The Herbs

The Herbs

"The Herbs" was a BBC TV series for young children. It was written by Michael Bond (creator of Paddington Bear), produced by Ivor Wood using 3D stop motion model animation (the technique used for Wallace and Gromit) and first transmitted from 12 February 1968 in the BBC1 Watch with Mother timeslot.

There were 13 episodes in the series, each one 15 minutes long.

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 open.

As with "The Magic Roundabout", the sophisticated style of writing 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 first broadcast.


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 Roundabout".

The characters

*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.
*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 reason.
* Bayleaf the Gardener – Always hard at work in the garden. Worked for Sir Basil and Lady Rosemary.
* Aunt Mint
* Mr. Onion – The schoolmaster.
* Mrs. Onion – His wife, who was always crying.
* 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 Taragon's fire.
* 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 two-disc set.
*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 Expedition
*Episode 08 – The Show
*Episode 09 – The Chives Catch Colds
*Episode 10 – Pashana Bedhi the Snake Charmer
*Episode 11 – Miss Jessop Tidies Up
*Episode 12 – Parsley and the Circus Lion
*Episode 13 – Parsley's Birthday Party

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