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Magical Voices (2005)

Video  -  Documentary | Short  -  18 July 2005 (UK)
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The cast of The Magic Roundabout is interviewed about the new film, the original series and their thoughts on acting with their voice only.

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The cast of The Magic Roundabout is interviewed about the new film, the original series and their thoughts on acting with their voice only.

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Documentary | Short

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18 July 2005 (UK)  »

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This documentary short is featured on disc 1 of The Magic Roundabout 2-disc special edition. See more »

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References Keeping Up Appearances (1990) See more »

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A group session with the voice cast
26 September 2008 | by (Rijswijk, ZH, Netherlands) – See all my reviews

This collection of interviews is an extra on the main disc of The Magic Roundabout 2-disc edition, so you just know it's going to be something special. What they did was interview each cast-member (that's voice-actor in this case) separately, like they do during those open calls for the press and ask each one the same set of questions. The answers are then strung together one after another and in the same order each time so as not to make things to confusing. Luckily the cast is large enough for the editors to be able to delete one or two of the actors in case they give a particularly boring or uninteresting answer. For instance, Ian McKellen doesn't show up until a few questions in (and he's growing his beard back, bless him) and Jim Broadbent's replies are so dull that he is more often than not left out. Robbie Williams and Kylie Minogue are seen to answer almost every question, even though they don't always have a lot to say, while Joana Lumley and especially Bill Nighy always manage to make something out of even the most benign of answers. Lee Evans is his usual manic and annoying self of course, Ray Winstone looks very hairy and can't stop touching his Mr. Beaver beard and Tom Baker is idle enough to take off his glasses before each reply and hold them in his hand.

First of all, the cast is asked to share their memories of the original Magic Roundabout. Robbie admits that animation like Scooby Doo, Bagpuss, Mr. Ben and The Magic Roundaout used to scare him when he was little. Kylie's memories are equally vague. Joana knows it because her son watched it and Ray compares it to the 60s Batman for some reason. Then they are asked which character they liked best. Most of them naturally pick Dougal, but they all like their own characters too. Joana was shocked and delighted to be offered the part of Ermintrude. Ray and Bill really liked Dylan. Boring old Broadbent talks about being a snail and Lee lies about loving the train. When they are encouraged to go into further detail about their characters, Robbie reveals that Dougal is in fact addicted to sugar and a troublemaker. He then claims to be a lot like that himself. Kylie thinks Florence is so endearing, but then she's hardly in the film at all. Jim Broadbent doesn't have much to say about Brian the snail but Tom Baker relishes the part of the evil Genghis Khan version of Zebedee, Zeebad.

'Were you excited to be asked to do this' is the next question and Robbie really wears his heart on his sleeve here, explaining that despite getting numerous film offers, he's just not interested in acting at all. But, as he loves escapism of animation (at least now that he's grown up) he decided to say yes to this one. Then the poor guys says his voice work as Dougal will live forever. Little could he know his voice would be dubbed over even in other English speaking territories... Kylie somehow manages to mention having just finished a tour. Tom thought they were teasing him with his big booming voice when they asked him to play a little springy character. All the fun is in the middle register according to him, and I suspect he knows what he's talking about. Ian takes it in another direction and starts making thinly veiled references to other high profile parts he's played over the last ten years. But Bill has the art of selling a picture down to a tee and strings together words like 'faithful', 'cracking good' and 'a new generation' to good effect. Next up, the interviewer wants to know 'what it's like using your voice only'. Kylie is thankful for having a voice coach. Jim loves voice work and though he thinks he's done quite a lot of it over the years, he can't come up with any examples. Ian says acting is relating your imagination through yourself and talks about emotions and fanciful stuff such as that. Bill mentions his extensive BBC radio work but refrains from naming titles. Happy go lucky Lee likes to jump around in the recording booth and drive the sound guy mad. Typical.

When asked if any of them knew one another before working on this project, it turns out they all had worked with Jim Broadbent before in some way or another. Most of them have done something for Comic Relief in England and Kylie claims to have met them all except for Ray. Joana goes into some strange story of Robbie having some pictures of her and selling them along with most of his possessions for charity (?) Ian worked with Jim on a film 25 years ago and hosted SNL with Kylie as musical guest. He also introduced Robbie when he was still in Take That during a Royal Variety Performance. In other words, it's six degrees of the Magic Roundabout (or to be more precise, Jim Broadbent). The most difficult question is saved for last: 'what do you think is the magic behind The Magic Roundabout?' Robbie and Kylie both have trouble coming up with something for this one. Joana goes all dreamy and claims the series has 'nothing to do with this world at all, they hardly speak the same language'. For Ray it's the cleverness in the writing. Ian says the success came from being cunningly placed before the six o clock news. Bill Nighy concludes by saying that the world created by Serge Danot all those years ago had a certain kind of goodhearted innocence, and was never patronizing. He has the last word and as well he should, consummate pro that he is.

8 out of 10


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