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. Because the BBC wasn't provided with any of the scripts and didn't feel like spending extra money acquiring and translating them, Thompson willfully ignored the original writing and dubbed the show 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, Channel 4 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), had a much more epic plot and was later released in the US (with all but two of the original British voices re-dubbed) as Doogal [sic]. The less said about the US version of that movie, the better.

This English localisation provides examples of:

  • 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. However, 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: The English version of the series used a script that was not a translation of the French, instead it was a new comedic script in English that Eric Thompson thought would suit an English audience.note 
  • 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. "Oh, what's the use." is a Catch Phrase of his.
  • An Ice Person: Zeebad, from the 2005 movie.
  • 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.
  • Redubbing: The film was redubbed for the American version and retitled "Doogal" from "The Magic Roundabout".
  • Shout-Out: Dylan, the stoner/folk musician rabbit, after Bob Dylan.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": It's supposed to be "Dougal" and not "Doogal", no matter what the 2005 film's American re-dub might tell you.
  • Sugar Bowl: Would almost certainly count if it weren't for both Dougal and the Blue Cat and the recent movie.
  • Talking Animal: Ermintrude is a cow, Dougal is a dog, all the characters talk.