‘The Magic Roundabout’

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!” (..”said Zebedee”)
  • Brian – intelligent, cheery 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 – small steam train

The catchy theme tune was composed by Frenchman Alain Legrand. 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 slowly, thereby reducing accidents.

(Top image: Lcl123 at Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0)

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