Monkey – The greatest show ever

Before the advent of Satellite and Digital options all that UK Tv watchers had was 4 channels to choose from. You had to rely on the TV aerial mounted on your roof and the signal you got varied from place to place. TV Aerials Swansea may well have got a better reception than those in Cardiff for example. We still need them to pick up digital signals and this firm can help you with that In the late 70’s and early 80’s a TV show on BBC2 was a very good reason for having a great TV reception. That programme was Monkey.

Monkey was essential teatime viewing. Produced in Japan it introduced many of us to the martial arts with it’s exciting, bloodless and beautifully choregraphed fight scenes. Unusually for British TV at the time, the cast was uniformly Asian and made the actors minor stars. The story was taken from Chinese legend and tells of the travels and travails of the Monk Tripitaka and his 3 Divine companions as they take a journey “as long as life itself” to deliver some Buddhist scrolls to seers in India. Along the way they encounter many tests and trails set before them. The 3 deal with them in their own particular way before Tripitaka steps in with some reassuring Buddhist teaching or saying to curb their worst excess and set them on the right path.

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The companions are, Monkey the clever, magician trickster who eats from the Buddha’s tree of Knowledge. He is imprisoned in rock for this and is freed by Tripitaka on the understanding he will help him take the scrolls. Monkey flees as soon as he is out, only for the Monk to cast a golden band around Monkey’s head that will contract hurting him if Monkey attempts to go back on his deal to help. Pigsy was a guard in heaven that failed to stop Monkey from eating from the tree. His punishment was to fall to earth and become a hot-headed, constantly hungry but tenacious and loyal warrior. He can also turn into a pig which sees him at risk of being eaten on occasions. Sandy is the other divine guard that fails to stop Monkey and also falls to Earth. He becomes a Water demon and appears to be slightly cowardly, but this is not the case and he is also a loyal friend to Tripitaka and the companions providing wisdom and caution over Monkey and Pigsy’s impetuousness.

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Monkey is the most powerful. He is memorably able to summon a small flying cloud with, and this was much copied around playgrounds at the time, a distinctive spell of blowing on his two fingers whilst waving them back and forth. He can also summon an army of his Monkey warriors to fight with him should the need arise, though with Pigsy and Sandy around he rarely needs them. Tripitaka was the earnest Monk determined to get the scroll to the seers in India and though “he” (the part was played by a female actor) had no special powers his faith and ability to actually be the leader of the 4 makes “him” stand out. A great show.