The Adventures of Sir Prancelot
Animated colour film series for BBC TV, 1972
This fondly remembered series by John Ryan for ‘children of all ages’ features the heroic medieval knight Sir Prancelot and his household. Fleeing from the bank manager, armed only with Prancelot’s ingenious inventions, they set out from Crumblecreek Castle on a road trip to the Holy Land. On the way they outwit their enemies Duke Uglio and Otto the Blot, overcome a storm at sea, fly in an air balloon, and cross the desert. The cast includes Lady Hysteria – Prancelot’s wife; their naughty children Sim and Sue; foot soldiers Bert and ‘Arry and the castle’s major-domo Girth.
Their adventures are narrated by Prancelot’s jester and punctuated by lute music, played by Alan Parker. Medieval ships, battles and battlements, catapults, cameras and camels, ghosts, mechanical horses – all 31 five-minute episodes are bursting with Ryan’s colourful scenery and beautifully executed artworks. Having recently completed the comparatively sedate Mary, Mungo and Midge series, Ryan splashed out on superb animations for each of Prancelot’s mechanical contraptions. Each scene was ingeniously constructed from layers of coloured card which was overpainted, jointed with pins and animated by hidden card levers. The versatile actor, the late Peter Hawkins supplied ALL the voices, as he did for the Captain Pugwash characters. Filming in 16mm camera was done by Bob Bura and the late John Hardwick.
First broadcast Mondays to Fridays through January and February 1972, The Adventures of Sir Prancelot delighted audiences. It was re-broadcast in the late 70s by Granada TV. Merchandising included posters, annuals, pop-out books, jigsaws, toiletries, wallpaper and craft kits, audio cassettes and VHS, occasionally available on Amazon.
On display in the exhibition: 4 original animation artworks, archival photos of production and filming of Sir Prancelot, and watercolour illustrations of character prototypes.
With thanks to:
The British Film Institute National Archive at Berkhamsted holds a small collection of original animations from this series.