The T-Room
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Wonders in Letterland

Episode 1 (Arrival in Letterland)

First Transmitted 4.4.1985



Jim Norton as The Shopkeeper/The Gardener



The episode begins with Debbie walking home form school. She passes a curiosity shop and hears a strange jingling sound. She looks in the window and sees a puppet of a clown, which beckons to her, so she goes to open the door. Before she can touch it, the handle turns and the door swings open. The shop is in darkness, but as she walks into it, it lights up. She calls out, but gets no reply.

A game called "Wonders in Letterland" slides off a table under its own volition and lands on the floor. Debbie picks it up and then an old man appears and tells her that it is the most valuable piece in the shop. Debbie asks how it is played, but the old man (Thomas's Grandad) tells her that the rules have been lost, but she can try to work it out for herself, if she wants. Debbie politely declines and we find out that she is having trouble at school keeping up with her homework.

She shuts the board up and hears a squeaky "Ouch!" come from it. She looks up, but the shopkeeper has mysteriously vanished. She opens the board up again and a little man in the first square asks her if she would mind not slamming the board shut because it feels like an earthquake to him. Debbie apologises and tells him that the game is very beautiful. The Gardener tells her that it is until the old T-Bag gets angry. Debbie asks who the old T-Bag is and the Gardener explains that they call her that because all she ever thinks about is drinking tea. He explains that she is making everyone's life a misery and that the game used to be a lovely happy place until she came along.

Debbie asks if she can help, and the Gardener explains that she can get into the game by thinking small. Debbie does this and lands in the first square. She gets the feeling that she has met the Gardener before, and asks if she has (he looks like Thomas's grandad, but with more eyeliner and pink hair). The Gardener tells her that they can't have met before.

Debbie starts to talk about T-Bag, but the Gardener tells her to be careful because you never know when she is listening. Debbie asks him what he knows about her, and he tries to explain, but his voice disappears (the work of T-Bag). He tries to mime what he is saying, but Debbie can't understand him. He gets closer and starts to silently shout what he is trying to say to Debbie. Debbie cranes to listen, and suddenly his voice returns and he yells in Debbie's face.

Debbie asks him what T-Bag looks like. The Gardener tells her that she can look like anything and anyone she likes. He then sees that Debbie is dressed in yellow, and it sparks a memory. He struggles to remember what it is, and eventually recites a verse:

The guest will come, in yellow dressed.

Will guess the puzzles to pass the test.

Only the best can open the chest

And so with happiness be blessed.


He goes into raptures and takes Debbie to a large chest at the side of the garden and tells her to open it. Debbie tries, but it is firmly locked. The Gardener is disappointed. Debbie notices that there are letters on the chest just below the lid. The Garderner doesn't know what letters are. Debbie explains that letters make up words and you put the words together and read them. The Gardener has no idea what she is talking about. She explains to him what reading is, and is shocked that he can't read. The Gardener asks if the letters tell her how to open the chest, she hesitates and admits that she can't read very well, and that is why she has so much homework.

The Gardener tells Debbie that he will help her as much as he can, so long as T-Bag doesn't interfere. Debbie asks him again what she looks like, so he describes her as looking mostly "Yeeeeuuck!", with a touch of "Bleeeuch!", a hint of "Miaaaaow!" and a modicum of "Yechyechyechyechyechyech!", and "MOOOOOOO!", but mostly "Yeeeeuuk!".

He remembers that he has a picture of her somewhere and goes off to get it. We hear T-Bag's magic off screen, and as the Gardener hops away, another one hops up behind Debbie. She asks how he managed to get behind her, but the other Gardener tells her that T-Bag is really a lovely person who enriches everyone's lives. Debbie is confused at this, but the Gardener tells her that she must have misheard what he said to her before. He tells Debbie that she must leave because if T-Bag were to find her, everyone would be punished. Debbie closes her eyes and starts to think big again. The second Gardener leaves, and the first Gardener returns, telling Debbie that he has found the picture. Debbie is even more confused and tells him to make up his mind what he wanted her to do - stay or go. The Gardener figures out what has happened and tells Debbie that the other Gardener must have been the T-Bag. The second Gardener turns up and tells Debbie not to listen to his silly stories. Debbie gets even more confused, but then she decides to trick one of them into revealing their true identity. She takes a book out of her satchel and tells them both that she is having trouble reading it. She spells out "A, N, D" and then says that it is very difficult. The second Gardener then tells her that it spells "And". Debbie then announces that she knows which the real Gardener was because he can't read.

The second Gardener then transforms into T-Bag. She warns Debbie not to interfere with things that son't concern her as "This is a happy place". Debbie points out that the Gardener doesn't look happy at all. T-Bag zaps him so he starts dancing about and singing,



Well take a little look at me!

I laugh and chuckle and smile and grin,

I sing and dance, make a terrible din!


Debbie tells her that she is cruel. T-Bag warns her not to open the chest and tells her that she will be keeping an eye on her, before she vanishes back to the T-Room.

Debbie is intrigued by how worried T-Bag seemed over the chest. She tries to read the letters, but they make no sense as most of them are missing. The Gardener starts shouting at the sky telling T-Bag that she is a pain in the neck for stealing the letters. T-Bag appears and gives him a pain in the neck. She then turns on Debbie and warns her again not to waste her time on all these words and letters. She then sings her only song in the whole of her 5 series:

They are a bore!

What are they for?

Don't even think about them any more!

And what's a word?

It's just absurd!

And the best thing you can do

Is to ignore them!


**Like a hymn**

'Cause ignoarnce is bliss.

Ignorance is bliss.

Open your ears and listen carefully to this:

I-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-ignorance is bliss!


**Calypso Style**

If you have the desire to throw your books on the fire,

I'm behind you!

If your lessons in spelling start you screaming and yelling,

I'll remind you:


**Like a hymn**

That ignoarnce is bliss.

Ignorance is bliss.

Open your ears and listen carefully to this:

I-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-i-ignorance is bliss!


Debbie remains defiant and tells T-Bag that she intends to open the chest. T-Bag warns her off one last time before going back to the T-Square, where she lives. The Gardener is overjoyed that Debbie has stood up to T-Bag and that she is going to stay and help. Debbie decides that the key to opening the chest must be in the legend and that she must get the missing letters back. She decides to set off to the next square (The land of B). The Gardener comes with her through a tree and they arrive in the B-Square.

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