You have to be a certain age to remember 'The Herbs'. It seemed to disappear at some point in the mid-70s, along with a fair number of other 'Watch with Mother' shows that illuminated my early childhood, such as 'Andy Pandy' and 'The Woodentops'; but distance hasn't diminished the charm of this series, which has retained a hold on the memory ever since. I still think of the characters whenever I see herbs lined-up on the supermarket shelf, and it's no wonder. These characters are instantly memorable and prove to be an imaginative take on a novel idea, making Basil and Rosemary slightly dim aristocrats, Bayleaf a cap-doffing 'oo-arr' gardener, Sage a grumpy owl, Parsley a less-than-ferocious lion, and Dill a manic dog with crazy hair. The series also has that same brilliant use of colour that Gordon Murray's Trumptonshire trilogy had when British TV was poised to switch from monochrome.
The fifteen-minute 'Herbs' episodes were aimed at pre-school children and have a sedate pace that is very seductive and calming in the Postgate vein, whereas the spin-off, 'The Adventures of Parsley', aired in the later, 'Magic Roundabout' five-minute slot before the news and consequently acquired a cult adult audience, with Parsley's laconic humour and various cultural references that went over my head during their original broadcast. It's great to have both in one package and this set provides 40-somethings with enchanting time-travel TV from a time when children's television had a quality threshold it rarely dipped beneath.