Pilot episode for a proposed series of children’s TV programmes and books, The Doggy Tales of Arnold
Duration: 9½ minutes
Words/Music: Carey Blyton
Illustrations: Maurice Stevens
Presented by Willie Rushton
Produced in 1995 by BTV Productions Ltd
In the mid-1990s, Carey Blyton attempted to get a project off the ground involving children’s books, a TV series featuring Willie Rushton and a dog with a very big bark. The Doggy Tales of Arnold was projected to be a series of a dozen or so stories featuring the eponymous dog, and was intended as a collaboration between Carey (who wrote the stories and accompanying music) and the illustrator Maurice Stevens.
Carey completed ten initial stories under the collective heading of The Adventures of Arnold, though this series title had become The Doggy Tales of Arnold by the time the first (and only) TV episode was created. The stories are titled (in order) as follows:
Sadly, for a variety of reasons, the project never came to fruition and nothing was actually released. However, one of the stories, Arnold and the Acorns, was indeed filmed and we are delighted to be able to present the complete programme below.
Grateful thanks are due to Maurice Stevens (see online portfolio) for providing access to all of his illustrations for Arnold and the Acorns, along with a few other resources and recollections (see below).
In digging out his Arnold and the Acorns material, Maurice Stevens recalled:
The book, which was never properly published, had a rather sticky beginning, rather a long time ago now—started in 1994 through 1995/1996 (I’m a bit vague about actual dates). There were some irritating political problems that I won’t bore you with. However, Carey and I finally managed to disentangle ourselves from all that. [I created some] experimental cover designs as examples of future stories, if they were to be commissioned prior to publishing. That didn’t happen and so no further work was produced.
I visited Carey and Mary at their home in Swanley, and we struck up a friendship which escalated into an exchange of correspondence. Not long after that, Carey and Mary moved house and I lost touch.
When Carey died it was a sad loss; he still had so much to offer. Carey Blyton was a delightful chap with a wicked sense of humour. When he and I met we seemed to hit it off straight away on a personal and a creative level: we were tuned in on the same wavelength about many things. I have a file of correspondence between us that I recently read, which made me chuckle quite a lot. His letters had a surreal touch not unlike Spike Milligan. He wrote saucy limericks and I responded with cartoons, including a caricature portrait of him that he likened to Boris Karloff!
As noted, the exchange of letters involved limericks and cartoons, a few of which are reproduced here. Silly names were also employed, with Maurice signing himself Moritz von Teddington and Carey responding in the guise of Cynthia Fishnet-Stockings (Ms) (p.p. El Khasi bin Wadi of Timbucthree):
(or is it Boris Karloff?)
by Maurice Stevens
I will leave you with two limericks dashed off with a few days apart, as the amazing revelations revelated, viz.
The final line is proving tricky. Any ideas?
I kiss the hem of your paint-bestrewed jellaba, effendi.
Cynthia Fishnet-Stockings (Ms)
p.p. El Khasi bin Wadi of Timbucthree
by Maurice Stevens
This picture was first submitted by Maurice Stevens as a taster for Carey’s opening Arnold story, Arnold Makes a New Friend. It was only a first ‘rough’, but it nevertheless captures the style that was subsequently used. Maurice had done some experimental character rough drawings of Arnold prior to this picture to develop his ultimate appearance, but this is the first colour illustration for an Arnold story, and the only one created for Arnold Makes a New Friend. Later, the producers of the TV programme changed their minds and went with Arnold and the Acorns as the first programme instead, despite its being the fourth story in the series.