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The Magic Roundabout

Long, long ago, in a country far, far away, I and other otherwise-fairly-bright undergraduates, would rush our evening meals to get a good place in front of the campus Commons TV, and ready ourselves to watch "The Magic Roundabout" - which would immedialy be followed by the 6:00pm BBC evening news.

Based on a French original "(Le Manège Enchanté"), part of the magic was that the people who made the English version were almost entirely able to ignore the plot of the French version and put meaningful words into the mouths of MR's stars.

The program started in 1963 and I probably saw every broadcast between 1965 and 1968. Amongst its attractions to us comparatively adutl viewers were the "double entendres" added by the English scriptwriters, and the treble entendres added by the student audience assembled in the Commons

It worked at several levels and was entertaining for children too. When the BBC moved it to a slot in the child-designated viewing time, many adults protested. The show, in Britain at least, achieved cult status.

Some of my favourite characters in the show were based on real peoplle. Dougal, my favourite, a floppy-eared dog,, was based in the English version on the dry wit of comedian Tony Hancock. I had long been a fan of "Hancock's Half Hour" so Dougal hit the mark for me, There were assertions that Dougal's name deliberately echoed "De Gaulle" and one could see a certain resemblance...

Dylan, a very floppy eared rabbit was indeed a rendition of Bob, even down to playing the guitar. And then there was Florence, a human girl who often reminded one of Charlie Brown;s nemesis, Lucy - escept she would never deliberately take away the football, Florence was somewhat accident prone If somehow she had ever got her hands on an American foiotball (unlkely with French made visuals) and if one of the few characters in the cartoon with actual feet had tried to kick it, Florence would probably have accidentally tripped over it and it rolled away at the last minute., And Dougal or Dylan would certainly have remarked that the world was going downhill...

Given that the technique used in making the program was stop motion animation, one was grateful for the 5 minute running time. Stop motion is definitely the most effort-intensive way to make cartoons, but, in the hands of the French animateurs, provided an esxcellect combination of groundedness and whimsy.

The CD has an excellend selection to please the younger child viewer. I suspect the adult contemporary viewer might find it a little flat in contrast to the Family Guy and Simpson cartoons, pushing the limits as they do of "acceptable" television. But try it on a game night with a properly prepared adult audience (Beer is recommmended as appropriate preparation), and one might indeed retrieve the fun of those halcyon days, as Mr.Zebedee (a Jack-in-the-Box) attempts to pursue Brian (a snail) in a vain and oft-repeated attempt to retrieve his floppy hat.

Whilst audio versions, books, and films are in themselves enjoyable, the real experience is the quick 5-minute TV view, immediately before the evening news. Of course, any resemblance to the behavior of the US Congress is entirely coincidental, although it may be quite instructive for your Congressman. (Buy him a CD for Christmas?)

 Last updated on December 10, 2013

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Guestbook 20 comments

favored profile image

favored 8 months ago from USA Level 7 Commenter

Thanks for introducing us to this story. Congratulations on front page honors.


anonymous 8 months ago

Love the magic Roundaboat


Merrci profile image

Merrci 8 months ago from Oregon's Southern Coast Level 8 Commenter

Congratulations on LotD! I'd never heard of these, but your review has certainly spiked my interest. They sound like a lot of fun. Thanks for sharing this!


seleen fouad profile image

seleen fouad 8 months ago Level 1 Commenter

Nice review thank you


FanfrelucheHubs profile image

FanfrelucheHubs 8 months ago from France (Canadian expat) Level 1 Commenter

Oh I used to watch le manège enchantée when I was a kid. It was on Canadian télévision in French. some souvenirs :)


delia-delia profile image

delia-delia 8 months ago Level 5 Commenter

Congratulations on LOTD! I've never heard of Magic Roundabout, but certainly a Cute lens


SteveKaye profile image

SteveKaye 8 months ago Level 5 Commenter

Congratulations on receiving the LOTD.


getupandgrow 8 months ago

Great choice! I loved watching the Magic Roudabout as a small child, and had no idea it was available in any form these days. Thanks for sharing.


seahorse60 8 months ago

Thanks for bringing back some happy memories. I was born in 1960 so remember the Magic Roundabout, Andy Pandy, Bill and Ben and Pinky and Perky. Those were the days!


shadowfast7 profile image

shadowfast7 8 months ago

:) nice


Bercton1 profile image

Bercton1 8 months ago

Interesting lens and Congratulation on LOTD!


caps074 lm profile image

caps074 lm 8 months ago

nice start.


anonymous 8 months ago

Sounds pretty groovy. Congratulations on getting LotD!


Dressage Husband profile image

Dressage Husband 8 months ago from Pine Grove, Nova Scotia, Canada Level 5 Commenter

I used to love this show as a student too! Dates us a bit! Well done on an entertaining LOTD.


Zormak 8 months ago

Huh, Interesting Little Lens About A Topic And Show I Would've Never Known About Before. Thanks or Making This :)

Check Out My Lens If You Want: http://www.squidoo.com/Freebie-Daily


Deborah Swain profile image

Deborah Swain 8 months ago from Rome, Italy Level 1 Commenter

Back in those days the top brass at the BBC clearly missed many of the references to certain aspects of 1960s sub-culture...and it was still being repeated during my childhood in the 1970s! And as for Captain Pugwash...therein lies another lens!


Flora Crew profile image

Flora Crew 8 months ago Level 2 Commenter

I could never get interested in watching the common television in my dorm at college. Maybe if we had had this show life would have turned out differently!


Lynkay profile image

Lynkay 8 months ago

ah the memories, I watched this series when I was a child, and afterwards the sun shone a little brighter.


esmonaco profile image

esmonaco 8 months ago from Lakewood New York Level 7 Commenter

A very interesting review, and Congratulations on LOTD


meggingmad profile image

meggingmad 8 months ago Level 1 Commenter

Ah...I remember it well. For sheer surrealism.....Dougal (my middle name) crash lands after hang gliding from a tree. "Hmm" said Dougal, "Thermals are tricky today!"

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