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Last Updated: Monday, 16 April 2007, 11:59 GMT 12:59 UK
Roundabout carousels back to TV
Brian and Ermintrude in the new Magic Roundabout
Ermintrude the cow and Brian the Snail became cult figures
Cult children's programme The Magic Roundabout is to return to TV screens with 52 new computer-animated episodes.

Dougal and Zebedee have been revived by TV channel Nick Jr, which is basing the cartoon on the 2005 film starring Kylie Minogue and Sir Ian McKellen.

The stars will not be lending their voices to the 52-episode series, which has no transmission date as yet.

The show was created in the mid-Sixties for French TV by Serge Danot and later became a cult hit in the UK.

It's like playing with great legends
Director Graham Ralph
Eric Thompson - father of actress Emma Thompson - adapted the series for the BBC and narrated each of the roles.

But instead of translating Danot's original scripts, Thompson turned down the sound and made up his own dialogue according to what he saw on screen.

Anti-hero

The new series will not have a narrator, but director Graham Ralph says he intends to make the show "true to the spirit" of the original.

"We're trying to bring it back to Dougal being the anti-hero, instead of the rather bland character he was in the film," he says.

"He's the Blackadder of children's TV, with a bit of Victor Meldrew thrown in. He's really grumpy all the time.

"And Zebedee has sort of been based on Ken Dodd. He's more like an impish little pixie."

The Magic Roundabout
Zebedee (left) became famous for his catchphrase: "Time for bed".
The original Magic Roundabout ran from 1965 to 1977 on BBC One, where it attracted adults and children alike.

The eccentric scripts and psychedelic visuals became essential viewing.

There were also rumours, strongly denied, that Dylan's lethargy and Dougal's fondness for sugar lumps were veiled references to drug culture.

Channel 4 revived the series briefly in the 1990s, with Young Ones star Nigel Planer taking over from the late Eric Thompson.

Fifty two episodes were produced, with the original puppets taken out of storage to create new animations.

Pre-school

Permission for the latest re-make was granted by the estate of the late Serge Danot.

It is being animated in France using the same character models as the feature film, with scripts and voices originating in the UK.

The programme, which is aimed at pre-school audiences, has already been sold to several countries including Germany, Australia and France.

"We wanted to re-create the spirit of the show for kids, not for TV executives in their forties," said Mr Ralph.

"I'm having a wonderful time. It's like playing with great legends, great actors."




SEE ALSO
Magic Roundabout's French connection
12 Oct 04 |  Entertainment
New Roundabout film gets premiere
30 Jan 05 |  Entertainment
Roundabout continues nostalgia trip
10 Feb 05 |  Entertainment
Robbie, Kylie spin Magic Roundabout
10 Oct 02 |  Entertainment

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