An American Tail – Bigfoot And The Hendersons – tape 1256

It’s Christmas on BBC1, with a strangely understated BBC1 ident.

BBC1 Christmas Ident

Weirdly, at the start of this tape, the ident isn’t animated, but before the next programme it is. Strange.

The first film on this tape is An American Tail, a heartwarming tale of Russian immigrant mice. It’s ‘presented by’ Steven Spielberg (with Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall as exec producers) so it’s an Ambiln’ production, and directed by Don Bluth, an ex Disney animator who set up his own animation studio when he was frustrated with the lack of quality in Disney feature animation in the 70s and 80s, when the company was in the doldrums. He also produced The Land Before Time and The Secret of NIMH.

It follows a family of Jewish Russian Mice fleeing the pogroms of vicious cats, and moving to America (where there are no cats, according to the father of the family). Not so much Fiddler on the Roof more Nibbler in the Skirting Board.

It’s a pleasent enough film, but I have to confess it didn’t hold my attention. It has a nice James Horner score (read: Sounds like a lot of other Horner scores) and one song that, for some reason, has stuck in my head for years.

BBC Genome: BBC One – 26th December 1991 – 13:50

After this, there’s a trailer for Antiques Roadshow Going Live.

Then, Bigfoot and the Hendersons – or more properly known by its original American title Harry and the Hendersons.

John Lithgow is the father of the family who accidentally hit Harry the Bigfoot with their car, and take him home. Hilarity ensues.

John Lithgow

David Suchet and DonAmeche play two men who have hunted bigfoot all their lives.

David Suchet and Don Ameche

The animatronics for Harry were by the peerless Rick Baker.


Melinda Dillon, from Close Encounters, plays Nancy Henderson, the mother of the family.

Melinda Dillon

BBC Genome: BBC One – 26th December 1991 – 15:10

There’s a trail for The Great Outdoors. Then Bob Wilson presents Final Score, with some sports news.

Then, there’s a trailer for Bergerac. Then a trailer for a special ITV vs BBC edition of Telly Addicts.

Then there’s the start of a news bulletin, leading with the final meeting of the Soviet Parliament as it votes itself out of existence, dissolving the soviet union. The tape ends just after this broadcast starts, presented by Jill Dando, which still slightly shocks me.



  1. If only Bluth had known he’d go on to make the Disney doldrum era look brilliant.

    I have both the LP and the expanded album of “Harry And The Hendersons,” and I was pleased to hear the film version of Joe Cocker’s end title song; the LP has the single with electric guitar instead of flutes…

  2. Don Bluth was an impeccable animator, but his stories left something to be desired. The Secret of NIMH is probably his best, though I did like Titan AE even if it was the film that forced him to retire. He does seem to be set for a comeback with a Dragon’s Lair movie, or he has for some time, but he’s a hundred years old now which surely makes it unlikely.

    The Rick Baker Harry costume was so good they made a sitcom to reuse it for umpteen episodes.

      1. I saw the trailer for Titan A.E. before The Phantom Menace, but it looked so po-faced I had no interest in it, which I imagine was the reaction most had. When I actually gave it a try, it was an amusing enough space opera with some nice animation in places (the ice crystals). So I blame the trailer for misrepresentation. Although Janeane Garofalo’s character has to be one of the least flattering looking ever.

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