A blast from the past: the return of Bod

 

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The Independent Culture

Bod was a BBC1 children’s animated television programme first shown in 1975 – featuring a small and sweet character in his trademark yellow dress. The 13 five-minute TV episodes were based on four original Bod books – Bod’s Apple, Bod’s Present, Bod’s Dream and Bod and the Cherry Tree – written in 1965 by the husband-and-wife team Joanne and Michael Cole. They wrote another nine stories to make up their TV series, including Bod and the Rain, which has not yet been published. They had success by then with children’s TV programmes including Fingerbobs in 1972.

Now, to celebrate Bod’s 50th birthday, Egmont is publishing the original Bod books, beginning with the first four titles out this week, with another four following the next year. Joanne, illustrator and Michael, writer, who died in 1985 and 2001, initially decided to write children’s books for their daughter, Alison, in the early 1960s, when she was three years old.

“My parents were looking at books to read to me. They didn’t like the stories at the time such as Noddy with its black and white morality. They wanted something that was more gentle and timeless,” recalls Alison. “Books tended to have lots of text and one picture per page. My dad felt it should be the other way around; a lot more drawings and less words.

“He was a poet and worked for an animated documentary company. It made him realise he could make complex ideas come alive in a visual and simple way.”

By the time Alison was five years old, her parents had created Bod, to read to her and her younger brother, Lo, then two years old. After their father’s death, Alison wrote and Lo illustrated two new Bod books called Bod’s Way: The Meaning of Life and Bod’s New Leaf.

“We drew on mum and dad’s Taoist philosophy,” says Alison. “Bod had become a cult character – our books were written for people who grew up with Bod. They are light philosophy books with a sense of humour.”

Now the Cole family, who also include Alison’s younger siblings Kate and Sam, are hoping to create a new Bod TV series.

 

 

“We want to bring Bod to a whole new generation of children,” she says.

 

The Bod books are published by Egmont Publishing, hardback, £5.99

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