Home > Children's Programmes > The Bumblies
Michael Bentine devised and wrote a thirteen part children's series about three friendly little aliens from outer space, cheerful ambassadors from the Planet Bumble, who landed in their flying saucer in the garden of an absent-minded professor of astronomy, with the express purpose of getting to know the children of Earth, and learning how to play their games.
The Bumblies had numbers rather than names. Bumbly One was their leader and the most intelligent one. Bumbly Two was the fattest and most jovial of the trio, and Bumbly Three was the dim one, who always got things wrong (and was similar to the Eccles character which Spike Milligan had made famous in The Goons).
The Bumblies slept on the ceiling and at the start of the every programme 'Professor' Bentine would order: "Bumbly One, come on down; Bumbly Two, come on down; Bumbly Three, come on down".
In the course of the series Michael played Pirates with them, using a large pirate ship, which they conjured out of thin air by a thought process using their invention, the Bumblescope. They also played Cowboys and Indians, with costumes and props conjured up by the same process, and they followed this by playing King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, with jousting Bumblies riding on roller skates.
he final film was about motor-racing and featured Bumbly Three driving a racing-car round a table fitted out with with a race-track, pit-stops, and a spectators stand where Bumbly Two gave a sports commentary on the event.
The Bumblies song went:
Bumbly, Bumbly what do you say?
Let's sing a Bumbly tune.
Bumbly, Bumbly flying away
And shooting over the moon.
I'm Bumbly number one.
I'm Bumbly two, that's me.
I'm the one that's not very bright -
I'm Bumbly number three.
Each episode was eleven minutes long. The puppets were designed by Angello-del-Cauchferta, a talented spanish sculptor. Richard Dendy then moulded them in latex rubber and an engineer fitted them out with special internal remote control mechanisms.
The original rubber casts of the Bumblies with their creator, 'Professor' Bentine, 1953
A set of metal models of the Bumblies made by H.R Products of Fulham, London who operated between 1951 & 1953.
(H.R. stands for Harry Reynolds who employed a modeller by the name of R Tooth)
MY FRIENDS, THE BUMBLIES
many years I have been looking into space through a
rose-coloured telescope without seeing anything very
unusual, so you can imagine the excitement one night when
I found myself looking at a new planet which no other
human being had ever seen before. I was even more excited
when a little while later three visitors from this planet
came flying into my room in their own little spaceship,
and since then they have become my dearest friends.
We appear on television together quite frequently, and you have probably seen us, so you will know that my three visitors are called Bumbly One, Bumbly Two and Bumbly Three, and that they come from the Planet Bumble. Their spaceship is called a flying saucer, and at home they have flying cups as well.
It is very hard to see the Planet Bumble from earth, because it is almost always on the other side of the moon. In fact Bumblies do not see the face of the man in the moon; they see only the back of his head.
The Bumblies have told me a lot about life on their planet, and I have taught them a lot about our life on earth. They love eating ice-cream, but they were very surprised to find that the only way to get it here is to go into a shop and buy some. At home, they can go out into the country and dig up great big chunks of ice-cream for nothing. You see, on the planet Bumble they have ice-cream mountains--all different kinds--and even the rock is peppermint flavoured.
Bumblies like very sweet things to eat, and they always have plenty of treacle on their food. This comes from treacle wells which are dotted all around the countryside.
The plants which grow near the treacle wells are Curly-rass, Bun-weed and Pusskin-plant. In the woods you will find Balloon bushes and Twang trees. I think the trees have been given that funny name because the branches are very good for making catapults and when you fire a catapult it goes 'twang'.
You have probably noticed on my television programme that the Bumblies do not walk. They simply float from place to place--which really is a simple way of getting around and I wish I could do it because it would stop me getting holes in my shoes. Mind you, on the Planet Bumble, the Bumblies can either walk or float; but the different quality of the atmosphere on earth makes it impossible for them to walk here although I did notice Bumbly Three practising a few steps at Lime Grove one afternoon. Unfortunately he tripped over an electric cable and put all the lights out in the studio, which brought the Head of Television running upstairs in a great temper and he ordered Bumbly Three never to try and walk in the studios again.
by "Professor" Michael Bentine
Bumbly Three is always getting into trouble, poor chap, for, as he says himself, he is not very bright. But he always has the best intentions, so I can never find it in my heart to blame him when things go wrong. Bumbly One and Bumbly Two, who are both much cleverer, are always ready to excuse Bumbly Three and I thought it was very good of them that they did not get angry with him when he let their flying saucer run out of Bumble juice half-way between the Planet Bumble and Mars. (They were flying to Mars, by the way, to collect a supply of marzipan.)
All that happened on that occasion was that Bumbly Three had to get out of the saucer and tow it through space until they came to a garage where they could buy some more Bumble juice. It might have been very dangerous, but it turned out all right, and Bumbly Three apologized in the nicest way. He promised never to let it happen again, but knowing him as well as I do, I think he will find it very difficult to keep his promise.
One thing I must admit is that Bumbly Three is always willing to try anything once. When he came to afternoon tea with me for the first time, he asked if he could make the sandwiches. He had never seen a sandwich before, but I gave him a cucumber and a loaf of bread, and explained what a sandwich is. Bumbly Three went off into a corner by himself, and came back as proud as Punch with his sandwich.
'Here it is, Professor,' he said. I couldn't help laughing when I saw what he had done. He had cut the loaf of bread in half, and put the whole cucumber in the middle. I don't know who would have had a mouth big enough to eat it. Perhaps a giant, but certainly not a Bumbly.
It seems that whatever Bumbly Three tries to do, he can't do it quite right. Ah, well, as he says himself, we can't all be geniuses. So far as I'm concerned, Bumbly Three may not be a genius, but he is so lovable that I forgive him all his mistakes even before he has made them.
But that does not mean I like him better than Bumbly One (who is so wise) and Bumbly Two (who is such good fun). Ever since I first met them, I have been trying to decide which one of the three is the nicest. Some days I think it may be Number One, and other days it may be Number Two, and then I change my mind and say, 'Well, after all, it's Number Three'. Perhaps you would like to write and tell me which one you like best.
The above article was extracted from Television Children's Hour, The Heirloom Library, London (undated)
A DVD which contains two episodes from The Bumblies (as a bonus item)
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