You know how there are some things which are so incredibly bad that they somehow become incredibly good? The T-Bag kids TV series are an excellent example of this bizarre phenomenon. Somehow everything about this show was terrible, yet I for one couldn’t help watching it if it happened to come on whilst I was watching TV.
The programme first aired in 1985 and ran for nine series, coming to an end in 1992. Each series had it’s own unique title, such as T-Bag Strikes Back or T-Bag and the Revenge of the T-Set. In fact the only series that didn’t feature the name T-Bag somewhere in it was the first series, which was simply called Wonders in Letterland.
Each series followed a similar structure though. A young heroine would have to pass through many different fantasy or story book settings in order to track down a number of special artifacts of some kind (silver numbers perhaps, or pearls of wisdom) in order to put a stop to some diabolical scheme cooked up by the evil T-Bag.
T-Bag, or more correctly Tallulah Bag, was played by Elizabeth Estensen in a very pantomime villain style. By drinking tea from the High T-Plant she gained magic powers such as being able to teleport herself or other objects, and by pouring some of the tea into a saucer she could view what other people were up to, a bit like a crystal ball.
In 1990 Elizabeth Estensen stepped down as T-Bag, and her character was killed off, only to be replaced by her sister, Tabatha Bag (thus enabling the show to keep the T-Bag name) who was played by Georgina Hale. I have to say I much preferred the original T-Bag over her replacement, but I suspect it’s probably one of those things where whichever incarnation you saw first as a child would remain your favourite no matter what.
Both T-Bag’s were not that great at brewing tea though, so they relied heavily on their much put upon boy assistant, T-Shirt (Thomas Shirt). T-Shirt was played throughout the entire run of the show by John Hasler, who first appeared as a small child, but ended up being a much taller teenager by the time the programme came to an end. T-Shirt was really quite a nice lad though, and often helped out the heroine of the piece behind T-Bag’s back.
The heroines changed far more though. The first three series featured Debbie Carter (played by Jennie Stallwood) who it has to be said was a dead ringer for little orphan Annie. She was followed by a succession of four more female child actors, all playing different characters but basically fulfilling the same role. Probably the best known of the heroines would be Kelly Bright, who went on to appear in the highly popular sitcom The Upper Hand, and has also been in women’s prison drama Bad Girls and was “Me Julie” in the film Ali G Indahouse.
If you don’t remember the show, fear not, take a look at the clip below which is promoting the DVD release of the first series.