Yes, I’ll admit it; it used to be my favourite cartoon. On our screens throughout the 90s, I would be surprised if a single one of you reading this could truthfully say you have never experienced the Moomins’ magic at one point in your life – some may even still.
But it’s nothing to be ashamed of. The appeal of the Moomins is outstanding and quite understandable. Tucked away in the quiet and tranquil Moominvalley, the Moomin family of Moomintroll, Moominmamma and Moominpappa lived their happy lives in a world where not much mattered. Each new episode brought a new tale of adventure and fun, with the family being joined by a whole host of other characters including Snuffkin, Sniff, the Snork Maiden, the Hemulen and Little My – all preluded by that annoying yet irresistibly catchy theme tune. But how many of you know that the episodes we watched as children came at the end of a Moomin journey round the globe?
Yes, the Moomins came into existence way back in 1945 – that’s right, 1945, 50 years before any of us first knew of them. The Moomins started life as characters in children’s books written by Tove Jansson, a Finnish author. They later appeared ‘Augsburger Puppenkiste’ in 1959, a German puppet show for children, where they had a total of six episodes. Having received a large audience, another six were made the following year and the original six were re-recorded in 1961 due to popular demand.
Continuing their journey around the world, the Moomins appeared in Japan in 1972, in cartoon form. However, their original creator, Tove Jansson, was appalled at the first 26 episodes, and quite rightly too. Instead of staying close to the original stories, the Japanese cartoons now featured alcohol, firearms and bad language – I shit you not. Jansson didn’t allow overseas sale of these first 26 episodes so the following stayed more loyal to the original – and were accordingly given consent. Between 1972 and 1982, felt (yes – felt) versions of the Moomins appeared on German television screens. CITV bought the first 78 of these shows and cut them into 100 5-minute episodes, believing that some of the German version had too strong a content! Richard Murdok provided English narration for these episodes. Which brings us to the 90s episodes, which were actually Japanese-created. The BBC brought 52 of these and showed them on CBBC throughout the decade. Pure nostalgia. Readers, I ask you to remember the Moomins for a few moments and appreciate the hours of entertainment they gave you. If you never saw an episode, get your hands on a DVD. Failing that, ask your mates if they have a copy on tape from childhood – if they say no, they’re just too ashamed to admit it.
This is an original Hashmark article by Ed Chappell, written in early 2006