The Magic Circle Club was an award winning Australian children’s television show, produced at ATV Channel 0 (now ATV-10) from 23 January 1965 to 1967.
Described as a blend of fantasy, magic, music & comedy…the program’s style came from live pantomime and classic fairy tales. It often featured music, original songs and dance routines. Some older female characters were performed by males, in pantomime dame style. Godfrey Philipp was the producer and director, with many scripts and song lyrics by John-Michael Howson.
The show was hosted by Nancy Cato. A later addition to the regular cast was Liz Harris, who also took over as hostess when Nancy Cato suffered temporary paralysis and had to use a wheelchair.
In 1966, the TV series won the first Logie Award presented to a children’s show, for Outstanding Contribution To Children’s Television
Living in the Magic Forest were…. Nancy Cato, Fredd & Feefee Bear, Twoddle & Boddle, Marlena DeWitch, Max, Mother Hubbard, Cassius Cuckoo, Leonardo De Funbird.Liz (Liz Harris), Sir Jasper Crookly, Bo Bo the Clown,Hep Cat.
Storylines were typically serialized across five days, with the Friday program usually wrapping up the week’s adventure. Each episode finished up with the hostess sitting on a large mushroom, with Fredd crouched beside her (usually after dusting off the stool with a handkerchief), while the pair shared viewers’ letters and artwork.
Daily features included viewers’ riddles with Cassius Cuckoo, during “Cassius Cuckoo’s Corn Corner”, and limericks with Leonardo de Funbird. These characters were wood and felt bird puppets (created by Axel Axelrad; voiced by Colin McEwan).
Towards the end of the TV series’ run, stories were serialized across only four days, with the Friday program dedicated to a separate story, told by Liz Harris, about toys which come to life in a toyshop when the owner was absent. Liz, herself, played a rag doll, Max Bartlett was a tin soldier, and John-Michael Howson played a glum clown, a portrayal which would inspire his Adventure Island character of Clown.
This show aired when I was very young & my most vivid memory of the show is the opening scene (below) with its pathetic television effect of the 60’s, the quivering, pixelated “magic circle”!
Watch an episode of The Magic Circle Club (1966)