The Magic Roundabout

The Magic Roundabout is a BBC children’s television program, later to be aired on Channel 4 was created in France by Serge Danot in 1963. The original pilot programs were filmed in Serge Danot bathroom, the French version of the show was known in France as Le Manège enchanté. The original Magic Roundabout had 450 episodes that were five minutes in length and were originally broadcast by the ORTF between 1964 and 1971.

In the United Kingdom the BBC aired the show from 18 October 1965 to 25 January 1977, using the original Serge Danot stop motion animation footage with new scripts written and narrated by Eric Thompson, these scripts had no resemblance to the original story lines.

It is Serge Danot, originating from the Clisson region of France which is at the base of the children’s animation Le Manège Enchanté (Magic Roundabout) But before the undeniable television success Serge worked for an advertising agency, then after having devoted 25 years in a career as a publicist, he decided one day to stop and start with something new.

First aired on French television on October 6, 1964, this animation was based on stories full of freshness and innocence that made it an instant success, which Sergal had not even expect.Pollux (Dougal) was the most famous dog and this still remains true today, thanks in part to the clever inventor. This animal with his long hair and love of sugar quickly gained the love of all television viewers. Zébulon (Zebadee) with his spring and his famous “Tournicotti-Tournicotton” (time for bed), made us travel to imaginary children’s places.

All the magic offered came from tiresome work, requiring meticulousness attention to detail and great patience, which resulted in the 5 minutes of film and over 7500 images! Le Manège Enchanté (Magic Roundabout) with its pastel colors and whimsical themes has been shown on over 98 TV stations world wide and translated into 28 languages!
A French success…

Danot said on this show:

“It comes from a simple history of the everyday life, with characters having humor, poetry and an anecdote to be as much close to the parents than children, which makes it possible to join together various generation for this famous animation.”

The Creator
Created by the French author Serge Danot in 1965, the Le Manège Enchanté (The Horse-gear Magic) had over 500 episodes made between 1963 and 1967.

 Serge Danot The Creator Of The Magic Roundabout

 Serge Danot, an ex-advertising executive moved into the world of animation. The programs were filmed in a derelict house in Paris, where the fuses kept blowing because of the amount of electricity used by the lights on the set

The Translators
The translations of Le Manège Enchanté series were done by Eric Thompson(Father of the actress Emma Thompson), who was at that time working as a presenter on the children’s program Play School.

 Eric Thompson picture from: The Making of The Massacre

Once Eric Thompson was chosen to do the voices and narration of the programs, he decided not work from the translations of the French scripts but made up stories to fit the pictures as he went along.

 Actor Nigel Planer

In 1992 Channel Four bought the rights to a further 52 French shows not seen in Britain. Eric Thompson had died by this time, so Nigel Planer stepped in to provide the script adoptions and narration.

The Characters
Le Manège Enchant, later to be known as the Magic Roundabout became a television legend and a nightly favorite with English children.

 This simple BBC children’s series was shown as five minute episodes every evening.

 The Cast of The Magic Roundabout

The Magic Roundabout Characters

  • Brian the Snail
  • Dougal the Shaggy Dog
  • Dylan the Spacey Rabbit
  • Ermitruse the Pink Cow
  • Florence th Girl
  • Mr McHenry the Gardener
  • Zebedee the Jack in a Box