Stoppit & Tidyup Character Design


Stoppit and Tidyup is a cartoon I remember fondly from my childhood. Created by Charles Mills and Terry Brain, the guys behind one of my all time favourites - Trapdoor, S&T was a short-lived series that followed the lives of the weird and wonderful inhabitants of Do As You're Told. It ran in 1988 for 13 episodes on the BBC.

I didn't love Stoppit and Tidyup the way I loved Trapdoor or Portland Bill or Mysterious Cities of Gold, but it definitely had something that kept it with me. The introduction used to fire up my imagination - the weird music, the Terry Wogan narration and, most of all, the seemingly endless (to a 5 year old) parade of fascinating characters just made me want to grab a pencil and paper and draw some monsters.

The characters, that was it. I couldn't get over how cool they looked. At that age, I knew a little about how animation worked and understood that they were drawings that someone had sat down and thought up. How could someone draw something so good? They were perfect to a little kid like me. Clean Your Teeth's teeth were so white. Hurry Up was so fast. As for I Said No, well, he was just the biggest thing in the whole wide world. I loved him the most - the way he completely filled the screen and looked so utterly pissed off all the time. You can check out all the characters in the intro to this episode:

As an adult, rediscovering the show through a YouTube nostalgia trip (best thing about an Apple TV btw - can't beat watching Raggy Dolls on the big telly), I've got a new appreciation of the brilliantly inventive character design in Stoppit & Tidyup. So many great monster ideas. The stressed-out Take Care is great - forever flapping his tiny wings to stay in the air, the aforementioned Clean Your Teeth too - all swaggering by like he's the man.

The best, though (and by best I mean creepiest), is Go And Play, who I've posted above. My new favourite. A silent man-child of a thing dressed in tiny white shorts (pants?) and carrying a toy-train. He skips everywhere, his too-adult looking legs move him around slow motion, his dead eyes and blank expression make it seem like, for a guy called Go And Play, he doesn't much care about having fun or, well, anything at all. He's all spaced out and weird. I love him.

I tidied up a screen grab of Go And Play to illustrate this post. If doing so is against a copyright rule of some kind, I'll happily take it down. The idea and original drawings belong to the creators and I only use it out of love and respect for a great bit of character design. It makes me want to draw monsters again.