Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Marmalade Atkins

Marmalade Atkins is a children's fictional character created by the writer Andrew Davies. Marmalade first appeared in the book Marmalade and Rufus in 1979, and the character was later brought to television in 1981 in which she was played by the actress Charlotte Coleman.

Some of you will have heard of Marmalade Atkins before, and some of you won't. If you have heard of Marmalade Atkins before, you will know that she was not a nice girl. In fact, many people thought that she was the worst girl in the world.

If you only like stories about nice little girls, do not enter this site. You will be disgusted. And if you like the sort of story in which bad girls learn to be good and happy, and a credit to their mummies and daddies, then this is not the sort of site for you either.

I am sorry about this, but there it is. Marmalade stays bad.
Paul Morris

At 4.55pm on Monday the 25th of October 1982, young viewers tuning into ITV came face to face with an extraordinary new creation. A wise-cracking, mop-headed cockney girl with the unlikely name of Marmalade Atkins burst onto British tv screens, thumbing her nose at authority and leaving a trail of destruction and havoc in her wake. She didn't care about school, she didn't care about her parents, she only cared about one thing - muckin' about, cock!

Before each episode, a "bad girl warning" would flash up on the screen, advising viewers to switch off or change channels before it was too late. What followed was a kind of junior version of The Young Ones, compressed into a manic fifteen minutes of slapstick, pantomime and hilariously biting satire. Despite its "childrens" status, there were enough rude jokes to extend its appeal to teens and send parents into fits of indignant rage, who did not appreciate references to characters like "Sheikh Your Willy" or Marmalade's constant habit of adressing everybody as "cock" (short for "cockney" but still possessing a good measure of shock appeal).

Marmalade Atkins is the main character of a series of children's books written by Andrew Davies. Marmalade Atkins is 'the naughtiest girl in the world' and the books follow her various escapades. Each book begins with a warning to good children that Marmalade is naughty and will stay naughty, and if you like books about naughty girls becoming good you had best look somewhere else.

Marmalade excels at causing havoc and destruction. Attempts to educate her always fail, as she is invariably expelled from every school she attends (except in rare cases - when she runs away). In Educating Marmalade, Marmalade is sent to various different educational establishments by her parents and social workers in an attempt to improve her behaviour, and to get her out of their way for a while! However all their attempts are dismal failures because Marmalade generally likes to run wild. She annoys her parents and social workers, teams up with a diabolical donkey named Rufus so that they can wreak chaos everywhere, and tries her hand at being both a burglar and a Japanese waiter. Marmalade gets blasted off into space in a failed attempt to brainwash her into becoming good. Fortunately, she learns on the trip that it is her role to be bad, and that there would be problems with the natural order of things if she weren't.

Future telly drama overlord ANDREW DAVIES was responsible for unleashing The Worst Girl in the World on an unsuspecting public. Played with perfect bubblegum-popping malevolence by CHARLOTTE COLEMAN, she made her screen debut in , an edition of Thames Television’s children’s play miscellany THEATRE BOX involving a dormobile space shuttle, moustachioed male nuns, a nodding dog and the secret of the universe.

EDUCATING MARMALADE followed in short order, a sitcom that detailed the desperate efforts of her parents (played by JOHN BIRD and LINDA’ LA PLANTE’ MARCHAL/CAROL MACREADY) and education officer Wendy Wooley (ELIZABETH ESTENSEN, who developed an increasingly elaborate nervous tick as the series progressed) to find an educational establishment that could control her. each episode revolving around “hapless” local education authority personages trying to tame her – in one instance dispatching her to the latest establishment inside a nailed-up crate. Marmalade being Marmalade, all such plans were doomed to failure – in her own words, she put herself about, driving everybody potty. Regular parodies of other existing TV shows (always a good sign) featured, eg. “Cringe Hill” and “The Kids From Shame”.

There was a sort of mini-punk sensibility to Marmalade’s disinterested brand of mayhem, reinforced by a Bad Manners theme tune. In the second series, DANGER:MARMALADE AT WORK (in which various avenues of employment failed to contain the mop-haired wastrel) Coleman herself belted out a Sid Vicious-style opener (‘Jobs! I’ve had a few/and most of them/were pretty grotty-ah!’) But she’s still firmly in the catapult-twanging tradition of Minnie the Minx et al. ‘Marmalade Atkins, you are EXPELLED!’

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