Tuesday, 6 March 2012

The Three Voices of The Magic Roundabout

The true beauty of Serge Danot's "Magic Roundabout" series was not just down to the stop-motion animation and design by Ivor Wood, but the genius in the writing - though not through the original French version...

Long story short, for those who don't know, the original series in black-and-white had enjoyed a cosy seven-year airing between 1964 - 71 in France until being brought over to Britain by the BBC. But since the original French scripts were not included to be translated, they decided to bring in Eric Thompson (of Playschool fame, including "The Magic Ball") to rewrite and narrate completely new stories.

So what we hear now from our childhood differs very much from the original French - which isn't a total loss since Eric's imagination with the on-screen action and characters have made the show what it is today: memorable, hilarious and slightly controversial in terms of its subtle drug references (according to the Beeb anyway, what with Dougal's Sugar addiction and the "stoned" bunny Dylan).

But long before the 2005 Movie came along, the original episodes have been fondly remembered by fans old and new from its dry humour and surreal visuals. However, Eric hadn't always been the voice of the characters we love...

The original gang - from 1970
In 1991, when the episodes were transmitted to Channel 4 (and later Cartoon Network), Nigel Planer (Grizzly Tales, The Young Ones) was brought in to rewrite and redub from Eric, who had by this time passed on. It is said that Nigel based Dougal's voice on British comedian Tony Handcock, which suited the shaggy dog's sarcastic nature quite nicely.

But then for reasons unknown the episodes had a third redubbing several years later, this time by Jimmy Hibbert (second only to Brian Trueman of Cosgrove Hall fame), who added a great sense of energy and zaniness in the remaining seasons "new" to the UK. Hibbert would be reunited with The Magic Roundabout again come the 2005 film and the CGI series that followed it, again as voice actor and script writer - and who very much captures the same air of Eric and Nigel's renditions as best he can in the episodes he penned himself.
Same Cast, New Look - their current CGI appearance
So whichever version of The Magic Roundabout you remember watching - old, new or something entirely different - you can view a sample of each here. Name your favourites!





1 comment:

  1. I remember watching Cartoon Network late at night and was pleasantly surprised to hear Hibbert doing his version. He really made Dougal sound very Hancock-y!