Created at the tail end of the 1970’s, but repeated many a time on ITV’s lunchtime kids schedules, Chorlton and the Wheelies was a stop motion animated series with a catchy theme song that was all about the exploits of Chorlton the Happiness Dragon, and his friends the Wheelies from the imaginatively named “Wheelie World”.
Chorlton was a big orange dragon with a multicoloured hat who lived with the Wheelies as their protector from the nasty Fenella, the Kettle Witch. He was called the Happiness Dragon because he was always able to look on the bright side and see the best in people, even Fenella, who was particularly annoyed by this. Chorlton had a great northern accent, and would generally say “Ay-up lad” at least once in every episode. His other catchphrase was “‘Ello Little Ol’ Lady”, in reference to Fenella, who hated it!
The Wheelies themselves were all fairly interchangable for the most part. Basically heads with two wheelies either side and a further smaller wheel at the back, the main two that accompanied Chorlton were Zoomer, the fastest of the wheelies, and Jenny. Other notables were King Otto and Queen Doris, and the Chamberlain, who would always come over and spoil the phone with a lot of legal and political mumbo jumbo.
Fenella was the most hilarious character though. Constantly annoyed, she was green skinned and hook nosed, as a witch should be. She also spoke in a Welsh accent, constantly shouting “Oooh, you stupid dragon” whenever Chorlton innocently wrecked her plans. Fenella lived in Spout Hall, an old metal kettle, with her cronies Reilly the telescope and Claptrap von Spilldabeans the spellbook. She also had a son called Clifford, who was a giant, and you only ever saw his foot and the bottom of his leg. Sadly, we don’t know who Clifford’s father was…
Apart from the think Welsh accent, the best thing about Fenella was the way she travelled around. Instead a walking or perhaps flying on a broomstick, she would disappear straight down into the ground, popping up and back down again in various places until she got where she wanted to be. Each reappearance of Fenella was accompanied by a wonderful sound, which is impossible to describe other than as “Mmmwow”.
Chorlton still makes me laugh today, but you really have to see it to appreciate how weird and wacky it all was. Luckily, all three series are available to buy on DVD, so there’s no reason not to get reacquainted with Chorlton and his chums.