MITTEL-EUROPEAN GNOMIC adventures of Paulus, who lived in a tree trunk, resembled Popeye in red dungarees, and was menaced by Eucalypta the witch. Assorted examples of moth-eaten taxidermy served duty as his woodland associates. Imported and translated (to say nothing of dubbed with sub-Goon Show voices) from the Dutch, specifically the pen of Jean Dulieu, who not only created and wrote the long-running cartoon strip on which this was based, but made and manipulated all the puppets himself. As a result… Christ, the thing’s hideous. Misshapen fragments of fowl and sightless lumps of Plaster of Paris move about with disconcertingly jerky motion, making the show’s rather routine “bad witch gets foiled by ace chums” plots appear sinister and claustrophobic, scarring many a child’s psyche in ways Bagpuss could never dream of. The theme’s lyrics (sung by the upper registers of a plummy children’s choir) are the easiest part: “Let’s take a holiday, there’s a little wood where we can stay/Paulus, the little wood gnome welcomes you to his home/Crackers and Hoppy are there/Hoo-Roo and the Bear/Snatch, Bristles and Gregory too/They’re waiting all for you/Something’s brewing, that’s quite plain/The witches cauldron’s boiling again/Paulus, you’d better take care/She’s out to get you/She’s up to get you/She’s out to get you, beware!” Indeed.
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What nobody ever mentions is that Elizabeth didn’t even have enough prize money to afford the mink coat, or indeed any of the other prizes, not that it stopped Nick going through his spiel anyway. Some intriguing clippage here last week and we’re always suckers for a bit of Smokers Wild, especially with Barry Cryer on hand to explain the value of a fag to a comedian. We’re looking forward to some more absolutely fascinating fare in this second part.
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