British TV Cartoons

from the 70s and 80s

There were just so many excellent cartoons and animations on TV in the 70s and 80s weren't there?

On this page you can watch original video clips in the playlist above (they will bring those memories flooding back!) and also read about many of them below.

Roobarb

Contrary to popular belief, this classic 70s cartoon was simply called Roobarb and not Roobarb and Custard. Roobarb was the lovable green dog and Custard was the annoying pink cat. Believe it or not, only one season containing 30 episodes of this deliberately roughly-styled, wobbly animation was ever created. It originally aired just before the evening news on BBC1 during 1974, and each episode lasted for around five minutes.

In each episode, Roobarb would usually get into mischief (as dogs do!) but Custard was always determined to spoil his fun. The duo were always overlooked by the birds who would make plenty of snide remarks.  I don't know about you, but I always wanted to punch Custard in the face - so annoying!

The cult series was narrated by Richard Briers (he is best remembered for his roles in the hit BBC comedy shows The Good Life and Ever Decreasing Circles) and was extremely popular.

Roobarb skating on thin ice!
Roobarb: Custard the cat
The Complete Roobarb DVD Collection

Super Ted

SuperTed was a 1980s UK cartoon series about a teddy bear with magical super powers. It was first shown on 1st November 1982.

It was actually produced in Wales where it was aired in the Welsh language, but later aired in English throughout the whole of the UK on BBC1. 

SuperTed was voiced by Derek Griffiths (from Playschool), and Spotty - SuperTed's bumbling companion who was a yellow alien covered in green spots from planet Spot - was voiced by ex-Doctor Who Jon Pertwee.

Superted On Planet Spot
Superted On Planet Spot book from 1983 published by Carnival

Paddington Bear

This first episode (from 1975) of the original 70s Paddington animated series is entitled, "Please look after this bear". The series was produced by Michael Bond and London-based animation company FilmFair, and it was Narrated by Michael Hordern.

As well as Paddington himself, other characters included Mr. Henry Brown (a London City worker), Mrs. Mary Brown (Mr. Brown's wife), Jonathan and Judy (the children), Mrs. Bird (housekeeper and nanny), Mr. Curry (the nasty neighbour who calls addresses Paddington as "Bear!"), Mr. Gruber (the owner of an antique shop in Portobello Road), Aunt Lucy (Paddington's South American aunt) and Uncle Pastuzo (Paddington's wealthy uncle who is always travelling across the World).

There is a superb, official paddington website that I can highly recommend visiting: http://www.paddingtonbear.com/

Paddington Bear trying to decorate a room
Paddington Bear eating a marmalade sandwich
Paddington loved a marmalade sandwich!
Paddington Bear - Complete DVD Collection

Michael Bond's loveable lost bear was brought to life in 1975 in the wonderful stop-motion animated series.

After being discovered at the train station by Mr and Mrs Brown, Paddington is adopted into the family at 32 Windsor Gardens, and sets about adjusting to his new surroundings.

With an endless curiosity and a love of marmalade sandwiches, the duffel coat-wearing bear gets into plenty of mischief in his adventures around London. This box set includes all 56 classic episodes and three feature length specials.

The Magic Roundabout

This is an original 1970's edition of the seminal Children's TV show "The Magic Roundabout".

The very first programme was created in France in 1963 by Serge Danot. Five hundred episodes were made and were originally broadcast between 1964 and 1971 on ORTF.

The English version was narrated from the visuals (not the French script) by Eric Thompson, the father of actresses Emma and Sophie Thompson, and was broadcast from 18 October 1965 to January 1977.

This version of the show attained cult status, and included the characters; Dougal (dog), Zebedee (Jack in the Box), Brian (snail), Ermintrude (cow) and Dylan (rabbit). There are two notable human characters: Florence, a young girl; and Mr Rusty, the operator of the roundabout.

Just when you thought old 70s animations couldn't get any weirder, here come the Clangers!

The Magic Roundabout VHS Video

The Clangers

Only the British could create an animation featuring knitted aliens! This iconic, animated series was broadcast on the BBC from 1969 until 1972. It featured a family of little pointed nose creatures who lived in the craters of a grey planet. They spoke in whistles, and ate green soup harvested by the Soup Dragon.

The Clangers was created and narrated by Oliver Postgate for Smallfilms, who also produced Ivor The Engine (below).

70s Kids TV - The Clangers

Ivor The Engine

This was the first ever colour episode of the innocent 70s animation set in the Welsh countryside, Ivor The Engine. It was filmed using stop motion techniques, animated using cardboard cut-outs painted with watercolours - those were the days!

The series was originally made by Smallfilms for Associated Rediffusion in 1958, but was remade in colour for the BBC in 1975. The 30 original black and white episodes were 10 minutes long, but the 40 colour episodes were just 5 minutes long and ran between 1975 and 1977.

Ivor The Engine in snowdrifts
Is it just me or was Ivor always getting stuck in a snowdrift?
Ivor The Engine book (1962) by Oliver Postgate
Original Ivor The Engine book by Oliver Postgate (1962)

The Wombles

Who'd ever of thought that Mike Batt who produced the them tune would also produce music for Katie Melua! 

Bet you can't remember all their names, though - Great Uncle Bulgaria, Tobermory, Madame Cholet, Miss Adelaide, Tomsk, Bungo, Orinoco, Wellington, Alderney and Shansi.

So what exactly are they? Well, they're pointy-nosed, furry creatures that lived in burrows, where they help the environment by collecting and recycling rubbish in useful and ingenious ways. Yes, the recycling message was even in use in the filthy 70s!

Altogether now, "Underground, overground, wombling free, the Wombles of Wimbledon Common Are We..."

The Wombles (band)

Danger Mouse

Who could forget this very British cartoon featuring Terry Scott (Penfold) and David Jason (Dangermouse) as narrators?

Produced by Thames Television it originally ran on ITV from 1981 to 1992. The eponymous Danger Mouse worked as a secret agent, and the show is a loose parody of British spy fiction, particularly James Bond and the Danger Man series starring Patrick McGoohan.

Sherlock Holmes was also an influence as his post box home was Baker Street and his bumbling Watson-like assistant was Penfold.

The duo's main enemy was Baron Silas Greenback, a nasty toad with a wheezy voice, although there were plenty of others including Count Duckula, J.J. Quark and Dr. Augustus P. Crumhorn III.

Danger Mouse, Penfold and Baron Silas Greenback

Bod

Now this really brings back some memories for me! Bod was first shown in 1975, and there were just thirteen episodes, based on four original Bod books by Joanna and Michael Cole. It was narrated by John Le Mesurier (he played Sgt. Wilson in Dad's Army) with music by Derek Griffiths, who was more famous for being in Play School.

Bod - 70s cartoon