Lochs Of Fun With The Family Ness

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The Family Ness, a cryptid-themed 1980s BBC cartoon series for kids, shows humans and monsters living in harmony – something we don’t normally see, writes GEMMA JOHNSON

The Family Ness

TITLE: The Family Ness
CREATOR: Peter Maddocks
CAST: Peter Hawkins and Susan Sheridan
ORIGINAL RELEASE: 5 October 1984 – 25 March 1985 on BBC One

Scotland has a special place in our hearts. We had the wonderful opportunity to do some travelling around Scotland in the summer and I have Scottish roots.  My maiden name is Hogg and we have our own clan, motto and tartan.  

The opportunity to review The Family Ness as part of our retrospective viewing project, was one that I was really looking forward to, I hoped that our juniors would be as excited… 

The Family Ness Backgrounder

The Family Ness is about a family of Loch Ness Monsters – there are many of them and each one has a name connected to their character trait.  My personal favourite growing up was Ferocious-Ness who was a bit grumpy, comes across as frightening but is really quite friendly (sounds familiar!). 

The Family Ness live in the water – obviously -and there are a range of human characters living on the land around them.  The series is about the humans and the Nessie’s trying to live in harmony. 

There were 25 episodes of The Family Ness, and they were created by Peter Maddocks who then went on to create another 80’s classic – Penny Crayon. The series ran from October 1984 until March 1985 on BBC One.  They were later aired again in the early 1990’s. 

We watched Episode 4 ‘Ferocious-ness changes colour’ which aired on in 1984.

The Episode

The episode centres around Ferocious-ness who has decided to come out of the Loch and do some exploring.  He has a special talent in that he can change his colour so that he blends in with the surroundings.  When casually walking around the Loch, two local children Angus and Elspeth discover Ferocious-ness who is trying to blend into the trees. 

Firstly, the two children are remarkably calm considering that there is a giant monster sat before them – if old Nessie herself climbed out of the loch I doubt that I would remain so nonchalant.

Secondly – Ferocious-ness can speak, again the children are remarkably relaxed about the whole thing.  Sensing he has an audience, Ferocious-ness begins to show off his chameleon like skills but then there is a problem – he tries to blend in with a fire engine but can’t change back. 

Cue mayhem as a bright red monster is spotted by two firemen.  They panic, then Ferocious-ness panics and begins rapidly changing colour – pink, blue, green, tartan.  The children are hiding, bag pipes have been trodden on then…. Mr McTout, the father of Angus and Elspeth arrives to see what the commotion is.  Low and behold, Ferocious-ness has fled back to the water.

Our The Family Ness Review

Aubrey: I liked how Ferocious-ness could disguise himself into different colours, my favourite one was when he changed into red tartan. I found it funny because Ferocious-ness is scared of insects and when he is scared, he changes colours. I wouldn’t really change anything about it. 

Finlay: I liked the accents because I like Scottish accents. It was interesting to see how they interpreted what a Loch Ness Monster would look like – I think the real Nessie would be huge (if Nessie is real!). I also found it funny when Ferocious-ness was changing colour and he turned tartan. I wouldn’t change anything about this, I enjoyed it.

How does it compare to today’s spooky viewing?

Nessie has been enchanting the imagination of the world for many decades.  Publicity stunt or genuine monster? The jury is very much undecided.  Regardless of where you sit, there are hundreds of thousands of people each year who are drawn to the shores of Loch Ness. 

There is magic in the waters in the sense that it allows people to explore the ‘what if’ and arrive at their own conclusions. The Family Ness took that and ran with it.

Within the episode we watched, Mr McTout was quick to dismiss the accounts of the children and fireman. Within the paranormal sector we can be very quick to dismiss the views of others if they don’t fit in with our own narrative. 

Paranormal shows pit themselves against each other, openly criticising approaches and findings, creating drama that then spills out onto social media and the fans. 

Whilst Angus and Elspeth were very relaxed at the sight of a huge monster, they were open minded enough to try to find out more and not form judgements.  Each to their own!

Stay Spooky!
Gemma, Michael, Finlay, and Aubrey
Junior Paranormal Events

What do you think of The Family Ness? Tell us your memories in the comments section below!

Listen to The Family Ness Theme Song


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