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Animal Magic

*Cat's* the way to do it!MILD-MANNERED MENAGERIE of human foes masquerading as zany zoo awareness initiative that went the way of, well, zoos. JOHNNY MORRIS was the “Keeper”, forever chatting very very slowly with his apes and hippos (who had either timid, falsetto whines or slow, bassy “Oooh, hullo Johnny” voices) with no mouths moving on fauna or keeper. Perhaps that’s what killed it off. Later acquired colour, psychedelic wah-wah version of the original cha-cha theme and TERRY NUTKINS as sidekick, but still majored on very very slow features, typified by lethargic sealion mascot GEMINI, as commemorated in song by Morris. Soldiered on bravely with epic dolphins-in-lorry saga and rockhopper penguin as in-studio foil, but culled in merciful early 80s costcutting bonanza that also did for CRACKERJACK.



  1. Lee James Turnock

    May 5, 2010 at 3:30 pm

    If you see Johnny Morris’s book ‘Good Night Tales’ (correct spelling – it’s not ‘Goodnight Tales’) on Ebay, snap it up pronto. It’s magnificent.

  2. THX 1139

    April 19, 2020 at 2:38 pm

    Johnny Morris called his autobiography There’s Lovely, which is nice.

    But that revamped theme tune, was it supposed to be disco? You can imagine Van McCoy producing it. Were we supposed to groove to it? Imagine putting it on at a club!

  3. Droogie

    April 21, 2020 at 1:44 am

    I was always a bit freaked as a child by Nutkins and his missing fingers. How did he lose them? Aggressive Otters?

  4. Glenn Aylett

    April 21, 2020 at 7:42 pm

    It didn’t have to be killed off, Animal Magic was still a popular show and children still loved Johnny talking to the animals. Johnny blamed the suits at the BBC, of course, whom he believed ditched the show because he was too old. Also the decision to ditch Crackerjack was just as strange as it had been a Friday institution for 25 years.

  5. richardpd

    April 21, 2020 at 11:52 pm

    I did hear that the BBC stopped Johnny going into the enclosures as he hadn’t been insured to do so, & probably would have cost too much to get cover.

    Also the educational content was increased over the years.

    The Really Wild Show replaced it, with Terry Nutkins joined by Chris Packham & Nick Davis.

    I imagine it was on Michael Grade’s “to axe” list.

    • Glenn Aylett

      April 22, 2020 at 4:13 pm

      I think Animal Magic went before Grade, but the younger Grade did have a cull of old shows during his reign at BBC One. Crackerjack was one I could never understand, it was still doing well and was as much a part of the CBBC furniture as Blue Peter. However, to be fair to Grade, he totally revamped children’s programmes on BBC 1 by making it more like Children’s ITV by introducing in vision continuity, branding it as CBBC, and upping the budget.

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