It’s testament to how often this series was shown whilst I was growing up that I remember the story, characters and theme song so well. Based on the classic Swiss book written way back in 1880 by Johanna Spyri, this Swiss/German TV adaptation was notable for it’s beautiful scenery, the aforementioned theme tune, and the terrible dubbing into English.
I should qualify that final statement. It wasn’t the quality of the voice acting in the English dub that was the problem, more the fact that as a kid watching it there seemed to be something just a little freaky about people’s mouths moving but the words you heard bearing no relation.
The story begins when Heidi is sent to live with her grandfather (who she affectionately calls Grandpapa) in the Swiss mountains. Her parents have died and she has been looked after by her Aunt Dete, who for reasons I cannot recall ends up lumping Heidi with her cantankerous grandfather, who lives in a shack up on a hillside, away from all the other people in his village.
Heidi eventually melts the old man’s heart, and she has a great time living in the mountains and playing with her friend Goat Peter, the boy who takes all the village goats onto the mountains to graze. She even manages to calm some of the bad relations between her grandfather and the villagers in the process.
Unfortunately Aunt Dete eventually returns, and takes Heidi off to Frankfurt where she goes to live with a wealthy family who have a little girl named Klara. Klara is unable to walk and spends her time in a wheelchair. Whilst Heidi enjoys being friends with Klara, she gets along less well with the strict housekeeper Fraulein Rottenmeier who doesn’t really seem to like Heidi very much.
Eventually though, Heidi starts to feel homesick, and eventually is allowed to return to her grandfather in the mountains. Klara’s doctor comes to visit her there, and thinks the change of scenery might help the weak little girl’s health too. He convinces Klara’s parents to allow her to stay with Heidi for the summer, and a lot has to be said for that fresh mountain air because before too long Klara’s strength builds and she finally starts to make her first steps away from her wheelchair.
Heidi must have been shown about a zillion times when I was growing up, or at least it seemed like it. It was played regularly on Children’s BBC in the after school line up and also during the school holidays, for which it was ideally suited as it was a very long series (26 episodes I believe).Search for Heidi items on Amazon.co.uk