Monday, 28 May 2018

The house from Tots TV

(DISCLAIMER:  I do not force entry, vandalize, steal, or disclose means of entry or location if it isn't obvious. I do this to protect locations and respect them. Trespass without forced entry is a civil offense rather than a criminal one, which isn't worth acting on unless one causes damage, steals, has ill intent, etc. I simply photograph and leave everything as I find it. I do not condone breaking and entering, and I do not condone what I do. I'm a danger to myself and a terrible role model )

Todays adventure isn't in Shrewsbury. It's not even in Shropshire. The blogs title by this point has become inaccurate to the point of lunacy. It might as well be called "Woodland Wanderings with Crazy People."

Now, you know from my previous out of Shropshire adventures, I don't just go off to blog about any random shed. It usually takes some pretty tempting blog fodder to lure me. And today is no different. I presume some of you are familiar with an old kids TV show called Tots TV.
It turns out the house is only a short drive away, and hidden derelict in some woods, so naturally I wanted to take a look.

Tots TV was a British TV show that ran from 1993 until 1998. The series focused on the adventures of a French girl, a Black guy, and a hermaphrodite who lived together in a secret house with a dog, and a donkey. All of them are puppets, except for the donkey, who was either real or some damn convincing animatronic.

The three main characters would actually spend very little time in the house, and the majority of the episode was mainly about their adventures traveling out into the world, often hiding from humans as they did so. I was often curious about this. Unlike other 90s sensations like the Teletubbies and the Spice Girls, the characters from Tots TV actually resembled human beings. They had no reason to hide. I mean sure, some of the motivation was their magic sack, which they didn't want to fall into the wrong hands, but other than that, I saw no reason for them to keep their existence and their house a secret.

Upon discovering that the house existed in the UK, derelict, and only a short journey away, I added it to my to-do list, but made the visit a higher priority when I found out that it was on the same land as Teletubby Land, which was demolished in 2014 because of it attracting too many curious urban explorers. And I have nothing but envy for those who have explored the derelict Teletubby Land, but the fact that it has been demolished meant that the Tots TV house might also eventually follow, especially since I have heard stories from other explorers of being chased away at gunpoint. The nostalgic significance of this house is clearly known to the land owner.

Doesn't that sound exciting? In we go!

Sneaking in was pretty easy. As you can see, the door is non-existent. The house has decayed and nature is slowly taking it over. We also need to remember that this is more of a film set than a house, and after twenty years, it's amazing that it still stands.

 The building is a lot more spacious than it looks on the outside, and still retains the original colour scheme, although its faded. The floorboards are long gone, but what with it being a puppet show, I have heard that much of the floor was never there to begin with, allowing the puppeteers to operate the characters from slightly lower footing.

 Around the windows would have been a seating area for the puppet characters, and if I recall correctly, there was a table here too.

In fact, if my memory is right, this back door led to a small kitchen area. The house was designed so that depending on camera angle, it could sometimes look like a completely different room in the single-roomed house.

Around the house were these panels with circles cut into them, labeled "Trap support" which would indicate it was part of the trap door mechanism for the puppeteering.

 There was a window seat next to the stairs too, and I'll include screenshots found on Google for the sake of comparison, so that you can see how homely this place would have looked, if you subtract the creepy singing puppets.

Screenshot from the Tots TV opening sequence.

 The staircase is fairly iconic, and right next to the fireplace. In spite of the house having a chimney, the fireplace itself was never meant to be functional, as you can probably guess by the fact that the stairs actually lead over it. It sure looks like people have lit fires in it before though. No wonder the landowner gets aggressive.

The doorway next to the fireplace actually leads "backstage" and was concealed as an unassuming door during the actual show.

 There's a little ledge above the door, from which a puppet could interact from "upstairs." That's still there. The door is long gone though, along with the books on the shelf next to it.

The book shelf still remains.

Here's the power supply to the donkey shed, suitably labeled.

I was curious about what could be found upstairs, although I wasn't sure they ever led anywhere. They did support my weight though, although the two decades of exposure to the elements had made the wood somewhat rotten.

From up here, one has a good view of the entire house, and to my delight, it actually did overlook the backstage area.

Here we have a view of the area immediately behind the fireplace, and it sure looks a lot grimier than one would expect from such a whimsical TV show. But yes, this is the part of the Tots TV house that kids didn't get to see. And given the drop down to ground level, and given the fact that some of these shelves are so high that even a short person standing on the upper floor would struggle to reach them, and especially given that just on the other side of those shelves was that high up window from which the puppets could interact with the lounge area, I'd guess that there was an actual walkway here, a long time ago.

Making my way back down, I went backstage via the door next to the fireplace.

It's a lot more cavernous and less whimsical back here, although presumably it was once cleaner and well lit, and manned by an entire production crew.

There's a fire extinguisher among the wreckage, along with other stuff.

It's almost as if in 1998 when the show stopped airing, nothing was cleared out of here. It was possibly left exactly as it was, at the mercy of nature, vandals and urban explorers.

Here's the hallway which the upstairs overlooked, and as you can see, these shelves are actually really high up in comparison to the ground level. The shot of this area from upstairs was taken from the window up there.

There are still plugs and wires back here. In theory the place could be powered up again, and given a little TLC. One could theoretically reboot Tots TV. Or better yet, convert this into an actual home. I bet this place would be incredibly popular on Air Bnb.

Towards the back of the house, I realised that it probably needs a little more than a little TLC. It's literally falling apart back here, giving way to nature, and probably won't last for much longer.

The backstage area exits out here, where the house doesn't even look remotely like the Tots TV house anymore, and yet it's all connected. Camera angles made sure we never noticed. The external shots of the house were always taken with this area hidden from view.

Nearby is, of course, the Donkey shed, which is much smaller than I remember it being. Of course when the characters interacting with the donkey are hand puppets, the shed obviously looked bigger on camera. I did briefly wonder about the ethics of keeping a donkey in something half the size of your average garden shed. However, in every shot where the donkey is interacting with the puppets via the window in the shed, if one looks closely, the door was always open behind it, and the donkey was also seen roaming around the garden of the house as well, so it was probably treated well, and lured to the shed purely for the shot.

The door to the donkey shed is now padlocked.

Thats about it for the Tots TV house but it would be foolish to come all the way out here and not take a look at what was once Teletubby Land. Prior to its demolition in 2014 it looked like this:

But it has since been destroyed, apparently due to trespassers annoying the landowner, and has now been turned into a small lake.

Unlike the woodland which conceals the Tots TV house, Teletubby Lake is in the open, but there's really very little to see. I've heard stories about the landowner aggressively chasing people away at gunpoint. In fact I've casually wandered around loads of "aggressively secured" locations without coming into conflict with anyone. It raises the question, what do people do to get aggressively chased away from places? If you're discreet, change nothing, and just take your pictures and go, you'll get no trouble.
If you piss in peoples sinks and such, then you'll ruffle feathers.

But that's all I got for today. Next time I'm back in Shrewsbury for something pretty awesome. I also have some footage from it, so I might try my hand at video editing.
In the meantime, share the blog, and like my Facebook page, follow my Instagram, and my Twitter. Be good to each other.

Thanks for reading!

1 comment:

  1. actually the site was demolished right after filming wrapped in 2000 all of the notable "teletubby" props were removed eg, Windmill which was pretty much scrapped, house was gas cut from the steel and removed. leaving just the little hills and the crater apparently the owners had sheep in the site during that time. then around 2002-03 ish the owner leveled the site and flooded photos of the site the site after everything was removed before it was flooded sadly. though it may look small but it was much bigger during filming as the little hills actually were part of the paddock at the end by the pathway there.

    all of the props were huge btw tinky winky was 7ft tall

    the owners of the farm didn't like that people were trecking through fields disturbing livestock and it was signed when they leased the site that it would be returned to farmland after filming.