Potty Time Season Two DVD

Wednesday, 09 February 2011 18:24

It’s potty in itself to think that it’s over seven years since the first series of Michael Bentine’s Potty Time was issued by Network onto DVD.  So, for those of us who haven’t had a new injection of manic history told in the most totally unique of ways since 2004, the arrival of season two is long overdue (to say the least)! But upon watching these new discs, everything is soon forgiven, and we are reunited with a set of long-lost friends.

So here we are, with the pages of the great Potty Encyclopaedia opened once more. We have 13 more classic episodes of this madcap puppet series – with the benefit of each one being a “two for one” compared to the first season, so they weigh in at half hour episodes.  Yes, we get two tales to each of the segments. Created, written and presented by the multi-talented Michael Bentine (an early member of “The Goons”), Potty Time ran between 1973 and 1980.

Michael Bentine's Potty Time- Season 2 on DVD at last!Turning back the clock a decade, the show was voted into 71st place in Channel 4’s “100 Greatest Kids’ TV Shows” poll of 2001. Bentine was the straight man to the puppet maestros, with Professor Pottsworthy the source of all the Potty knowledge, and you can discover who really won the Battle of Waterloo, why Troy was rebuilt thirteen times, and who made the first attempts at flight. It’s a madcap world, from a mind that had its demons to fight, as well as a spiritual connection that helped Bentine come to terms with the harshness of reality.

Bentine’s autobiography “The Long Banana Skin” allows you access to the spiritual background that he had.  Indeed, he had psychic abilities as a child, and these were a big downside during WWII - he had the ability to see who would return from flying missions, and who would not.  Fellow actor and friend David Lodge related how Bentine said he had seen a skull instead of a face on those whose number was up.

At the end of the war, Bentine was there for the liberation of the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.  As you might expect, it had a traumatic affect on him, unable to relate what he had witnessed, simply calling it “the ultimate blasphemy”.

After the war, he soon graduated from being a comedian at the Windmill Theatre, to being a founder member of The Goons with Messrs Milligan, Secombe and Sellers. He stayed around for just 38 episodes, before travelling out to Australia for something of a sabbatical.

Returning to the UK, a good bit of profile-raising came from a show called After Hours, for ITV’s ABC Weekend Television – it ran for two seasons, from 1958 to 1959. Bentine shared the writing chores with Richard Lester (of The Beatles “A Hard Day’s Night” and “Help!” director fame), and co-starred Dick Emery, Clive Dunn and Benny Lee.  The inimitable Shane Rimmer (Scott Tracy in Thunderbirds) even appeared in a quartet of the episodes, and other occasional guests included Shirley Bassey, Cleo Laine, Lonnie Donegan and David Lodge.

It was in 1960 that he hit gold with the BBC series It’s a Square World, which ran for seven seasons until the end of 1964. He also co-wrote and starred in a lost treasure of a movie as Horace Quilby, “The Sandwich Man” in 1966, which is also available to add to your DVD collection. Amongst the supporting cast are the likes of Diana Dors, Norman Wisdom, Ian Hendry, Harry H Corbett, Dora Bryan, Bernard Cribbins, Stanley Holloway, Wilfred Hyde-White, Michael Medwin, Anna Quayle, Ron Moody and Terry-Thomas!

Returning to children’s television was very much Bentine coming full circle. Bentine had previously developed a concept called The Bumblies in 1954, and Potty Time was a bigger-budget development of the concept. Indeed, the manic nature so much a trademark of “The Goons” becomes stronger and stronger as the series went on.

Bentine devised the format, provided all the voices, designed the puppets, and wrote most of the episodes.  It really was his vision. To describe things further, a Potty is a member of a band of ‘little people’ whose faces are mainly hidden by a mop of hair, so that only an extensive nose can be seen. They tend to hang around in couples – little and big – and talk incessantly.

The Potty with the clapperboard is Clarence, who introduced each episode with great enthusiasm, and a snap of the clapper. Bentine, resplendent in a blazer with an RAF patch (he was an ex-serviceman), tried to keep control of matters but was enjoying what was going on far too much to be a successful arbiter.

You know when people say ‘They don’t make them like this anymore’.  Never has it been truer – this is a unique and unrepeatable moment in time from an incomparable comic genius.

Michael Bentine's Potty Time - The Complete Second Series is a two disc set with a running time of 325 minutes approx, a ‘U’ certificate, and a RRP of £16.33 – or get it for less at www.culttvstore.com



01. The Three Musketeers / Where Eagles Daren't 

02. Robinson Crusoe / The Great Potsby

03. Christopher Columbus / Ghost Hunters 

04. Holidays / Gunfight at Potty City 

05. Fu Manchu / The Great Train Robbery

06. Inventions / Hastings 1066

07. Dick Turpin / Waterloo

08. Viva Zapotti / Horatius 

09. Cavaliers v Roundheads / Wagons West

10. Craftsmen / 55 Days Peking 

11. Explorers / Olympics 

12. Postmen / Japanese 

13. Prisoner of Potzenda / Troy


Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:37

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