Willo the Wisp

Starring (voice): Kenneth Williams
Silva Screen
RRP: 7.99
SSVE 4006
Certificate: U
Available 31 October 2005

On 14 September 1981 the BBC launched a new animated series in the 5:35 PM slot before the evening news.
Willo The Wisp followed in the footsteps of The Magic Roundabout and Hector's House, a children's series whose appeal spread to the adult population. Created by Nick Spargo and voiced by the genius of Kenneth Williams the show became an instant hit and over the years has become firmly established as a children's (and adult's) TV classic...

Willo the Wisp needs no introduction. It's a timeless animated classic which both adults and children of all ages will enjoy. This DVD release includes all 26 episodes which have been remastered from the original films.

The result was well worth the wait. I haven't seen this show since it was first broadcast on the BBC back in the early '80s and I was a little unsure as to whether I'd enjoy watching it again. I was pleasantly surprised to find that, if anything, I actually found it more entertaining as an adult (albeit a rather childish adult).

While I've long thought that Kenneth Williams was a comedy god, his work on Willo the Wisp leaves no doubt about his comedic talents. In fact, at times, I found it hard to believe that he provided all the voices.

I also noticed that one of the trees, which appears in the background throughout the series, looked an awful lot like a bottom. Whether this was intentional or not is unclear (although I doubt it for a prime time children's show) but surely someone would have noticed this. Maybe it's just me being all Freudian.

Classic episodes in this series include the episodes where Arthur builds his own chrysalis (out of wood) in order to help him change into a moth; an explanation of how The Beast became The Beast; an episode in which Evil Edna walks around naked; and the tale in which Arthur gets the Midas touch.

The only negative aspect of this disc is the unforgivable fact that the DVD producers have rather clumsily tagged a five minute advertisement for the new Willo the Wisp series to the start of the "Play All" section. Surely this should have been included in the "Extras" section.

Talking of extras, besides the ad for the new series, we also get a 9 minute British Gas public information film from 1975. This was the first animation produced starring Willo the Wisp and is an explanation on how gas finds its way from the North Sea to our living rooms.

What more could you ask for for £8? Willo the Wisp fans will have a gas with this fantastic release.

Nick Smithson

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