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1   Unknown  
1970   1968  

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Robert Harbin ...
 Himself - Presenter (4 episodes, 1970)
Yasuko Nagazumi ...
 Herself - Assistant (3 episodes, 1970)
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16 September 1968 (UK)  »

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Featured in 100 Greatest TV Moments from Hell (2000) See more »

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Paper Magic
7 December 2009 | by (Ambrosia) – See all my reviews

'Origami' is the Japanese art of paper folding. You start with a small piece of coloured paper, fold it this way and fold it that way, and when you have finished ( hopefully ) have something resembling an animal, person or object. It was also the subject of an I.T.V. series in the late '60's/early '70's, hosted by master illusionist Robert Harbin. 'Origami' went out in the late afternoons, meaning I used to catch it just as I came home from school.

The ten-minute show made relaxing viewing, rather like Tony Hart's paintings in 'Vision On'. You sat there hypnotised as Harbin proceeded to make ingenuous little sculptures out of paper. He possessed a manner that was simultaneously hypnotic and frustrating; hypnotic because you liked what he was doing, but frustrating because you were brassed off that you yourself could not do it!

The show earned itself a half-page in the popular children's comic 'Look-In' ( giving instructions on how to do your own Origami ) and Woolworths ( oh Woolworths, how I miss you ) sold packs of special 'Origami' paper ( which was really ordinary paper repackaged to cash in on the series' name, and which only mugs bought, and before you ask, yes, I was one of them ). Try as I may, I never could match any of Harbin's creations. My attempt to do an 'Origami' Concorde, to give an example, came out looking like the Hindenberg.

Let's be frank about the show - it was cheap television, pure and simple. But there's cheap television and then there's cheap television. Watching Harbin make beautiful models from paper was far more interesting than watching idiots argue amongst themselves in a fake house full of cameras and mikes.

On Channel 4's 'The 100 Greatest Moments Of T.V. Hell' in 2000, 'Origami' was given an honorary mention. The general attitude on display was: "Ha ha ha! Paper folding on television! Can you believe it!". Well, yes, I do believe it, and what's more I'm not ashamed to say I rather enjoyed it. The apparent criminality of a programme starring a gifted man who could make nice things out of nothing baffles me. When Simon Cowell starts making celebrities out of rubbish on 'The X Factor' I'll start to understand what the fuss is all about. Wait a minute, hasn't he been doing that already?


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