machine, the series was written by Lisa Lincoln and the puppetry was by Jane Tyson and Elizabeth Donaldson. The show was produced by Vere Lorrimer.
In the show Billy Bean usually operated the funny machine assisted by a cuckoo named Yoo Hoo that emerged from a clock and laid an egg at random intervals during each performance. Ivan Owen provided the voice for Yoo Hoo, he is probably better known for, in later years, providing the voice for Basil Brush.
The programme has never had any VHS or DVD releases. Hence, the show is almost forgotten. Whether or not the show is truly lost is unknown however only one screenshot remains as visual proof of its existence and that is featured as the top picture this week.
The BBC were very keen that all the family knew of the contents of their Children’s Programmes and so often the following would be read out later in the day by the Continuity Announcer. “This afternoon's children's programme is repeated so that older members of the family can meet a new character recently introduced in Children's Television.”
For some strange reason years later the programme became popular in Czechoslovakia! Maybe there are all the episodes that have been lost to UK audiences in existence somewhere in the Czech Republic!!
Now how many of you remembered the programme?
The programme featured a theme song that went as follows, maybe you will remember this:-
Billy Bean built a machine to see what it could do.
He made it out of sticks and stones and nuts and bolts and glue.
The motor sang Chuffaty Bang, Rattata Rattatarator,
And all of a sudden a picture appeared on the funny old cartoonerator
Billy Bean built a machine to see what it would do,
It did the funniest things he'd seen,
So he called it his fun machine, machine,
Billy Bean and his fun machine."
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Cannot believe that the 10th of this month marks our Golden Wedding !!!!!
News and Views:
On this day 6th October 1960-1965
On 06/10/1960 the number one single was Tell Laura I Love Her - Ricky Valance and the number one album was Tottenham Hotspur. The top rated TV show was Bootsie & Snudge (Granada) and the box office smash was Psycho. A pound of today's money was worth £13.68. Worst flooding in Southern England since 1953. The big news story of the day was No Hiding Place (AR).
On 06/10/1961 the number one single was Kon-Tiki - The Shadows and the number one album was The Shadows - Shadows. The top rated TV show was Sunday Night at the London Palladium (ATV) and the box office smash was One Hundred and One Dalmations. A pound of today's money was worth £13.25 and Ipswich Town were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 06/10/1962 the number one single was Telstar - The Tornadoes and the number one album was Best of Ball Barber & Bilk. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was Lawrence of Arabia. A pound of today's money was worth £12.89 and Everton were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 06/10/1963 the number one single was She Loves You - The Beatles and the number one album was Please Please Me - The Beatles. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was The Great Escape. A pound of today's money was worth £12.64 and Liverpool were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions. The big news story of the day was Dam malfunction kills 2000 in Italian flood
On 06/10/1964 the number one single was Oh Pretty Woman - Roy Orbison and the number one album was A Hard Day's Night - Beatles. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was Dr Strangelove. A pound of today's money was worth £12.24 and Manchester United were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.
On 06/10/1965 the number one single was Tears - Ken Dodd and the number one album was Help - The Beatles. The top rated TV show was Coronation Street (Granada) and the box office smash was The Sound of Music. A pound of today's money was worth £11.69 and Liverpool were on the way to becoming the Season's Division 1 champions.