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'Turn that telly down!'

By Black Country Bugle User  |  Posted: May 08, 2008

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THROUGHOUT history the home has been filled with the sound of entertainment, from the self taught musician to the latest in pop recordings.

There were those who played a penny whistle or harmonica to enthral and delight, or tickled the ivories to the accompaniment of a crackling fire, which illuminated the smiles of those listening. Then the wireless hissed from the top of the side board and brought the big band sound into our homes, to be followed by the sound of the goggle box and its modern stereo surround sound which has the ability to make buildings rock at their very foundations. The younger generation seem to be able to take these modern developments in their stride, but for the majority of us it's a case of, "turn that TV down!"

But in the not too distant past weren't we also scolded by our parents for having the TV too loud? Alan Keeling has brought to our attention a programme which some of us might well have turned the volume up for; Tales of the Wizard of Oz. It was an American animated TV cartoon series produced in a rather abstract style with Picasso-like backgrounds, by Crawley Films for Videocraft Incorporated and loosely based on L. Frank Baum's book, The Wizard of Oz. One-hundred and fifty cartoons were made in 1961, featuring characters such as Dandy the Cowardly Lion, Rusty the Tin Man, Socrates the Straw Man, the Wicked Witch of the West, Dorothy with Toto, the Munchkins, and lastly the Wizard, voiced by Carl Banas, whose vocal chords sounded similar to the veteran film comedian W. C. Fields.

Episode titles included 'The Wisdom Teeth,' 'The Witch Switch', 'Balloon Buzz', and 'The Magic Hat'. As with all good US TV cartoons there was also a catchy theme song. Feel free to join in if you can remember it:

"We're three sad souls, oh me oh my, no brains, no heart, he's much too shy. But never mind you three, here's the Wizard as you can see. He'll fix that one, two, three, in the funny place known as the world of Oz. Oh the world of Oz is a very funny place, where every one has a very funny face. All the streets are paved with gold, and no one ever grows old, in that funny land lived the Wizard of Oz."

The series production was by Arthur Rankin Junior and Jules Bass, who made many other cartoons for US TV in the 1960s. In England ABC TV screened the series on Saturday afternoons at 5.15 pm in 1962 as a replacement for The Bugs Bunny Show. Later on the cartoons were shown as single segments during the very popular ATV Tingha and Tucker Club.

Whilst we're on the subject, Mr Hackett from Rowley Regis has replied to one of Alan's earlier articles about Ben Casey, and whether he was ever shown on Midlands TV:

"I hope these brief details are of use. ABC broadcast in the Midlands from 18-2-56 until 28-7-68, and ATV from 17-2-56 until 31-12-81. As regards Granada, they served mainly the north of England, although I'm not quite sure whether they transmitted in the Midlands during weekends. Even if they didn't I suppose it was technically possible to have tuned into their service because of freakish reception conditions. I'm sure Bugle readers will provide the definite answer in the future, but in the meantime Alan, keep your interesting articles about the old film and TV series rolling in."

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