in, we'll take you for a spin,
and show you round the Wheelie World..."
World is a strange place. The majority of the inhabitants are nothing
more than heads on wheels - indeed three wheels,
to be precise, rather like a
tricycle... only backwards. Jolly Zoomer, Jenny, King
Otto, Queen Doris and The
Minister are usually to be found freewheeling about
the kingdom. But not when
we first meet them - oh no - because when we first
encounter the Wheelies
they and their kingdom is actually swathed in a
magic blanket of gloom and
despair, with the Wheelies themselves deep in a
trancelike state because
Fenella the fez-wearing evil welsh Kettle Witch
has put an end to their fun.
The narration tells us everything:
"On that particular day the Land Of The Wheelies
looked the way it
had done since the early close of day before Micklemas -
But then something happened:
then, on that particular day, quite suddenly there was... egg."
Inside this spotty egg is Chorlton, the magical
Happiness Dragon. He's as daft
as a brush and speaks in a broad Yorkshire accent.
Chorlton is immune to
Fenella's magic and he quickly dispells the gloom
and doom covering Wheelie
World, much to her continued chargrin. From then on,
whenever she or her cronies
try to intefere with the Wheelies, Chorlton is there
to protect them - not that he's
entirely aware of his abilities!
"Chorlton and the Wheelies" ranks very
highly on the list of cult cartoon
favourites from the seventies, and it's no surprise.
It's bright and jolly, with
some terrific design and voicework. As well as chorlton's
and Fenella's wild Welshness, we have her cronies
Reilly the "Oirish" telescope,
Claptrap von Spilldabeans her talking Germanic spellbook,
and The Toadies
who gabble in Milligan-esque Chinese. Fenella herself
is fab. When she gets
enraged (frequently) she blobs up and down, disappearing
through the floor of her home Spout Hall...
The main dwelling area of Wheelie World consists of several
short ramps between levels and the occasional helmet
house for the more
important wheelies. Nut and bolt pylons decorate
the exterior, and surrounding
this "town" is a forest of sparkplug trees
which take us over to the Sadlands,
a place festooned with urchin-like trees. Perched on
a outcrop overlooking these
spines is the black kettle castle of Spout Hall.
Chorlton appears in his egg in the very first episode,
"Happiness Is Hatched".
No one is quite sure where this egg came from, even
the narrator is nonplussed:
"No use asking where it came from.
To this day nobody knows..."
Stamped on the inside of this egg are the words
"Made in Chorlton-cum-Hardy".
So the Wheelies name him Chorlton. Chorlton-cum-Hardy
is actually in
Manchester, and it just happens to be the headquarters
for the series
producers Cosgrove Hall...
When interviewed for Channel 4's round-up of the
Top 100 Kids Shows in 2001,
writer Brian Trueman revealed the problems they
had with some overseas
markets when they spied that the cooky spellbook
Claptrap was decorated
with the Star of David!...
Watching the series again on DVD, you can freeze-frame
and see how the
'skin' of the models is actually quite fragile.
You can clearly see the wire
skeleton poking out of the ends of the fingers,
or revealed on the limbs.
Wheelie World is also quite rough in construction,
with scuff marks and nicks
on the scenery. It all adds to the charm of the
You should also watch out for the arrival of Clifford,
Fennella's gormless son. He's
a giant and is revealed as one single extra-large
boot and leg, much like a Monty
Python foot. Whenever he shows up Wheelie World is shaken down.
makers simply rock their camera to achieve the effect,
and as they do so we
actually move off-set for a frame-or-two!
Three colourful Chorlton series were produced in
all, together with a Christmas
and the Ice World...
and the Iceworld (special)
Happiness is Hatched
and the Face Fungus
Happiness is Dragon-Shaped
the Happiness Dragon
Chorlton says it with Flowers
Doris' Silver Jubilee
The Lost Wheelie Chorlton
and the Spinning Spell
Chorlton and the Crime Wave The
Day the Lights Went Out
Chorlton gets his Wheels Free-Wheeling
The Great Drought Hop,
Skip and Crunch
The Wheel Hockey Derby Hide
Many Happy Returns
The Dancing Lesson
The Day of the Grand Race Skateboard
When the Band Played on and on Some
Like it Hot
Chorlton's Gift of Happiness Royal
Wheelyworld Pipe Band
Up and Down Plants
and the Silence Spell
and the Singing Stones
Day of the See-Through Chorlton
and the Snow Dragon
and the Wheelies box set
2 / all 39 episodes + Iceworld / June 2006
2 / Fremantle / March 2001
2 / Fremantle / June 2001
2 / Fremantle / Sept 2001
Cosgrove Hall Productions Ltd
Cosgrove, Mark Hall
Cockle, Joe Dembinski