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Johnson and Friends

Johnson and Friends is an Australian children’s television programme broadcast on ABC from 3 September 1990 to 30 October 1995. It was produced by Film Australia and lasted four seasons. In the UK it was shown in the 1993 on TCC, CBBC, and then on UK Living's Tiny Living strand for under-fives. It was aired in the United States as a segment on the Fox Kids, an educational children's program on Fox, from 1993 to 1996.

Plot

Johnson and his friends are toys that belong to a boy named Michael, unseen except for asleep in his bed. They reside in his bedroom, but do not move or show any signs of life until he has left the room or fallen asleep. Each episode involves a story about the toys and it will usually have a message to convey to the children about sharing, cheating, complaining or similar.

Themes

The series is aimed at children less than five years old, and plays upon their fascination with the notion that toys come to life when they are gone. However, the stories often have a deeper message, and sometimes they are very poignant. Often the toys live in terror that new toys will replace them (also a major theme in Toy Story), encouraging small children to look after old toys. On one occasion McDuff was taken out into the real world. She rejected her friends because it was so wonderful, but eventually she regained her senses. One episode deals with the issue of having a TV in your child's room. The toys become completely addicted and Alfred watches it even when nothing is on. All the episodes convey gentle moral messages to young children whilst at the same time providing the lively colour and rambunctious gaiety that young children enjoy.

Characters

  • Johnson: The leader of the toys. A furry pink elephant who loves reading. Johnson is the wisest and oldest of the group, although he tends towards impatience sometimes.
  • McDuff: A blue and yellow concertina who loves having fun. Although she is a little silly, McDuff is a kind and loyal friend, especially towards the misunderstood Diesel.
  • Diesel: A red toy truck that spends most of his time going "bruuum, bruuum" around the floor. He speaks with a very pronounced Australian accent. Although brusque, he means well and is obviously fond of his friends.
  • Alfred: A green hot water bottle, which is technically not a toy. He is a real fusspot and lives in the dark, dank area of the bedroom that is under the bed. He is neurotic and anxious and complains constantly. His face wears an aggrieved expression, but it is Alfred that supplies a lot of the humour. He also owns an old "banana skin blanket" which he is very protective of. Although grumpy and sometimes selfish, Alfred is generally good natured and helps Johnson out on his endeavors.
  • Squeaky: A black and red robot. She guards the bedroom while Michael is asleep and loves singing to herself. She is childlike and believes that the vacuum cleaner is her mother. She does not appear in every episode.
  • Victoria: A slow-moving orange dinosaur that actually belongs to Michael's elder sister, Melissa; Victoria will appear at the door with some bad news she has just heard, e.g. "They're going on holiday and they can't take any toys with them!"
  • Michael: The boy who owns the toys.
  • Melissa: Michael's sister who is the owner of Victoria.
  • Baby: A baby who is the young brother of Michael and Melissa.

Cast

Character Actor
Johnson Arky Michael/Jonathan Hendry/Garry Scale (voice)
McDuff Dra McKay/Katrina Sedgwick (voice)
Diesel Bruce Wedderburn/Matthew Chamberlain/Doug Scroope (voice)
Alfred Peter Browne
Squeaky Sarah Boddy/Kristen Lyons/Emily Lumbers (voice)
Victoria Elizabeth Easther/Leighton Young/Deborah Kennedy (voice) 

The programme was narrated by Paul Bertram. The puppets were designed by Caroline Jones.

Trivia

  • According to several episode script drafts, the show was originally to be titled "Toytime".

Trailer

thumb|left|330px|Series Trailer

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