Evidence that we live in clichéd times is everywhere about us, but I didn’t think it would extend to The Magic Roundabout. The new film, for which several of my colleagues have recently been recording the title music, is being trailed as follows: ‘The Magic Roundabout lies in ruins: the evil ice sorcerer ZeBadDee is on the loose and the fate of the Enchanted Land hangs in the balance. As a frosty mist sweeps across the earth, four unlikely heroes, Brian, Ermintrude, Dylan and Dougal, step forward to challenge the chill…The destiny of the world rests on their shoulders. Only through teamwork, friendship and exceptional bravery will they deliver the Enchanted Land from a frozen fate.’
The Magic Roundabout in ruins? Is everything to be turned into a grotesquely obvious struggle between good and evil, which will always be won by teams of ‘lovable characters’ living out the homey values of the re-elected US President? Soon we shall be told that Brian has ‘gone that extra mile’ to save his companions (or is it the whole world?); and Ermintrude was ‘there for’ Dougal when in extremis. Looking back on The Magic Roundabout as it used to be, with its gentle hippiness and psychedelic colours, I begin to understand just how desperate the makers of these films must have become in recent years, to find established scenarios from the past in which to anchor their nonsense. They daren’t quite make it all up from scratch. Mind you, to be fair, I have no idea what the British did to the French original back in the Sixties.
Tangled in my mind with this is the news, reported in a recent edition of the Economist, that classical music is being used to disperse vagrants from public places.