Underground Ernie is a British computer animated children's television series produced by Joella Productions in the United Kingdom on the BBC on both CBeebies and BBC Two, and sold around the world by BBC Worldwide. It is set in International Underground, a fictional worldwide underground railway network, based on the London Underground, and focuses on the everyday adventures of Ernie, a friendly underground supervisor, Millie, his multilingual colleague, and Mr. Rails, the lovable maintenance man.
|Created by||John Deery|
|Theme music composer||Miles Hunt, Sid Rainey, Martin Bell (The Wonder Stuff)|
|Opening theme||"The Importance of Being Ernie"|
|Ending theme||"The Importance of Being Ernie" (Edited)|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of episodes||26|
|Executive producer(s)||John Deery|
|Running time||12 minutes|
|Production company(s)||3D Films|
|Original release||5 June –|
25 December 2006
Bob the Builder
The locomotives under Ernie's watchful eye all have characters of their own. There is Bakerloo, Victoria, Circle, Jubilee and the twins, Hammersmith & City. From time to time they are joined by their friends from across the world including; Paris, Brooklyn, Moscow, Sydney and Osaka.
The show is aimed at children between the ages of three and eight years old. The initial series has twenty six episodes each, lasting twelve minutes. In October 2005, the series was officially announced, with it premièring the following year. Its first showing on was on Monday 5 June 2006 on BBC Two at 9:00am. It later premiered on CBeebies.
In its première run, Underground Ernie was broadcast twice a day five days a week, firstly on BBC Two at 9 am, and then repeated on CBeebies at 4.30 pm.
In the series première, "Pop Decoy", pop superstar "Sam 7" is performing at the theatre, and Jubilee has to get him there without hundreds of fans finding out. Alas, the excitable Jubilee can't keep a secret, and he and Ernie have to come up with a plan to get Sam 7 safely to the theatre.
All the visuals for the show are produced using CGI computer graphics, and that largely explains the high cost of the production (£4 million) . The first series was produced using LightWave 3D software.
Some critics have pointed out the similarities between Underground Ernie and Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends and Chuggington, in that all 3 series feature anthropomorphic locomotives. Whilst acknowledging a similarity, the producers make it clear that this is very different from Thomas and Chuggington, and is very much based in the twenty first century. Despite being underground metro trains, they often travel overground through the open countryside to various stations, including a seaside resort.
The overall design is inspired by the real London Underground, and Transport for London has allowed the series to use design elements directly taken from their brand, in particular the use of their distinctive Underground logo, or 'roundel' as it is known.
- Underground Ernie is an eponymous supervisor who owns the International Underground station (voiced by ex footballer and television sports presenter Gary Lineker).
- Millie (voiced by Emma Weaver) is a computer expert working on the network, and the co-owner of the station.
- Mr. Rails (voiced by Howard Ward) is the maintenance man.
The majority of the characters are trains, most of which take their names from the lines of the London Underground network, although in Underground Ernie's world, it is called "International Underground".
- Bakerloo (voiced by Howard Ward) is an eccentric and has a deerstalker hat similar to that of Sherlock Holmes (the Bakerloo line used to terminate at Baker Street, where the fictional detective lived at number 221b) but has a profile resembling that of the Duke of Wellington, the victor of the Battle of Waterloo, after the Waterloo Underground station (Bakerloo is short for Baker Street & Waterloo Railway).
- Hammersmith (voiced by Tim Whitnall) is twin brother to City, a fast and furious train who is a general knowledge "whizz". He wears blue spectacles.
- City (voiced by Chris Jarvis) is Hammersmith's twin brother, and is also fast and furious, but is an expert in mathematics and finances (presumably a reference to the City, where many of the banks and financial businesses in London and the United Kingdom are based). He wears pink spectacles. Hammersmith and City are usually coupled back end to back and travel together as one train.
- Victoria (voiced by Janet Brown) is the oldest train, and is like a mother to the other trains. She wears a crown, to suggest the link between herself and Queen Victoria, but visually appears more like a caricature of the present Queen, Elizabeth II. Although Victoria is presented as the oldest character in the series, the Victoria line in real life is actually one of the newest lines — only the Jubilee line, opened in 1979, is newer.
- Circle (voiced by Chris Jarvis) is a "hippy chick"—always helpful and rarely loses her cool.
- Jubilee (voiced by Tim Whitnall) is the youngest train, and is into computers, music, internet, emails, games, and all the latest gadgets and technology. He can be mischievous, but is still well liked.
There are also five international trains, which Millie visits when she goes abroad every weekend. She always bring back exciting stories for Ernie, as well as a souvenir:
- Brooklyn (voiced by Howard Ward) is from New York City, is decked out in the American Stars and Stripes.
- Sydney (voiced by Emma Weaver) is from Australia, always wants to go to the beach.
- Moscow (voiced by Howard Ward) is from Russia. He is strong, fast and likes to clear snow off the tracks. He often uses the wrong word when trying to use various English phrases, such as saying "as fit as a fishcake" instead of "as fit as a fiddle".
- Paris (voiced by Chris Jarvis) is from France. He's snooty, but kind.
- Osaka (voiced by Tim Whitnall) is from Japan, and has a super-speed booster. He is decked out in a Rising Sun decorated bandana.
In each twelve minute episode Ernie faces a problem, which he needs to fix with the help of the trains. This will typically involve one of the locations on International Underground or visitors coming via the Underground, often both.
|1||Pop Decoy||Louise Kramskoy||Jubilee lets slip his secret about pop superstar Sam 7. Bakerloo gets into pop.||5 June 2006|
|2||Sir Clunkalot||Diane Redmond||The medieval pageant sees Ernie save a damsel in distress.||6 June 2006|
|3||Mister Rails Never Fails||Diane Redmond||Ernie's severe cold leads to confusion over the arrangements for Mr. Rails' surprise party.||7 June 2006|
|4||Brooklyn and Rocky Two Shoes||Diane Redmond||An American athlete, Rocky Two Shoes, comes in on Brooklyn and overcomes his fears.||8 June 2006|
|5||Pulling Together||Jan Page||Hammersmith and City have split loyalties while Victoria gets into football.||9 June 2006|
|6||Caught Purple Handed||Diane Redmond||A rather absent-minded explorer brings a rare plant to the Underground.||12 June 2006|
|7||Ernie's Big Trip||Jan Page||Paris visits. Is Ernie going to France forever? Don't go, Ernie!||13 June 2006|
|8||Finders Keepers||Jan Page||A Golden Ticket becomes lost property.||14 June 2006|
|9||The Magician's Assistant||Diane Redmond||Millie assists as Paris brings Maestro the magician to town.||15 June 2006|
|10||Cover Story||Ross Hastings||Ernie tries to take some pictures for Tunnel Times; Sydney is in town.||16 June 2006|
|11||Millie's Dream Day||Ross Hastings||Millie has won a dream day, but can the Underground cope without her?||19 June 2006|
|12||Mr Movie Jones||Diane Redmond||A case of mistaken identity as Mr. Movie Jones visits Sea Shell Bay.||20 June 2006|
|13||Summer Breeze||Louise Kramskoy||Phew, what a scorcher on the Underground!||21 June 2006|
|14||Running Late||Lisa Akhurst||Is Victoria heading for the scrapyard?||22 June 2006|
|15||Light at the End of the Tunnel||Jan Page||A tiny crack in the tunnel wall breaks open and Miss Relic sees her mummy again.||23 June 2006|
|16||The Wreck of Sea Shell Bay||Diane Redmond||Sam and Dan are seriously bad kids - but they get lucky.||26 June 2006|
|17||Catnapped||Louise Kramskoy||Pippa's cat, Patch, goes missing during the heavy rain storm.||27 June 2006|
|18||Monster Mystery||Jan Page||A monster on the Underground? Not a good time for a practical joke.||28 June 2006|
|19||Bon Appetit||Jan Page||Millie cooks for the French chef, Marcel Le Magnifique, who arrives on Paris.||29 June 2006|
|20||A Change Is as Good as a Rest||Diane Redmond||The trains decide to swap lines, but Pippa doesn't hear the announcement.||30 June 2006|
|21||Elementary, My Dear Bakerloo!||Jan Page||A jumble sale saves the nature reserve.||13 November 2006|
|22||The Magic Lamp||Louise Kramskoy||Is this a genie I see before me? A theatre prop spreads confusion.||14 November 2006|
|23||How Great The Art||Ross Hastings||Modern art - who wants it? How about a squashed wheelbarrow for Brooklyn?||15 November 2006|
|24||The Mayor's Visit||Ross Hastings||Mr. Rails gets the wrong end of the stick and the mayor gets stuck.||16 November 2006|
|25||Techno Trouble!||Lisa Akhurst||Osaka gives Jubilee some Japanese technology that is just too good.||17 November 2006|
|26||Snow Go||Jan Page||The Underground suffers from the wrong type of snow as Moscow visits. Series Finale||25 December 2006 (Christmas Day)|
In November 2005, Halsall International Ltd. announced that they had secured the rights to produce merchandising linked to Underground Ernie [permanent dead link]. The products became on sale by September 2006, with a comprehensive range being available in 2007. The use of London Underground names and trains is a deliberate step to lead into merchandising suitable for children's gifts the revenue, from which were shared with Transport for London. Halsall International Ltd have, since 2009, have stopped making 'Underground Ernie' models.
Warner Vision International released four compilation DVDs of the show, which were later compiled into a boxset forming the complete first series. These releases are now out of print, and are very hard to find.
Day Out with Underground ErnieEdit
In 2008, one railway in Hampshire called the Eastleigh Lakeside Steam Railway secured the rights to hold children's days involving Underground Ernie, and held four Underground Ernie events a year called: Day Out with Underground Ernie.
Miniature versions of 'Jubilee' and 'Ernie 1' were created which passengers could ride behind, as well as meeting a larger than life version of Underground Ernie. The last Ernie event was held during late December 2009, ending in early January 2010. Day out with Thomas took over where it left off.
Underground Ernie charity eveningsEdit
As well as Days Out with Ernie, in 2008 and 2009, two Underground Ernie fundraising events were held at the railway which were hosted by The Karen Ingram Foundation With over £3,500 raised on the night at the first event, which raised money for the hospital which cared and looked after Karen Ingram, for whom the events were in memory of. Co creator John Deery also attended the special charity evening, along with his family.
With Eastleigh no longer hosting events involving Days Out with Ernie, a final fundraiser was held at the railway in 2010, however this was not themed to Ernie, due to the railway no longer having the Ernie characters available to use.
The show's theme song, performed by members of The Wonder Stuff under the name "HRB Music", is called "The Importance of Being Ernie". This is a reference to Oscar Wilde's play The Importance of Being Earnest (Ernie is short for Ernest).
- Underground Ernie website
- Underground Ernie Facebook Page
- Underground Ernie Twitter Page
- Underground Ernie on IMDb
- Underground Ernie at BBC Programmes
- Gary Lineker talks about his role as Underground Ernie - audio option
- Joella Productions website
- Transport for London website
- TfL article about Underground Ernie
- Article about merchandising and children's TV which mentions Underground Ernie
- Article about Underground Ernie
- BBC News item about the new series
- BBC Programme copy
- BBC Press Office interview with Gary Lineker about Underground Ernie
- Toys and Playthings article about merchandising for Underground Ernie[permanent dead link]
- An MPEG clip of the show