TOMMY TOMATO & THE STINKBUG
Tommy Tomato was a small fry…and not a very happy one.
How rude of me to say, you might think?
But it’s not rude really, because there are many types of tomato, and ‘Small Fry’ is one of them.
But why was Tommy unhappy? Well, Tommy, and his many brothers and sisters, were what you might call “sun-lovers”, and on this particular day they were sitting huddled together on their vine during a sun-less morning wondering where all the rays of sunshine had gone.
Well, to be more accurate, it was Tommy who was doing all the wondering. And worrying. For Tommy was a little impatient when it came to the sunshine, and if the sun went in for even one second, Tommy would begin to moan.
So you can imagine what that vine was like when the sun didn’t show up at all that morning!
And off he would go…
“We need more solarizing!” Tommy declared suddenly to no one in particular. “Where has all the sunshine gone! Why are we being so deprived! I can’t stand these cloudy skies! I…”
“Oh do be quiet Tommy,” his little sister Ruby piped up again for the fifteenth time, “I’m trying to have a nap.”
“But I want to get more colour in my cheeks!” Tommy moaned. “Look how green I am!”
“Chill out man,” Tommy’s brother Chico whispered calmly. “It’s only been one day, the forecast is good for the afternoon.”
“Oh yeah,” said Tommy, “and how would you know?”
“It was on the radio, man. Cloudy in the morning, sunny in the afternoon. You really should pay more attention to the news brother.”
“Hmmmph,” Tommy said folding his arms across his chest in a hump, “know all.”
Chico smiled to Ruby who was trying hard not to giggle.
“Well, I don’t know about you, but I fancy a swing, how about you Tommo – might cheer you up a bit?”
“No, it’s okay, you carry on. I’m not in a swinging mood,” Tommy muttered moodily.
Ruby tutted, and turned away, “Suit yourself grumpy.”
And that was the problem with Tommy, for when Tommy got in a grump, he really got in a grump. Like all tomatoes, Tommy and his family needed some serious sunshine to grow and become fully developed, and ripen into healthy fruit, but on the odd occasion when the sun didn’t shine Tommy and all his brothers and sisters were still getting all the goodness they needed from the soil their home had been planted in.
But hold up. Did I say “fruit”?
Yes, I did. But you thought tomatoes were vegetables? Ahh, well, you’d be wrong, because tomatoes have seeds, and because they have seeds, that makes them a fruit…though nearly everyone all around the world still thinks of them as a vegetable.
Fruit or not, the life of a tomato is generally happy as long as there is plenty of sunshine, and some good dung to live in!
And a good barrow-full of fertilizer.
Oh yes, tomatoes do like their dung! The poo-ier the better!
You can just hear Tommy and his brothers and sisters sigh with contentment when that dung gets worked into the soil once a week by Farmer Fartnicely.
But solarisation is what Tommy loves best…mainly because it fends off the ‘enemy’.
Yes folks. The life of a tomato is fraught with danger. Bothersome bugs, and creepy crawlies, and nasty nibblers, and impish insects, and meany mischief makers, and deadly disease-dragging demon-destroyers are all likely to come sniffing round to terrorise tomatoes like Tommy and his kin.
Solarisation is one way of stopping the evil enemy…as well as providing the extra heat that Tommy so loves.
And keeping tomatoes like Tommy alive and well are important because tomatoes are full of luscious ingredients for you and me that keep illness away, and keep us healthy, and well.
Yet you wouldn’t think so by looking at Tommy.
His face was so forlorn, his usual happy smile a thing of the past. If it were possible for a tomato to look like a shrivelled prune, then Tommy was it.
To take his mind of the lack of sun, and solarisation, Tommy was about to indulge in some mental arithmetic when an almighty scream nearly deafened him!
It was sister Ruby, in a flap.
For there at her feet creeping up the vine was a Stinkbug.
Nasty as a nightmare, more dangerous than the plague, the stinkbug is the deadliest of all tomato foe.
“Swing, Ruby, swing!” Tommy yelled at the top of his voice, because swinging sometimes helped, and kept the bugs at bay.
So swing she did, just as Stinkbug 2 started coming up behind Tommy.
“Look out Tommy!” Ruby cried, “there’s one behind you!”
But Tommy was already alert, and had been biding his time, for just as the stinkbug leapt at him, Tommy dodged to the left and the stinkbug fell to the ground, the menacing grin vacating its face quicker than ice on a baking pavement.
Meanwhile, Farmer Fartnicely had seen the swinging tomatoes from his kitchen window and wondered what on earth all the commotion was about as he sprinted into the garden.
“Hmmm,” he muttered to himself gazing down at the infestation of bugs, “this calls for more solarisation!”
“About time too!” Tommy exclaimed excitedly (although of course Farmer Fartnicely couldn’t hear him being a human).
But the farmer did his bit, carefully brushed all of the invading insects from his beloved plants (because stinkbugs really do let off a stink when under attack), and soon had a layer of clear plastic mulch laid at the foot of the tomato plants to prevent any more bugs from the soil being born with the only intention of invading his crop.
“Phew,” said Ruby, as the sun suddenly burst through the clouds in a triumphant blaze of light, “that was close. Guess you were right about the solarisation brother.”
But Tommy didn’t reply – he was too busy enjoying lapping up the sunshine.
“Ahhhh,” said Tommy with a deep sigh of contentment, and a massive smile on his face, “those rays are soooo lovely!”
So, you remember at the beginning of this story I said Tommy was a Small Fry? Well, as this story goes to prove, tomatoes have many characteristics, have a lot of goodness, and vitality, and are full of healthy sunshine and life!
Episode 1 – The Birthday Party
THE SCREEN IS BLANK, BUT WE HEAR NOISES THAT SOUND LIKE SOMEONE SPLASHING IN A MUDDY PUDDLE SOMEWHERE.
THE SPLASHY SOUNDS GROW LOUDER…UNTIL SOMETHING SUDDENLY COMES BOUNDING ACROSS THE SCREEN.
IT’S THE YOUNG AND EXCITABLE PUPPY, HE LEAVES A TRAIL OF MUD BEHIND AS HE DANCES ACROSS THE SCREEN AND EXITS RIGHT…
Oh. Hello. What was that?
PUPPY COMES BACK ACROSS FROM THE RIGHT AND THIS TIME STOPS AND LOOKS INTO THE CAMERA, BLINKS AND SMILES.
Ah. It’s only Puppy. Hello Pup…what are you up to?
PUP LOOKS DOWN AT HIS FEET.
WE SEE HIS PAWS ARE MUDDY. THERE IS A SHEET OF BLANK PAPER BY HIS FEET. HE LOOKS BACK AT THE CAMERA AND THEN DOWN AT THE PAPER AND PUTS A PAW ONTO IT LEAVING A MUDDY PRINT. HE SMILES AND BOUNDS OFF AGAIN EXITING LEFT.
Hmmm. Pup is being very mysterious. I wonder what he’s up to?
BABY FOX. SHE’S GOT A LARGE BOWL IN FRONT OF HER AND IS USING A WOODEN SPOON TO MIX SOMETHING IN THE BOWL.
Hello Baby Fox. You seem very busy, what are you doing?
BABY FOX LOOKS FURTIVE AND SHAKES HER HEAD SLOWLY.
Oh, I see. You’re not going to tell us?
BABY FOX NODS HER HEAD THIS TIME VERY PRECISELY. SHE THEN GLANCES TO HER LEFT, THEN RIGHT, LOOKS AT THE CAMERA AND THEN TURNS HER BACK TO CAMERA. IT WOULD APPEAR SHE IS LIFTING THE SPOON TO HER MOUTH.
BABY FOX TURNS BACK ROUND, SHE IS LICKING HER LIPS AND HAS SOME OF THE MIXTURE AT THE CORNERS OF HER MOUTH AND ON HER CHIN.
Baby Fox, really. Are you supposed to be eating that?
BABY FOX LOOKS AT THE CAMERA WITH A SLIGHTLY SLY GRIN.
BABY SHEEP –
HE IS HOLDING A CLIPBOARD WITH A PEN BEHIND HIS EAR. THERE ARE FOUR PLATES IN FRONT OF HIM AND HE IS BUSY COUNTING OUT THE ITEMS OF FOOD ON THE PLATES, MAKING SURE EACH ONE HAS THE SAME AMOUNT AS THE OTHERS.
Hello Baby Sheep. It looks like you are in the middle of a very important job?
BABY SHEEP NODS AND USES THE PEN TO TICK SOMETHING OFF THE HIS LIST ON THE CLIPBOARD.
Are you expecting your friends round today? It looks to me like you might be having a…
BABY SHEEP SHAKES HIS HEAD AND PUTS A HOOF UP TO HIS MOUTH GESTURING FOR THE NARRATOR TO NOT SAY ANYTHING ELSE.
BABY RABBIT –
SHE IS SITTING ON HER OWN LOOKING DOWN AT THE GROUND.
(WHISPERS TO THE VIEWER)
This is baby Rabbit. She is a bit shy sometimes. Let’s say hello.
Hello Baby Rabbit, how are you today?
(THE NARRATOR’S VOICE MAKES BABY RABBIT JUMP)
Oh sorry Baby Rabbit, we didn’t mean to make you jump. Are you okay?
(BABY RABBIT HESITATES, THEN NODS)
Are you sure? You look a bit sad?
(BABY RABBIT LIFTS UP A BIRTHDAY CARD AND SHOWS IT TO THE CAMERA)
Oh, it’s your birthday! Well Happy Birthday to you Baby Rabbit, we all wish you a lovely day!
(BABY RABBIT SMILES)
What are you going to today to celebrate your birthday Baby Rabbit?
(BABY RABBIT DOESN’T KNOW, SHE THINKS, SHRUGS HER SHOULDERS)
Oh, that’s no good Baby Rabbit. You must do something on your special day. Aren’t your friends coming round to help you have some fun?
(BABY RABBIT SHAKES HER HEAD)
Oh dear, that is sad. Are you sure they’re not coming round today?
(BABY RABBIT NODS)
Well I know, why don’t we all go down to the stream? We’ll come with you. Would you like that?
(BABY RABBIT THINKS, THEN NODS)
BABY RABBIT GETS UP AND WALKS OFF…
DOWN BY THE STREAM –
(** NOTE: THE STREAM COULD BE A CONSTANT LOCATION FOR THE SERIES – A SIMPLE CURVE OF WATER THAT MAYBE IS BIGGER IN THE FOREGROUND AND TAPERS OFF INTO THE BACKGROUND OR JUST EXTENDS FROM LEFT TO RIGHT ACROSS THE FOREGROUND.
MANY OF THE EPISODES COULD TAKE PLACE HERE. THE STREAM ACTS AS A MEETING PLACE FOR THE CHARACTERS, LIKE A PLAYGROUND. IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE PARTICULARLY ELABORATE, JUST SOME SIMPLE ARTWORK. THERE COULD ALSO BE A LARGE TREE SET BACK FROM THE STREAM IN THE MIDDLE OF THE SCREEN).
AS RABBIT WALKS ACROSS FROM LEFT TO RIGHT AND PASSES THE FRONT OF THE TREE, HER FRIENDS PUPPY, BABY FOX AND BABY SHEEP LEAP OUT…
Surprise! Happy Birthday Rabbit!
THE SURPRISE MAKES BABY RABBIT JUMP AND SHE COWERS INSTANTLY, HER NOSE TWITCHING FURIOUSLY.
Oh look Baby Rabbit, your friends have remembered your birthday after all. Isn’t that lovely?
(RABBIT ISN’T SURE…HER FRIENDS LOOK ON WONDERING WHAT’S WRONG…)
There’s nothing to worry about Rabbit, it was just a surprise. It shows your friends care about you. I think they have another surprise waiting for you. Why don’t you go and see what they’ve done for you?
(SHEEP AND FOX GESTURE FOR RABBIT TO GO TO THEM AS PUPPY BOUNDS ABOUT EXCITEDLY AROUND THEM. TENTATIVELY, RABBIT GOES TO THE GROUP)
I think you’ll like this surprise Baby Rabbit.
Can you guess what Baby Rabbit’s friends have done?
(THE GROUP MOVE TO THE OTHER SIDE OF THE TREE)
THE BIRTHDAY PICNIC –
THE PLATES OF FOOD ARE LAID OUT. THERE’S A COLOURFUL CAKE. AND A BIG CARD WITH MUDDY PAW PRINTS SPELLING OUT THE WORDS “HAPPY BIRTHDAY BABY RABBIT”.
CLOSE SHOT –
BABY RABBIT. SHE BLINKS RAPIDLY LOOKING PLEASED.
See what your friends have done for you Baby Rabbit? Isn’t that nice of them?
(BABY RABBIT NODS EMPHATICALLY)
Well now, I think there’s something missing from this party. What do you think it is?
(SHEEP, FOX AND RABBIT DON’T KNOW…BUT PUPPY DOES. HE BOUNDS OFF SCREEN AND COMES BACK MOMENTS LATER PUSHING A BIG CD PLAYER ON A TROLLEY. HE PARKS IT BY THE PICNIC)
Ah, I know what that is, well done Puppy! Now…press that button!
PUPPY PRESSES THE PLAY BUTTON AND SOME CATCHY POP TUNE KICKS IN.
INSTANTLY EVERYONE STARTS BOPPING AROUND IN THEIR DISTINCTIVE STYLES AND EVEN RABBIT JOINS IN, CAUGHT UP IN THE PLAYFUL MOOD.
THE DANCING CONTINUES WITH VARIOUS “SIGHT GAGS” GOING ON SUCH AS –
SHEEP DOING A VERY COOL, MINIMALIST DANCE –
PUPPY BOUNDS ALL OVER THE PLACE, SPINNING, TWISTING, JUMPING FRENETICALLY –
FOX BEING QUITE 70’S DISCO –
RABBIT IS VERY STILL, THEN LAUNCHES INTO SOME RAVE MOVES –
WE KEEP CUTTING TO THE CHARACTERS DANCING ENDING WITH FOX GIVING RABBIT A PIGGY BACK AS THE OTHERS LAUGH.
ALL THE CHARACTERS COLLAPSE IN A HEAP ONTO THE FLOOR BY THE PICNIC AND LIE DOWN PANTING.
Ha ha…now that’s what I call a party!
(TO THE VIEWER)
Well it looks they might need a rest. I think it’s time for us to go.
Goodbye Baby Sheep…
(BABY SHEEP RAISES HIS HEAD, LOOKS AT CAMERA AND WAVES)
Goodbye Baby Fox…
(BABY FOX DOES THE SAME, RAISES HER HEAD, SMILES AND WAVES)
(PUPPY RAISES HIS HEAD, WAVES)
Goodbye Baby Rabbit…and I hope you had a lovely birthday?
(BABY RABBIT RAISES HER HEAD, SMILING BROADLY, NODS AND WAVES)
(ALL THE CHARACTERS RAISE THEIR “ARMS” – BUT NOT THEIR HEADS THIS TIME – AND WAVE AGAIN)
“It’s Always Polite To Ask”
FADE UP –
DOWN BY THE STREAM/SHEEP’S VEGETABLE PATCH –
Some cabbages are growing. Most are quite small, but there are three that are doing well and are a lot bigger than the others.
SHEEP is here watering the cabbages. He looks pleased with himself. He wears a gardener’s hat with the words “Chief Gardener” stamped on the brim.
Good morning Sheep – isn’t it a lovely day for tending your garden?
(SHEEP NODS)And what splendid cabbages you have growing, I think they are going to be really yummy.
(SHEEP NODS AND SMILES)
Good Work Sheep…well don’t let us stop you, carry on.
(SHEEP CONTINUES WATERING THE CABBAGE PLANTS, MAYABE WHISTLING TO HIMSELF CONTENTEDLY)
SAME SCENE – VEGETABLE PATCH –
Sheep walks towards the vegetable patch. He starts pointing at the cabbages as he counts them. But something is wrong. He counts again. Frowns, is puzzled. Then he realises one is missing, his eyes widen in surprise –
CLOSE SHOT – THE CABBAGES…
There is a hole among the plants where a cabbage was growing.
Hello Sheep. Oh what’s wrong? You look upset.
(SHEEP POINTS TO THE EMPTY SPACE)
Oh. There was a cabbage in that hole earlier. Where has it gone?
So you didn’t pick it then?
(SHEEP SHAKES HIS HEAD)
Oh dear. And it can’t have been the wind because it hasn’t been windy. And it can’t have been the rain because we haven’t had any rain. Are you thinking what I am thinking Sheep?
(SHEEP NODS, STILL LOOKING CROSS)
Well, let’s hope it doesn’t happen again.
(SHEEP WAGGLES A HOOF AND SHAKES HIS HEAD TO INDICATE HE CERTAINLY DOESN’T WANT ANY MORE DISAPPEARING CABBAGES)
SAME SCENE – VEGETABLE PATCH –
SHEEP is here already standing over the cabbage patch. He has two hoofs on his hips looking at another empty space where another of the larger cabbages was growing.
Hello again Sheep, how are you…oh dear. You don’t look very happy again. What is wrong this time?
(SHEEP LOOKS VERY ANGRY NOW. HE POINTS AT SOMETHING…)
FOOTPRINTS IN THE SOIL –
The footprints are in fact paw prints, the prints head off into the background.
Oh, I see. Well that proves it then – someone has been helping themselves to your cabbages. That’s not very nice, is it Sheep?
(SHEEP SHAKES HIS HEAD)
No wonder you look cross.
Hmmm, I wonder who could be doing this?
(SHEEP PULLS A FACE TO SUGGEST HE DOESN’T KNOW OR HAVE ANY IDEA WHO IS RESPONSIBLE)
Could it be Puppy?
CLOSE SHOT –
He shakes his head but doesn’t even seem to understand the question, he is all genuine innocence.
It couldn’t be Rabbit, surely?
CLOSE SHOT –
She blinks her eyes rapidly as if shocked by the suggestion that she has been taking Sheep’s cabbages without permission and shakes her head. She even looks upset that she is being accused.
CLOSE SHOT –
Fox, is it you?
(FOX LOOKS COY AND A BIT GUILTY, SLIGHTLY SMIRKING PERHAPS, MAYBE IT IS HER…MAYBE IT ISN’T…SHE TURNS HER NOSE UP AND LOOKS SIDEWAYS AWAY FROM CAMERA)
CLOSE UP –
A PAIR OF FEET –
They begin to move forward…
VEGETABLE PATCH –
The feet appear.
PAN UP TO REVEAL –
She is standing over the third of the bigger cabbages. She is tempted. She looks around, from side to side and behind her, then stretches out a paw towards the cabbage…but then stops. She realises she is being watched.
She looks to CAMERA – she has been caught out – she looks very guilty now and looks down to the ground.
Fox! So it is you. Oh no, don’t tell me you were thinking of taking another of Sheep’s cabbages?
(FOX NODS AND WITHDRAWS HER PAW SLOWLY)
Oh Fox, that isn’t very nice, is it? Do you really think that is a good idea?
(FOX HAS A THINK – THEN SHAKES HER HEAD)
No, it’s not a good idea. Sheep has worked hard to grow those cabbages. He has been very upset that someone has been taking them without asking first. Can you see why he would be upset?
Do you think you should go and say sorry to Sheep?
(FOX NODS AGAIN)
Yes, I think you should.
You know if you were to ask, Sheep might still let you have a taste of his delicious cabbages.
(FOX RAISES HER EYEBROWS INTRIGUED BY THE IDEA)
DOWN BY THE STREAM –
SHEEP, RABBIT, PUPPY and FOX are sitting on a picnic blanket sharing the third of the big cabbages. We join you?
Well done Fox, you asked Sheep and now you are all enjoying one of his lovely cabbages. You see, it is always best to ask first.
Hmmm, they do look like very nice cabbages. Can we join you?