Animal Magic is yet another example of a BBC children’s TV show that ran for absolutely ages. Â It first came on air in 1962 and lasted 21 years, finishing in 1983. Â It came to an end because the BBC deemed it “not educational enough” which considering it was a programme telling kids about different kinds of animals I find quite amusing.
The programme will forever be linked to two things. Â One is Bristol Zoo, where a lot of segments were filmed, although Bristol Zoo was not the only place used. Â The other link is the late Johnny Morris, who was the main presenter of the show and the reason many watched. Â Most often dressed as a zookeeper he would introduce various animals, but more importantly would provide voices for them too, which always seemed to match the animals perfectly.
Johnny would have little conversations with the animals, for want of a better word considering he was doing all the actual talking, asking them how they felt about things and the animals replying with very humanised responses. Â I particularly liked the more stuck up animals, who would almost treat Johnny with contempt as he asked them what they thought were stupid questions.
Over the years Johnny was assisted in presenting the show by many others who went on to become very respected presenters in the world of natural history television. Â Tony Soper was one, who co-founded the BBC’s natural history unit and still does voice overs for National Geographic shows today, but for eighties kids the one you may remember best was Terry Nutkins, or just plain old Nutkins as he was often called.
Terry was a long haired young man when he started on Animal Magic, but by the time he became lead presenter on The Really Wild Show, the programme that replaced Animal Magic, he was now the knowledgable elder, still with long hair although it was now disappearing from the top of his head. Â Though it was a great shame that Animal Magic had to come to an end, at least there was some comfort in the fact that The Really Wild Show was actually a very good replacement, educational yet entertaining at the same time.
A couple of video clips then. Â This first one features Nutkins talking about good old Johnny, and has some classic clips from the show including the brilliant bit with elephants squirting Johnny and a crowd of onlookers with water from the shows old black and white days.
This second clip is the intro sequence to the show, which I had to include simply because of the incredibly funky theme song that Animal Magic had.