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Chorlton and the Wheelies is an animated children's television series that ran from September 27, 1976 until December 18, 1978 with repeats continued until June 1979 on the British television channel ITV. It followed the adventures of Chorlton, a fictional happiness dragon, in Wheelie World.

Chorlton and the Wheelies was created by Cosgrove Hall Films for Thames Television and broadcast on the ITV network.

The eponymous lead character gets his name from the suburb of Manchester in which the Cosgrove Hall studio was based: the legend "Made in Chorlton-cum-Hardy" is found written on the inside of the egg from which he hatches in the very first episode of the series.

Synopsis[]

The series takes place in "Wheelie World", which is inhabited principally by the "wheelies", a race of anthropomorphic creatures who locomote by means of wheels. They have three wheels each: two large ones at the front (resembling feet), and a smaller centred one at the back (resembling a tail). The wheels are replaceable, and suitable wheels grow on vegetation found in Wheelie World.

The wheelie society is in conflict with Fenella the Kettle Witch, who speaks in a very strong Welsh accent and lives in Wheelie World but separately from the wheelies, in Spout Hall, an oversized kettle. Fenella hates happiness, and uses her powers primarily to make the wheelies unhappy. She has magical capabilities, including a form of teleportation which is her main mode of transport, and enchanted assistants including a magic book (called 'Claptrap Von Spilldebeans') and O'Reilly the Telescope, which advise her on magic spells. Minions include spikers (sinister looking objects like conker shells with baleful eyes, which roll everywhere) and toadies (pointed toadstools with similar eyes, which travel by bobbing through the ground as though it were water and who speak with a Chinese accent).

The wheelies have adopted into their society a "happiness dragon", Chorlton, who appears in Wheelie World at the very beginning of the series, hatching out of an egg. Chorlton is perpetually good-natured and perpetually clueless. For example, he fails to perceive Fenella as a villain, and affectionately refers to her as a "little old lady". Nevertheless, his presence negates the unhappiness magic, so the wheelies treat him as a hero. Despite being "Made in Chorlton-cum-Hardy" (Greater Manchester) he has a strong Yorkshire accent, although this is probably due to the voice talents of Joe Lynch more than any planning by Cosgrove Hall.

Plots are extremely simple, mainly revolve around Fenella's schemes to make the wheelies unhappy and Chorlton's accidental rectification of everything that goes wrong. Around these events, the characters' simple and exaggerated personalities are on show.

The idea of 'wheelies' came about after the difficulties of moving many different characters using stop-frame animation. Characters on wheels were easier to manipulate than those with legs that needed fractionally moving many times for each second of filming. Similarly, choosing teleportation as Fenella's principal means of transportation means that usually Chorlton is the only character whose walking needs to be animated.

The show was sold to numerous countries around the (non-Wheelie) world. However Israel declined to purchase it as a graphic artist mistakenly drew a Star of David instead of a Pentagram on the front of the German-accented spellbook, causing accusations of antisemitism towards the programme's creators.

Characters[]

The characters include, amongst others:

  • Chorlton the Happiness Dragon - where he goes happiness follows.
  • Fenella Fellorick the Kettle Witch - who does not like anyone to enjoy themselves.
  • Zoomer - a wheelie boy, notable for his speed of locomotion.
  • Jenny - a wheelie girl with blonde hair who fancies Chorlton.
  • King Otto and Queen Doris - The monarchy of Wheelieworld.
  • The Minister of wheel estate - the political wheelie, who bears a striking resemblance to Harold Wilson, who had recently been Prime Minister of the UK. His real name is revealed to be Arthur in season 3.
  • Claptrap von Spilldebeans - A German spellbook who often speaks in rhyme and comes up with Fenella's schemes.
  • O'Reilly the one eyed telescope - An Irish telescope that Fenella stole from the end of Dún Laoghaire East pier.
  • Clifford - Fenella's giant son, who is so tall the only part of him that ever is in shot is his leg.
  • Pablo Perdito - A world famous Latin American dancing duck.
  • Floyd - The only toady to have pink spots rather than green (first called by name in the series two episode "Toady Trouble" - possible hidden reference to the band Pink Floyd).

Trivia[]

  • Joe Lynch narrated the show as well as providing all the voices for the characters. The show's theme tune was written and sung by Joe Griffiths.

Theme Tune[]

The famous theme tune was composed by Joe Griffiths

The lyrics for both the intro and the outro:

Jump in we'll take you for a spin and show you round the Wheelie World.
Hop on, it's fun to come along and take a look at Wheelie World.
You'll be surprised how good it feels
To zoom around all day and wheel so merrily
With me
You don't need a ticket, for we'll take you round for free
And if you see the witch Fenella don't be worried,
'Cos there's no cause for alarm (ha ha ha ha!)
'Cos we've got Chorlton who's the dragon who will keep you free from harm (ho ho ho ho!)
It's fun at any time of year,
So put your wheels in second gear
Back to the top And hold tight
Alright?
We'll show you all the sights of Wheelie World!

Credits[]

  • Written by: Brian Trueman
  • Music: Joe Griffiths
  • Animation: Joe Dembinski, Jackie Cockle
  • Props: Chris Walker
  • Original Storyline: Jo Kemp
  • Camera: Jim Noble
  • Editing: Dave Street
  • Executive Producer: John Hambley
  • Produced by: Brian Cosgrove, Mark Hall
  • Directed by: Chris Taylor
  • Cosgrove-Hall Productions MCMLXXVI-MCMLXXIX

Episodes[]

Series 1 (1976)[]

  1. Happiness is Hatched
  2. Happiness is Dragon-Shaped
  3. Chorlton Says It With Flowers
  4. The Lost Wheelie
  5. Chorlton and the Crime Wave
  6. Chorlton Gets His Wheels
  7. The Great Drought
  8. The Wheel Hockey Derby
  9. Many Happy Returns
  10. The Dancing Lesson
  11. The Day of the Grand Race
  12. When The Band Played on and On
  13. Chorlton's Gift of Happiness

Series 2 (1977)[]

  1. The Up and Down Plants
  2. Toady Trouble
  3. Tyred Out
  4. Chorlton and the Silence Spell
  5. Chorlton and the Singing Stones
  6. Inside the Kettle
  7. The Day of the See-Through Chorlton
  8. Double Trouble
  9. Chorlton and the Keep-Fit Class
  10. The Wishing Tree
  11. Take Your Partners
  12. Octoblob
  13. Chorlton and the Snow Dragon
  14. Chorlton and the Iceworld

Series 3 (1978)[]

  1. Fenella and the Face Fungus
  2. Spot the Happiness Dragon
  3. Queen Doris' Silver Jubilee
  4. Chorlton and the Spinning Spell
  5. The Day the Lights Went Out
  6. Free-Wheeling Fenella
  7. Hop, Skip and Crunch
  8. Hide and Shriek
  9. Octoblob at Twilight
  10. Pablo's World
  11. Skateboard Special
  12. Some Like It Hot
  13. Royal Wheelie World Pipe Band
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