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Arts and Drama
THE SINGING RINGING TREE
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Saturday, 28 December 2002, 10.30 - 11.00pm

Images from the cult children's show.
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How a 1960s BBC TV series, bought from East Germany and complete with a Communist princess and the world's weirdest fish, ended up terrifying and obsessing a generation of British children

In hushed conversations around Britain, devotees of the Singing Ringing Tree, now perhaps in their late thirties or early forties, try to come to terms with one of the great traumas of postwar childhood. This programme reveals why it was that the BBC saw fit to import a terrifying Communist fairy tale, and why the East Germans themselves struggled to work out how a superbly arrogant princess and lots of strange magical animals could promote world revolution.

In locations ranging from film studios in East Berlin to a bizarre back garden on Teesside, the full extent of Singing Ringing Tree mania is laid bare. Former BBC bosses, fanatical former children, the princess herself and a six foot three inch wannabe wicked dwarf add their richly varied perspectives. And from the film itself come scenes of appalling rudeness, touching redemption and chilling laughter.

For those who know this film, the programme will bring back the thrill of life behind the sofa, when characters talking in strange languages burrowed into the memory. For those who don't know the film, the programme provides an essential guide to a phenomenon that is liable to intrude suddenly into the minds and behaviour of thousands of those you may think you know well………
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