Small Voice Calling > The Voice > Tickle on the Tum
“Look down there’s Tickle Town and there’s the River Tum.”
Following the success of ‘Alphabet Zoo’, Granada TV engaged Ralph McTell to write and perform songs for another children’s programme, ‘Tickle on the Tum’. Residents of Tickle Town would pop into the local post office to tell their gossipy news, which Ralph would illustrate with a thematic song. The story-teller customers were played by well-known actors of the day, including:
- Tim Healy as Barney Bodger the bargain builder
- Billy Connolly as Bobby Binns the dustman
- Nerys Hughes as Bunny Brown the pet shop owner
- Joan Sims as Connie Caper the policewoman
- Penelope Keith as Dora the school bus driver
- Bill Oddie as Dr Dimple
- Kenny Lynch as Mike the milkman
- Susan Wooldridge as Miss Marker the teacher
- Billy Dainty as Roland Crust the baker
Wikipedia says Ralph and his songs featured in three series comprising 79 episodes broadcast between November 1984 and March 1987. Many of the songs were reworked for several episodes, and a few ‘Alphabet Zoo’ songs were reprised. Only 27 songs from the series have been officially released, and a similar number have been uploaded to YouTube; which suggests there are a few gems still to be discovered in the Granada TV vault or on old Betamax tapes in someone’s attic.
The programme itself continued for another season without Ralph, whose decision to quit bemused Wizz Jones: “I thought he was mad to pack up the TV role he had created. Once you’ve got your face known to people, you’re there. It could have led to all sorts of things for him”. (Hockenhull, Chris. ‘Streets of London’, p. 109.) Whilst Hockenhull is generally disparaging about Ralph’s venture into children’s TV, he does generously concede that “…the care and craft that he put into the numerous editions of Alphabet Zoo and Tickle on the Tum has to be commended… he went about the projects with the same levels of seriousness and effort that were a feature of his regular composing”. (Ibid.)
Songs A to Z
Titles in Italics have not yet been released on a Tickle album; those in [square brackets] were borrowed from Alphabet Zoo.
|Bessie and Barney||Bessie’s Washboard Blues|
|Bunny Brown She Had a Shop||Bunny Brown’s Petshop|
|Buzz, Buzz, Buzz (The Fly Song)||Cat in the Well|
|Chicken, Chicken Banjo||Christmas is Coming|
|Come on you Rovers||Connie Caper’s on Patrol|
|Dots of Colour||Dora the Driver|
|Dr Dimple aka Freckles and Spots||[Edna the Elephant]|
|Farmer Field||Feathers in your Pillow|
|Feet in a Bowl||Five Balloons|
|Freddie the Fireman||Holding Hands|
|How Do You Make a Cow Laugh?||I Like Rubbish|
|I Love a Surprise||I Love my Bicycle|
|It Could Have Happened to Anyone||Keeping the Night at Bay |
|[Kenny the Kangaroo]||Lily the Lollipop Lady|
|Mike the Milkman||Mr Robinson|
|No More Beans for Dora||[Ollie the Otter]|
|[Peter the Parrot]||Right There on Your Nose|
|Roland Crust||Rosie Moon|
|Tap, Tap, Tap with the Hammer||Teacher’s Lost Voice|
|The Counting Song||The Money Tree|
|The Pigeon Song||The Puddle Expert|
|The Puppy Dog Song||The Things You Wish Yourself|
|Tickle on the Tum||Tickle Post|
|When Santa Got Stuck up the Chimney||Willie Wok|
Recordings and Issues
Cassette ‘Tickle on the Tum – Stories and Songs’ – Released 1984 – St Michael 1361/5605 [Note 1].
7″ single ‘I Like Rubbish’ b/w ‘Five Balloons’ – Released 1986 – Mays ING13.
LP ‘The Best of – Tickle on the Tum’ – Released 1986 – Mays TPG008.
7″ single ‘The Things You Wish Yourself’ b/w ‘Keeping the Night at Bay’ – Released 1986 – Mays ING14.
Track ‘I Like Rubbish’ on ‘The Journey’ box set CD3 – Released 2006 [Note 2].
Track ‘Keeping the Night at Bay’ on ‘The Journey’ box set CD3 – Released 2006 [Note 2].
Track ‘Keeping the Night at Bay’ on ‘The Definitive Collection‘ – Released 2007 [Note 2].
DVD ‘Tickle on the Tum – The Complete Series One’ – Released 2010 – Revelation PAR61487.
Download single ‘The Things You Wish Yourself’ – Released 2010 [Note 3].
Track ‘The Things You Wish Yourself’ on ‘Songs for Six Strings 6th – E’ CD – Released 2016 [Note 4].
1. Six stories read by different actors and six songs by Ralph.
2. Original 1986 recording.
3. New 2010 recording.
4. Live recording.