Today’s most random of offerings goes back to the 1960s, when our television screens broadcast quite a number of foreign children’s programmes that had been dubbed into English—here are but three. . .
First up is Belle et Sébastien, a French production based on a novel by Cécile Aubry about a six year-old boy(Sébastien) and his Pyrenean Mountain dog (fairly obviously, Belle) who lived in a small village in the Alps, just inside the French border. The black and white show was broadcast in France between 1965 and 1970 and the dubbed version first appeared on British screens in 1967.
It was important to anglicise the title for the British audience and after hours of deliberation, the BBC’s translation department came up with Belle and Sebastian; presumably they were given the afternoon off work to recover from the mental exertion.
Cécile Aubry (born Anne-José Madeleine Henriette Bénard in Paris during 1928) was also an actress and director as well as a writer. She married Si Brahim El Glaoui, a Moroccan prince and their son Mehdi played the part of Sébastien —something you’ve always wanted to know. . . .
Another French production during that decade was The Adventures of Robinson Crusoe—the dubbed version of which was first shown in Britain during 1965. The lead character was played by actor Robert Hoffman (and dubbed by Lee Payant), but whilst I can’t readily recall much of the programme itself, the haunting melody of the theme tune certainly sticks in the mind.
The same is also true of The White Horses, a series co-produced in Germany and the former Yugoslavia. The series was called Počitnice v Lipici in Slovenian and Ferien in Lipizza in German. The literal translation is “Holidays in Lipica”—which is a Slovenian village situated close to the Italian border—and follows a teenage girl Julia (played by Helga Anders) who leaves her home in Belgrade to spend a holiday on a stud farm run by her uncle.
I would have thought that many of my generation would recognise the theme and maybe even be able to sing some of the words—although not necessarily in tune: “Where the clouds are made of candy floss, as the day is born; when the stars are gone, we’ll race to meet the dawn.
“On white horses, snow white horses let me ride away. . . ."
The title song White Horses was credited to “Jacky” and was performed by Jackie Lee. The record reached the top ten in 1968 and three years later, she charted again with Rupert, the theme tune to The Adventures of Rupert Bear.
Things didn’t pan out quite so well for Helga Anders though; she suffered problems with drink and drugs and died from
heart failure in 1986, aged just 38.
That’s just about it for now, except to leave you with the mother of all questions relating to a dubbed 1960s cartoon. The programme was called 海底少年マリン in the series’ mother tongue: but what was it known as in English?