Fireman Sam (Welsh: Sam Tân) is an animated children's television series about a fireman named Sam, his fellow firefighters, and other residents in the fictional Welsh rural village of Pontypandy (a portmanteau of two real towns, Pontypridd and Tonypandy). It was broadcast for the first time in November 1987 on Welsh TV channel S4C and is shown in more than 155 countries across the world.[2][3]

Fireman Sam
Created by
  • Dave Gingell
  • Dave Jones
  • Rob Lee
Written byLaura Beaumont
Paul Larson
Directed byJerry Hibbert
Gary Andrews
Cam Lizotte
Greg Richardson
Katrina Hadley
Jennifer Guglielmucci
Oskar Nilsson
William Gordon
Connor Ferguson
Voices of
Narrated byJohn Alderton (1987–1994)
Music by
  • Ben Heneghan (from 1987 to 2005)
  • Ian Lawson (from 1987 to 2005)
  • David Pickvance (from 2008 to 2019)
  • Blain Morris (from 2020 onwards)
  • Mike Shields (from 2021 onwards)
  • Amanda Cawley (from 2021 onwards)
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original languages
  • Welsh (Series 1–4)
  • English
No. of series15
No. of episodes291 (list of episodes)
Running time
  • 10 minutes (series)
  • 20 minutes ("Snow Business" only)
Production companies
Original release
Release17 November 1987 (1987-11-17) –
17 November 1994 (1994-11-17)
Release4 April 2005 (2005-04-04) –



Fireman Sam first appeared on S4C on 1 November 1987,[4] and a few weeks later on BBC1 on 17 November. The original series finished in 1994, and a new series that expanded the character cast commenced in 2003. The series was also shown as Sam Smalaidh in Scottish Gaelic in Scotland. The series was sold to over 40 countries and has been used across the United Kingdom to promote fire safety.

The theme song was performed by Mal Pope in a classic rock style from 1987 to 1994, then by a different singer, Cameron Stewart, in a 2000s alternative rock style since the 2003 new episode broadcasts.



The original idea came about from two ex-firemen from London, England – Dave Gingell and David Jones after purchasing a stop motion animation book by artist Anthony Miller. They approached Mike Young, creator of SuperTed, in Barry, Wales, and asked him to further develop their concept. The idea was then brought to S4C's Director of Animation, Chris Grace, who had previously commissioned SuperTed, saw potential in the idea and commissioned the series. The characters and the storylines were created by Rob Lee, an illustrator from Cardiff, and the programme was made using stop motion. It could take up to four days to produce one minute of this form of puppet animation. Fireman Sam has to this day been translated into over 25 different languages including Mandarin.[5]

In the original series, all the character voices were performed by John Alderton. The later series used several actors' voices.

In 2021, Mike Young said that shows like Fireman Sam and SuperTed would not be able to exist without government subsidies to S4C.[6]


SeriesEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
1817 November 1987 (1987-11-17)10 December 1987 (1987-12-10)
281 September 1988 (1988-09-01)22 December 1988 (1988-12-22)
3915 October 1990 (1990-10-15)10 December 1990 (1990-12-10)
4821 October 1994 (1994-10-21)17 November 1994 (1994-11-17)
5264 April 2005 (2005-04-04)25 December 2005 (2005-12-25)
62624 November 2008 (2008-11-24)March 2009 (2009-03)
726March 2009 (2009-03)April 2009 (2009-04)
8263 March 2012 (2012-03-03)10 November 2012 (2012-11-10)
9257 April 2014 (2014-04-07)3 September 2014 (2014-09-03)
102515 February 2016 (2016-02-15)26 August 2016 (2016-08-26)
111318 November 2017 (2017-11-18)9 May 2018 (2018-05-09)
121326 October 2020 (2020-10-26)17 February 2021 (2021-02-17)
13264 October 2021 (2021-10-04)7 October 2022 (2022-10-07)
14261 November 2022 (2022-11-01)2023 (2023)





In 1996, there was a stage show that was later released on video, titled Fireman Sam in Action. It was interspersed with scenes of children learning about fire safety with Gary Lewis, the actor playing Fireman Sam in the stage show.

In 2009, Fireman Sam appeared with other animated children's TV characters in the Children in Need single The Official BBC Children in Need Medley. The single was put together by Peter Kay.

Fireman Sam was adapted into a live musical theatre show, which began touring the UK in June 2011.

In 2014, Amazon Prime redubbed Fireman Sam using American voices instead of British voices for children in the United States. However, the characters of Tom Thomas, Moose Roberts and Bella Lasagne have their regular, respective Australian, Canadian and Italian voices (instead of being dubbed with a US voice actor), due to their characters' accents. This cast includes the voices of Andrew Hodwitz, Jonah Ain, Chris D'Silva, Margaret Brock, Lily Cassano, Dave Pender Crichton, Jacob James, Scott Lancastle, Ashley Magwood, Michael Pongracz, Becky E. Shrimpton, Sarah Lynn Strange, Carter Treneer, Mark Ricci, Joe Marth (later replaced by Dave MacRae), Adam Turgeon and Christa Clahane.[citation needed]



The ABC website said of the series, "All the characters blend together into an appealing mixture of fun and entertainment for children everywhere."[7]

Common Sense Media recommended the 2005 series for ages three and up, praising it for showing how to "stay calm in a crisis" and rely on a team to solve problems. The American website found that the "distinctly Welsh characters, community, accents, and expressions may pose some minor comprehension problems for kids on this side of the pond", but considered it a useful example of life in another part of the world.[8]

In 2014, Dean Burnett wrote in The Guardian calling Fireman Sam the "worst children’s programme ever" due to its lack of realism.[9]


A page of Arabic text appearing in Fireman Sam.

In July 2016, it emerged that in Series 9, Episode 6 called "Troubled Waters" – in which Elvis slips on a piece of paper and falls into a stack of sheets of paper, causing them to fly everywhere – one of the flying pages that briefly came into view was identified as a page from the Quran: "Surah Mulk (67), verses 13–26".[10] The production company Mattel apologised for this accident, removed the episode from broadcast, and ceased work with Xing Xing, the animation company responsible for the error. Mattel stated: "Someone from the production company thought they were just putting in random text.[10] We have no reason to believe it was done maliciously." It was at first thought that this episode would have to be removed from broadcast circulation, but instead was censored by having the scene edited to show Elvis just slipping on a blank piece of paper, so the television networks were still able to broadcast it.[10] The BBC received more than 1,000 complaints and forwarded them to Channel 5 as the BBC has not aired Fireman Sam since 2008.[10] Ofcom decided not to investigate the episode stating that even at the highest resolution it was impossible to tell if the text was from the Quran or not.[11]


  1. ^ Known as DHX Studios Halifax during Season 11. Credited as an outsourcer in Series 12.
  2. ^ Vancouver studio.


  1. ^ "Wildbrain and Mattel TV Come to the Rescue with Fireman Sam season 12". WildBrain.
  2. ^ "'No stereotype problem' in Fireman Sam". BBC News. 20 March 2019. Retrieved 8 September 2023.
  3. ^ Shuttleworth, Peter (17 November 2017). "Happy 30th birthday Fireman Sam". BBC News.
  4. ^ Regional Television Variations. Date: Saturday, Oct. 31, 1987 Publication: The Times (London, England) Sunday: 1st 7.20. Sam Tân
  5. ^ "About Sam". Retrieved 4 January 2011.
  6. ^ "TV: Fireman Sam and SuperTed 'wouldn't exist' without subsidies". BBC News. 21 October 2021. Retrieved 13 December 2023.
  7. ^ "Fireman Sam at ABC". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 4 January 2011.
  8. ^ "Fireman Sam at commonsensemedia". 16 October 2006. Retrieved 4 January 2011.
  9. ^ Burnett, Dean (7 February 2014). "Fireman Sam: the worst children's programme ever?". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 13 December 2023.
  10. ^ a b c d Evans, Patrick (27 July 2016). "Fireman Sam episode pulled amid Quran row". BBC. Retrieved 30 July 2016.
  11. ^ "Fireman Sam 'Koran' scene cleared by Ofcom". BBC News. 12 September 2016. Retrieved 11 April 2024.