From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Herbs was a BBC TV
series for young children. It was written by Michael Bond (creator
Bear), produced by Ivor
Wood using 3D stop
motion model animation and first transmitted from 12 February
1968 in the BBC1 Watch with Mother
There were 13 episodes in the series, each one 15 minutes
A spin-off series entitled The Adventures of Parsley
was transmitted from 6 April 1970 in the 5-minute period between
the end of children's TV and the BBC Evening News.
The Herbs consisted of a fantasy mix of human and
animal characters inhabiting the magical walled garden of a country
estate. At the beginning of each episode, the narrator spoke the
magic word, "Herbidacious", which caused the garden gate to
As with The Magic Roundabout, the
sophisticated writing style and narrative delivery of The
Herbs meant that the appeal was somewhat broader than was
originally intended, and much of Parsley's droll humour undoubtedly
went over the heads of the age group that was its main target.
Consequently, it still retains something of a cult status among those who watched it when it was
Each character was the personification of a herb. It is said
that Bond used quotes from Nicholas Culpeper's 17th Century
book, Culpeper's Complete Herbal, to find the herbs whose
botanical traits he could best reflect in the individual
characters. As each character appeared in the show, they were
introduced by a little signature song, which varied slightly from
one episode to the next.
The major character was Parsley the Lion. Parsley did not actually speak (although he
did have his own signature tune: "I'm a very friendly lion called
Parsley....") but his thoughts were voiced by the narrator, Gordon
Rollings. His dead-pan style became a feature of the programme,
and was similar to that used by Eric Thompson in his characterisation of
Dougal the dog in the English version of The Magic
- Parsley the Lion – Parsley
the Lion was a friendly but shy herb. He always sat on the path in
front of the herb garden to welcome the viewers. He was very
frightened of strangers until he got to know them. He was usually
very mischievous with the other Herbs and was able to 'see' the
viewers (a skill he shared with Dill), whereas the other characters
could not. He hated getting his tail wet!
- Sage the Owl – An irate owl who
was almost always in a bad mood. He also fell out of his nest a
lot, and hated getting his feathers wet. He couldn't sing if his
life depended on it, and was roped into helping to hatch Tarragon's
egg. His song was "I'm a rather fat feathery owl called Sage / I'm
not happy now in fact in a rage!"
- Dill the Dog
– Dill was an excitable and hyperactive dog who was always getting
into scrapes, which provided Parsley with a rich source for his
laconic comments. He was constantly chasing his tail, and a source
of great annoyance to Constable Knapweed.
- Sir Basil –
The "King of The Herbs"- wore a deerstalker and had a fondness for hunting,
although he wasn't particularly good at it.
- Lady Rosemary – Sir Basil's wife.
- Constable Knapweed – A policeman who was
constantly writing Herbs' names in his notebook for no real
- Bayleaf the
Gardener – Always hard at work in the garden. Worked for
Sir Basil and Lady Rosemary.
- Aunt Mint
- An old Auntie-like woman who was near always seen sitting in a
rocking chair and sewing. She did not appear in every episode.
- Mr Onion –
- Mrs Onion – His wife, who was always
- The Chives – There were ten chives,
who were very difficult to tell apart.
- Tarragon the
Dragon – A character
who did not appear in every episode. This was perhaps on account of
the fact that everything he breathed fire at disappeared; he
hatched from an egg that fell from a kingdom in the sky, after Sage
had helped to incubate it.
- Pashana Bedhi – A snake-charmer, who did not
appear in all individual episodes. One of his roles is to help Sage
learn how to sing.
- Good King Henry – Very little is
known about this elusive character, perhaps because Sir Basil is
dubbed "King of The Herbs".
- Miss Jessop – Note: Miss Jessop's Upright
is a variety of rosemary.
- Belladonna the Witch – The evil
Belladonna actually only ever appeared in one episode of The
Herbs. She wished to take over the Herb garden, and have all
the innocent Herbs in her power. However, she was considered by the
BBC to be too frightening for children, and so her first appearance
would also be her last; she managed to revert Parsley, Sir Basil
and Lady Rosemary to their natural herb states, but she was driven
away by Dill due to the old tradition of 'dill' being planted to
keep witches away. She did however leave behind her broomstick,
which was occasionally used as a plot device by Parsley, such as
helping him create a carriage for Good King Henry and to burn out
- Senjor Solidago – The music teacher who
is supposed to teach Sage to sing. He fails miserably.
There were thirteen episodes of The Herbs and 32 of
The Adventures of Parsley. The entire collection is
available on DVD in a single
- Episode 01 – Parsley's Tail
- Episode 02 – Sage's Nest Blows Down
- Episode 03 – Belladonna the Witch
- Episode 04 – Tarragon and the Eggs
- Episode 05 – Sage's Singing Lesson
- Episode 06 – Strawberry Picking
- Episode 07 – Sir Basil's Fishing
- Episode 08 – The Show
- Episode 09 – The Chives Catch Colds
- Episode 10 – Pashana Bedhi the Snake
- Episode 11 – Miss Jessop Tidies Up
- Episode 12 – Parsley and the Circus Lion
- Episode 13 – Parsley's Birthday Party