Drawing An Obadiah Blank

Over The Moon was one of several studio-bound videotaped shows with human presenters that the BBC introduced into their schedules for younger viewers in the mid-to-late seventies. Like Playboard, Ragtime, Ring-A-Ding!, How Do You Do! and probably also one or two others that even I can't recall off the top of my head, it's not really anywhere near as well remembered as it logically should be.

Other than the possibility that some of the target audience resented anything that wasn't puppet-led, there's not really a readily obvious explanation for this. And that doesn't really work anyway as the Playboard presenter was never actually seen onscreen. Still, as you might have noticed, I tend to use Over The Moon as an example of TV That Time Forgot rather a lot; an example that is slightly undermined by the fact that a lot of people actually do remember something about it, even if they have no idea which programme it came from.

Introduced by an animated question mark/coathanger pin man rebounding off the side of various aspects of nature and industry to a squelchy synth backing, Over The Moon was to all intents and purposes a science show for the under fives. Introduced by the no-nonsense Sam Dale, who conducted very basic sub-Johnny Ball experiments in an equally basic studio set, the show also featured Play School-style filmed inserts illustrating the chosen scientific concept of the week, and a similarly illustrative quirky song set to animation by Pigeon Street designer in waiting Alan Rogers.

What was unusual in Over The Moon's case was that these songs were written and performed by actual singer-songwriters, albeit in most cases with previous links to BBC Children's programmes. As you can imagine, this meant that the songs were usually of a very high standard and indeed were remarkably memorable for such a widely-forgotten show. So much so, in fact, that it's likely that most people who remember the songs have little or no idea of what Over The Moon even was. Notable examples include Kim Goody's lament for Rat Van Winkle, who escaped from the 'Rat Race' to a land where a minute lasted a year, Jasper Carrott's salute to intrepid if unsuccessful wildlife photographer Angus McBluff, and a certain Derek Griffiths number concerning one Obadiah Blank.

This was a chirpy call-and-reseponse number about how we have our lucky stars to thank for Obadiah Blank, an indefatigable inventor whose achievements included devising the flying spoon and growing poppies on the moon; and ultimately an 'inventing machine', which could go on inventing for him while he sat back and, presumably, counted his own lucky stars. And it's very clearly the most well remembered detail about Over The Moon; any time that I mention the programme anywhere, you can guarantee that someone will ask if anyone else remembers the song, and more or less every reference to 'Obadiah Blank' on the Internet - apart from an article written by me - is someone asking what programme it came from and where they can get hold of it. It seems that a lot of people would like to see it again, in fact. But there's a slight problem with that.

Wheels And Wires, the edition of Over The Moon featuring the Obadiah Blank song, was first shown by BBC1 on 20th December 1978, and last seen 23rd June 1982. Needless to say, it was repeated countless times in the interim. Unfortunately the master tape was lost in the early nineties - if you want to know how and why this happened, then you can read more about that in this post here - and while a filmed insert from the show apparently does still exist, it's not clear as to whether this is Obadiah Blank or the live action sciencey bit. Or both, in fact, but anyway. So many people recall the song so vividly that somebody must have kept a copy of it, even if it's just a crumbly audio recording made by holding a built-in tape recorder microphone up to the television speaker.

So if you do have a recording of the Obadiah Blank song - or anything of Over The Moon in fact, as there's a few of them missing - please let me know. If we can find lost episodes of How Do You Do!, we can find this...

UPDATE! Thanks to Hidden Cam Studios, here's the full Obadiah Blank song as featured in an edition of Play School!!