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Arthur and the Square Knights of the Round Table - Episode 35 (1972)

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clip The wrecker

This clip chosen to be G

Clip description

Sir Lancelot and King Arthur discover that the east wing of the castle is in need of repair, and after Lancelot accidentally knocks some more down, it needs to be demolished. Morgana has a very uncharacteristic moment of concern for the Black Knight’s dishpan hands before she sends him off once again to try and outwit King Arthur.

Curator’s notes

The strong link to vaudeville comedy is evident in this clip with the emphasis on puns, word plays and corny jokes. In this scene, Morgana’s (based on the mythical Morgan le Fay, the fairy half-sister of King Arthur) concern for the Black Knight is very unusual but it is necessary to set up the extremely corny joke that follows. Her response to bash the Black Knight on the head is typical of both the characters and the slapstick and farcical nature of the series. The comic verbal exchanges continue between Morgana and the Black Knight before he moves onto similar one-on-one banter with the dim-witted Sir Lancelot.

These scripts were written by a small team of writers, most notably the highly regarded Australian playwright and writer Alex Buzo (1944-2006) who was in his early 20s at the time, and comic entertainer Rod Hull (1935-1999). Hull later became well known in the UK during the 1970s and ’80s for his puppet character Emu, who physically attacked celebrities on television. Hull’s victims included Michael Parkinson, Johnny Carson and even the Queen Mother’s flower bouquet.

With a strong English focus, that was probably partly to do with the setting and subject matter of the story, the actors’ mellifluous voices are reminiscent of the time when ordinary Australian voices were not yet commonly heard on Australian television. Distinguished voice actors included the legendary John Meillon (1934-1989) as King Arthur, radio, TV and film actress Lola Brooks (On the Beach 1959) as Guinevere and Morgana, and veteran actor John Ewart (1928-1994) voicing other characters.

The music by Clare Bail is an interesting feature of the series. Here the scene opens with a tinkling harpsichord rendition of the popular English traditional song ‘An English Country Garden’.

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