Terry Pratchett’s Truckers: The Complete Series, 1992
Produced by Cosgrove Hall.
Starring Joe McGann, Sir Michael Hordern and Brian Trueman.
Sometime after Terry Pratchett created his Discworld Universe, for which he is arguably most famed, he wrote a trilogy of books following a lost race of Nomes, very tiny people who lived beneath the awareness of humans, and, for the purposes of its television serial adaptation, appear to be made from stop-animation clay. The first installment was called Truckers.
Its suitably bonkers name (considering the story details a bunch of lost intergalactic Nomes) captures Pratchett’s sense of Douglas Adamsian humour. To find their way back to their home planet, our protagonist Nomes, who originally live in the Wilderness, hunted by foxes and terrorised by passing traffic, stowaway on a lorry. It takes them to the department story Arnold Bros. (Est 1905), which contains ‘All Things under One Roof’.
This is where Truckers begins to reveal its hidden genius. At Arnold Bros., our heroes – led by Masklin (Joe McGann) – discover a race of Nomes living under its floorboards. To them, God is Arnold Bros. (Est 1905). He created the Store to fit ‘All Things under One Roof’. Ergo, nothing can exist outside; there is no Outside.
It’s flawed logic, taking something a little too literally, and the Store Nomes all flatly deny evidence to the contrary. In one marvelous scene, the Abbot pretends he can’t see Masklin and Co. although they’re right in front of him. They’re Outsiders, you see, and as Arnold Bros. states there is no Outside, they can’t possibly exist.
The religious satire sounds painfully obvious when written down like that, as do their Store-based sayings ‘All Things Must Go’ (which translates as, ‘all Nomes will one day die’) and ‘Final Reductions’ (‘the end of the world’). But the deadpan, clay-faced delivery has enough charm and cheeky innocence to disguise its barbs.
Truckers is an enormously funny, beautifully animated and often scary piece of children’s television. Over 13 ten minute episodes, the Nomes’ journey from Outside to Inside, and then Outside again, not only manages to tell an engaging story, but it also poses a few of the Big Questions that are so exciting and mysterious to hear as kids. Why are we here? What is out there?
Essentially, it’s one, big Plato’s cave. Or, perhaps more aptly, Pratchett’s Store.
All 13 episodes of Truckers are now available digitally remastered for the first time on DVD and to download on iTunes.