Worst to Best
Murun Buchstansangur
Series One

Murun Buchstansangur was an odd, esoteric cartoon that aired on Channel 4 in the 1980s, detailing the everyday life of a grey creature that lived in a crack under a kitchen sink.


Murun was there right from the start of Channel 4, first airing just 12 days after the channel's launch in November 1982. So what did animator Lys Flowerday remember of the programme? Where can you see the episodes? Did the series have a different title to the one eventually used? Let's find out together, as I rank the entire first series from worst to best...

13 Episode Four

While the nature of a "worst to best" article is a ranking of the shows in question, on occasion it's more just a gimmicky format to hang an article on when there's a conistent quality across the board. The Pogles was a bit like that, as was Tottie - Murun definitely is.
      This "worst" episode - by which I mean, it's only a fraction not as good as the others - sees Murun's neighbour come round to clean up his home, only for him to mess it up again regardless. It's one of the more basic plots on offer, though a scene where Murun's finger drips blood, unremarked upon by the narrator, is a little sinister.
      So, where can you see this first series? Well, it's currently available to view on Screen Ocean, a company that licenses programmes for commercial use. You can't buy them, at least not in a regular sense, but you can get to see the episodes on their site. If you watch them, then why not also rate them on the IMDB episode list afterwards, just for fun?

12 Episode Six

The first appearance of Murun's cousin Rossiter, who is something of a blowhard, even more self-absorbed than Murun himself. The character had been "heard" before, as Murun calls him in episode two, and, unseen, Timothy Forder narrates his response. Yet this was his first onscreen appearance, where his tall stories are open to question.
     As so little is known about the making of Murun Buchstansangur, I tried to track down some of the people who made it. I was unable to get contact details for creator-narrator Timothy Forder, though I did manage to get in touch with Lys Flowerday, who was credited with backgrounds and some animation for the episodes from 1984-1988.
     It's not actually known if she was involved with this first series, produced in 1982, as there are no extensive credits for this run. Although Flowerday's 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."
     A previous article on Murun was originally published on the Anorak Zone back in 2017, when an idea of episode numbers was all but impossible, and all that could be reviewed was whatever random episodes were shared on streaming sites, not a complete series from a single year. Since that date, information has come to light that there were 52 episodes in total, which would make sense - this first series is 13 episodes, and dates seen on other random episodes would suggest that a new series was commissioned every two years.
     Verifying these runs via the British Newspaper Archive, it's not quite as straightforward as it seems (eg. a 4 x 13 episode run) as series two has 14 episodes, series three just 12. The final series, presumably back to 13 episodes to complete the set, is particularly hard to confirm, as by the time it aired Murun had become a much-repeated programme that flitted around the Channel 4 schedules, sometimes going out multiple times a week.

11 Episode Two

A likeable albeit slightly repetitive episode whereby Murun, getting some scrapings from the bottom of a dustbin, overhears people saying he's disgusting, repulsive and smelly. When his friends and cousin confirm it to be true, he spends a week in bed trying to come to terms with it. It's not explicitly stated here, but Murun clearly has depression, which perhaps explains why Channel 4 stopped screening the series in a 5:20pm timeslot for younger viewers, and brought it back almost a year later in a post-watershed setting. Although the episodes of this first series are all copyrighted as 1982, episodes 4-13 didn't get broadcast until 1983, usually after 10pm.
      There is the possibility that the programme had a working title, as the VTR timeclock for the first two episodes list the programme as "Murun Buchstowsanger". While it's possible whoever designed the VTR slide just needed to doublecheck the spelling every single time like I do, it does seem coincidental that it was on more than one episode. However, it may have just been someone's idea of a joke, as episode four went out with a VTR timeclock listing the title "Murun Barfstrangler".
      The team behind Lavender Sweep Records were successful in being able to track down Timothy Forder (well done guys!) and conducted an interview with Forder where he stated that Murun's Germanic-sounding name had no bearing on anything in particular: "His name is based on nothing and came out of the ether."

10 Episode Eleven

Murun's cousin Rossiter returns for a visit, and, under the influence of alcohol, admits that his stories are all made up and that he doesn't have any real friends. Unwilling to empathise, Murun rather callously tells him to leave and orders him a taxi home. A small character getting into a regular taxi is one of the few instances of the programme's loose adherence to scale in this first series - episodes from the late 80s would take this much further, with characters human-sized but still able to fit into Murun's crack under the sink.
      If thought about too logically, it can distract, so it's best to disregard such things as trivialities. Although Murun is shown to use the human-sized kitchen in some episodes by having to step inside the oven, or climb onto the sink, it does raise the question of who owns the house, and, if it's Murun, how does he pay the mortgage? And why?
      Speaking of confusing dimensions, then as the narration largely takes on Murun's perspective - it is his programme, after all - we perhaps capture glimpses of the various supporting cast only as he perceives them. Cousin Rossiter is a very down, nakedly vulnerable character in this one, but Murun almost completely disregards him, only giving him a second thought before going to sleep. As this "second thought" is told to us via Timothy Forder, it could be an example of a literal unreliable narrator.

9 Episode Five

Each episode of the series was written, directed and narrated by Forder. There is perhaps the feeling that he's a man trying to work out issues, as while the series is gentle and sparse in incident, there's a nihilistic, bleak undertone to the whole thing, at odds with the jaunty piano theme.
     More than that, Murun isn't a particularly nice person (creature?). Neurotic and self-obsessed, he's often mean-spirited, and here, when introduced to his neighbour's new boyfriend, Nigel Clarke, he wishes he'd choke and calls the police to get his car towed away.
     Nigel is admittedly flashy, but it's this level of pettiness, spite and obsessional behaviour that make Murun such a relatable character... he's not someone we'd perhaps aspire to be, but someone who we know, deep down, we possibly are.

8 Episode Ten

Murun can seem a thoughtful kind of creature, but does display the nature of a cad on many occasions. An episode from 1988 showed him picking his backside and smelling his finger, before sleeping with his next door neighbour and treating it as a one-off while she wanted something more. Here, what starts out as a comedy of manners - Murun won't let his neighbour in before he tidies - has a more sinister turn, as it's revealed he's got another woman in there. Although Murun and his neighbour aren't together at this point, it's the deceit behind it, and the way in which he makes the viewers complicit by smiling at them at the end. Murun might be a ladies' man, but he's no gent.

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