Coz I eats me spinach 

23 February 2015

Paramount release

Popeye the Sailor cartoons, made for the cinema, were an ever-popular staple of television companies in the 1950s and 60s to fill slots and round-off scheduling corners.

There were 109 of these cartoons made in monochrome for Paramount from 1933 to 1942 and in colour from 1942 to 1957.

Associated Artists Productions (AAP) bought the rights to the 1933-1954 Popeye cartoons in 1956. AAP inserted their own logo at the start and end of each episode.

Many TV stations in the USA screened these cartoon with a local host dressed in US Navy uniform. Popeye arrived on British television in 1958 when ATV in the midlands first screened the pre-war cartoons in a children’s slot at 5.25pm on Mondays.

The animations were presented by actor Gerald Cuff dressed as a bearded nautical bosun, sitting among thick rope and lobster pots. Cuff was proprietor of the Yorkshire House pub in Shrewsbury. Together with his spaniel, Janey, who also appeared in the programme, each show would begin by Cuff calling “Hello shipmates!”. Three cartoons would be used and in between each birthday greetings to the region’s children would be presented and nautical tips given – putting a ship in a bottle or tying knots.

In some areas, such as Granadaland, a string of cartoons would be shown without the linking elements. Once the cartoons arrived on television, they were seldom if ever played again in cinemas.

In 1966, Rediffusion London began screening some new made-for-TV Popeye cartoons, often as a curtain raiser or time filler in a feature film slot, just as the original cartoons had been used in the cinemas. There were 220 of these TV versions, made by King Features Syndicate. 28 of these were produced in London by Halas and Batchelor – it is not often realised that the Popeye cartoons were not all produced in the United States.


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6 responses to this article

Dave Rhodes 23 February 2015 at 12:25 pm

Interesting insights, Alan. Happy to be corrected, but I think Glenn Michael’s Cartoon Cavalcade from Scottish continued the host/cartoons formula longer than most, before he was pensioned off round the turn of the century. And there was the odd spell around 1971 where Granada were slotting a cartoon in as late as 9.50pm on Sundays between a drama and the news.

Arthur Nibble 23 February 2015 at 3:54 pm

While on holiday in the late 60’s and early 70’s, I remember seeing “King Features” Popeye cartoons on Southern on a Sunday, shown immediately before “The Golden Shot”.

christian bews 28 February 2015 at 11:14 am

those cartoons to fill the gaps before the next programme starts does take me back. I remembered Grampian showing ‘mr magoo’ ‘kum kum’ ‘dick tracy’ ‘captain nemo’ ‘adventures of parsley'(poached from the BBC) and a few educational ones like ‘professor kitzel’ & ‘max:the 2000 year old mouse’.what they didn’t show were dodo the space kid which was shown on several ITV stations in the 1970s but didn’t see them until it was picked up by bravo in the 1990s & I have a feeling they showed it on some areas a little known puppet show called ‘Sylvia Anderson’s the animates’ it was her first series since her divorce with Gerry Anderson. anyone remember it?

Joseph 4 March 2015 at 10:22 pm

The producer of the 1960’s “Popeye” cartoons was Al Brodax, who shortly thereafter would serve as executive producer of the “Beatles Cartoons” TV series.

I don’t know (being in the ‘States) when the show ran in the UK, but episodes were filmed in 1965, 1966 and 1967, and in the U.S. ran on American ABC’s Saturday-morning schedule, making that network a true contender in Saturday-morning cartoon ratings for the first time.

Arthur Vasey 3 September 2015 at 6:57 pm

A lot of these cartoons (in the Tyne-Tees region) were largely screened as filler material after an afternoon matinée, which, despite having started later than scheduled, still finished earlier than scheduled – the continuity announcer would usually slot in a short cartoon – Cathy Secker seemed to favour Popeye cartoons – more often than not, it was Merrie Melodies or Looney Tunes – Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Sylvester, Tweety Pie, Speedy Gonzales, Road Runner and so on – depending on the announcer’s personal taste, it seemed – other cartoons that got an occasional airing included Mister Magoo, Dodo The Space Kid, Roger Ramjet, The Dick Tracy Show (in which the titular hero only ever appeared at the start and end) and The Undersea Adventures of Captain Nemo – which looked like they had taken the start and finish of a much longer programme and left off the middle bit and turned a half hour programme into a ten minute one.

There was no regular slot for these five-minute treats – papers never published them, as they were unscheduled!

As for Popeye itself – given the fact that I was about eight – not sure if it was just Tyne-Tees or a network thing – they put out Carry On films at 6 pm and stuck a Popeye cartoon on just before the start – when the run of Carry On films ended (not many had been made at this point – only got as far as Cruising), so did Popeye – but he made sporadic appearances for decades afterwards!

Sarah Williams 13 August 2020 at 7:23 am

Gerald Cuff was my Grandfather. If anyone has any more info or footage I would be so grateful to see him.

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