‘The Magic Roundabout‘ was a children’s programme aired from 1965 to 1977, with a 5-minute slot every weekday before the News. This meant it also gathered a large adult audience. People appreciated the subtle humour of the script, written and voiced by Lincolnshire-born Eric Thompson (1929-82).
The stop-motion films of puppet figures in the brightly-coloured Magic Garden were made by Frenchman Serge Danot, assisted by Yorkshire-born animator Ivor Wood (1932-2004). ‘Le Manège Enchanté’ (1964-71) did not translate satisfactorily for British ears, hence the Thompson re-write. Thompson also did all the voices for the characters, who were:
- Dougal – dog with shaggy fur covering his legs (making animation easier)
- Zebedee – magical toy on a spring, assigned the classic end line, “Time for bed!”
- Brian – snail
- Ermintrude – pink cow, sang, ate flowers
- Dylan – hippy rabbit with guitar
- Florence – sensible little girl
- Mr. Rusty – elderly roundabout operator
- Mr. McHenry – elderly gardener
- The Train – steam
Avid fans can revel in a YouTube video of the catchy theme tune (composed by Frenchman Alain Legrand) on a loop! In the UK, there are at least four towns that have a complex road junction dubbed ‘the magic roundabout’ after the programme. The traffic at these spots moves so slowly it actually improves safety!
(Image: Lcl123 at Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0)