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Whirligig

1 9 5 0 – 1 9 5 6 (UK)
Approx. 110 x 60 minute episodes

Debuting on 25 November 1950, this fortnightly Saturday afternoon variety show (it alternated every other week with Telescope) was the first such show designed especially for the short-trousered crowd and was initially presented by puppeteer Humphrey Lestocq (“Goody goody gumdrops”) and his obnoxious wooden companion, Mr Turnip (pictured above) who addressed Lestocq as “HL”.

turnip_whirlygig

Over the seasons the bill included the animated Hank Rides Again (a kind and carefree cowboy and his buck-toothed hoss, Silver King); Box of Tricks with magician Geoffrey Robinson; Room For Music with Steve Race on the piano; The Sooty Show with Harry Corbett; and – in his TV debut – Rolf Harris (with Willoughby, an easel that sprang to life).

Also featured on the show was the pioneering British Sci-Fi serial Stranger From Space – featuring human teenager Ian Spencer (Brian Smith) and his Martian friend Bilaphodorus (Michael Newell) – known as “Bill” – who had crashed his spaceship on Earth.

Seeking help from Professor Bernard Watkins (Richard Pearson) who is working on an atomic rocket project, they succeed in helping Bill to return to Mars, where he discovers that the Martian leader, Gorgol (Valentine Dyall) is planning an invasion of Earth.

In the second series, pilot John Armitage (John Gabriel) and radio specialist Pamela Vernon (Isabel George) help overthrow the evil Gorgol.

Other segments at various times included Can We Help You?; Mr Lumber’s Shop (a four-part story starring John Le Mesurier); Full Fathom Five; In Search of The Shadow; Magic and Mischief; Big Top; Lost Property; Colonel Crock; Write It Yourself (a play-writing competition); Out Of The Blue; Secrets of the Centuries and The Highwayman’s Bargain.

The show was devised and produced by Michael Westmore. Among the writers were Peter Ling and Hazel Adair, later to create Crossroads.

Presenter
Humphrey Lestocq (HL)
Mr Turnip (Puppeteer)
Joy Laurey
Mr Turnip (voice)
Peter Hawkins
Hank the Cowboy (voice)
Francis Coudrill
Geoffrey Robinson
Himself (magician)
Steve Race
Himself (piano)
Rolf Harris
Himself (artist)
Patricia Driscoll
Herself
Brian Burton
John Benson
Anne Osborne
Marise Hepworth
Bobby Osborne
Michael Nicholls
Mrs Inskip
Kathleen St. John
Bilaphodorus
Michael Newell
Ian Spencer
Brian Smith
Professor Bernard Watkins
Richard Pearson
John Armitage
John Gabriel
Pamela Vernon
Isabel George
Gorgol
Valentine Dyall
Clibber
James Ottaway
Sly
Raymond Rollett
Captain Kennedy
Geoffrey Hibbert
Bobbin
Philip Coral
Sammy Smith
Clive Dunn
Charlie Carter
Reginald Dyson
Mister Maggs
Edward Andrewes
Mr Deering
James Drake
Mrs Deering
Louise Gainsborough
Jeremy
Colin Gibson
Mr Pumfrey
Victor Platt
Malanga
Errol John
Dick Turpin
John Franklyn
Nobby Noble
Edwin Ellis
Captain Lacey
Kenneth Brown
Ada Gomm
Hilda Fenemore
Mary Girling
Valerie Forrest
Ben Girling
Thomas Conniffe
John Girling
Frederic Steger
Commander Farrell
Philip Dale
General Standish
James Raglan
Peter Pride
Peter Scott
Emmy Spinks
Carole Lorimer