Roger and the Rottentrolls

Roger and the Rottentrolls

"Roger and the Rottentrolls" (sometimes, but not in the title sequence nor on DVD covers, called just "The Rottentrolls") was a children's comedy television series made for ITV by The Children's Company, which combined puppets with live action human actors. It was first broadcast on January 1 1996.

Written by Tim Firth, it was based on characters created by Gordon Firth (always referred to as "his dad" in the credits) directed by Julian Kemp and executive produced by Robert Howes.

The first series won the 1997 BAFTA for "Best Children's Entertainment Show" [] , beating the "Ant and Dec Show". Later series were nominated for awards from both BAFTA and the Royal Television Society.


Roger and the Rottentrolls started life as small booklet produced for W H Smith, intended as a 'spooky story' for children to be part of a series of children's books.

Tim's dad, Gordon, who had originally invented the characters, drew the designs for all the characters from which the puppets were made.

The TV series was filmed at Brimham Rocks near Ripon, Yorkshire.

There were two spin-off series: a half-hour special for the BBC named "Combat Sheep" (based around Commander Harris (see below)), and a series for pre-school children called "Ripley and Scuff".


The series followed the adventures of Roger Beckett (aged 10¾) in Troller's Ghyll ("where the rocks are all slightly mad") as King of the Rottentrolls. He was crowned King of the Rotten Trolls after crashing his bike in the valley. As well as ruling over the Rottentrolls, Roger teaches them about things like sport and politics, and, in return, learns a few lessons himself.

Actors and Narrator

There were 3 humans on screen in the series:

*Narrator - voiced by Martin Clunes who told the story and, at times, interacted with the actors and the audience.
*Roger Beckett - the "Roger" of the title, played by Nick Barber.
*Kate Beckett (also known as Princess Kate) - Roger's little sister, played by Holly Grainger.

The Rottentrolls

The Rottentrolls are a group of strange, knee-high creatures who have been waiting for the return of their king for centuries, and coronate young Roger. This is a typical act by the Rottentrolls who often get things wrong. The Rottentrolls are:
*Yockenthwaite - A lovable and daft Rottentroll who is always getting things wrong, often called a berk by others. His catchphrase is "Yo-o!".
*Aysgarth - The oldest and wisest of the Rottentrolls, he likes to think of himself as a leader.
*Penyghent - Penyghent is an artistic and creative female Rottentroll.
*Kettlewell - A bad cook who often has a sudden desire to 'deck' people - hence "I'll deck yer!". She has muscles the size of potatoes.
*Askrigg - A completely sports-obsessed Rottentroll. He attempts every sport imaginable - without any team-mates.
*Blacksyke - The scariest and most mysterious Rottentroll, complete with her spiky umbrella. Her catchphrase is a pronounced "Cackle cackle cackle."
*Trucklecrag - A failed wizard, prone to creating dustbins, toasters, and mackerel.
*The Nab Twins - A pair of teenage rottentrolls who speak in slang terms which are now slightly dated, such as 'radical', 'spurious', and 'wicked'. They are also the members of a rock band called 'Cattlegrid'.
*Little Strid - Kettlewell's daughter, the youngest Rottentroll.
*Sigsworthy Crags - A failed inventor, who is completely mad. He often trails when speaking and starts making dog noises.
*Ripley and Scuff - A pair of young Rottentrolls, sons of Askrigg. They appear in series 4, and in their own spin-off series, Ripley and Scuff.

Their names are all taken from places in Yorkshire. Tim Firth said about how he named the Rottentrolls: "I put a compass in the OS map of the area, centred on Troller's Ghyll and drew a circle of about 5 cm radius. I then harvested the strangest-sounding villages and geographical features. These then seemed to suggest, bizarrely, the colours of various different mad characters. Yockenthwaite would clearly be an idiot because it had a 'k' in it. Sigsworthy Crags would clearly be off his trolley, but older. Penyghent would be female... and so on. I wish every assembly of characters was that easy."

The voices of the Rottentrolls were provided, in the first series, by John Thomson, Phil Cornwell and Rebecca Front. In later series Ronni Ancona replaced Rebecca Front.

Other creatures

*Barguest is a terrible creature that lives in the valley and terrifies the Rottentrolls.
*Commander Harris is a sheep who used to be an army mascot - he always has a tale from his old army days to tell. He too lives in the valley. Commander Harris is an expert on the ancient art of JimJamYAHA and is regularly involved in Roger's adventures.


There were 4 series of Roger and the Rottentrolls and 36 episodes.

eries 1 (1996)

*1 Coronation Valley - Roger crashes his bike into a valley of crazy, knee-high Rottentrolls. They think he's their king and plan a disastrous coronation.
*2 The Rubbish Monster - Troller's Ghyll is invaded by two litter-mad survivalists. King Roger has to sort them out.
*3 Rottentroll of the Year - King Roger is given the thankless task of choosing "Rottentroll of the Year" without upsetting all the other Rottentrolls.
*4 The Extraordinary Dinner Telephone - King Roger invents an "Extraordinary Dinner Telephone" to summon the Rottentrolls to meals.
*5 King Yockenthwaite - Roger lets Yockenthwaite, the stupidest of the Rottentrolls, take over as king.
*6 The Giant Floating Sprout - Sigsworthy Crags (the maddest of the Rottentrolls) attempts to fly to Africa, having recently found a giant floating sprout.
*7 The Great Rescue - Little Strid, the Rottentrolls' baby trollslip, has gone missing. King Roger has to rescue her from the horrible Barguest.

eries 2 (1997)

*8 The Civil War - The younger Rottentrolls become infatuted with King Roger's old comics which leads to a craze for superheroes.
*9 The Great Television Franchise - The Rottentrolls become addicted to television after Commander Harris accidentally picks up television on one of his radar dishes
*10 The Miners' Strike - An old fan heater causes an industrial dispute among the Rottentrolls.
*11 The Gambling Crisis -The entire population of Troller's Ghyll is hooked on Slug Roulette.
*12 The Art Gallery - The Rottentrolls paint pictures for the new art gallery.
*13 The Football Sponsorship Scandal - King Roger has a new football and as all the Rottentrolls want to play, but Penyghent, a girl, turns out to be the best player.
*14 Dirty Tricks - King Roger suggests the Rottentrolls elect a Prime Minister.
*15 The First Rottentroll Revolution - The Rottentrolls are unhappy with their Prime Minister.
*16 The Complimentary Cafetiere - Yockenthwaite arranges a demonstration for a vacuum cleaner just to get a free cafetiere.

eries 3 (1998)

*17 The New Princess - Commander Harris spots a mysterious shape in the bracken.
*18 The Monsters of Rock Festival - The Nab Twins decide that their band should be the headline act at the Rottentroll's first rock festival.
*19 Commander Harris Loses It - Commander Harris takes Princess Kate, Yockenthwaite and Penyghent on an all-night yomp in the forest.
*20 The Almighty Underwater Chicken - Princess Kate goes mad with the Rottentrolls when she finds them worshipping a massive metal chicken.
*21 Twelve Angry Trolls - Aysgarth is the victim of a disgusting practical joke.
*22 The Incredibly Frightening Sheet - Yockenthwaite enlists the help of to make himself look really scary for Halloween.
*23 The Rottentroll Olympics - Princess Kate tries to organise the first Rottentroll Olympic Games.
*24 The Appalling Voice Swap - King Roger and Princess Kate walk up the valley chatting but is all normal?
*25 The Mid-Air Disaster - A gust of wind is enough to set Commander Harris' hut toppling and dangling by just a hoover flex.
*26 The Time Capsule - The Rottentrolls bury a time capsule for future generations.
*27 The Trendy Trainers - Yockenthwaite tries to be as cool as the Nab Twins.
*28 The Stake Out - A crime wave hits Troller's Ghyll.
*29 Trucklecrag's Aftershave - King Roger is invited to his first serious girl-kissing party.
*30 Commander Harris In Love - Commander Harris falls head over hooves in love with Peaches.

eries 4 (2000)

*31 The Four Missing Eyes - Strid's painting of the time she was captured by the Barguest shows two extra pairs of eyes, peeking out from the dark corners of the Barguest's lair. Whose eyes are they?
*32 The Cattle Grid World Tour - King Roger has got tickets to see Catatonia, and so the Nab Twins are taking "Cattle Grid" on a world tour.
*33 The Extremely Tempting Caravan - Yockenthwaite falls prey to temptation.
*34 Full Metal Jim-Jam - Princess Kate is being bullied at school by nasty Hazel Bill.
*35 Sigsworthy's Final Rocket - Sigsworthy Crags has one last try at blasting himself into orbit in a new spaceship made from a dustbin.
*36 Yockenthwaite, The Amazing Puppet - The Ministry of Defence arrive at Troller's Ghyll, convinced there are aliens. This episode includes Alistair McGowan as a man from the ministry!

VHS and DVD releases

The first series of The Rottentrolls was released on VHS as 'Roger and the Rottentrolls: A Complete Set of Adventures' in 1998. The second series was released in two parts: 'Combat Without Contact' (which also featured the special episode 'The Rottentroll Files') and 'State of Emergency', both of which were released on both VHS and DVD.

External links

* [ Official "Rottentrolls" website includes Video and Audio clips]
*imdb title|id=0159202|title=Roger and the Rottentrolls
*imdb name|id=0167340|name=Martin Clunes
*imdb name|id=0334441|name=Holly Grainger
*imdb name|id=1106803|name=Nick Barber
*imdb name|id=0278759|name=Tim Firth
* [ Tim Firth's website]
*imdb name|id=0447312|name=Julian Kemp
* [ The Children's Company website]
* [ Website of Simon Buckey - puppet co-ordinator]
* [ BAFTA Chilren's Award winners 1996-2005]

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