Billy Bean and His Funny Machine (lost British puppet TV series; 1954-1956)
Billy Bean and His Funny Machine was a children's puppet TV series that aired on BBC from 1953 to 1957. The show was created by Chuck Luchsinger based upon his American children's show Jolly Gene & His Fun Machine, with episodes being produced by Vere Lorrimer.
The show involves Billy Bean (who was part of a train company) and a machine he made. Other characters included Yoo-Hoo the Cuckoo, a cuckoo bird who would lay an egg every episode, and Lester, an engine room operator who is always off screen. Billy Bean would also operate what was called the "cartoonerator", where he could draw cartoons which often led to mixed and oftentimes humorous results.
The lyrics for the theme song go as follows:
"Billy Bean built a machine to see what it could do.
He made it out of sticks and stones, and nuts and bolts and glue.
The motor sang Chuffaty Bang, Rattata Rattatarator,
And all of a sudden a picture appeared on the funny old cartoonerator
Billy Bean built a machine to see what it would do,
It did the funniest things he'd seen,
So he called it his fun machine, machine,
Billy Bean and his fun machine."
After Chuck Luchsinger created the American children's show "Jolly Gene & His Fun Machine", the show was brought over to the UK to air on the BBC, with many of the original elements remaining in the show. The equipment was handled by John Wright, writing was done by Lisa Lincoln, and Jane Tyson and Elizabeth Donaldson were the main puppeters.
The first series would air for six episodes broadcast twice per month between July 9th, 1953, and September 14th, 1953 with Dick Vosburgh as Billy Bean and Gaylord Cavallaro as Yoo-Hoo. The series was renewed five more times between 1954 and 1957, with famed voice actor Peter Hawkins taking over as Billy and Ivan Owen playing Yoo-Hoo.
Billy Bean and His Funny Machine never had any VHS or DVD releases, hence, the show has not surfaced to this day. Whether or not the show is truly lost is unknown however only one screenshot and some production materials remains as visual proof of its existence.
- BBC Genome page on the final episode of Billy Bean and his Funny Machine. Retrieved 7 Aug '23
- Details of the programme from whirligig-tv.co.uk. Retrieved 7 Aug '23
- BBC Genome page for the first episode of Billy Bean and his Funny Machine. Retrieved 7 Aug '23