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Toonhound presents...






British TV series

  Willo the Wisp

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   Willo the Wisp
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    producers: Nick Spargo for the BBC
    animation: cel animation
    episodes: 26 x 5mins



    Welcome to Doyley Woods, a strange place where overweight fairies, obstreperous
    caterpillars and spectacled cats rub shoulders with a maleficent walking, talking
    television set.

    That's right, a television.

    Doyley Woods is presided over by the gregarious blue spirit Willo the Wisp.
    It's Willo who introduces each short tale and ushers on stage Mavis Cruet the
    fairy, Arthur the caterpillar, a dog-cow type of jolly critter called the Moog, Car
    Wash the "Noel Coward" cat, the Astrognats who dwell in a magic toadstool,
    Twit the twitterpated birdie, and The Beast - who isn't actually a real beast at
    all, but Prince Hubert The Handsome transformed by Evil Edna's most wicked
    spell. Which leaves you wondering who Evil Edna is. Well, she's the television.
    And you'd better watch out for her spell-casting antennae!

    When ever those superflouos lists of "cult" tv shows are put together, you'll
    find "Willo the Wisp" lurking somewhere near the top. The show is fondly
    remembered for its eccentric characters, esoteric humour, and above all,
    its extravagant voicework by former Carry-on star, the late great Kenneth
    Williams. His versatile vocal chords lift Willo, Mavis, Arthur and the rest
    right off the screen and into our living rooms. Indeed, he is even immortalised
    in the animation...

   'The Gnome' - a Willo The Wisp book

    A supernatural show

    If you watch the series closely you'll unearth the following credit:

       "The Willo the Wisp character appears
        by permission of The British Gas Corporation..."

    That's because our waspish hero was actually born out of a Supernatural Gas
    advertsing campaign, produced for British Gas in the early 1970s. The campaign
    featured a flaming blue characture of Kenneth Williams, extolling the virtues
    of gas, and it was conceived by animator Nick Spargo. Nick's career began with
    Halas & Batchelor's groundbreaking version of Animal Farm. He set up his own
    company, Nicholas Cartoons in 1954 with his wife Mary, and their work centered
    upon advertising and information films.

    Nick found the germ of a series idea in that gas campaign, so he put together
    a host of off-kilter characters, and a setting in which they might all live. Williams
    agreed to loan his voice to the show, and so, a pilot was completed in 1978,
    and approved by the BBC. Unfortunately, i
t took four years of fund-raising efforts
    to eventually bring the series to our teatime TV screens, and in the intervening
    years, Nick was able to direct the Emmy-winning Bill Melendez production 
    of "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe".

   "Willo the Wisp" turned out to be a teatime tv smash. At its peak, 8million
    people were tuning into the show!

    Arthur caterpillar...

     Willo again

     Sadly, Nick Spargo died in 1997. But Willo lives on. Recently, Nick and
     Mary's daughter Bobbie Spargo has teamed up with Tim Hollier
to form
     Spargo Productions and they have re-conceived the series for a new
They have wisely opted not to tinker too much with the original
     concept and, in keeping with the spirit of the piece have even brought
     "Gimme, Gimme, Gimme" star James Dreyfus in as the new voice of Willo
     and friends. The all-new Willo the Wisp is indexed here!


     In the news

     The Hound: September 2003
     New Willo series in development...


      Willo the Wisp episodes

     The Bride-Groom               The Hot Hot Day
     Edna's Secret
     Food For Thought
             The Gnome
                          Boring Old Edna
     The Dragon
                     The "You Know What"
     The Wish-Bone
                The Bean-Stalk
     The Chrysalis
                   Cats And Dogs
     The Magnet
                    The Midas Touch
     Wugged Wocks
                The Viqueen
     The Flight of the Mavis
      The Potion
     The Thoughts of Moog
       The Beauty Contest
     The Joys of Spring
             Magic Golf
     Games With Edna
               Christmas Box


     Willo the Wisp on DVD

      UK DVD  Willo the Wisp: the Complete First Series
               All 26 episodes / R2 / October 2005


      devised and designed by Nick Spargo
      produced by Nicholas Cartoon Films Ltd

Nicholas Spargo
     animation:       Ron Murdoch
Mary Spargo
Tony Kinsey
Michael Crane
Chris King
      prod asst:           
Andrea Fontaine
      trace & paint:     
Lynne and Ian Sachs
           Kenneth Williams


     On the web

Willo the Wisp 
       Spargo Productions bring us the lowdown on the new re-conceived
       Willo series, the fab series pilot and plenty more besides...

       Jo's Willo the Wisp Pages
       Jo takes us back to the original series with two character guides
       (stars and lesser mortals), background info and the
       beginnings of an episode guide...
       Stop Messin' About
       This fine Kenneth Williams appreciation site features a Willo page
       in the "television" section, alongside as much actor info as you
       could possibly ask for...

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© The Spargo Sisters / F2006