on 1 November 2010
Created by Glyn Jones in 1970 and loosely based on the 1930s film serial Our Gang (AKA The Little Rascals) The Double Deckers, or Here Come The Double Deckers to give its full title, is a kids comedy and music show that will have stayed in the minds of any one of a certain age who watched it when it was originally shown in January 1971 and then repeated every summer on BBC TV until at least 1978.
Originally 26 episodes of the show had been commissioned to be followed by further series, but production stopped after just 17 episodes and no further shows were made. The reason for the this has never been fully explained because the show was an immediate hit on both sides of the Atlantic (it was partly funded by an American production company). The show is about a gang of seven children whose HQ is a customised red London Routemaster bus in a scrap yard in London's East End. Each week they get involved in a different adventure be it making a film, raising money for guide dogs for the blind, doing a spot of painting and decorating, going camping or visiting a country mansion and finding lost treasure. Along for the ride was their adult pal Albert (Melvyn Hayes) who more often than not ended up as the butt of their jokes.
Everyone will have their favourite episode. Mine is 'The Pop Singer' where they become pop moguls and help guest star Anthony May become his alter ego The Cool Cavalier. But all the shows are highly memorable and once you start watching you won't want to stop. The young cast including Peter Firth, Gillian Bailey and Brinsley Forde are all excellent and also appearing are a stellar line up of guest stars including Clive Dunn, Pat Combs, Roy Kinnear, Jack Haig, David Lodge, Frank Thornton George Woodbridge, Hugh Paddick, Betty Marsden, Liz Fraser, Julian Orchard, Jane Seymour, Michael Sharvell-Martin, Graham Stark and Sam Kydd.
The bonus features are not plentiful but are very welcome being an interview of memories of making the show by two of its stars, Brinsley Forde (who played Spring) and Michael Audreson (Brains). The soundtrack album has already been released on CD and so now with this DVD you have no excuse but to "get on board for fun and laughter".
Oh my - what a trip down 'Memory Lane' this was! Hadn't seen this since it aired originally way, way back in 1971 - almost forty years ago. Remembered it all vividly though; including the theme song, the kids names, and all of the action! Made in the American style (but still very British) this was an action-packed show for kids that was originally shown on a Saturday morning long before 'official' children's TV began - along with other shows like 'The Banana Splits' if I remember correctly.
Where so many TV series take time to get off the ground; this classic kicked-off immediately with the very first episode which is one of the best and funniest when 'Tiger' falls into an invention (the 'thingy' Craft) made by 'Brains' and literally 'takes off'! This is a real tonic and will have you in stitches! Unable to control the strange 'Hoover' vehicle (as she calls it); Tiger seems to be chasing the other kids all over town - priceless stuff! May not sound very original today, but these talented kids - the slapstick, and the way things were back then makes it all work somehow.
'The Case Of The Missing Doughnut' episode - and the very second, is brilliant too! Simply a masterpiece of comic slapstick! 'Doughnut' makes himself invisible via one of 'Brains'' inventions and has some fun at the expense of shopkeepers in both a Toy Shop and a Bakers. Some hilarious scenes ensue in the Toy Shop in particular, featuring comedy greats: Julian Orchard and Jack Haig as the 'taunted' shop keepers! You'll be in stitches as Jack Haig shouts at some toy guns 'don't shoot, don't shoot'! as both fight to get into a toy cupboard for safety from the seemingly attacking toys! And Get a load of those board games on the shelf above; Monopoly, Cluedo, Spy-Ring and the 'Computer Car' - they're all there and we owned them all, and what golden memories too! Only one complaint; these eps. weren't long enough, but then again; that was one of the most successful tricks of the trade years ago; it all left you wanting more...
'Get A Movie On' was hilarious too - Melvyn Hayes's custard pie slapstick constantly in the mush is merciless! All so innocent, and not one of the kids was one of those that you couldn't stand like nowadays. Is it me, or our generation? But none of these kids suffered from that awful teenage 'attitude' we see so often today. We were obviously very fortunate and grew up in a golden era. We all had our favourite characters too - mine was 'Billie' played by Gillian Bailey. For some reason I remembered her best of all.
I loved much of the slapstick in this which you don't see today; cars, vehicles and even people just 'speeded up' - totally hilarious! The scene with the Fork Lift Truck in 'Starstruck' is a classic example! Also, the Benny Hill type chasing that occurs in the 'Happy Haunting' episode with the late great Pat Coombes is also another fine example of this. They all begin running away from something individually - only to end up running behind one another in a long line - marvellous! Another where slapstick features highly is 'Summer Camp' starring a handsome Hugh Paddick. 'Invaders From Space' and 'Robbie The Robot' are two more of the funniest and 'Scooper Strikes Out' is extremely artistic which stars a very young Jane Seymour and is reminiscent of the tale 'Alice In Wonderland' with its very own unique 'slant' to the story! In 'The Popstar' which features 'Anthony May' - at one point, you could be forgiven for thinking you'd tuned into an episode of 'Top Of The Pops'!
The quality of most episodes in general is pretty good, though a couple are slightly 'duller' in quality - both in picture and sound. Some of the dubbing is slightly out of synch too for some reason on a couple, and there's one episode where the character 'Billie' is saying a line - and her lips don't even move at all!
In reference to any 'Extras' - there's only one; namely Brinsley Ford (Spring) and Michael Audreson (Brains') reminiscing about their work on the show. Though nice to see them, it's clear that no expense went into this - or heart come to that, and from this angle, it's very disappointing... Considering how popular the show was and still is; I think it's criminal they've been so mean - in view of the fact I would have thought that most, if not all of the cast would have wished to take part - particularly since many have done little else in TV since. (with perhaps the exception of Peter Firth who played 'Scooper')
'See You Next Weeeee....k' - oh those golden memories...
on 30 November 2010
Welcome back to 1971, I bought this to remember sitting down on the floor and watching a twenty to thirty minute episode of the antics of the Double Deckers, this was made when children used to go out and play in the street or park and have all kinds of fun, where there was no mobile phones, computers, networking sites or hundreds of crappy tv channles to flick between.
Seventeen episodes of pure fun consisting of cunning inventions from the mighty leader called Brains.
Episodes include Raising money for a guide dog, Hovercraft, Helping out a homeless clown, Invisable Doughnut and many more.
The music from the beginning title will have you singing along and in moments you will be back to your childhood grinning ear to ear, sipping orange squash from a plastic beaker or glass and eating Ready salted crisps or Wagon Wheels.
Buy it and enjoy
Official Website [...]
on 22 April 2013
It's great to see the Double Deckers on DVD at last, &, as with many other reviewers on here, it brings back many happy memories from my childhood.
I remember this being one of my favourite BBC children's programmes in the 70s - it's certainly an effective nostalgia trip back to more innocent times.
I would imagine anyone buying this DVD would be familiar with series already, but, for anyone who isn't, it was a 17-part series of 20-minute shows (first aired in the UK in 1971) concerning seven children & their wacky adventures centred on their abandoned double-decker bus 'den' in a gadget-filled London junkyard.
Joining them in many episodes was hapless street cleaner Albert (played by Melvyn Hayes, who also co-wrote the catchy theme song).
The shows had quite an 'American' feel to them, with plenty of sight-gags, speeded-up scenes & overlaid, exaggerated sound effects punctuating the action (quite reminiscent of The Monkees TV series). Lots of singing & dancing too - including the lively (aforementioned) theme of the opening/closing credits.
The series was repeated each year by the Beeb until 1978, unexpectedly re-surfacing one final time during the summer of 1990.
It had quite a glossy look in comparison with other contemporary UK kids' shows - this was probably due it being shot on film (it was a co-production between independent company Century Films & 20th Century Fox TV), & obviously having a reasonable budget too.
Being filmed at Elstree on the same sound stage that had earlier been home to The Avengers TV series (& which would later become host to the first Star Wars movie) many epiosodes are studio-based, but many are filmed on location too & good use is made of the vast studio campus itself & the surrounding areas, including one memorable episode filmed at nearby Knebworth House.
The seven children were: Brain, Billie, Spring, Sticks, Doughnut, Scooper & Tiger.
Being of its time, these characters are quite stereotyped (e.g. 'fat' jokes about Doughnut, the 'brainy' kid wears glasses, gender roles very fixed etc), but it feels a bit unfair to be too harsh about this, coming as we do from the more enlightened standpoint of our more PC times now.
Spring (Brinsley Forde) would of course go on to fame as the lead singer of 80s band Aswad, & Scooper (Peter Firth) would carve out a respectable acting career, eventually going on to star in the TV series Spooks.
Various guest-stars include many screen comedy actors of the day such as Clive Dunn, Pat Coombs, Liz Frazer, Bob Todd & Frank Thornton. We also get to see the screen debut in one episode of future-Hollywood actress Jane Seymour!
All in all the shows are good fun - maybe not quite as good as I remembered them as a child, but still a great way to bathe in some nostalgia & have a little window onto the world of 1971.
So, get on board & enjoy the journey!
I was six when this series was first aired and became a big fan. It is a real deal for me and my partner (who is the same age) to watch these episodes again. Oh my God! It was an innocent age for me, and I guess, compared to today's youth programming, it remains so, despite the sexist and fattist set-up (there is not one episode, I think, in which Doughnut is not castigated about his weight).
There is also a welcome return here to a more egalitarian era, where landlords are attacked for evicting old ladies (episode 11); drivers of posh cars are seen as hooligans (episode 6); advertising is taught as being subversive (episode 12); developers are viewed as baddies (episode 15); and the police are often portrayed as fools (passim). But we never see any of the gang's families, and we only know they attend school in the final episode, when the tricky subject of sexual attraction starts to raise its head.
It was rather a shock to see these shows again, with all the song's words in the opening sung out of sync, all that bad dancing, and those bad ditties about grandma's rocking chair. But the shows still have their genuinely funny moments, usually relying on slapstick and lots of running about rather than on clever screenplays. Did we really think crying out "galloping cucumbers" was cool, or calling someone a "bacon bonce"? The shows also allow us to see again all those major and minor TV stars of the 1970s, from Bob Todd to Pat Coombs, and from Julian Orchard to Frank Thornton. And how can we forget Melvyn Hayes as Albert?
There is alas only one extra on this set, namely an interview with Brains and Spring, an interview that is appallingly done since no one seemed to check whether Brains (Michael Audreson) had his mic switched to the `on' position! It's disappointing that no one mentions what the rest of the gang got up to in their later years.
They say never go back and sometimes that's sound advice. I can think of several much-loved television programmes from the 70s that now seem really dull and badly-made. However, although the Double Deckers is clearly a product of its time, it has aged remarkably well and 40 years on, its fast-paced, child-centred stories are a huge hit with my two sons.
The Double Deckers has several aces up its sleeve. First, there's the wonderful intro sequence with its catchy, upbeat song that instantly puts you in a good mood. Second, once the music stops, you're straight into the story and the pace doesn't flag from beginning to end. Third, the children's characters are all quite clearly defined - we all had our favourites - so that it's easy to become involved in the storyline. Fourth, the constant use of slapstick, with speeded-up film sequences is perfect for young viewers. Finally, any children's programme that features kids living without being supervised by boring old adults is always going to be a hit with young viewers, particularly if it's set in a "den" with lots of wonderful gadgets.
Yes, this is a nostalgia purchase, but even if you've never seen the Double Deckers, buy it for your children. They'll love it.
on 27 March 2011
As I write this, all the other reviewers have given this 5 Stars - clearly everyone is extremely happy.
- it's time to put a stick in the spokes - let's rock the boat a little.
The picture quality on this release is poor - the producers have not bothered to strike a transfer from the original 35mm negatives/prints, and have instead used inferior analogue tape masters - I suspect these are copies of the 2" Quad transmission masters that were supplied to the BBC in 1971.
Shame on the producers and the distribution company - it stinks of both greed and incompetence.
They should bow their heads in shame - clearly a case of minimum outlay for maximum return.
The only good thing here is that Amazon are selling this DVD at far less than the RRP.
on 4 November 2010
Here Come The Double Deckers [DVD] 
I have waited ages for this to be released on dvd, and was not dissapointed when it arrived. It was like revisiting my childhood.I have already watched 4x20 minute programs and thought how much I've missed this well made and very funny series. You can imagine yourself getting up to similar pranks when you were younger!
I particularly like the episode when Doughnut is invisible!
on 24 January 2014
Brings back great memories this show which was always on in school holiday throughout the 70's. The dancing and singing episodes are brilliant. I especially loved Tiger and Billie. It's a great shame only one series of 17 episodes was made and the fact the cast never received their just rewards from Fox!
However, the show is now preserved forever for all to enjoy.
Thanks to everyone who contributed in the show!
on 7 November 2015
My wife was a big fan of the show back in the nineteen seventies and so asked me to buy this complete 17 episode double disc set on DVD. I only watched a couple of the episodes in the seventies. For nostalgia value the DVD's are great. Both my wife and me grew up within close proximity of Borehamwood and Elstree. I lived in Watford and I occasionally accompanied my dad when he went to work in the area. My wife grew up in Hayes, close to the Uxbridge Road, and that was only a short distance from Elstree and Borehamwood. My wife is happy to have rekindled her fondness of the show. I've now seen the series in it's entirety and I think it's very good. We were both able to recognize some of the shopping streets in and around the Studios. Apparently developed for the US as well as the UK markets I can see similarities to shows like 'The Banana Splits' and 'The Monkees'. Definitely a DVD box set that is worthy of a 4 (almost a 5) star review rating. NB. When Brain's Robbie the Robot strikes out with it's arm the same sound effect is used as was used in the various Avengers/New Avengers episodes that feature Cybernauts. Weird indeed.