Friday, 17 June 2011

Knights of the idiot's lantern

Now, just for a moment, I want you to forget all preconceptions about what makes great pop, psychedelia, freakbeat, etc. and spare 38 seconds of your time to listen to this, then tell me – is it not good?  Could it not have been the creation of a velvet-clad band called the Purple Raindrops of Oblivion, or a single on Deram by, let’s see…maybe  Marcus Sinclair & the Sugar Tree Explosion…?


OK, maybe not quite.  But isn’t it groovy? As many children growing up in ‘70s Britain would have known at the time, this was the end theme from ‘The Adventures Of Sir Prancelot’, an animated TV series which was first aired in 1971 around the teatime slot (perfect for those of us who had just settled down after getting in from school but hadn’t yet started eating our Vesta Chicken Supreme).  It had a distinctive look - graphic shapes and layered cut-out characters with open/shut mouths like ventriloquists’ dummies.  Its creator, John Ryan, was also responsible for the similarly styled ‘Captain Pugwash’ which for some reason sticks in my adult memory more, perhaps partly because there is an apocryphal tale that it included seafaring characters with the names Master Bates, Roger the Cabin Boy and Seaman Staines; however this has since been dismissed as mere urban legend.  In reality it was all perfectly innocent of course, although Captain Pugwash’s arch enemy did have the rather scary name of Cut Throat Jake, which was at least very appealing to bloodthirsty eight-year-olds.

But back to Sir Prancelot. The series followed the adventures of the eponymous heroic knight, who was also a bit of a would-be inventor, and his family and entourage (with great names such as his wife Lady Histeria, Duke Uglio and serfs Bert and Harry - although the Michael Caine soundalike minstrel, who brings us this catchy theme as well as some cool little musical interludes, remains nameless).  I don’t think they got to do all that much crusading in any holy lands but they did prance about a lot - and with a fabulously neat tune like this one I might just have to replay it a few times while I do so myself.

13 comments:

  1. I remember Sir Prancelot :o)

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  2. Cool, being born on the wrong continent i've never seen this...music sounds like something the Who would have come up with for one of their "Rock Operas". :)

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  3. Ha this is great - forgot all about this. John Ryan was wonderful. Him and Peter Firmin and 1960's children's telly - a heady mix!

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  4. Thanks all for comments, I'm chuffed that the cockney minstrel went down so well, whether remembered from childhood or never seen before! We did have some great kids' TV here in the '60s/'70s, yes Peter Firmin's stuff was priceless too (Pogle's Wood was a fave of mine) - might have to delve into some more!

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  5. bel mondo said..... Oh wow - cheered me up no end, and I'd so forgotten Pogles Wood....my favourite characters of all time were Pippin & Tog - its no wonder so many of us grew up (or not) with a yearning for psych in all its forms... drug induced or otherwise !

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  6. Oh Bel Mondo, yes! Pippin and Tog in Pogles Wood... how I would long for them when it was time for 'Watch With Mother' which I seem to recall was at lunchtime, so I must've been pre-school age. Just goes to show how the really good things stay with us for a long, long time. Will have to check out Youtube for clips!

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  7. Forwarded this clip to my brothers - both of whom recognised the music but couldn't recall the programme. Do you really remember 'Watch With Mother' (ya don't look anywhere near old enuff)?

    Bizzy Lizzy?

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  8. Thank you, A (and v flattered) but indeed Watch With Mother (and also Listen With Mother...) are within my living memory. And Bizzy Lizzy! Oh yes, I loved her and wanted to be her! In fact, I still hanker for a dress with a magic flower on it.

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  9. I really liked Bizzy Lizzy though I didn't yearn for the dress. I also liked the Woodentops. Bill and Ben didn't really do it for me: even at that age (about 23) I realised I needed a bit of story; I only liked it when they went behind the fence but they hardly ever did... :-(

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  10. I think all I need to say to you on that, A, is 'Spotty Dog'! A future post beckons...

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  11. I remember a few years ago visiting some friends and spending a pleasant afternoon of tea and chocolate on their sofa watching the guy who made Fingerbobs in his garden across the road. No-one could remember his name, so it was, "look Finger Bob is coming back out of the gararge"...
    Mental note to self: Must Get Life

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  12. Hi Yve - I must say that drinking tea, eating chocolate and being with friends while watching the man who made Fingerbobs sounds like a pretty good life to me! (Although I suspect that 'Finger Bob' might not have to been so chuffed to know he was being referred to that way...?!)

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