T. Bag And The Pearls Of Wisdom VHS Merchandise Page

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The Video Sleeve

Release Date (UK): 19th August 1991
Discontinued Date (UK): 14th December 1994
On Sale Duration: A Total of 1214 days!
RRP (Recommended Retail Price): Can anyone tell me the RRP of this video when it was released?
Released by: Thames Video/The Video Collection
Cat No. TV 8136
Made in 1989, Packaging Design 1991.
Running Time: Approx 129 minutes (128 minutes and 56 seconds).
BBFC Rating: U - Universal Suitable for all.
Classified (by BBFC): 07/08/1991 (video) & 29/07/1991 (packaging).
BBFC Reference: AVV098642
Format: PAL, Colour, Full Screen, HiFi Sound
Language: English
Aspect Ratio: 4:3 (1.33:1)
ASIN: B00008T3D3

You can click on the image right for a full scale sleeve image.


The Case

T-BAG and The Pearls of Wisdom
An imaginative blend of fantasy, adventure and comedy, T. Bag is a TV favourite.
T. Bag and her sidekick T. Shirt are on a quest to recover the mystical pearls of wisdom. They lie scattered throughout the fabulous lands of a strange and mysterious board game. Can Sally Simpkins put their plans up the spout? This programme has been specially made for video as a two hour special.

Starring: GEORGINA HALE as T. Bag
Captain Cockle: IVAN BEAVIS

Director: LEON THAU


Episodes 3, 6 and 8 were cut out of this release to make this a 2-hour special but it does have a summary of these episodes lasting about ten seconds with a voice-over by T-Shirt (John Hasler) explaining what happened. T-Shirt’s episode summaries can be read below.


Episode 1: Any Old Port
Episode 2: High Noon
Episode 3: Elementary, My Dear What-Not (Summary Of Episode)
Episode 4: Grimble And Squiffy
Episode 5: Mutiny!
Episode 6: The Ghost Of Castle McCarr (Summary Of Episode)
Episode 7: Tut Tut
Episode 8: Cedric Sackbutt’s Search For A Song (Summary Of Episode)
Episode 9: Play It Again, Sal
Episode 10: The Pearls Of Wisdom

The seven 'complete' episodes on this video were also edited to fit into the 'Two-hour special' that the video was advertised as. The removal of all the opening titles, opening intros, next time teasers and the credits were removed so only the first episode had the title and the last episode had the credits. Other cuts were made to the episodes themselves most notably the first scene from episode ten with T-Bag unable to make a good cup of tea, instead the episode begins with Sally and T-Shirt preparing to leave the foreign legion.


The Cover

Episode 3: Elementary, My Dear What-Not (Summary Of Episode)
‘Hot on Sally’s trail, we tracked her down to Victorian London where T-Bag knew she would find the next missing pearl; as usual T-Bag was wrong. Armed with three of the Pearls of Wisdom Sally sallied forth to find the fourth.’

Episode 6: The Ghost Of Castle McCarr (Summary Of Episode)
‘Bonnie Scotland was our next port of call, Sally took the high road and we took the low road and she got the next pearl before us. Now she’s got five of the pearls but we weren’t beaten yet.’

Episode 8: Cedric Sackbutt’s Search For A Song (Summary Of Episode)
‘Merry England was the next stop on our quest but T-Bag was far from merry when, yep you’ve guessed it, Sally pipped us at the post and snatched the seventh Pearl of Wisdom from right under our noses. The situation was now desperate!’


Your best chance of getting this video is from eBay UK and Search for 'T BAG'.
This usually goes for anything between £20 and £50 (but averaging out at £25-£30).

You could also try these other website(s) to get a copy of this video:
Amazon T-Bag And The Pearls Of Wisdom VHS Page


T-Bag And The Pearls Of Wisdom VHS Auctions will be exclusively posted on The T-Bag Forum!
Click eBay Search for 'T BAG' to see for yourself.


The T-Bag And the Pearls Of Wisdom Video ends up usually between £20-£50 on eBay UK. This video has also been for sale on Amazon for £65.

Most of the videos that were auctioned on eBay since 2002 onwards can be found here: eBay UK 'T. Bag And The Pearls Of Wisdom' VHS value This lists their final bid price, P&P cost (in UK) and it's total cost. The results are varied but the average value is about £10 more than it's original RRP (Recommended Retail Price).


Lookin magazine cutting The Trailer

When the video was first released 'Lookin' (issue #33 dated 17/08/1991) had a competition to win a copy. Click on the image (left) to see full size.

This video was promoted at the end of the Take Off With T-Bag series, as it was still available to buy. See image right.


For more information on this series go to The series index.

Image of case and cassette tape taken from eBay. Many thanks to those people for their images.


The Title

"Warm nostalgic memories"

When this video was first released I didn’t buy it as I had the episodes I recorded from the TV and I was young and couldn’t afford it. In 2002 I purchased a copy from eBay UK as I needed a few of the earlier episodes and this was the only way to get them.

The video is well worth the going rate of £20-£45 even though I paid at the lower end of the scale I was very pleased with my bargain (although it was a considerable amount more than the original RRP).

Watching the episodes brought back many warm nostalgic memories.

The only downside to this video is that there are three episodes missing although there are summaries of these. It’s a shame these were omitted as that would have made the video irresistible.

I urge everybody who has not got this video or series to try to get this video but being quite rare this is not always possible.

Jamie (ME)

"A real flavour of what T.Bag was all about"

I purchased this video for a mere three pounds when I was in Preston Uni back around Easter 2003. Looking back, it's proved to be a bargain with last few years of Ebay prices.

The video itself is highly enjoyable and gives a real flavour of what T.Bag was all about. Even though we only have one video doing the rounds it's more than some series get at all so we should be very grateful for that.


"A cracking little watch"

‘This time you’re dealing with Tabatha Bag, and if you think my sister was bad – o! – just you wait!’

Sally wasn’t the only one confused back in January 1990, when the T.Plant-obsessed stranger who’d usurped Captain Cockle from his lighthouse, turned out not to be Tallulah Bag. A new season of programmes had just begun on Childrens ITV and I was a precocious little eight-year-old brat with a T.Bag fixation. Fully expecting my regular cup of tea-tinged comedy/drama, I was more than a little disappointed when I tuned in to T.Bag and the Pearls of Wisdom and discovered that my favourite anti-hero was no more. In her place came a strange blonde lady and I didn’t like the look of her one bit.

Elizabeth Estensen’s departure dealt the series a serious blow, so synonymous was the actress with the show’s success; but T.Bag had been one of Thames Television’s biggest hits on CITV during the late eighties, and – more importantly – was cheap to produce. So, on went the series with a new actress in the lead. As fickle as eight-year-olds can be, by the end of Episode 1, I had quickly forgiven the substitution and was eager to find out what happened the following week.

Many of the people I’ve spoken to about the series in recent years – fans and non-fans – were unhappy at the time with the change. While I agree that the show was never the same again sans-Tallulah, I can still find much to praise in its later years. Georgina Hale was an accomplished, award-winning actress with a lot to offer, and rather than ape what had gone before, over her four diverse series Tabatha Bag evolved in a different direction from her predecessor, and the series changed around her. Unfortunately these changes would eventually lead to Take off with T.Bag, where the series – quite literally – lost the plot, but we won’t go there! Whereas Elizabeth Estensen brought a subtle, eccentric quality to the character, Hale barged in with her ‘big size elevens,’ and gave us the complete opposite. Tabatha Bag was an all-out harridan, a honking, shrieking, power-mad idiot, with a penchant for wicked one-liners and all the subtlety of a blind donkey. Although I have to admit Estensen, for me, will always be the definitive T.Bag, Hale did a brilliant job replacing her, and made the series her own.

Her opening gambit, T.Bag and the Pearls of Wisdom is a very traditional entry in the canon, perhaps reassuringly so: with a new T.Bag to introduce, the makers of the series stick to what they know. Many of those on the production team cross over from earlier series’: Leon Thau is back behind the cameras – albeit for the last time –, John Plant’s colourfully painted, two dimensional flats are reassuringly in place, and Terry Trower’s music is as wonderfully jaunty as ever. On the casting side, John Hasler returns to partner the new leading lady, as does Kellie Bright, the most popular of the treasure-hunting girls, guiding us through the quest.

The establishing plot in the sea-port village, compared to Turn on to T.Bag and T.Bag and the Revenge of the T.Set, is less intricate: Tabatha’s only objective is world domination and Sally must simply find the pearls to stop her, harking back to Debbie’s quests in the early series. Indeed there is much that is familiar in T.Bag and the Pearls of Wisdom, playing like a continuity tribute to the shows previous five years: the board game, the cup-and-saucer walkie-talkie, the Gory Story Hour, Captain Cockle’s eviction (remember Major Happy?), T.Bag’s dreadful tea-making, T.Shirt’s inevitable defection in the penultimate episode, and so on; not to mention the return of many guest performers, and the o-so familiar sound effects and incidental pieces.

Moreover, T.Bag and the Pearls of Wisdom features the biggest wholesale recycling of material in the series to date. Sometimes this works, with the new improving on the old; sometimes it feels like the writers were stuck for ideas. I’ve never been overly keen on Episode 2, cactus gaffes or none, transplanting the plot of Turn on to T.Bag, Episode 2 to the Western setting of Episode 9 from the same series. It even features a character called ‘Doc,’ played once again by Thuderbirds’ Matt Zimmerman. Similarly, Episode 5 is a little too alike T.Bag and the Revenge of the T.Set, Episode 2, conspiracies and all, with James Saxon’s portrayal of Captain Blighter, a slightly less obnoxious version of his Billius Buntius Caesar. Episode 7 is perhaps the laziest of the lot, replicating most of T.Bag Bounces Back, Episode 3, in an Egyptian setting.

In contrast, Episode 4 is a joy, taking the tale of a tealeaf-tailor from Episode 6 of T.Bag Bounces Back, and elaborating on it. With superb guest performances from John Cater as greedy weasel Grimble, and Aubrey Woods, outrageously camp as dandy Lord Squiffington-Fop. Episode 8 is also of note, coupling the ages-old robbing-of-the-treasure plot with yet another emancipated female, Robyn ‘with a y’ Hood – as with Black-hearted Belle, played with delightful pantomime splendour by Crackerjack’s Jan Hunt – culminating in the blissfully barmy song contest.

Although a little thin on the ground here, the original ideas are also superb, with the dog-napping mystery of Episode 3 and the spooky goings-on –and Gudrun ‘Supergran’ Ure! – in Episode 6. Better still, in Episode 9 the madcap spoofing of Beau Geste and Casablanca is wonderful and Sally’s ode to the sand in the dessert is a real treat.

In the midst of all the familiarity, Georgina Hale sits a little uncomfortably. Little wonder as, with the strict structure of the programme and the short running time of an episode, Tabatha is given little time to settle in before she’s off on her first treasure-hunt; and throughout the series, Hale gives an awkward, inconsistent performance, with the actress still warming to the famous red dress and the writers, unsure of what she can do, scripting the part as loosely as possible. At times she is very close to the raging foghorn-voiced diva of future series; at others, especially in earlier episodes, her performance is more subtle and genteel, not dissimilar to Elizabeth Estensen’s portrayal, but not very suited to Hale herself. Her best moments are, unsurprisingly, comic: the flea circus debacle in Episode 4, for example; her turn as an American tourist in Episode 6; and her seduction of Beau Legge in Episode 9, something I could never imagine Tallulah attempting.

John Hasler and Kellie Bright do their best to guide their new co-star – and also the viewers – through this unknown territory. Undoubtedly, there is an instant bond between T.Shirt and the new T.Bag, with some first-class banter to go with it; but, with the writers again a little lost, the relationship can’t help but imitate the series’ earlier double-act, and sometimes comes across a little forced. This only really takes off in T.Bag and the Rings of Olympus, with T.Shirt making the transition from know-it-all ‘stupid boy’ to stroppy teenage ‘idiot.’ Similarly, Tabatha’s dislike of Sally isn’t nearly so satisfying as Tallulah’s bitter and witty hatred of the girl in the previous adventure.

I know for many, this is their favourite series from the Tabatha years, no doubt inclined towards its familiarity with the show’s past; but this has always been my major quarrel it. If Elizabeth Estensen had remained, very little would have had to be altered in T.Bag and the Pearls of Wisdom for her to take part. In spite of her departure the previous year, Series Six bears the unmistakable mark of Tallulah’s era with this as its final fling, and Hale can’t help but struggle at its centre. It is only in the next series, with a new Director and Hale’s greater knowledge of the character, that Tabatha really makes herself known. With the writers realising where the strength now lies, they excel at writing for the new razor-sharp T.Bag/T.Shirt dynamic. The casualty in T.Bag and the Rings of Olympus is the quest, which appears to have been something of an afterthought, and is little helped by Kellie Bright’s replacement, the appropriately named Natalie Wood, shuffling and muttering her way through every scene. For me, T.Bag and the Sunstones of Montezuma is her best series as, in spite of the unpopular junking of both the curiosity shop and the theme tune, all the elements of the new order – Tabatha, her relationship with T.Shirt, the quest and, in Penny, a decent nemesis – seem to fall into place.

Whilst other Thames shows – notably those from the Cosgrove-Hall stable – had enjoyed extensive video releases, for such a popular show of the time, T.Bag jumped on the VHS bandwagon a little late. With its original star gone, Pearls of Wisdom would be the first and only series to receive such a treatment. Having failed to record this series on its original transmission, I was determined to get myself a copy in late 1991; but, in spite of the constant plugs at the end of almost every episode – ‘available from your local stockist,’ teased the voice-over – my searches through the shelves of Norwich’s video retailers proved fruitless. Fortunately, the series was repeated in the summer of 1992 and, more than happy with my home-recordings, my want to own the official release waned.

Fast-forward fifteen years and out of curiosity, I borrowed a copy of the video from a friend. Very quickly, I was glad I’d held on to my aging tapes.

With a running time of 129 minutes, T.Bag and the Pearls of Wisdom is a victim of the ‘feature-length’ treatment given to many ITV shows by Video Collection, now a part of the DVD colossus, 2|entertain, in the early days of VHS. With its total duration of around 200 minutes, a series of T.Bag was a likely candidate for the scissors.

So, out go the titles, the credits and – in the case of Pearls of Wisdom – the pre- and post-episode teasers. These were obvious space-fillers when episodes came in under-length, a staple of most Pressman-Cathro series’ on CITV at the time; and, when sometimes a little lengthy, could be slightly irritating. However, for completists like myself, this assumption by producers that such parts of the show were dispensable, is more than a little irksome and, thankfully, no longer the norm.

Worse still, whereas many Video Collection releases suffered a liberal sprinkling of snips to bring the content up to target length, in the case of T.Bag and the Pearls of Wisdom, Episodes 3, 6 and 8 have been completely excised, eschewing the need to acquire rights from and pay six of the guest artists, and cutting down on costly editing. So if this is the only copy of the series you own, you’re missing out on the delights of Shirley Holmes, the ghost of Castle McCarr and, best of all, Sir Cedric Sackbutt’s search-for-a-song. On the plus side, of the remaining seven parts, only the opening scene from Episode 10 is missing; and the makers of the compilation have at least gone to the trouble of having John Hasler provide linking narration between the missing segments, continuity errors aside.

But on the whole, this is a fairly sloppy presentation with minimal effort put into its production. They couldn’t even be bothered generating new credits at the end, so those for Episode 10 remain intact, ignoring the many performers and members of staff who took part.

The sleeve of the video is nicely laid out, with production stills from the series; although the line on the back-cover blurb, ‘this programme has been specially made for video as a two hour special,’ is both inaccurate and annoying, considering what’s been taken away.

However, for many this is the only glimpse of the series they will have had for more than a decade. At times T.Bag and the Pearls of Wisdom is a cracking little watch, and although the video is not a fitting tribute to the series, it has at least kept the show fresh in the minds of many.

Paul Allum (Raggedbone)

If you would like to write a mini-review of this video e-mail me or PM me or post your review on The T-Bag Forum!