Balamory is a British educational live action children's series on BBC One, BBC Two and CBeebies for pre-school children, about a fictional small island community called Balamory in Scotland. It was produced between 2002 and 2005 by BBC Scotland, with 254 episodes made (including a DVD exclusive Christmas episode). The series was created by Brian Jameson.
Balamory was filmed mostly in Tobermory on the Isle of Mull, with the exception of scenes at Archie's castle filmed at Fenton Tower in North Berwick, and other scenes such as the nursery and park, which were filmed in Glasgow.
A select series of episodes was shown for two brief seasons in the United States on the Discovery Kids channel. It was also shown on TLC. In Ireland, episodes were shown until recently on weekdays on RTÉ Two's The Den and continue to be shown on The Den's replacement, RTÉjr.
There are eight central characters in Balamory. Each character wears a distinctive colour of clothing like pink or yellow, and lives in a house of the same colour. For example, Archie lives in a pink castle and wears a pink jumper. Exceptions are Penny Pocket (who shares the red house/shop with Suzie Sweet, and wears blue) and PC Plum (who lives in the white house but wears a police uniform). Each character also has one or more individual songs.
|Miss Hoolie||Julie Wilson Nimmo||Nursery teacher||Green house||
|Archie the Inventor||Miles Jupp||Inventor||Pink castle||
I'm Archie the Inventor (Series 1–4)
|Josie Jump|| Buki Akib (series 1–2)
Kasia Haddad (Series 3–4)
|Fitness instructor||Yellow house||
Josie Jump is My Name (Jump a Little Higher) (Series 1–4)
|Edie McCredie||Juliet Cadzow||Bus driver||Blue garage/house||
When I Honk My Horn (Series 1–4)
|PC Plum||Andrew Agnew||Policeman||Black and white police station||
I'm PC Plum (Series 1–4)
|Spencer the Painter||Rodd Christensen||Painter/Musician||Orange house||
Climbing Up My Musical Ladder (Series 1–4)
|Suzie Sweet||Mary Riggans||Shop and café workers||Red shop||
I'm Suzie Sweet, I'm Penny Pocket (Series 1–4)
|Penny Pocket||Kim Tserkezie||I'm Suzie Sweet, I'm Penny Pocket (Series 1–4)|
Sort It (Series 3–4)
The nursery teacher Miss Hoolie is the framing character and narrator for each episode. She introduces the programme and the problem which needs to be solved and summarises the story at the end of the episode.
Archie the Inventor builds zany creations from household objects, such as boxes, bottles, yoghurt pots, string, and similar items that young children might typically use in craft projects. His inventions are intended to be useful, but sometimes backfire.
Josie Jump is the fitness instructor at the primary school next door to Miss Hoolie's nursery school. She plays and coaches all types of gymnastics, sports, and dance, and encourages the young viewers to exercise. She is also talented at storytelling through expressive movement and dance.
Edie McCredie drives the nursery school bus. She has travelled all over the world, and has a variety of photographs and souvenirs to talk about. She is also an expert driver and motor mechanic, and occasionally gets exasperated with other road users.
Police officer PC Plum aspires to be a master detective, but Balamory is a crime free village. He spends most of his time watching wildlife and using his detective skills, to figure out what the animals have been doing. He is also particularly interested in rules, regulations, and safety.
Spencer is officially responsible for painting the coloured houses of Balamory, but also paints pictures and creates music. His painter's ladder is musical, each rung sounding a different note. Spencer is also the only American to reside in Balamory
Suzie Sweet and Penny Pocket together run the village shop and cafe. Suzie Sweet is an older, grandmotherly figure who loves to tell customers about the items in the shop. Penny Pocket is a young woman who uses a wheelchair; she has a talent for mathematics.
A typical episode follows this general plan:
The opening credits show the town of "Balamory" with its brightly coloured houses. Miss Hoolie opens the nursery school, greets the nursery children, and talks about that day's weather.
One of the other characters (who will be the main character of that episode) tells Miss Hoolie about a problem. This character then sings "Which Coloured House Are We Going To?", asking the young viewers to guess which of the Balamory characters will be most helpful in solving the problem. The main character then proceeds to visit several other characters until the problem is solved. Miss Hoolie and the main character provide a summary of the story at each point, and a final recap at the end of the episode.
For example, in one episode Josie Jump has been asked to look after a neighbour's rabbit, but does not know what it needs. She is advised to visit PC Plum, who advises her to feed it vegetables. She then goes to the shop run by Pocket and Sweet to buy rabbit food, and finally brings the rabbit to Miss Hoolie's nursery for the children to feed and pat it.
Each episode of Balamory contains at least five songs:
- "What's the Story in Balamory?", the theme song
- Miss Hoolie's opening song, either "Everybody, Everyone" if the nursery school is open, or one of the two "day off" songs otherwise
- "Which Coloured House Are We Going To?", sung by the main character after presenting his or her problem
- Character-specific songs, sung by the characters visited by the main character
The programme was aimed at pre schoolers.  The show can also be seen in a humorous light. The characters in Balamory are somewhat naive and light hearted, often appearing to be children trapped in adult bodies with adult roles. The storyline revolves around simple problems designed to challenge pre-schoolers' minds.
There are many songs in Balamory, mainly sung by the actors. These songs are used consistently throughout the series, when corresponding characters or circumstances are introduced. In the run starting from September 2004, new songs were introduced. These songs are longer and take up more time in the episode, so the old songs were still often used.
In addition to the character specific songs mentioned in the "Characters" section, there are two general songs:
- "What's the Story in Balamory?" is the show's theme song, sung over the opening titles and played as an instrumental over the closing credits.
- "Which Coloured House Are We Going To?" is sung by the main character of each episode after introducing that episode's problem.
Very few episodes feature actors other than the main characters and the nursery children. Terry Wogan made a guest appearance in one episode (The Game Show) as a television director. This episode also featured Greg Hemphill (Julie Wilson Nimmo's husband in real life) and John Altman, who plays Nick Cotton in the BBC soap opera EastEnders. Celebrity chef Keith Floyd appeared in Suzie Sweet's song "Suzie's Cookin'".
Occasionally, the shots of children entering the nursery are cut down for repeats for time reasons.
On 30 April 2005, the BBC announced that it would not order another season of the series, citing they wanted to experiment and create more new programme ideas. In that year, all the cast (except for three of them) performed a farewell touring show called "Balamory Live: Strike up the Band", a follow up to the "Balamory Live: What's The Story" tour from 2004.
By the time the programme was retired, many of the cast were also keen to move on. Miles Jupp, who played Archie, stated that his role caused some problems when he was performing stand up on the Edinburgh Fringe, due to parents assuming his show was child friendly, and bringing their children to see it. Julie Wilson Nimmo, who played Miss Hoolie, complained that she could not take her children to the local play area without being mobbed. Mary Riggans, who played Suzie Sweet, died in her sleep in 2013, having suffered a stroke the year before.
- Best Pre-school Live Action Series (nominated) at the 2003 BAFTA Children's Awards.
- Best Pre-school Live Action Series (won) at the 2004 BAFTA Children's Awards.
- Best Pre-school Live Action Series (nominated) at the 2005 BAFTA Children's Awards.
- https://web.archive.org/web/20160326060136/http://www.bbc.co.uk/cbeebies/shows/balamory Press release at the launch of Balamory] at bbc.co.uk
- http://www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/pressreleases/stories/2002/08_august/30/balamory.shtml CBeebies – Balamory] at bbc.co.uk
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