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The Trap Door is a claymation-style animated television series, originally shown in the United Kingdommarker in 1984. The plot revolves around both the daily lives and the misadventures of a group of monsters living in a castle. Although the emphasis was on humour and the show was marketed as a children's programme, the show drew much from the genres of horror and dark fantasy. The show has since become a cult favourite and remains one the most widely recognised kid's shows of the 1980s.

Show production

The show was created by British animators Terry Brain and Charlie Mills, and produced through their own companies, CMTB Animation and Queensgate Productions Ltd. Brain and Mills were also responsible for another animated show, Stoppit and Tidyup, a few years later in the late 1980s. Together they were referred to as "Brainbox Mills" . Later, Terry Brain went on to be an animator with Aardman Animations and has since worked on the six Wallace and Gromit animated films, as well as the animated film Chicken Run and animated television shows such as Gogs and Creature Comforts.

A total of 25 episodes of The Trap Door were made in 1984, with each episode with a running time of around four minutes. Two years later in 1986, when the show had proved successful, a second series was produced and aired with a further 15 episodes of similar running time. There were a total of 40 episodes of the show produced.

All the character voices were provided by Willie Rushton, an English cartoonist, satirist, comedian, actor and performer who co-founded the Private Eyemarker satirical magazine. The recognizable theme song of the show was written by Scottishmarker songwriter Bob Heatlie, who also wrote the Shakin' Stevens hit Merry Christmas Everyone, and also one of the popular hits of the 1980s, Japanese Boy, sung by Aneka.


The introduction scene of The Trap Door was a parody of many of Vincent Price's horror film introductions:

The main theme song would start after this:



The world of The Trap Door is completely inhabited by monsters, and almost all the show takes place in the monsters' castle, and especially the pantry or cellar where Berk resides, the castle servant and central character of the show. Beneath the castle are a series of dark and mysterious caverns inhabited by all manner of "horrible things", accessible by the eponymous trap door in the bowels of the castle.

The master of the castle, "The Thing Upstairs", resides in the attic of the castle and is never actually seen, remaining an unseen character throughout the entire show, only shouting down orders to Berk. This happens when it is hungry and wants dinner or supper, or when it wants something attending to, such as shelves putting up or the giant venus fly traps in the castle garden feeding. Berk has two companions, Boni and Drutt, and occasionally the eponymous trap door is opened by Berk to retrieve something from the caverns below and another monster will escape and cause havoc. In most episodes, Berk, who is quite docile, will accidentally leave the trap door open for something more nasty to escape later on. Though mostly hostile or mischievous, occasionally a helpful or friendly creature does emerge. One such monster, Rogg, becomes friends with Berk and frequently returns to visit.


Regular characters


A blue-skinned monster who speaks with a Cornishmarker accent, Berk is the main character or protagonist of the show, and steward or caretaker of the monsters' castle. Berk is also the loyal and versatile servant of "The Thing Upstairs", an unseen character, although Berk's loyalty to his master may also have something to do with the fact he is terrified of "The Thing Upstairs". Despite this Berk often goes to his duties and chores with simple-minded glee, and especially enjoys cooking up exotic things in his kitchen, usually with ingredients such as mud, eyeballs, snakes and worms. Berk is often warned not to open the trap door by his friends and he is strictly forbidden from doing so by his master, although in most episodes Berk does open the trap door, sometimes out of sheer child-like curiosity and other times to fetch something from the mysterious caverns below the castle (such as to fetch worms to feed his pet, Drutt.) Berk is often careless and irresponsible enough to leave the trap door open, allowing a less friendly monster to escape from the caverns below and wreak chaos in the castle. Berk is usually lighthearted, optimistic and cheery unless he is having a hard time dealing with a monster from the trap door. He also tends to shrug off Boni's (usually rather paranoid) warnings and often forces him to do things Boni would like to skip, such as taking him fishing in the swamp outside the castle. Berk's usual exclamation is "globbits!", and also "sniff that!" He also enjoys "bonking" things (hitting other monsters over the head with blunt objects).


Boni is a disembodied, undead, well spoken skull, and Berk's only real friend. Boni hates to be moved from his favourite spot, an alcove in the wall near the trap door. Boni spends most of his time moaning from his alcove in the wall, or getting paranoid and unsuccessfully trying to warn Berk about trap door monsters. While some of his constant complaining is unwarranted, his warnings often have merit, mostly when trying to convince Berk to close the unattended trap door before something nasty comes out of it. It is left unresolved why Boni is a skull and has no body. However, in the 28th episode, or third episode of the second series, "Moany Boni", a spell is cast on Boni which gives him his body back. It is however the body of a horse, and Boni begins to make goat noises. This is suggestive of the fact that perhaps before he was merely a skull, Boni was a centaur.Boni also appears, despite the fact he obviously has no legs, to have some basic motive abilities of his own. In episode 2 of series 1, when Boni refuses to help Berk put up some shelves, he leans out of the alcove in his wall and quickly goes back in afterwards. Later on he is seen back outside the alcove, and seems to have moved himself there. It is almost infinitely probable that this was used for a comedic effect, rather than actually giving Boni the definite ability to move, which he can't do in almost every other episode except for when he is mutilated by a strange medicine made by Berk in Season 1 Episode 21, where he demonstrates the ability to slide across the floor and use his jaw to jump, though this is probably a side-effect of the medicine.


Berk's pet "thing", vaguely resembling a frog, with the legs of a spider. Drutt is very hyperactive and makes a series of bizarre noises, many resembling flatulence. Berk often finds Drutt unhelpful and annoying. Drutt often causes trouble when chasing after worms and other creepy-crawlies to eat that have emerged from the trap door, sometimes even going down into the caverns in search of them. It is unclear whether Drutt is male or female; halfway through the second series Drutt has four pink babies, however the others still refer to him as "he."

The Thing Upstairs

The grumpy and demanding master of the castle, "The Thing Upstairs" rarely leaves his penthouse room, flying out when he does, and consequently is never seen. He always has a job for Berk, which he shouts downstairs as orders in a booming voice, and usually involve fixing something around the castle or preparing meals made from interesting creatures.

Only hints are given as to what "The Thing Upstairs" looks like. In the 14th episode of series one, "The Little Thing", Berk enters his room and a lightning flash illuminates a mass of tentacles, and although this is only on screen for a split-second it gives some idea to what "The Thing Upstairs" actually looks like. Also, in the 13th episode "The Pain", Berk asks which head "The Thing Upstairs"'s toothache is in, therefore implying he has more than one head. The tooth itself is about two-thirds the size of Berk. In a later episode ("Not Very Nice"), Berk loses one of "The Thing Upstairs"'s eyeballs down the trapdoor, implying the eyes are removable, and Berk later recovers it (the master says afterwards he saw all of what happened despite the eye being disconnected from his body.) The master's eye is almost as big as Berk, showing the master is indeed massive. In the episode "The Stupid Thing" it is mentioned that he has three humps on his back. Finally in one of the last episodes of series 1, it is revealed that the master can fly, though we never actually see this happen.

Other characters

Trap door monsters

Many different monsters emerge ranging from annoying to dangerous, and of all different shapes, sizes, colours, and powers. They are often referred as "horrible things". Some of the repeat appearances include:


Rogg is a pink-skinned creature with a similar body shape to Berk, although larger and taller, with longer arms, and a pointed head. His first appearance is in the fourth episode of the first series, "Lurkings", in which Berk opens the trap door to fetch some worms from the caverns below to use as fishing bait, but leaves the trap door open. When Berk goes to the swamp to go fishing, Rogg escapes from the trap door, follows Berk and scares him so that Berk falls into the swamp. Rogg returns often after that. Rogg is not very intelligent but he likes Berk and often helps him out. They eventually become friends. The most intelligent thing he has ever said is, "We could, erm... Don't know." Rogg begins to visit more and more, eventually becoming friends with the regular monsters and even saving their lives in the last ever episode from the other red-skinned creature, and almost dying himself in the process.

The Splund

A big round monster that Berk pops with the Splund popper


A mischievous small yellow creature who has the ability to teleport and is initially invisible until covered in yellow "scunge", Berk's messy gourmet dinner. Bubo occasionally returns in further episodes still covered in yellow scunge and therefore visible, and causes Berk further annoyance. Bubo even kidnaps Boni from his alcove at one point.

Big Angry Red Thing

Looking fairly similar to Rogg, and perhaps related to Rogg due to similarity in appearance, this large red-skinned monster is actually the most dangerous monster ever featured in the series. It makes its first appearance in the first ever episode, in which it escapes from the caverns below through the trap door and into the castle, and chases after Berk wanting to eat him. It is scared off back down into the caverns when Berk shows the thing its own reflection in a mirror. In the last ever episode this monster makes a reappearance, and Rogg apparently sacrifices himself to save Berk, Boni and Drutt, although it is revealed in the credits that Rogg survives.

Broadcast history

In the UK The Trap Door was originally aired during the mid-1980s on ITV, in the afternoon children's programming line-up. The show was aired again in the 1990s when it was broadcast by Channel 4 during early weekday mornings. It was repeated in 2005 by the Trouble channel POP in UK. In Australia, both series of The Trap Door were broadcast on the Australian ABCmarker, with the final episode airing in 1997. Repeats aired on the ABC until 2001. It has also been shown in most countries across the world; the show was aired by American ABC in the United Statesmarker and Canadamarker.


The television series spawned a video game in the mid-80s called The Trap Door and a sequel called Through The Trap Door. These games were available for the ZX Spectrum, the Amstrad CPC and the Commodore 64.

In addition, a board game was released entitled Berk's Trapdoor Game which involved going around the board while trying to knock one's opponent off the edge with a die hidden behind a trapdoor in the game board.


All 40 episodes were released over 4 VHS videotapes in the UK in the 1980s, and 36 episodes were re-released over 3 videos in the early 90s. A rare double video-cassette released in Canada at one point contained every single episode. All 40 episodes of The Trap Door were released on DVD by Universal Pictures in 2005.

References in pop culture

Reference list

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