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The Magic Roundabout

BBC (ended 1977)


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The Magic Roundabout

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Welcome to The Magic Roundabout guide at Created by Serge Danot in 1965, The Magic Roundabout became a television legend. The five minute slot just before the early evening news guaranteed the programme a viewing figure of over eight million. Seemingly innocent children's animation series included witty commentary for the adults, allowing two generations to enjoy it. Flavoured with a laid-back and surreal view of life, the programme reflected a heavy sixties feel. It soon achieved a cult status. The programme featured a rather off-the-wall cast. Its included Dougal, a shaggy dog who lived on a strict diet of sugar; an eccentric bouncing character called Zebedee, who would announce his arrival with a 'boing'; a rabbit named Dylan,Whos grew drugs in his carrot patch (which may be why the magic roundabout got cancelled and then came back on later. Ermintrude the pink cow, Florence, Brian the snail and their friends in the Garden. Thus The Magic Roundabout staked its place in television history. The most famous sentence of the series was Zebedee's standard declaration "Time for Bed" sending millions of children to sleep every evening. The Magic Roundabout was re-run on channel 4 television at the end of last year, winning yet another generation of young fans. The beginning of the Magic Roundabout series kicks off with an unhappy Mr Rusty wishing that the magic would return to his roundabout, Zebedee achieves this by bringing children to play in the garden and ride the roundabout. Heya sonic revolution her! just saying its been a fun couple of months on the guide.Thanks everyone.moreless
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  • Transcipts!

    Hello again any transcripts available for this program?
  • The Magic Roundabout! Brings back memories of the days before Star Wars became evicerated by cartoonish special effects. Simple storytelling at its best! 5 minute slices of proper storytelling that would probably be frowned upon in these post-muppet days!moreless

    The Magic Roundabout (Or in its original French incarnation 'Le Manège enchanté') was a children's television programme that emerged from France in 1963. In total some five hundred five-minute-long episodes were broadcast in 1964-71.

    It was here in the UK that the series reached its zenith. Narrated by Eric Thompson,the show attained cult status between 18 October 1965 to January 1977. indeed it was watched as much by adults for its dry humour as by the children for whom it was intended.

    [this concentrates on the English version]


    Dougal - a Maltese dog, albeit of a non-standard colour. The French believe that one of the traits of the English is a sweet tooth, and this was retained for the english version with Dougal rather partial (some could claim addicted) to sugar lumps.

    Zebedee - a jack-in-the-box,

    Brian - a snail

    Ermintrude - a rather laid back cow

    Dylan - A free spirited rabbit

    Florence - a young girl who effectively kept the others in check

    Mr Rusty - the operator of the Magic Roundabout.

    What of the show...?

    As expected from a kid show there was a distinctive visual style. Set in a brightly coloured and stylised park area was the eponymous roundabout of the type beloved by young childred at fairgrounds. The program itself was created by stop motion animation and in order to simplify matters and speed production Dougal was made without legs. Zebedee was simply based on a giant painted pea on a spring - the things you can get away with with kids TV! The overll responsibility falling to British animator Ivor Wood, who later proved to have a somewhat golden touch on childrens tv programs.

    Gone but not forgotten.....

    An additional 52 episodes were produced by Channel 4 and shown in the UK during 1992. Narration fell to Nigel Planer, better known for his hippy times in the 80's with the 'Young Ones'

    Hidden meanings...?

    The British Dougal was grumpy and loosely based on Tony Hancock. Ermintrude was rather matronly and fond of singing. Dylan was a hippy-like, guitar-playing rabbit, and rather dopey. Florence was portrayed sensibly. Brian was unsophisticated but well-meaning. Zebedee was an almost human creature in a soldier's uniform with a spring instead of feet; he frequently went "Boing!" and regularly closed the show with the phrase "Time for bed." There have been rumours and accusations that the characters were meant to display human flaws and vices (notably that Dylan and Dougal, and probably every character, was on a type of psychotropic drug). This is most likely the result of occasional bouts of 'Politcal Correctness' and it is very unlikely that any child would see more than a very simple story telling as it was intended.

    just for kds...?

    Part of the show's attraction was that it appealed to adults, who could enjoy the soft humour and exagerated emotions of the characters as much as their kids could enjoy the simple jokes and easy language. The prime example of course being the world-weary, typically downtrodden british, Hancock-style comments made by Dougal. This showed in the high audience figures peaking at eight million, toether with its longevity in peoples imagination!

    on a personal note......

    Stories are told from my childhood of me sitting in my high-chair glued to the magic roundabout! That could well be true as i still enjoy it to this day! (but then my mother also says i used to enjoy marmite ('never' - i protest) so dont believe everything you are told). Sometimes you just have to sit back and admire the classics.moreless