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October 1974 saw the TV debut of Roobarb and Custard, within two weeks of its debut on BBC TV the show had amassed over seven million viewers and went from strength to strength. Adults alike fondly remember the antics of Roobarb, and a remake of the series has recently been commissioned, imaginatively named Roobarb and Custard Two! While not being old enough to have witnessed its debut first hand I still grew up with great admiration for this show, and was greatly excited when I received this review copy from Contender Entertainment. Read on to find out if Roobarb and Custard has aged well.

Complete Roobarb, The
The Series
Roobarb and Custard is based around the antics of a green dog called Roobarb, who has an insatiable appetite for adventure (or an overactive imagination!), most of which normally ends in his embarrassment. Sharing in his fun are his friends, some highly strung birds, a mole, a rabbit, and Custard, a lazy pink cat who loves nothing more than seeing his next-door neighbour making a fool of himself. You name it, Roobarb tries it, and invariably he fails dramatically!

The ideas for this show came from Grange Calveley, who penned thirty episodes for the BBC. Each episode lasts for just over four minutes and they are a delight to watch. There are a few things that you would associate with Roobarb and Custard, the first being the theme music which is simple, but very catchy. The other thing is the animation, that can be best described as unsophisticated, but nevertheless extremely effective. The creators of the series decided to keep the animation simple, while at the same time saving money. Felt tip markers were used to create the characters and backgrounds so there is a large amount of shimmering in the episodes. Each episode is also narrated by Richard Briers who adds his own unique touch to the programme, while his sense of humour shines through.

Roobarb and Custard is just as entertaining now as it was thirty years ago. Whether the innocent fun that it has in abundance is enough for kids these days, well that’s up for debate. Childrens’ programmes have progressed a lot and whether Roobarb and Custard is considered frantic enough is something only kids will be able to judge, which is why at the first opportunity I will be trying this series out on my little daughter. Even if kids don’t like it I am sure there are enough of us adults who will purchase this disc!  

Complete Roobarb, The
Video
Presented in 1.33:1 which was its original TV aspect ratio, this transfer look far better than I expected. There is a fair amount of grain, but taking into consideration the fact that these episodes are nearly thirty years old, this transfer deserves a lot of credit. Colours looked reasonably accurate and black levels were pretty solid. The print is in good condition as well, with very little sign of dirt or damage. There is a large amount of shimmering, but as mentioned above, this is a feature that was introduced by the animators and was present on TV as well. Overall this is very respectable effort and probably as good as could have been expected.

Audio
There is only a single English mono soundtrack with this release, but did you really expect anything more? The all important factor with this track is the dialogue and thankfully it is clear and precise throughout, with the world famous theme music blaring out with authority. This soundtrack cannot really be faulted as it does its job well.  There is not much else I can say in this section, apart from the fact that subtitles are included in English.

Extras
The number of extras included with this disc can be counted on one hand, however taking into consideration that there are thirty episodes included with this release, and also that the retail price is below £10, it is no great surprise. The only extra included is called Disguise, which is a simple game where you have to decide what disguise Roobarb should wear to fool Custard. This is a game which kids will love, but won’t keep them entertained for too long.

Complete Roobarb, The
Overall
Roobarb and Custard deserves to be part of everyone’s DVD collection. It is good innocent fun which adults and children alike will enjoy. It’s fair to say that the disc itself is not pushing the boundaries of DVD, but who cares! This DVD contains all thirty episodes of the series and has a reasonable transfer, so anything else is a bonus. So what are you waiting for? Roll back the years and give Roobarb a home within your collection, with such a low retail price it’s going to be hard to refuse!


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