“In the worlds before Monkey, primal chaos reigned. Heaven sought order. But the Phoenix can fly only when it’s feathers are grown. The four worlds formed again and yet again, as endless aeons wheeled and passed. Time and the pure essences of heaven, the moisture of the Earth, the powers of the sun and the moon worked upon a certain rock, old as creation. And it became magically fertile. That first egg was named “Thought”. Tathagata Buddha, the Father Buddha, said, “With our thoughts we make the world.” Elemental forces caused the egg to hatch. From it then came a stone monkey. The nature of Monkey was irrepressible…”.
If these words mean anything at all to you, then this October, you’re in for a treat.
First screened in 1979, and tucked away on BBC2, Monkey was a Japanese drama, based on a Chinese tale about a Buddhist priest who embarks on a pilgrimage accompanied by a rag-tag band of miscreants.
Cult TV favourite, David Collings (Doctor Who, Sapphire and Steel, Blake’s 7) voiced Monkey. The voice of Pigsy was supplied by Peter Woodthorpe—recognised for his role as the grumpy pathologist Max on Morse and as Reg Trotter, the long-absent father in Only Fools And Horses. Miriam Margolyes voiced many of the female characters and Andrew Sachs voiced Horse.
Monkey scriptwriter David Weir had already successfully adapted The Water Margin when—armed with a translation of the original dialogue—he wrote the original script which appealed perfectly to a British sense of humour. The rest, as they say, was history.
However, the BBC only screened 39 of the original 52 episodes. Fabulous Films dubbed the “lost” 13 episodes with the original cast in 2004 and this new release includes all 52 episodes in blu-ray for the first time.
Martial arts, Buddhist philosophy, cheesy SFX, ‘70s disco music, and THAT theme tune— Monkey had it all. No wonder, then, that children around the country were obsessed. Do yourself a favour and invest in a box-set. Nostalgia doesn’t come any better.
Bonus features include: Documentary filmed around the dubbing of the lost 13 episodes and PDF scans of all the 39 original BBC dubbing scripts.