Mary, Mungo & Midge TV 1969

Mary, Mungo and Midge


Midge with cheese

Midge at the cheese: original artwork: cardboard, gouache and Indian ink

John Ryan with Mungo and Mary

John Ryan in 1969 - pointing out the lever that will move Mungo’s eyes from right to left

Animated colour film series for BBC TV,1969

‘The pictures, about one hundred per episode, were built up with coloured paper and card, a technique which I found effective and time saving, and have used ever since.’  John Ryan in 1987.

This lively animation featured a little girl called Mary, her dog Mungo and her inquisitive pet mouse Midge. Set in the modern world of 1969, they lived in a new tower block in a busy town – an unusual setting for children’s television at the time. Aimed at smaller children, typical adventures included a visit to a clock repairer, a funfair, a hospital, and a printer’s shop. In one episode Midge went up in a crane on a building site, an event which Ryan researched by ascending a crane himself, much to his wife’s trepidation.


‘A town is full of buildings, some tall, some short, some wide and some narrow... do you live in a town?’ Detail from original card and gouache-painted animation still: used as introduction shot for all 13 TV episodes

This was Ryan’s first film made for colour TV. Assisted by his two studio helpers, he used his ‘live’ animation technique, invented by him in the late 1950s for the first Captain Pugwash TV series: flat card cut-outs overpainted with gouache, with all movements of characters’ arms, legs, eyes and mouths manually controllable by out-of-shot levers. As colour TV had not reached every home in 1969, each colour animation had to be checked for its appearance on a black and white set. Mary, Mungo and Midge merchandising products included badges, annuals and  jigsaws. The series was released on VHS in 1998, and then on DVD in 2001 by Contender Ltd.

Mary, Mungo and Midge ‘Watch With Mother’: first broadcast 7 October – 30 December 1969; 13 episodes of 15 minutes; story by Daphne Jones; voices by Richard Baker with Isabel Ryan (yes, that’s me!); music by the late Johnny Pearson; recorded at United Motion Pictures, London; camera (16mm) by Bob Bura and the late John Hardwick, London.

On display in the exhibition: 4 original artworks including ‘townscape’ to right.

With thanks to:

Toonhound and Little Gems – both invaluable online resources for those seeking further information.

The British Film Institute National Archive at Berkhamsted holds a small collection of original animations from this series.