Worst to Best
Murun Buchstansangur

Murun Buchstansangur is a largely-forgotten cartoon aired by Channel 4 in the 1980s, often as a "schedule filler". Altogether 52 episodes were reputed to have been made, though with no DVD release only a select few are available to see via video sharing sites.


by
THE ANORAK
MAY 2017


For its thirty-fifth anniversary, The Anorak Zone looks back upon this little-discussed series. Please join me as I rank 12 episodes from worst to best...

12 The Clean (1982)

Due to lack of episodes available, this "worst to best" article can only look back over a dozen entries, short of a DVD release, or perhaps Channel 4 putting it in their "4 On Demand" online service. Please contact Channel 4 to let them know you'd be interested in seeing it, and also please feel free to email me if you have any episodes not covered here.
     While the nature of these articles is some form of "ranking" while discussing the shows therein, it's generally just a gimmicky format when discussing Murun Buchstansangur, as most of the episodes here are of a similar quality. However, this lowest-ranked entry is the only one to be somewhat poor, a thin story whereby Murun's neighbour helps him decorate his squalid crack(!) and Murun wrecks the place again overnight.

11 Obsessions (1988)

One of the biggest mysteries surrounding the series is what exactly Murun Buchstansangur IS. Having no torso, his arms and legs grow out of his head, and he's so tiny he lives in a crack in someone's kitchen. However, many of his friends are humanoid and able to visit him in this almost microscopic space, as with his yuppieish friend Nigel Clarke in this episode.
     Even more confusingly, when Nigel leaves and walks the streets, he's regular-sized... as is the motorcyclist who knocks him over, yet appears to be the same species as Murun. Nigel's upset over his property being damaged in the accident leaves Murun to reflect on his friend's obsessions, but neglect to notice his own.

10 Anticipation (1984)

Murun wants to buy a hi-fi, but is continually prevented by doing so by his next door neighbour, who expects him to buy her a holiday instead. As she kisses Murun, it appears that this is more than a platonic relationship, even though the unnamed neighbour is human in form, albeit his height.
     The relationship between the main cast is sometimes hard to fathom: the neighbour's boyfriend is revealed to be Nigel Clarke in other episodes of the year, while a 1982 instalment saw her state that the then-unseen boyfriend was cheating on her. Murun acts as a friend towards her, but is secretly pleased when she splits up with him (yet also pleased when they get back together again) and in a 1988 episode it's heavily implied that he's slept with her. The moral that Murun learns here is that "anticipation is always better than realisation", which could just as easily apply to his personal relationships as it could his desire for a hi-fi.

9 Spot (1984)

The minimalist animation on the series appears to be the work of several people across the episodes. While Lys Flowerday does all the backgrounds for the episodes credited here, the animation varies between Lys herself and Anne Whitford. The animation for this particular instalment is by an Aruna Douglas, while artwork comes from Heirographics.
     As the series is so little-discussed, I attempted to track down those responsible for making it, in the hope of finding out a bit more background information. Sadly, the producer and director appear to be untraceable, and the long-defunct production company (Bevanfield Films) contains little details. I did, however, get to ask Lys Flowerday a few questions. Although her work on the series can seem rudimentary, probably intentionally so, she went on to be Assistant Animator on When the Wind Blows, and currently still works in art, albeit not in the animation industry.
     Lys confirmed what is perhaps to be expected for such an old series... that memories of the programme are limited: "I'm afraid I lost contact with the Director Timothy Forder after I went to live in France many years ago, so I cannot help you very much [...] Timothy wrote the series, did some animation I believe in the first series and was also the narrator [...] the second series of Murun was made at Hierographics Production Studio in Soho, but I am not sure this studio still exists."
     As for this particular episode, then Murun seems to have no problems with attracting women, as this episode sees him with his blonde neighbour and a brunette friend, but they, along with his cousin Rossiter, are all cruel to him about a spot on the end of his nose. What should be a matter as trivial as most of Murun’s obsessions has become psychologically scarring as the narration tells us he remembers the day for years to come... Murun clearly needs nicer friends, or, based on all the alcohol he drinks, an intervention.

8 Cousin Rossiter (1982)

Murun indulges the company of his cousin Rossiter, who is something of a blowhard, even more self-absorbed than Murun himself. A point of trivia here is that Murun's address – 4 Uphill Road, Ealing, W13 – can be seen on a letter written to him.
     Although Murun's cousin is the same species, he claims to have travelled the world, making you wonder how he could get a flight. Also look out for Murun's displaced sense of priorities in his own world under the kitchen sink: he dusts a discarded apple peel and positions an empty milk bottle, clearly believing them to be fine furniture. His guest's seating arrangements are, as pictured, an empty matchbox and a discarded Oxo cube.

7 Go Between (1984)

Here we discover that the boyfriend of Murun's next door neighbour is Nigel Clarke, who is attempting to have an affair behind her back. When she asks Murun to be a form of go between, telling Nigel to stop on her behalf, we see the first signs of a more devious edge to Murun: not only does he feel joy that her relationship is going badly wrong, but he delights in being the one to break the news to Nigel.
     Things don't go according to plan, as he tries to tell Nigel (called "Nige" in spite after he insists on referring to Murun as "Mur") but ends up avoiding the issue and quoting poetry at him instead. Of note is how poor the animations are in this one. A series made up of barely animated cel drawings, there's never going to be a time when it's mistaken for cutting edge anime, but, as witnessed by the screen shot above, it's particularly primitive in this instalment.

1 Next