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Johnson and Friends is an Australian children's programme based on a real elephant produced by Film Australia, first broadcast on the 11 March 1991 until 1996.[1] It was shown in the UK in the early 1990s on TCC, CBBC, and then on UK Living's Tiny Living strand for under-fives,[2] a cable channel for the under 5s, in the early morning. It is shown in Australia by the ABC Kids Channel.[3] It was aired in the United States as a segment on the Fox Cubhouse, an educational children's program on the Fox network, from 1993 to 1996.

Johnson and his friends are toys that belong to a boy named Michael, unseen except for asleep in his bed. They reside in his bedroom, and but do not move or show any signs of life until he has left the room or fallen asleep. Each episode involves a story about the toys, and it will usually have a little message to convey to the children, about sharing, cheating, complaining, or similar. The programme was narrated by Paul Bertram.

Contents

Characters

  • Johnson (voiced by Arky Michael/Jonathan Hendry/Garry Scale) is the "leader" of the toys. A furry pink elephant, Johnson is the wisest of the group, although he tends towards impatience sometimes. He has no detailed facial features, such as eyes or a mouth, but simple the vague shape of features.
  • McDuff (voiced by Dra McKay/Katrina Sedgwick) is a blue and yellow concertina and although she is a little silly, is a kind and loyal friend, especially towards the misunderstood Diesel.
  • Diesel (voiced by Matthew Chamberlain/Bruce Wedderburn/Doug Scroope) is a red toy truck that spends most of his time going "bruuum, bruuum" around the floor. He speaks with a very pronounced Australian accent. Although brusque, he means well and is obviously fond of his friends.
  • Alfred (voiced by Peter Browne) is the green hot water bottle, which is technically not a toy. He is a real "fusspot", and lives in the dark, dank area of the bedroom that is under the bed. He is neurotic and anxious, and complains constantly. His face wears an aggrieved expression, but it is Alfred that supplies a lot of the humour. He also owns an "old banana peel" which he is very protective of. Although grumpy, Alfred is generally good natured and helps Johnson out on his endeavors.
  • Squeaky (voiced by Sarah Boddy/Kristen Lyons/Emily Lumbers) is a black and red robot. She is childlike and does not often speak; she believes that the vacuum cleaner is her mother. She does not appear very often.
  • Victoria (voiced by Elizabeth Easther) is a slow-moving orange dinosaur that actually belongs to Michael's sister, Mellisa; Victoria will appear at the door with some bad news she has just heard, e.g. "They're going on holiday and they can't take any toys with them!"

Themes

The series is aimed at children less than five years old, and plays upon their fascination with the notion that their toys come to life when they are gone. However, the stories often have a deeper message, and sometimes they are very poignant. Often the toys live in terror that new toys will replace them (also a major theme in Toy Story), encouraging small children to look after old toys.

On one occasion McDuff was taken out into the real world. She rejected her friends because it was so wonderful, but eventually she regained her senses. One episode deals with the issue of having a TV in your child's room. The toys become completely addicted and Alfred watches it even when nothing is on.

All the episodes convey gentle moral messages to young children whilst at the same time providing the lively colour and rambunctious gaiety that young children enjoy.

Episode List

Season 1 (1991) Season 2 (1992) Season 3 (1993) Season 4 (1994) Season 5 (1995) Season 6 (1996)

References

External links

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