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Western Animation: The Magic Roundabout

The Magic Roundabout is an English dub for a French stop-motion show, Le Manège Enchanté. When it was translated into English by Eric Thompson (father of actresses Emma and Sophie), rather than voice act the characters, he chose to narrate the whole thing himself. He willfully ignored the translations of the original scripts and dubbed it based purely on the animation, including many gags that appealed to parents. It subsequently became a cult classic in the United Kingdom and was adapted into two feature films. Many viewers of the French show, unaware of the redub, were baffled by the show's English popularity.

In the 1980s, after Thompson's death, Creator/Channel4 acquired some episodes that had not been translated and hired Nigel Planer to adapt them in a pastiche of Thompson's style.

Dougal and the Blue Cat (1972), the first movie, was itself a cult classic. It contained a satirical parody of racism (Blue is beautiful! Blue is best! I'm blue! I'm beautiful! I'm best!) as well as the first (and only?) songs to appear in a Magic Roundabout setting. The other film, a CGI version titled simply The Magic Roundabout (2005), was later released in the US, with all but two of the original British voices redubbed, as Doogal [sic] — which now occupies a spot on IMDB's bottom 100.


The Magic Roundabout provides examples of the following tropes:

  • An Ice Person: Zeebad, from the 2005 movie.
  • Catchphrase: "'Time for bed,' said Zebedee."
  • Cats Are Mean
  • Deadpan Snarker: Dougal (his English voice is based on Tony Hancock). Zeebad in the American dub of the 2005 movie.
  • Erudite Stoner: Dylan, although obviously he was never actually said to be stoned. He was just tired a lot. Really. The 2005 movie got a lot more blatant, including Brian chiding him that "This is no time to experiment with exotic substances!"
  • Endless Winter: Zeebad's Evil Plan was to freeze the sun and bring about a new Ice Age.
  • Funny Animal: Mainly Dougal but there are several others.
  • Gag Dub: In the English version, launching it to popularity.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: The American dub of the 2005 movie. The original version of the film made a couple of drug references.
  • Grumpy Bear: Dougal
  • Keep Circulating the Tapes: The last release of the UK version was a "best of" on VHS in 1993.
  • Long Runner: In France it started showing in 1964. As of 2012 it's still going.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: As mentioned above, Dougal's voice was based on Tony Hancock. And Dylan's voice is, well...
  • The Movie: Two in fact. Or three, if you count Doogal as a separate movie.
  • National Stereotypes: In Le Manège Enchanté Dougal had a heavy English accent and Dylan has a Spanish accent. In the original French show Dylan simply has mañana attitude.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The American redub was presented to be much better than it actually turned out to be. To be fair, that's sort of what trailers are supposed to do, isn't it?
  • Redubbing: In the American version, plummeting it back into obscurity.
  • Shout-Out: Dougal is named after Charles de Gaulle, the famous French military leader and politician — or at least that's what the French creators thought when they saw the English version — and Dylan, the stoner/folk musician rabbit, after Bob Dylan.
    • The American dub of the 2005 movie was rife with shout-outs.
  • Sugar Bowl: Would almost certainly count if it weren't for both Dougal and the Blue Cat and the recent movie.
  • Talking Animal


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alternative title(s): The Magic Roundabout
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