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Wanderly Wagon facts for kids

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Wanderly Wagon
Wanderly Wagon title card.jpg
Title card (1979)
Genre Children's television, science fiction, fantasy
Created by
  • Eugene Lambert
  • Don Lennox
Starring
  • Bill Golding
  • Eugene Lambert
  • Nora O'Mahoney
  • Fran Dempsey
  • Frank Kelly
Voices of Frank Kelly
Composer(s) Jim Doherty
Country of origin Ireland
Production
Producer(s)
  • John Lynch
  • Tom McArdle
Release
Original network RTÉ
Original release 30 September 1967 (1967-09-30) – 1982 (1982)
Chronology
Related shows Fortycoats & Co.

Wanderly Wagon is an Irish children's television series which aired on RTÉ from Saturday 30 September 1967 until 1982.

Plot

Wanderly Wagon followed human and puppet characters as they travelled around Ireland visiting interesting locations, rescuing Princesses and generally doing good. The original premise of the show expanded to follow the characters to magical lands of Irish mythology, and into outer space. The Wagon could fly, and using chroma key effects, the Wagon was shown hovering in mid-air, landing in various magical lands, and even traveling underwater.

Characters

  • Rory - originally the lead character. Played by stage actor Bill Golding. Golding left the series in its middle years.
  • O'Brien - a bumbler played by Eugene Lambert, who was also the puppeteer and ventriloquist for some of the animal characters. Other voices were provided by puppeteer members of the Lambert family.
  • Godmother - a sensible mother-figure played by Nora O'Mahoney.
  • Judge - a dog. He was the voice of reason and good sense, a moral conscience to the rest of them (he also starred in television road safety advertisements). To this day, Judge is held in great affection by people who remember him - many of whom can still sing his song, "I Am the Flying Dog"
  • Fortycoats - a gruff, bearded character in a costume made of ragged swatches of many different materials, he owned a flying sweetshop. An occasional character who later had an eponymous spin-off show. Originally played by Bill Golding and later by Fran Dempsey.
  • Mr Crow - a crow who lived in a cuckoo clock. Crow was a sarcastic fellow with a cutting sense of humour.
  • Foxy - a fox who lived in a barrel on the side of the wagon and spoke with an American gangster style accent.
  • Doctor Astro - a recurring villain played by Frank Kelly
  • Sneaky Snake - Doctor Astro's sidekick, also voiced by Frank Kelly
  • Maeve the Witch - a mischievous witch, whose attempts at villainy always ended in failure
  • moon mice - four mice who lived in the attic.
  • squirrels - two squirrels.

Production

Wanderly Wagon
The Wanderly Wagon in 2010

Don Lennox and Eugene Lambert came up with the idea of Wanderly Wagon along with Jim O'Hare. O'Hare was recalling a recent family holiday spent on a horse drawn caravan in County Cork. Lennox became the first producer of Wanderly Wagon and O'Hare designed the wagon and the show's costumes.

In the early years of the show, each episode was recorded live, and as such there was no editing. If there was a mistake, it would either have to be left in or the whole episode would have to begin shooting again from the start. In addition, boom mics were not in use and each actor had to be fitted with a hidden microphone on a trailing wire, which restricted movement around the set.

Various episodes were written by Neil Jordan, Carolyn Swift, Pat Ingoldsby, Martin Duffy and Frank Kelly, who also played several characters on the show.

The series developed a tradition of transmitting a Christmas Day show from a Dublin children's hospital every year. The original Wanderly Wagon used in the making of the show is on display at Tinahely Farm Shop in County Wicklow. The smaller replica of the Wanderly Wagon used when filming the opening scenes of Wanderly Wagon is on display in The Little Museum of Dublin on St. Stephen's Green in Dublin.

Spin-offs

The character of Fortycoats was given his own show, Fortycoats & Co., played by Fran Dempsey. In the show Fortycoats is accompanied by two companions; Sofar Sogood (played by Conal Kearney), a prim goody two shoes character, and Slightly Bonkers (played by Virginia Cole), a naive schoolgirl. They traveled in the Flying Tuck Shop doing good, and battling the evil Whilomena the Whirligig Witch and The Pickarooney.

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