I cannot even remember when Pumpkin Patch ran from.  Sometime from the mid 80’s till god knows when.

It had a catchy wee tune and was shown at a time in the country when there was no other channels…no other choice.

Pumpkin Patch, ho ho ho, Pumpkin Patch
Let’s all go to Pumpkin Patch (woof-woof)
Pumpkin Patch, ho ho ho, Pumpkin Patch
everyday we plaaaaaaaaaay
in pumpkin paaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaatch

Freckles and Speckles will sing a little song
Woofles goes woof-woof-woof and sings along…

Pumpkins are tasty and very good to eat ha…
Pumpkin pie is such a treat!!
Pumpkin Patch ..ho ho ho … pumpkin patch!!

I watched a clip of it the other day on youtube and was quite shocked at the show.

Here was a kids program that seemed to defy the then governments attitude to so many things in South Africa.

If you were to do a wee synopsis of the show, it would go something like this.

“Two gay, possibly vegan puppets who own a talking dog and live on a rural retreat go through life’s daily tribulations.
Part of their friends include Uncle Bill, an elderly coloured gentleman who seems to be having an illicit affair with the young white woman called Lauren, who is kind of a beard to the puppet men.”

Considering we had lay preachers coming round to our schools to tell us how evil, The Smurfs and He-Man was.  Im so surprised that this show slipped under the radar of sorts.  Perhaps I am wrong.  perhaps it is why it had the kids bible verse right after it.  Hand in Hand.  Remember that…?  A kindly old dude (think his name was Uncle Ken), would then pray for us.  I remember watching this show and feeling like God was going to smite me if I didn’t pray along.  Perhaps he did.

Had Pumpkin Patch, been a  reality. I sit and wonder what the characters would be doing now?  Would Freckles and Speckles still be a couple?  Would they have perhaps sold the Pumpkin Patch and moved back to the city, started a interior design company, perhaps adopted a small child?

Would Lauren be able to come out with her love for Uncle Bill and be accepted by society.  Not only the racial divide would have existed, but there was a large age difference too.  Lauren must be mid 40’s now.  Uncle Bill in his 70’s.  I do wonder.

Obviously, old Woofles would have passed away. If a year to a human is the equivalent to seven year to a dog.  It would have made Woofles the best part of 160-180 years old.  A very old dog indeed.  Perhaps Uncle Bill shot him farm style…once his hips and hearing had gone of course.  By that I mean Woofles hips and hearing.  Not Uncle Bill’s.

In 80's apartheid South Africa, it was against the law for a white woman and coloured man to sit closer than a Wagon Wheel apart. Terrible times indeed.

Goodbye Woofles.  You will be missed.
check out the facebook page for Pumpkin Patch here.

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42 thoughts on “Pumpkin Patch. The kids show that defied apartheid, homophobia and the braai mentality of South Africa during the 80’s

    1. Thanks for that. Yup it was most certainly south african.
      We were under a cultural embargo with equity in those days. There was zero british tv in south africa during the 80’s.

      We were very short on quality tv.

      Tough times indeed

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  1. Of course; I’d forgotten the Equity ban.

    I’m in Britain now and I’m afraid we are short on quality tv ourselves these days. I watch mostly American dramas.

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  2. Oh my God. I haven’t seen this show since I was a child. I watched it on Youtube and was surprised to see Uncle Bill was actually the mayor of Pumpkin Patch. Definitely a lot more subversive than I understood it to be at the time.

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  3. Freckles n Speckles weren’t gay and there was no illicit relationship between lauren n uncle Bill. Leave the memories innocent…

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  4. What the hell… you just totally fucked up a very nice memory! I watched this as a child. & I dont think there is anything wrong with children under 5 holding hands. We also didnt need better TV shows back then, Our country was safe enough TO PLAY OUTSIDE!!!!!!!!!!! stop being so judge mental. Ever thought that maybe they really did just try to make a nice program for kids to enjoy? Or do you prefer the abundance of TV shows & technology we have now to keep kids “busy”? Subjecting them to violence & porn ect? Things are what you make of it.

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    1. Who said there was anything wrong with it?

      Judge Mental. quality.
      See that bottle over there. It is filled with piss. You can take it if you want.
      I have enough. For you see. I am a piss-taker.

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    2. Wel,ek se bring al die ou kinder programme terug.Mannemarak,moemin,Pumpkin Patch,Wielie wielie walie,Dawie die kabouter en Doffel babbel en bekkie.
      Dis 100 keer beter as dit wat nou op T.V wys.Kyk net hoe violent is Tom & Jerry,mr dis net n voorbeeld.

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    3. Totally agree with you Tamara. I studied with Laurel (Not Lauren) she was immensely popular with the kids. The show was a hit.

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  5. I remember this… I thought Freckles and Speccles were brothers??? But I’m sure Uncle Bill (Uncle Ben – like the rice guy – I always called him that) and Lauren had a pseudo-relationship. I recall a marriage of sorts in one episode. My favourites were always the singing vegetable puppets on the black screen. and the old lady that the kids used to visit and have tea with and she would admonish them most of the time.
    I always wondered who was in the Woofles suit???
    and remeber KIDEO???!!!

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  6. I suspect that the guy who dressed up as Woofles was a card carrying member of the South African Communist party. Also the anthropomorphism of the singing pumpkins was an allegory for the Maoist take over of China.

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  7. This has made my laugh me out loud at my desk…I am with the guy who liked the singing vegetable puppets- they were my favourites too .. 🙂
    Oh -what memories and how bloody funny is this blog.

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  8. I used to watch this show religiously as a kid, the cool thing about growing up is you learn to takes things with a pinch of salt… I just laughed my ass off!!! Well done, in retrospect one could say you hit the nail on the head. I had all the patch dolls as a kid, could you imagine my not so liberal father walking in on me during playtime and seeing me create an environment where Freckles and Speckles could be together and make out??? aaah if only I knew then what I know now!! hahahahahahahahahahahahaha, he would have died and shipped me to convent! As for dear Tamara, we should be lambasting you for taking the humour out of our day, pipe down Polly and take it for what it is… freaking hilarious!

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    1. thanks for that.

      i find doing stand up comedy in south africa can often be a challenge. Several of my youtube clips get a similar lack of understanding.

      i just re-read this post now. Some folks just dont get me.

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  9. Laurel (Laurel Mcculloch) lives in Auckland New Zealand and works for Rhema radio. Speckles (John Rothman) lives in Las Vegas USA and is a Theatre Choreographer/Singer. Freckles (Anton Schmidt) is the morning DJ on LM Radio in Mozambique. Woofles (Adrian Galley) does voice overs, production etc. and lives in Cape Town.

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    1. I have worked with Adrian Galley on a commercial before and know that he is often in the Primedia studio’s here in CT…Nice to get some info on the others….

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    2. But was I right that Woofles’s voice changed halfway through the show? Did we use to have another Woofles?

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  10. Just found your blog, Laurel (not Lauren) is my mother. You’re right, she is in her mid 40s, but she definitely wasn’t in a ‘subversive relationship’ in the show. She was teacher of Pumpkin Patch, Uncle Bill was the mayor. I read her the article, she was amused. An interesting viewpoint of yours, none the less!

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    1. Please tell your mum i said hi. I was a kid & used to watch Pumpkin Patch all the time….im now turning 30.
      Please ask your mum if there is anyway of getting a few episodes on DVD?

      Would like to show my 1 year old daughter.

      I still remember the “maestro” – the memories put’s a smile on my face each time

      Thanks
      Regards
      Thergan Govender – 0836520961

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      1. Hi Thergan

        did you manage to find a video or DVD of Pumpkin Patch????
        I am also looking for it but still did not find.
        my 3 year old loves the very few episodes on you tube but my parents were in south africa and also looked for it.
        please let me know :
        yoni_levin@hotmail.com

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  11. Great piece.
    Worked on the show early 90’s. Recording and editing. Great bunch of people, with some of the filthiest jokes, the more juvenile the show the rougher the jokes were. Loads of innuendo in the shows.
    Love the angst filled comments from some people, they would have been severely damaged if they’d been at the wrap parties.
    Not sure about the sexuality of Freckles and Speckles but I was always a bit sceptical about the vast amounts of vaseline they demanded to remove their make up.

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  12. i would love to have pumpkin patch back on television because it is a very interesting educational program for kids.i used to watch it when i was young & i learned a lot from it.watching that program made me become what i wanted to be.(teacher)

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  13. Her name was Laurel, not Lauren. When I was a kid she was my idol. Laurel and Woofles came as entertainment to a kids party when I was about 4. I was literally star struck, couldn’t speak, almost cried with happiness.

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  14. Uncle Bill was my English teacher at the school CJB in Bosmont, Johannesburg.He had a dream in 1974 to take his matric class overseas to broaden our thinking. The plan was to visit 7 countries. I remember how the idea was ridiculed by many at the idea of taking non white children out of the country. With hard work from us all, many donations, the faith of our mothers and the perseverance of Mr Abdul, we had our first traveling experience, many of us getting out of JHB for the first time! Thank you, Mr Abdul, for the experience of: my first flight, my first sight of the first of many countries, my insatiable travel bug and the emotions I experience every time I tell this story. I never had the opportunity to say it personally, but it is because of people like you, who had a dream, and who worked towards it, that many lives and mindsets were changed. Thank you!

    Hazel

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  15. As a huge huge fan of the show I just remember that Woofles got a new voice, obviously some new guy took over the role, and this bugged me almost as much as having to watch Beverley Hills 90210 simulcast in Afrikaans (and I am Afrikaans).

    Many years later there was an Afrikaans drama on Tv and while this actress spoke, I suddenly realised OMG it’s Brenda.

    This confused me and this actress’ face is imprinted in my mind forever as the voice op Brenda.

    To come back to my original point, did not like the “new” Woofles, felt betrayed

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    1. Same here! And his costume also changed at some stage! And there was another presenter before Laurel?

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  16. my daughter is 13 moths now and loves the show, i need to get the dvd please if any one can help.

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  18. Those were good old days, specially Friday tv after school. I would play outside all safe with no need for barb wire on the fence. Pumpkin patch would come on as I got ready for my favourite show, Robotech, to come on later. Then in the evening was Macgyver. Good times.

    Liked by 1 person

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