7 Movie Versions Of Classic British Kids TV

Since Will Ferrell and co think they can make a blockbuster out of a much-loved US kids' TV show, we thought we'd try our hand at dipping into the well.

So chuck on your rose-tinted goggles (or prepare to have your mind blown if you're too young to remember these shows) and let's take a stroll down memory lane with a quick turn into Remake Alley...

The Film: Benn

Based on: Mr Benn, created by David McKee, airing 1971/72 on the BBC.

It's the story of a good-natured (though apparently work-shy, since we never see him go there) businessman who visits a local fancy dress shop, tries on outfits and has moral message-spouting adventures in fantastic venues.

Tagline: “He can be anyone he wants… except himself for her!”

Starring: Steve Carell as Mr Benn

Synopsis: Meet Mr Benn, outwardly seeming a normal, bland businessman. But he’s got a secret – he’s actually a time-travelling master of disguise.

Using his cover base (a fancy dress shop located conveniently near his house), Benn travels through a chrono-portal, sorting out trouble in different time periods.

But while he can go anywhere and be anything, he still can’t seem to get it together with Sadie, the girl of his dreams. Is he doomed to a life of adventure lived alone?

Next: The Wombles [Page-Break]

The Film: Wombling Spree

Based on: The Wombles, created by Elizabeth Beresford and the 1973 BBC TV show by Ivor Wood.

Pushing the idea of recycling long before it was trendy, these velvety creatures had rambling, enjoyable adventures usually focused around their Wimbledon Common lair.

They also went on to enjoy cult status as a musical act. No, honest...

Tagline: “Making good use of the things that they… kill!”

Starring: Mark Wahlberg as Jack

Synopsis: For years, the Wombles of Wimbledon Common have been an urban myth – weird creatures that hunt in the dark and leave nothing behind.

Little Jack Beresford was just four when his mother was taken, and now, all grown up, he swears revenge. But the creatures have gone public, and are now beloved children’s icons, preaching an environmental message.

Yet are they as innocent as they seem? Jack sets out to prove otherwise, and discovers the true horror that lies in a newspaper and entrail-covered lair…

Next: Rentaghost [Page-Break]

The Film: Rentaghost

Based on: Rentaghost, written by Bob Block and broadcast on the BBC 1975-1984.

Silly Saturday morning fun with a group of ghosts who perform services. No, not like that, you filthy perv. It was low-budget and essentially pantomime, but it was enjoyable.

Tagline: “When no one living can help, maybe you should turn to the dead!”

Starring: Sam Rockwell as Fred Mumford and Michael Caine as perenially confused landlord Mr Meaker.

Synopsis: There are some things living people just can’t help you with – some crises are so severe that you need the services of a crack team of spirits with special powers.

Enter Rentaghost, a specialised squad with the power to teleport, create objects at will and vanish without a trace.

When a young man (Freddie Highmore) needs help finding his parents, who have been kidnapped by international terrorists, he tracks the team down via Spookle, the ghost-realm search engine and begs for their help…”

Next: Button Moon


The Film: Button Moon: Terror At Circle Ridge

Based on: Button Moon, created by Ian Allen and shown on ITV from 1980-1981.

Ultra low-budget short adventures with clearly string-operated puppets on the titular moon. Peter "Doctor Who" Davidson and Sandra "soon to be his ex-wife" Dickinson narrated and collaborated on the theme tune.

Tagline: “We’re off… To Button Moon!”

Starring: Shia LaBeouf as Mr Spoon

Synopsis: Michael Bay directs this big-budget update of the beloved kiddie puppet show.

Opting to stay away from an origin story, Bay – alongside screenwriters Cormac and Marianne Wibberly – take us straight into the action as Mr Spoon discovers that something horrible is lurking on his otherwise peaceful planet.

A space-beast, flung through the cosmos, has gotten lodged in one of Button Moon’s holes… And it’s trying to destroy everything in sight!

Can Mr Spoon save his home? Or will Button Moon come crashing out of the sky to destroy the Earth?

Next: Flumps [page-break]

The Film: Flumps

Based on: The Flumps, created David Yates and shown on the BBC from 1977-1988.

Stop-motion charm as fluffy, tubby characters enjoy unremarkable adventures and learn lessons.

Tagline: “Get your skates on!”

Starring: Eddie Murphy as all main characters

Synopsis: Life with the Flump family – grumpy but loveable Grandpa, kindly Mother, practical Father and the three kids – is idyllic bliss until an evil developer threatens their garden home.

Soon the Flumps find themselves in a battle to save the place that they love to live, all the while spouting memorable catchphrases and getting into adventures that could easily become spin-off toy dioramas.

Thanks to performance capture, America’s Favourite Family Filmmaker (copyright E. Murphy, 2009), Eddie Murphy, plays all the roles.

Next: Trumpton [Page-Break]

The Film: Trumpton

Based on: Trumpton, created by Bob Bura, John Hardwick and Paquale Ferrari, with scripts by Alison Prince. Shown on the BBC from 1967

From the makers of Camberwick Green, this was a largely sedate tale of country town folk, including the local firemen, who never actually got to put out fires (too expensive to animate, y'see).

Tagline: “What evil lies at the dark hearts of Trumpton’s men?”

Starring: Willem Dafoe as Captain Flack

Synopsis: For his next round of mind-staggering shock, Lars Von Trier somehow manages to get the rights to turn Trumpton into a low-budget indie sleaze fest.

Seen from the outside, Trumpton is a shining example of small town British charm – everyone likes everyone else and they’re all ready to help out when needed.

But there’s something terribly wrong behind closed doors. Trumpton’s women are being terrorised… by their own husbands and sons. And the men of the town are being led astray by Captain Flack, the fire chief. Can Pugh, Pugh, Barney McGrew, Cuthbert, Dibble and Grubb stop him before it’s too late?

Probably not. It’s Von Trier, after all.

Next: Ivor The Engine [Page-Break]

The Film: Runaway Train

Based on: Ivor The Engine, created by Oliver Postgate and shown on both ITV and the BBC in the ‘60s and 70s.

Classic paper cutout animation with the titular steam engine and the various eccentrics (including, because it was Welsh, a dragon) populating a quiet branch line.

Tagline: “ Steaming along to its doom!”

Starring: Michael Sheen as Jones The Steam.

Synopsis: On a normal day, things are sedate and happy on the small branch line that still runs “in the left hand corner of Wales”.

But something has gone wrong today – the brakes have failed and star engine Ivor is barrelling towards a stricken school bus full of trapped kiddies.

Can Jones The Steam – with help from Alice The Elephant – slow Ivor down enough to prevent child-splattered doom?

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Freelance Journalist

James White is a freelance journalist who has been covering film and TV for over two decades. In that time, James has written for a wide variety of publications including Total Film and SFX. He has also worked for BAFTA and on ODEON's in-cinema magazine.