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Mooncat was a puppet character who, as his name suggests, was a cat from the moon. He appeared on ITV from 1981 to 1985 in the series Get Up and Go! and the follow-up Mooncat and Co produced by Yorkshire Television.
Mooncat was created, designed, and initially operated and voiced by David Claridge, who later went on to create, voice and operate Roland Rat.
The series revolved around Mooncat learning about life on Earth. Subjects covered included shapes, movement, being careful and taking turns.
The format regularly included Reid and Boxer explaining an everyday subject to Mooncat and looking at a film about it on his Moon Machine through either the round, square or triangle screen. Then there would be a story about Billie, a little girl who had toys which came to life - these were Woodley a dog (presumably real), Monkey, Mrs Pinkerton-Trunks an elephant and Mr Milford Haven, a lion. This was usually narrated by Reid but occasionally by Boxer who accompanied the story with dramatic piano riffs in the style of an old black-and-white movie.
A song would then follow with music composed and played by Stephen Boxer on guitar before the episode was wrapped. Initially, Reid, Boxer and Mooncat lived in the same house but, as the series progressed with Stephen going to live and work in a playgroup. Despite this, Boxer continued as a co-presenter often talking about his work at the playgroup with an accompanying short film of this.
- Series 1: 27 editions - 9 April 1981 – 24 December 1981
- Series 2: 20 editions - 25 February 1982 – 8 July 1982
- Series 3: 9 editions - 6 January 1983 – 3 March 1983
In June 1984 the format changed. Reid left and Claridge also departed the series, as by this time he was now providing the voice and puppeteering for Roland Rat on the (then) recently-launched TV-am service; he was replaced by Christopher Leith (later notable for his work in the blockbuster film Who Framed Roger Rabbit) as the puppeteer and voice of Mooncat.
In order to accommodate these changes, the series title was changed to Mooncat and Co. and a new format was devised. The storyline now had Stephen and Mooncat living in a junk shop which Stephen ran. The Moon Machine was abolished, and Mooncat now had regular contact with the outside world - for example, trips out to purchase the subject of the episode such as a telephone or a new carpet. The 'Beryl' role was filled by a different guest in every episode; these guests included Pam Ayres, Patsy Rowlands, Wilf Lunn and Kenny Lynch. But probably the most memorable was Pat Coombs whose eponymous character was a WPC. The stories continued to be written by Shirley Isherwood who had written the Billie stories but now featured other characters which changed from week to week though there were some regulars such as Robert and his pet alien Grimond.
Stephen Boxer eventually left and was replaced by Opportunity Knocks finalist Berni Flint, although Boxer's face remained on the opening credits as the storyline gave a reason for his prolonged absence. The series ended on 26 September 1985, in part due to declining viewing figures following Boxer's departure; with Boxer expressing no desire to return or make any further episodes in 1986, the Mooncat character was discontinued completely. A week later, Mooncat and Co was replaced by Puddle Lane.
- Series 1: 25 editions - 5 July 1984 – 20 December 1984
- Series 2: 7 editions - 14 March 1985 – 25 April 1985
Both Mooncat series were written by Rick Vanes.
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