The Magic Roundabout

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The Magic Roundabout (known in the original French as Le Manège enchanté) was a children's television programme created in France in 1963 by Serge Danot. Some five hundred five-minute-long episodes were made and were originally broadcast between 1964 and 1971 on ORTF.

The series also attained great success in the United Kingdom. The English-language version was narrated by Eric Thompson, the father of actresses Emma Thompson and Sophie Thompson, and was broadcast from 18 October 1965 to 25 January 1977. This version of the show attained cult status, and was watched as much by adults for its dry humour as by the children for whom it was intended.



Although the characters were common to both versions, they were given different names depending on the language.

The main character was Dougal (Pollux in the original French-language version) who was a drop-eared variety of the Skye Terrier. In the French version Pollux was a British character who spoke somewhat broken French with an outrageous English accent, as a result of Ivor Wood's role as co-creator. His sweet tooth, shown through his fondness for sugar lumps, was based on a French belief that one of the traits of the English is a liking for sweets.

Other characters include Zebedee (Zébulon), a jack-in-the-box; Brian (Ambroise), a snail; Ermintrude (Azalée), a cow, and Dylan (named after Bob Dylan[1])(Flappy) a rabbit, who in the French version was Spanish. There are two notable human characters: Florence (Margote), a young girl; and Mr Rusty (le Père Pivoine), the operator of the roundabout.

The show had a distinctive visual style. The set was a brightly coloured and stylised park containing the eponymous roundabout (a fairground carousel). The programmes were created by stop motion animation, which meant that Dougal was made without legs to make him easier to animate. Zebedee was created from a giant pea which was available in the animation studio and was re-painted. The look of these characters was the responsibility of British animator Ivor Wood, who was working at Danot's studio at the time (and who subsequently animated The Herbs, Paddington Bear and Postman Pat).

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