5. THE ENCHANTED HOUSE (ITV 1970-72)
For some reason, ITV's lunchtime children's shows tend to be less well remembered than their BBC counterparts. For every Rainbow or Chorlton & The Wheelies, there are dozens that ran for years yet have seemingly since been almost entirely forgotten. One such show is The Enchanted House, an animated oddity that was repeated endlessly during the seventies.
The Enchanted House of the title was a wonky affair with Tardis-like 'bigger on the inside' qualities, home to Tiny the Giraffe and his many friends - Nellyphant the Elephant, Joe the Kangaroo, Leo the Lion, Sammy the Seal, Bob the Robin, Jock the Dog, and Worm the, erm, Worm. Their adventures were not exactly cut from the same post-Yellow Submarine paisley-patterned cloth as certain of their peers, tending to revolve around such exciting antics as visits from relatives, impromptu picnics and the inevitable 'birthday wishes', but the series was certainly popular with its target audience as its lengthy run will attest.
Produced for Thames by the independent Limar Films, The Enchanted House was shot in an unusual style, wherein two-dimensional illustrations of the characters were animated within a three-dimensional set. More unusual still, the bonkers theme music (which kept playing pretty much throughout) was provided by leading British jazzman Johnny Dankworth. Narrator Mary Malcolm was already well known as the BBC's first ever female television announcer, and writer Mary Plumby was a veteran of ITV children's shows; indeed, some stories about Nellyphant had already featured in the late fifties lunchtime show Small Time.
Plumbly also wrote a tie-in comic strip for Jack And Jill, which ran to 1985 (quite some time after repeats of the show had stopped airing), while Dinky produced a model of Tiny's car, marking the hapless giraffe's only three-dimensional appearance. The also-included Nellyphant, Leo and indeed The Enchanted House itself, however, were still relegated to cardboard cutout status. This did not sell quite as well as their toys based on The Prisoner and Gerry Anderson's shows, and Tiny's protruding neck had a habit of being snapped off during over-exhuberant play, and as a result it is now something of an unlikely holy grail for Dinky collectors and fetches ridiculous prices at auction.
Two episodes of The Enchanted House were released on a video back at the dawn of home entertainment, and for the moment that's all that's even likely to be available, as the last time that anyone looked, the film prints were apparently nowhere to be found. Unless they're all stuffed inside The Enchanted House, that is.
Next Time: Globe-straddling stalking and a Bostonian barfly...