The Magic Ball

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Same looks puzzled

Childhood memories are often the strongest. One of mine is the opening of this TV show. I recall a quaintly drawn seaside town, and then the interior of a shop.It's full of all manner of things. Each week Sam would look at an object in his Aunty Mill's shop. His imagination would be stirred and the magic ball that he always carried would whisk him off on an adventure.

The animation was basic but very effective. I was always amused by the way the baddies would get angry and jump up and down waving their arms... Well, it was funny at the time.

I've looked around on the web and found a few bits of information:

Brian Cosgrove and Mark Hall go back a long way - all the way to Manchester's Regional College Of Art in the late 1950s. Mark graduated in 1957 and Brian 12 months later.

In the 1960s they worked as graphic designers for Granada TV. In 1971 Mark left to form Stop Frame Animations, and Brian joined him a year later. Their first production, Sam and The Magic Ball was an award-winning series said to have been filmed in Brian's garden shed. www.toonhound.com


Magic Ball AnnualThe ever-useful Tv Cream comments Often more wilfully psychedelic in the execution...with extended pans across acid-infused landscapes to abstract electronic burblings aplenty. All but lost now, but well worth a book...

Episode Guide

John Archbold has supplied us with an episode guide:

Series 1

  • 5/1/71 - The Story Of The Caveman
  • 12/1/71 - The Story Of The Princess In The Castle
  • 19/1/71 - The Story Of The Chimney Sweep
  • 26/1/71 - The Story Of The Six Winged Lions
  • 2/2/71 - The Story Of The Highwayman
  • 9/2/71 - The Story Of The Circus
  • 16/2/71 - The Story Of The Weathermaker
  • 23/2/71 - The Story Of The Chimpanzee
  • 2/3/71 - The Story Of The Grandfather Clock
  • 9/3/71 - The Story Of The Toy Soldier
  • 16/3/71 - The Story Of The Flying Carpet (found on Youtube)
  • 23/3/71 - The Story Of The Cowboy And The Indian
  • 6/4/71 - The Story Of The Pirates


Series 2

  • 19/9/72 - The Story Of The Mountie
  • 26/9/72 - The Story Of The Nervous Bagpipes
  • 3/10/72 - Under The Sea
  • 10/10/72 - The Story Of The Giant
  • 17/10/72 - The Story Of The Strange Planet
  • 24/10/72 - The Story Of The Knight And The Dragon
  • 31/10/72 - The Story Of The Hunter
  • 7/11/72 - The Story Of The Bee
  • 14/11/72 - The Story Of The Drawing Book
  • 21/11/72 - The Story Of The Eskimo
  • 28/11/72 - The Story Of The City Of Machines
  • 5/12/72 - The Story Of The Comic Book
  • 12/12/72 - The Story Of The Witch

The show was reported to have been repeated on Little Gems mentioned on his message board that a visitor suggested that the show had been repeated with a comedy show shown by the BBC on a Sunday lunch time in 2002. Searches on the net suggest that the show in question was PyjamaParty (UK series).

In July 2005 clips from the show appeared in Those Were The Days, a series that looked back through the Granada Archives.

Thanks to the lovely people at TVARK we can view the opening and closing credits for the show. They list the following crew:

Magic Ball on VHS

  • Backgrounds: Valarie Pownall
  • Story: Gerald Hagan
  • Written and Narrated by Eric Thompson
  • Dubbing Mixer: Peter Walker
  • Animated and Directed by Brian Cosgrove
  • Granada Television International

Aunt MayIn July 1983 six episodes were released on


(Ref. GVE 823010). This was made up of the following episodes: The Story of the Princess in the Castle, The Story of the Caveman, The Story of the Chimney-Sweep, The Story of the Six Winged Lions, The Story of the Grandfather Clock.

And then the wonderfull folks at Network DVD released series one in 2007

Badly Drawn Boy?

I was amused to find that the show gave Badly Drawn Boy the idea for his stage name: According to Damon, This guy was dead pissed off because, not only was he a drawing, but he was a shit drawing too. He wasn't even a good one. And I like That, the underdog thing, that idea of achieving something from nothing.

I don't think Sam ever looked pissed off. He always seemed to stay very charm and level headed whatever the situations. Kind of like James Bond in shorts and a school cap.

For lots of great images, sound files and information regarding the show check out Little Gems: Magic Ball page.

Magic Ball Annual 1973