Annie Tempest, the talent behind Tottering by Gently...

We at Frisky Partridge feel so honoured to be the licensee for Annie Tempest's Tottering by Gently cartoon prints, as they bring so much joy and laughter to so many and have done for over 25 years.

How does Annie manage to keep her cartoon strips fun, fresh and relevant?  And where does her inspiration come from?  I had the absolute pleasure of visiting Annie at her studio in Norfolk this summer and a chance to have a quick chat with her about Dicky, Daffy and Tottering by Gently...

Annie, what was the original inspiration behind Tottering by Gently? 

My family in North Yorkshire living in a crumbling stately home, with no staff, inspired the cartoon strip Tottering by Gently.

Do you have a favourite Tottering character?

Daffy is my favourite character to write for - favourite meaning the easiest, as I have somehow become her with the passage of time.

Are the characters based actually or loosely on real people?

The characters are based loosely on real people.  Freddy and Daisy, the grandchildren, were based and even named after my own two children.

Daffy was based on an old neighbour of mine in Norfolk, called Minneke Gregorie, who died some years ago.  She was wonderful, a real character.

Dicky was, and still is, based on my late father, Henry Tempest.

Mrs Shagpile was based on a cleaner I had while living in London in the '80s.  She had a horrendous wig, which used to sit oddly on her head.  She was also a hopeless cleaner!

Slobber is my father's series of labradors, all named Sable - there must have been about six Sables that I knew... Scribble was my daughter's very naughty working cocker spaniel, but I notice that he appears to be morphing more into my own beloved Shocker (show cocker) spaniel.

HonJohn and Storm are my younger brother and his wife and their new baby that arrived this year.  They are into all things rewilding and wellbeing, so this is a good new seam of humour for the strip.  Daffy and Dicky are a bit bemused by ancient wisdom being hailed as a new discovery, like the '60s all over again.

How have you managed to keep the cartoon current over the past 25 years, yet timelessly classic and apolitical?

I only keep the strip topical to the general feel of things in the time we live.  Things have changed a bit with Covid and it will be part of the history books, so I am including it.  I like to think I am charting a period of time/social history through the Tottering family.

How does your Tottering work schedule pan out?  How far in advance are you producing the cartoon strips?

I work roughly six weeks in advance for the Tottering strips in Country Life, so I am always having to think seasons - will there be snow?  Leaves on trees?  Rain?... At the moment deciding where we will be in six weeks time is a little difficult and I am having to tread carefully.  Who knows what this Christmas will bring?  Family or no family...

As Tottering has been such a big part of your life, how do you see it evolving over the next 25 years?

Tottering is a huge part of my life and communication style.  I don't worry about its future, as I will continue probably charting things as I see them until I pop my Dubarrys.

Where do you see the cartoons future?  Animation..?

I have dabbled in animation, but its not for me.  I am slightly hoping that someone who is into it and can do it will come along and ask if they can animate the strips.  What fun that would be!  You need pretty weighty software and a lot of time to do it.

I would love to see a TV series based on Tottering - there is even a real location, Broughton Hall in North Yorkshire, the house it was based on and in which I grew up.  It is now very smart and tickety-boo with central heating and no snow on the billiard table, but in my memory the swallows are still nesting in the Oak Room four poster bed every year.

Thank you Annie, you bring us so much pleasure and we await eagerly the next instalment from Tottering by Gently.


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