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Toonhound presents...






British TV series
     Chorlton the Happiness Dragon

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    Chorlton and
   the Wheelies
    (1976 - 1979)
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producers: Cosgrove Hall Productions Ltd
                       for Thames Television
stop-motion animation
       SERIES ONE               SERIES THREE
       1976 / 13 x 12mins       1979 / 13 x 12mins

       1977 / 13 x 12mins
      1977 / 30min special

   "Jump in, we'll take you for a spin,
    and show you round the Wheelie World..."


Wheelie 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 - fast asleep
    and miserable!"

   But then something happened:

    "And 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!
     Fenella The Kettle Witch   

   By 'eck!

   "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 "Halifax" inflection,
   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 and reappearing
   through the floor of her home Spout Hall...

   The main dwelling area of Wheelie World consists of several terraces with
   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 show...

   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. The film
   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
   special, Chorlton and the Ice World...


     See also

     Chorlton and the Iceworld (special)


Episode titles

    Series one                                  Series three
    Happiness is Hatched                     
Fenella and the Face Fungus 
    Happiness is Dragon-Shaped           
Spot the Happiness Dragon
    Chorlton says it with Flowers          
Queen 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 Fenella
    The Great Drought                        
Hop, Skip and Crunch
    The Wheel Hockey Derby                
Hide and Shriek  
    Many Happy Returns                      
Octoblob at Twilight
    The Dancing Lesson                       
Pablo's World
    The Day of the Grand Race             
Skateboard Special
    When the Band Played on and on     
Some Like it Hot
    Chorlton's Gift of Happiness             
Royal Wheelyworld Pipe Band

    Series two                               
The Up and Down Plants           
Toady Trouble
Tyred Out
Chorlton and the Silence Spell
Chorlton and the Singing Stones 
Inside the Kettle
The Day of the See-Through Chorlton
Double Trouble    
The Keep-Fit Class
The Wishing Tree
Take Your Partners
Chorlton and the Snow Dragon


     Chorlton on DVD

     UK DVD Chorlton and the Wheelies box set
Region 2 / all 39 episodes + Iceworld / June 2006

     UK DVD
Complete Series 1
                Region 2 / Fremantle / March 2001

     UK DVD Complete Series 2
                Region 2 / Fremantle / June 2001

     UK DVD Complete Series 3
                Region 2 / Fremantle / Sept 2001


     Cosgrove Hall Productions Ltd

     director:      Chris Taylor
     producers:   Brian Cosgrove, Mark Hall
     stories:        Jo Kemp
     scripts:        Brian Trueman
     music:         Joe Griffiths
     animators:   Jackie Cockle, Joe Dembinski
     camera:       Jim Noble
     editor:         Dave Street
     narrator:      Joe Lynch


     On the web

     Cosgrove Hall Ate My Brain
     Nyanko's index page is a suitably chilled and chorlting affair.
     Her design skills are fab. and always supported by splendid content
     and info...

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© Cosgrove-Hall Productions Ltd / F2007