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The Adventures of Charlie and Tutu is a Kuboian animated television series created by John Axim and produced by Axim Films, Nightlife Animated Productions (series one) and Bubblegum Studios (series two to four). A slice-of-life series, the show focuses on two children who attempt to find constructive ways to live their lives due to not being able to attend school.

The Adventures of Charlie and Tutu ran for four series; the first two series aired on Bumper's Block from 1994 to 1995, a third series debuted on Vision 1 in 1997, with the fourth and final series debuting on KT in 1999. After the show ended production, reruns continued to air on KT until 2008. It was the first Kuboian animated television series to be produced using digital ink.

Despite the show concluding in 1999, it continued as a franchise, spawnining multiple video games and merchandise during the early and mid-2000s.

Premise and setting

Charlie, a thirteen year-old girl, and Tutu, an eleven year-old boy, are two siblings who share a close bond with each other. Neither have attended school a day in their lives due to a lack of a school in their town. Lacking friends close to their age, the siblings try to find ways to keep themselves occupied.

The main setting of the show, Axim Street (named after show creator John Axim), is a moderately populated urban district. Recurring areas seen on the show include a music shop where Charlie and Tutu sometime buy vinyl records, a bowling centre and a museum where Charlie volunteers.

The show and its episodes focus a lot on using optimism and/or creativity in order to solve one's problems and try out new things. Although the early series are tame, the show becomes more drama-based later on, with episodes centred around the consequences on making impulsive decisions.

Narration by show creator John Axim is provided at the start of every episode, and sometimes also a bit after the start of the episode. The show's characters occasionally speak to the audience when they are alone.

Cast and characters

Main article: The Adventures of Charlie and Tutu/Characters

Character Series 1 Series 2 Series 3 Series 4
Charlie Julia Rose Tucker
Tutu Macie Raven
Mr. Racket Darren Marion
Kristle Esther Redbarron
Xyam Cavin Royal Benjamin Rockson
Petunia uncredited voice actress Eve Karpf Jenny Thomas
Mr. Swindle Lenny Carter
Floyd No dialogue Felix Olajide
Maisie Lucy Hudson
Winnie No dialogue Winnie Porter
Mr. Ball Darren Marion
Zeke No dialogue Emily Merletta
Mrs. Racket Emily Merletta
Flint Darren Marion Peter Wilds

Julia Rose Tucker, Lucy Hudson and Felix Olajide also voice several additional characters, as do Judith Rose, Barney Taylor and Gregory Rover. Canadian-American actress Tara Strong guest stars as an American news reporter in an episode of the fourth series. British actor David Holt also provides additional voices from the third series.

Production

John Axim based the show's premise on his young adulthood, which was mostly spent being unemployed and with little to do. He intended to make a television series that would encourage children to use their imagination to counter times where they are bored and with little to do. However, he also wanted to make the programme down to earth and sophisticated. The show entered production in early 1992. In order to demonstrate how the action in each episode would work, the production team would film themselves acting the scenes out in person.

The Adventures of Charlie and Tutu was intended to only last for one series consisting of twelve episodes, but ended up continuing for another three series due to the show's popularity. It ultimately ended in 1999 after four series are forty-five episodes since Axim felt the show had "ran its course" and was afraid it would decline in quality if it continued.

Music

John Axim produced a soundtrack featuring new wave songs and rock/soul ballads for the show. English-Welsh singer Raelyn Moon co-wrote and sang a majority of the tracks present on the soundtrack, which features both cover versions with amended lyrics and original newly-written songs created for the show. The official soundtrack was released on 7th September, 1997 - it reached number two on the Karuboia Collaborative Albums chart.

Songs covered for the soundtrack

Moon recorded many covers of songs previously recorded by other artists. Some of the covers featured slightly altered lyrics in order to fit the show's/episode's theme more appropiately.

  • "Don't Dream It's Over" by Crowded House
  • "Don't Leave Me Now" by Supertramp
  • "Dream On" by Aerosmith
  • "I Got The..." by Labi Siffre
  • "I.G.Y." by Donald Fagen
  • "Landslide" by Fleetwood Mac
  • "Paint It Black" by Rolling Stones (recorded by Gregory Rover)

Episodes

Series overview

Series Premiere Finale Ep. Channel/Block
1 17th September, 1994 3rd December, 1994 12 Bumper's Block
2 16th September, 1995 11th November, 1995 9
3 17th October, 1997 12th December, 1997 9 Vision 1
4 20th August, 1999 26th November, 1999 15 KT

Series 1 (1994)

Ep. Title Original air date Prod. code
1 "A New Opportunity" 17th September, 1994 101
2 "Getting Away" 24th September, 1994 102
3 "A Day Out" 1st October, 1994 103
4 "The Family Guests" 8th October, 1994 107
5 "Freshly Squeezed" 15th October, 1994 108
6 "A Star Is Born" 22nd October, 1994 111
7 "Dress for Success" 29th October, 1994 106
8 "The Blues" 5th November, 1994 109
9 "Somewhere Else" 12th November, 1994 104
10 "A Midnight Feast" 19th November, 1994 105
11 "Winter Cleaning" 26th November, 1994 110
12 "The Great Trade" 3rd December, 1994 112

Series 2 (1995)

Ep. Title Original air date Prod. code
1 "The Hat Trick" 16th September, 1995 203
2 "Saviour of the Night" 23rd September, 1995 202
3 "Crazy Golf" 30th September, 1995 204
4 "Security Check" 7th October, 1995 206
5 "Upon a Star" 14th October, 1995 201
6 "Run the Risk" 21st October, 1995 207
7 "Home Sweet Home" 28th October, 1995 208
8 "Axim Towers" 4th November, 1995 205
9 "The Axim Museum Panto" 11th November, 1995 209

Series 3 (1997)

Ep. Title Original air date Prod. code
1 "The Sneaky Scheme" 17th October, 1997 302
2 "Two Birds" 24th October, 1997 301
3 "The Perfect Pumpkin" 31st October, 1997 303
4 "Making It Up" 7th November, 1997 306
5 "A Good Cause" 14th November, 1997 304
6 "Accidents Occur" 21st November, 1997 308
7 "Stormy Weather" 28th November, 1997 307
8 "Father and Son" 5th December, 1997 305
9 "The Best Present" 12th December, 1997 309

Series 4 (1999)

Ep. Title Original air date Prod. code
1 "Growing Pains" 20th August, 1999 401
2 "Lost and Found" 27th August, 1999 402
3 "Red Roses" 3rd September, 1999 403
4 "Keeping the Secret" 10th September, 1999 404
5 "Winnie's Rival" 17th September, 1999 405
6 "Like Mother, Like Son" 24th September, 1999 413
7 "Charlie's Treasure Garden" 1st October, 1999 406
8 "Snapping Mad" 8th October, 1999 407
9 "Tutu's Trip" 15th October, 1999 412
10 "Spinning Round" 22nd October, 1999 408
11 "Maisie Makes Mischief" 29th October, 1999 409
12 "Painting the Pavements" 5th November, 1999 410
13 "Into the Woods" 12th November, 1999 411
14 "Life Goes On" 19th November, 1999 414
15 "The Axim Award" 26th November, 1999 415

VHS and DVD releases

In Kuboia, the first two series (except one series two episode) were released on VHS in five volumes, with each volume having four episodes.

In the United Kingdom, The Adventures of Charlie and Tutu was released on VHS in six volumes through BBC Video from 1997 to 1999, with each volume having four episodes from the first three series. Later, from 2001 to 2002, a further four VHS tapes were released, each containing four episodes from the final two series.

On 4th December, 2006, Abbey Home Media released the complete collection, consisting of all forty-five episodes, on DVD in Region 2.

Video games

The Adventures of Charlie and Tutu: Charlie's Nightmare is a Europe-only platforming video game released on 6th October, 1995 for the Game Boy, Mega Drive and SNES. In the game, the player plays as Charlie as she tries to rescue Tutu after he is kidnapped by Mr. Swindle. It received negative reviews and was later disowned by John Axim.

Axim went on to direct another video game based on the show, The Adventures of Charlie and Tutu: Tutu's Treasure Hunt, which was released on 4th September, 1998 for the Nintendo 64. Though better received than the previous game, reviews of Tutu's Treasure Hunt still criticised it as being too short.

The third and final game in the series, simply titled The Adventures of Charlie and Tutu, is an action-adventure video game released on 4th October, 2002 for the GameCube and PlayStation 2. Taking place shortly after the show's final episode, it features the two siblings doing tasks for their friends and family. Axim said it was created as a "nice little extra for fans of the show".

Other games

An educational game focusing on spelling, The Adventures of Charlie and Tutu: Axim Street Adventure, was released for the V.Smile in 2005. Additionally, an arcade machine, Charlie and Tutu's Penny Falls, was released in Europe in 2002. A few mobile phones games featuring the characters were released in the early 2000s, including one for the N-Gage, which was released in late 2003.

A few educational PC CD-ROM video games based on the show were released in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Bootleg game

An unlicensed bootleg video game based on the show, titled Super Charlie and Tu Bros & Sis!, was released for the Nintendo Entertainment System in 1995. It is a reskin of the 1985 video game Super Mario Bros., with a few of adjustments, such as worlds three and five being removed, shortening the game to six worlds. John Axim called the bootleg "a complete embarrassment".

Other ventures

Merchandise based on the show was released worldwide during the 1990s and 2000s, including posters, clothing, children's toys, colouring/activity books and other types of gifts. Twelve books based on the show were published worldwide from 1998 to 2002.

Role reprisals

In June 2005, a majority of the show's cast reprised their roles for a campaign in the United Kingdom which was formed to make children more aware of physical safety. The advertisements for the campaign were regularly aired on British television channels up until around early 2007.

Julia Rose Tucker and Macie Raven reprised their roles as Charlie and Tutu for a Sofaway Christmas advert in 2018. Tucker also reprised her role as Charlie in December 2019 for a YouTube video explaining how forcing certain material to be labelled as "for kids" could hinder independent channels. The video received over two million views within the span of a month.

Feature-length film

A feature-length film based on the series has been in development hell since 2001, with Axim struggling to find the funds and a distributor, as well as wanting to focus on other projects. In 2006, a group of animation cels supposedly for the film were leaked online. In 2014, for the show's twentieth anniversary, Axim said that the film would be releasing in either 2017 or 2018. However, its was ultimately indefinitely delayed due to financing issues.

Hope for the film was later reignited on 1st July, 2021 when Julia Rose Tucker, the voice of Charlie, posted on Twitter saying "Does anybody think it is time to return to Axim Street? Well, that time may be sooner than you think." Later, on 16th August that year, Axim revealed that a film based on the show, The Adventures of Charlie and Tutu: One Last Run, was scheduled to be released in cinemas worldwide on 11th November, 2022, and that Pathé would be distributing it.

Reception

Critical reception

With the use of digital ink and each episode running consistently at twelve frames per second or more, critics have generally praised The Adventures of Charlie and Tutu as higher in quality compared to other children's television series at the time. A review from Common Sense Media awarded the show a 4/5 star rating, with the site's consensus reading "Sister and brother duo show children how to cope with their boredom."

On internet database website IMDb, the show has an average user rating of 7.6 out of 10.

Ratings

Though the first few episodes had mediocre ratings for Bumper's Block, The Adventures of Charlie and Tutu eventually became a popular show for the block, which resulted in it continuing past its original intended run of episodes. In the United Kingdom, CBBC saw as many as five million viewers tuning in to watch new episodes for the third series.

Impact and legacy

Though the show did not market itself as such, The Adventures of Charlie and Tutu was the first Kuboian animated television series (and one of the first in general) to use digital ink. After the show's premiere, almost every mainstream Kuboian animated series had switch to digital ink (instead of traditional ink). Speaking of the show in 2001, a reviewee for British television channel Channel 4 cited the show as "colourful and inspiring", as arguing that the quality of episodes gets progressively better. A BBC reporter commented on the show in 2006, stating that it "was clearly ahead of its time".

Although John Axim intended to make the show appeal to children of all ages, it has often been marketed as a show for younger children. This was especially reflected in the 2000s, when the show saw reruns on pre-school television networks. Axim has reportedly been disappointed with this, as he feels the marketing discourages older audiences from giving the show a chance.

International broadcast

Kuboia

Australia

  • ABC Kids (1995-2003)
  • Tiny TV (2003-2007)

Canada

  • CBC (1994-1996)
  • Treehouse (1996-2004)
  • Teletoon Retro (2007-2012)

France

  • TF1 Jeunesse (1997-2006)
  • Gulli (2005-2010)

Germany

  • Super RTL (1995-2007)
    • Toggolino (2000-2007)

Italy

  • Italia 1 (1997-2003)
  • Boing (2004-2010)
  • Frisbee (2010-2013)

Latin America

  • ZAZ (1996-2003)
  • Boomerang (2006-2008)
  • Tooncast (2008-2010)

Netherlands

  • Nederland 3 (1995-2009)
    • Z@ppelin (2000-2009)

United Kingdom

  • BBC One/BBC Two (1994-2004)
    • CBBC (1994-2001)
    • CBeebies (2002-2007)
  • Tiny Pop (2006-2011)

United States

  • Disney Channel Preschool Block (1997-1999; series 1 and 2 only)
  • Playhouse Disney (1999-2002)
  • PBS Kids Channel (2003-2005)
  • Sprout (2005-2010)

Zeramiba

  • ZKN (1997-2004)
  • Mini Spacetoon (2002-2013)

See also

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