Revisiting the terrifying 1980s British kids show ‘Jigsaw’

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For some reason, British television has always had an overwhelming capacity for creating nightmare-inducing material for children. Many pieces of media designed with young viewers in mind have left them scared for their lives, from certain public information films to bizarre television series.

Most of the worst offenders emerged in the 1970s and ‘80s, such as Terrahawks and Children of the Stones, but today, we’re going to be focusing on Jigsaw. First airing in 1979, the show was created by the BBC and featured Janet Ellis as the presenter. Each 25-minute episode would feature a series of puzzle-solving segments – as the name suggests – getting young viewers to actively engage in these activities.

This sounds innocent enough, but no, Jigsaw contained one of the most unnecessarily terrifying characters to have ever graced television screens. Children across the country were scared to go to bed after watching episodes of Jigsaw for one specific reason – Mr Noseybonk.

Mimes and masks have always been off-putting, but Mr Noseybonk, played by Adrian Hedley, took it to a new level. He appears in small segments throughout the show to provide audiences with clues to help them solve the puzzles.

Mr Noseybonk’s appearance, paired with his odd behaviour and offputting demeanour, moulded him into pure and unadulterated horror movie material. His black suit, white shirt and white gloves seem inoffensive, but it’s his strange mask that makes him a horrifying figure. His mask is a white face with exaggerated features, including big round eyes, a huge phallic nose, and a grinning mouth. I’d argue that his massive teeth are the main factor in making him look incredibly uncanny and creepy.

One of the worst things about Noseybonk is that he doesn’t speak. Instead, he looks like he’s in a constant state of overwhelming happiness, but we have no idea why. He looks like he’s just sniffed out something that excites him, but again, we are left wondering why he’s got such a pleased look on his gigantic face.

In one horrifying scene, he stares at a baby getting its nappy changed in a pram, only to point at a sign that says ‘No nudity’, much to the mother’s annoyance. In response, she points to a sign that says ‘No nosey parkers’ and walks off. Rightly so.

In another, he hides in a big brown postbag at a sorting office before jumping away, eventually joining a potato sack race at a local primary school. The children don’t seem phased that this masked freak has beaten them all at the race, cheering him as he accepts his trophy.

Mr Noseybonk is apparently partial to some gardening, too, planting some nosegays in one sequence, which suddenly sprout into giant phallic objects. There’s even another scene where he picnics with a woman and child who also wear similar Noseybonk masks. At least he’s got a family.

Watch some clips from Jigsaw below.

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