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1001 Stories Collection

The Magic Roundabout

1001 Magic Roundabout
Added on 20th August 2020

Creator and Director Serge Danot
Screenplay Eric Thompson
First shown 1964, BBC

A quirky and slightly surreal animated TV show with extremely memorable characters.


The Magic Roundabout is a British children’s television series featuring the playful antics of the inhabitants of the magic garden. Its many colourful characters include Dougal the dog, Brian the snail, Dylan the rabbit, Ermintrude the cow, Florence, a polite little girl, and Zebedee, a talking jack-in-a-box, who ends every episode by announcing ‘Time for Bed’.

Why we chose it

In the 1960s and 70s The Magic Roundabout was a nightly fixture in British homes, with its distinctive barrel organ theme tune, delightfully pointless five-minute stories for the children, and touches of subtle political humour for their parents, waiting for the Six O’Clock News.

The characters are remembered with great fondness – motherly Ermintrude, hippy Dylan, business-like Brian, and world-weary Dougal, loosely based on much-loved comedian Tony Hancock. The series attracted large audiences and a cult following.

Where it came from

The Magic Roundabout used footage from a French stop motion animation by Serge Danot which the BBC thought charming but impossible to translate. Eric Thompson - actor, Play School presenter and father of actors Emma and Sophie Thompson – wrote and narrated entirely new stories to fit the visuals creating different names and personalities for the characters. To his surprise the series ran for 441 episodes from 1965 to 1977.

Where it went next

The shows were repeated for many years, selling books, records, videos and merchandise. In the 1990s and 2000s, 104 episodes were narrated by Nigel Planer and Jimmy Hibbert. In 2005 a computer generated film was made with a star cast and then developed into a television series. But none had the appeal of Danot’s stop motion or Thompson’s quirky humour.

Added on 20th August 2020

Creator and Director Serge Danot
Screenplay Eric Thompson
First shown 1964, BBC