The Family Ness, 1980s children's cartoon / TV show.

Written by Chris Thornton | 6th of January 2023
The Family Ness

As a child of the 80s, I grew up in a fantastic decade with some of the best and most creative children's TV shows ever to grace the small screen. He-Man, Thundercats, Count Duckula, The Racoons, Thomas the Tank Engine, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the list is endless... but one show held a special place in my heart - The Family Ness.

Most cartoons in the 80s were set in fantastical lands or England/America; The Family Ness was set in Scotland, had characters with Scottish accents and had its own catchy classic 80s theme tune that still holds up today. I feel the art of the theme tune has been lost in the last 40 years; the 80s perfected it, and then it was lost in time somehow.

It was nice to have a cartoon set in my home country.

Show synopsis - Loch Ness Monsters!

The show follows the two main characters, children named Elspeth and Angus (brother and sister), who live in Scotland on the shores of Loch Ness. In the first episode, Elspeth and Angus spot a mysterious mound on the loch side and find a loch-ness monster named "Silly Ness" who gets stuck in a hole.

The two children rescue Silly Ness, prompting Queen Nessie to appear (who looks like a stereotypical Loch Ness monster... but with a crown!) and reward the children with "Thistle Whistles", allowing them to summon a Nessie in their time of need.

As a test, they blow their Thistle Whistles and see the entire family of Loch Ness monsters.

The character list from the Family Ness

For a wee Scottish cartoon of only 25 episodes and a run time of 5 minutes, there are many characters in The Family Ness that can be split into two groups, the humans and the Nessies.

Human characters

Angus Mactout

is considered the main character; he's older than his sister, adventurous, is usually responsible for saving the day (usually with the help of a Nessie) or using his own wits to save his father or the Nessies.

Mactout family particularly siblings
Elspeth & Angus Mactout.

Elspeth Mactout

Angus's underestimated sister who often helps Angus when he's in trouble.

Mr Mactout

Meet Mr MacTout, a single father to Angus and Elspeth. With his ginger hair and bushy beard, Mr MacTout embodies the stereotype of a Scotsman. In addition to being the keeper of the loch, he is also a skilled bagpipe player.

Despite his job, Mr MacTout has never had a sighting of the famous Loch Ness Monster and dismisses any mention of it as "nonsense." He attributes any strange noises, like the sound of a thistle whistle, to the wind.

Family particularly siblings elspeth
Mr Mactout playing his bag pipes.

Sergeant MacFuzz

Sergeant MacFuzz is the go-to person whenever a sighting of the Loch Ness Monster is reported. However, he is often sceptical and rarely believes the accounts he hears. On one occasion, he dismissed a sighting as an April Fool's Day prank, and on another occasion, he refused to believe that the monster was water skiing, even though it turned out to be true.

More often than not, Sergeant MacFuzz arrives at the scene too late to witness anything himself. Interestingly, his son Willie MacFuzz also claims to have seen the monster, but his father doesn't believe him either. It seems that Sergeant MacFuzz is not easily convinced when it comes to the existence of the Loch Ness Monster.

Mrs McToffee

An infrequent character that runs the local sweet shop. Mrs Mctoffee won't sell too many sweets to Angus and Elspeth.

Professor Dummkopf

A mad professor with a german accent (his name means stupid head in German) and one of the show's main "bad guys". He is obsessed with finding the Loch Ness monster and is normally thwarted by the Mactout family or the family ness monsters.

Nessies

The Nessies themselves all have unique personalities and are named after their main trait, in a similar style to the Mr Men, but they all share a yellow/green colour, fat bodies, big noses and kind of look like dinosaurs.

Here is the list of all the Nessies that appeared in "The Family Ness"; their names really speak for themselves.

  • Baby-Ness

  • Careful-Ness

  • Clever-Ness

  • Clumsy-Ness

  • Eager-Ness

  • Eyewit-Ness

  • Ferocious-Ness

  • Forgetful-Ness

  • Grumpy-Ness

  • Heavy-Ness

  • Her High-Ness

  • Hungry-Ness

  • Lovely-Ness

  • Mighty-Ness

  • Naughty-Ness

  • Silly-Ness

  • Speedy-Ness

  • Sporty-Ness

  • Thirsty-Ness

  • Tidy-Ness

Loch Ness Monsters.
Sporty-Ness!

The Family Ness intro video

Here is a youtube video of the intro sequence to The Family Ness. The Nessies that appear are Ferocious-Ness, Sporty-Ness, Lovely-Ness and Eye-Witness.

Who created The Family Ness?

The Family Ness was created by Peter Maddocks of Maddocks Cartoon Productions in 1983, who also created "Jimbo and the Jet Set" and "Penny Crayon".

Other credits include:

Voices: Peter Hawkins, Susan Sheridan.

Music: Roger and Gavin Greenaway.

Theme Tune Performed By: Roger Greenaway.

Animation: The Animation People, Gingerbread Animation Ltd, Bill Melendez Productions, TV Cartoons Ltd, Bob Godfrey Ltd, The Ness Company.

Head of Backgrounds: Kevin Smith.

Layout: Ted Pettengel and David Elvin.

Production by: Peter Maddocks, Nick Roberts, Gus Angus.

Series Director: Jack Stokes.

Dubbing by: MagMasters.

How many episodes of The Family Ness were made?

Only 25 episodes of The Family Ness were animated, which is crazy to me as I felt there were many more... I watched this show all the time!

Here is the entire list of episodes:

Episode Title Air Date
1 "Elspeth and Angus Meet the Loch Ness Monster" 5 October 1984
2 "Professor Dumpkopf's Underwater Telescope" 12 October 1984
3 "Elspeth and Angus Buy a Puppy" 19 October 1984
4 "Ferocious-ness Changes His Colour" 26 October 1984
5 "Ferocious-Ness and the Look-Alike Contest" 2 November 1984
6 "Clever-ness Helps with the Homework" 9 November 1984
7 "Speedy-Ness Saves the Day" 16 November 1984
8 "Ferocious-Ness Loses His Roar" 23 November 1984
9 "Baby-Ness Gets the Measles" 30 November 1984
10 "Silly-Ness and the Bubble Machine" 7 December 1984
11 "Ferocious-Ness and the Sound Machine" 14 December 1984
12 "Clever-Ness and the Curling Championship" 21 December 1984
13 "The Maze of Urquhart Castle" 3 January 1985
14 "Professor Dumkopf Makes a Monster Film" 10 January 1985
15 "Professor Dumkopf and his Amazing Cannonball" 17 January 1985
16 "Sporty-Ness and the Highland Games" 24 January 1985
17 "Hungry-Ness and the Diving Bell" 31 January 1985
18 "Professor Dumkopf and the Hungry Monster" 7 February 1985
19 "Clumsy-Ness Upsets Captain Standfast" 14 February 1985
20 "Angus and the Monster Kite" 21 February 1985
21 "Captain Standfast and the Golden Key" 28 February 1985
22 "Thirsty-Ness and the Part-Time Witch" 7 March 1985
23 "Baby-Ness and the Mayor's Statue" 14 March 1985
24 "Captain Standfast and the Stowaway" 21 March 1985
25 "You'll Never Find a Nessie in the Zoo" 28 March 1985

Watch the first episode of The Family Ness

The first episode of The Family Ness is available to watch on the embedded Youtube video below.

You'll Never Find a Nessie in the Zoo

Strangely the cartoon credits song (which is different to the intro theme) was released as a single, "You'll Never Find a Nessie in the Zoo", in 1984. This is a very catchy tune and mentions two Scottish villages, Auctermuchty and Drumnadrochit... but unfortunately didn't make the Top 40 in the charts at the time. Listen to it in the video below; the main chorus starts at about 30 seconds.

Conclusion

So that's "The Family Ness", maybe not the most well-known cartoon of the 1980s, but one that sticks out in my mind while growing up in Scotland at that time.

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