Chigley: The Complete Series Review
And so it comes to the third and final entry in Gordon Murray's Trumptonshire. Moving on from the village in Camberwick Green and the market town of Trumpton to Chigley, a small community of no fixed order that neighbours both Camberwick and Trumpton. Of course, with no doctor of its own, who better to call on that Camberwick's Dr Mopp or, should one be in need of something peculiar such as a hot air balloon, Mr Dagenham of Camberwick can help. With Windy Miller there when you have need of his cider press to crush apples and the Trumpton Fire Brigade there to pick them from the trees, little Chigley has all that it needs on its own doorstep. And all before the dance at Winkstead Hall, held promptly each evening at six o'clock.
As might be obvious in that description, Chigley, made two years after Trumpton in 1969, was produced to be a bedfellow to its prequels. Life in an English market town or village may be unrecognisable now but Chigley moves at much the same leisurely pace as both Trumpton and Camberwick. The sun rises and the sun sets, with one announcing the start of the working day whilst the other is but an end to the celebrations that come with a honest day's work. Without a market or quite so clearly a farm, Chigley's work ethic is provided by Cresswell's biscuit factory, which, compared to the small enterprises of Camberwick and Trumpton, is quite the hive of industry. With its vans driving here and there about the roads of Trumptonshire, Cresswell's factory is quite unlike the mill owned by Windy Miller or Trumpton's carpenters, Chippy Minton and his son, Nibs.
And yet, come six o'clock and the whistle that announce the day's end, biscuit production stops and everyone retires to the dance, with the music provided by a Dutch organ turned by Lord Belborough and his butler, Mr Brackett. As much the a part of life in Chigley as the Mayor and Mr Troop of Trumpton, Lord Belborough and Mr Brackett take a little time out of every day to give Bessie, their steam engine, a run on their private railway. Of course, there's little point in having a steam engine in Trumptonshire unless there's cause to use it and so Lord Belborough and Mr Brackett light Bessie's fire to transport a box of biscuits to the train station (Bessie to the Rescue), to pick up a block of stone for Mr Farthing the Potter to make a fountain (The Fountain) and to collect a temporary bridge from Pippin Fort when one collapses close to Cresswell's biscuit factory (The Broken Bridge).
The highlight of the set, though, is Apples Galore, which is something of a 'greatest hits' of Trumptonshire. With Lord Belborough worrying that his bumper apple crop will go to waste unless something is done, Windy Miller comes to the rescue with his cider press, offering to crush the apples to make juice for that evening's dance. Calling the Trumpton Fire Brigade to pick the apples, which are then loaded by Farmer Jonathan Bell onto Bessie to take them to Windy's barn, Windy presses the apples with the help of the biscuit factory workers in time for the six o'clock dance. It's a lovely coming together of Chigley (Lord Belborough), Camberwick Green (Windy Miller and Farmer Jonathan Bell) and Trumpton (the Fire Brigade) and testament to the characters, places and stories created by Gordon Murray that it works as well as it does, a great little episode that reveals the sweetness behind these shows. A treat, then, and one that the BBC ought to done better by.
If you've been reading the earlier reviews of both Trumpton and Camberwick Green, you'll have noted that the main criticism of each set was the wobble in the picture. Although still there in Camberwick Green, it was much reduced and, again, this is better again. There still isn't a great deal of clarity in the image and a little wobble in the picture remains, as does a small amount of print damage, but it's altogether better here than in either of the previous releases. The audio track is, however, exactly the same as both Trumpton and Camberwick Green, being too sharp and trebly throughout but clean enough for there to be little background noise. There are no subtitles.
Restoring Trumptonshire (6m18s): It was restored? Using screenshots to compare the un-restored and restored footage - I've included one below to let you make up your own mind - this details the amount of work that went into preparing Trumptonshire for DVD. Featuring interviews with Gerry Gedge and Simon Duke of The Machine Room and Danni Levi of IBF Sound Restoration, this isn't entirely convincing but includes enough to suggest that some work was done on the prints but that the budget did not permit a full restoration.
Trailer Gallery (3m31s): The same one that's been brought over from the Trumpton and Camberwick Green discs, this includes the Trumptonshire trio as well as trailers for Trap Door, Lavender Castle, Postman Pat and the Great Dinosaur Hunt and Little Red Tractor - Glorious Mud.
If not quite as good as Trumpton or Camberwick Green, it's still a classic of children's television and it remains a shame that the producers of this DVD couldn't have done better by it. With a slightly better picture quality but with a poor showing of bonus features, this is on a par with the other releases in the set and although it won't convince anyone to buy it on its own, it's what someone who owns the other two releases will expect.