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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Given it’s now been over fifty years, there possibly will come a time in the not too distant future where the vast majority of the public suspect that Archie Andrews never actually existed and is just a joke, given how ridiculous the concept of ventriloquism on the radio appears. The general concensus is that Peter Brough packed it in because when he went on telly everyone saw he was a pretty crap ventriloquist, but apparently he was also fed up with people having no interest in the man behind the doll, and the suspiciously large number of incidents of Archie getting “lost” on his Wikipedia page would suggest Brough was getting pretty careless. Here’s a new drama where Rob Brydon plays Brough and aims to work out what it was that saw him give it all up to run a textile factory.
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