Looking back at Round The Twist

Feature Carley Tauchert 24 Oct 2013 - 06:44

Carley salutes early 90s children's show Round the Twist, in the first of a regular new series looking back at kids' TV...

“Have you ever, ever felt like this?”

You know you are getting old when you begin to feel that you have witnessed an end of an era, and that’s exactly what it feels like with children’s television in the UK. Back in the 80s and 90s it felt that kid’s TV was really going through a golden age in the UK, with home-grown talent producing some amazing shows along with an influx of quality series from all over the world and on top of that the two biggest players in terrestrial television dedicated their afternoons to showing them.

Now in the digital TV age, kids have now been shafted to the lower numbered regions of cable and satellite television and your afternoons can be spent looking at antiques to your heart’s content, which is a sad but unfortunately unavoidable state of affairs. If you should find you way to the Nicks and CITVs of this world, you might be sad to see that apart from the fantastic Horrible Histories the output today is a bit, well horrible. This could be down to me now not fitting the demographic these stations are hoping to hit, but looking back at the shows I watched as a child, well I think they stand up far better than anything currently on the schedules.

So with that in mind I’ve decided to chuck on the rose tinted glasses and take a ride back into the archive of classic kids' TV shows and this week I’m starting with Round the Twist.


What’s it About?

Round the Twist was based around the lives of the Twist family who move into a haunted lighthouse in the small seaside town of Port Niranda in Australia. The various hauntings make up the major storyline for each season with smaller standalone stories making up the bulk of the episodes.


Why Did I/Why Should I Watch It?

In a nutshell, Round the Twist was a crazy mash up of comedy, horror, magic and absurdity. The main anchor of the series were the hauntings in the lighthouse and the evil Mr Gribble trying to steal the property from the family in one form or another. There were also the strange and supernatural goings on with babies coming out of Cabbage Patches, magic microwaved underpants and toxic smelly feet to name but a few; basically everything a kid would want in a television show.

Unlike Eerie Indiana or Are You Afraid of the Dark (other great shows which I will return to later in the series) the tales were not there to spook you so to speak, they were more surreal in part and even dare I say it Monty Python-esque – so completely over the top that they seemed completely normal.

Based on the short stories of Paul Jennings for the first two series, which in this writer's opinion were the best, the Twist children find themselves thrown into completely bizarre situations week in, week out and that is the joy of the show, you never know what is going to happen next and even the most creative of minds would struggle to come up with some of the situations that were played out. But the more absurd they were the better and add into that a lot of non-PC references (birth, death, nudity to name but a few) and you have the additional hit of Australian humour that is the icing on cake.

You really won’t find a more enjoyable, absurd or well put together twenty-five minutes in many other places.


Best Episodes


The Cabbage Patch Fib

Without My Pants

Copy Cat

Seeing the Light

Toy Love


What Else do I Need to Know?

The first two series of Round the Twist were filmed in 1989 and 1992 with series three and four following up in 2000 and 2001. Due to the gaps in filming many of the characters are played by different actors, but fear not, that just helps add to the craziness.

Only the first two series were based on Jennings' short stories, after a disagreement around a Round the Twist movie, Jennings left and the remainder of the series were written by a team of scriptwriters.

It also has the most incredible theme tune.


If You Like This You May Also Like

Are You Afraid of the Dark?

Eerie Indiana

Ghost Writer

The Girl from Tomorrow

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Please, Please cover The Animals of Farthing Wood, Its a travesty its never made it to DVD in the UK.

Great show. The earlier seasons are brilliant. I really enjoyed watching this show. Without my pants

A rare instance of a cast overhaul not really damaging a show as there's not much to choose between Series 1 and 2. I think I prefer Series 1 slightly as it's more "rough and ready" but I had a bit of a crush on the Series 2 Linda when I was a youngling so that softened the blow when the changes came.

Series 3 and 4 are best avoided. The writing just wasn't there.

Man I loved that when I was a junior, Also David the Gnome.

It too has an excellent theme tune.

I can't stop saying "Without My Pants"...w-w-w-without my pants!

Anyone also remember 'The Queen's Nose'?

The very first live action show I watched. Still ove it to bits. I've only seen series 1 and 2 but those were both brilliant. And yes I agree chidren's tv today is god awful.

I always used to love a show called Aquila. It really was the best thing on tv. I can still recite the themetune.

Series 1 and 2 are one of my favourite shows I watched as a kid.

...without my pants.

The theme is now going to be stuck in my head all day. Total ear worm!

Yes, I loved this show! Completely forgotten about it until now.

Please cover Pugwall next!!!

I remember this show, they used to broadcast it in summer mornings in Finland. Delightfully weird :)

Round the Twist, Goosebumps, Are You Afraid of the Dark?, The Demon Headmaster, The Queen's Nose and The Ghost Hunter summed up my childhood in a nutshell.

Wow, that theme tune really takes me back, it's pretty scary that this show first came out so long ago.

I'm looking forward to this series of articles. Born in 1980 I grew up watching some incredible TV that's so much better than the hyperactive mindf*ck that passes for childrens' entertainment now. Oh and please do a write up of Dark Season!

Yes! What a great show :) Harmony and Melody?

'Nails' was my favorite episode!

Without my pants...

Yeah, that was an awesome kids show. I always wished I had the spaceship!

Obviously named after two of the Angel pilots in Captain Scarlet

Lol, just had to google "without my pants", and the memories came flooding back.

My favourite episodes were Lucky Lips and Spaghetti Pig Out.

Thanks DoG for brightening my morning.

Thank you DoG for paying respect to this fantastic kids show. I live 30 minutes away from the Lighthouse used in the show, and always marvel at it when I go past.

you just said "youngling" so your opinion is invalidated.

Loved Round the Twist. We really were spoiled late 80s and early 90s weren't we? Any one remember the Friday film special, on BBC 1 I think it was? Short adventure films. One was called Sky Pirates and was about kids fighting jewel smugglers with model aircraft. Sammy's Super T-Shirt was another. Other formative stuff Moondial, Children of Green Knoww, Box of Delights. Great stuff on ITV, Benji, Zax & the Alien Prince and Channel 4, particulary cartoons. Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors, MASK, Centurions, Pole Position, Ulysses 51. Holy nostalgia flashback Batman.

Great show. Too easily forgotten. They should repeat it for kids today...

Either Carly or Carley is spelt wrong lol.

Carley is correct - but in fairness I've been called worse :)

Nobody tells me what to do, no not now

Wait what?!? That *really never got a DVD? For shame!

Wasn't there a sequel to it that wasn't as good?

We were a truly blessed generation, if only for the fact we all started out young watching the deranged happenings of Trap Door, then, when we were a little older, along came the Aussies and brought us the brilliance that was the first 2 seasons of Round The Twist. Mix in a little Roger and the Rotten Trolls (even though by that point, we really should have known better), and is it any wonder we pity today's kids with their Americanized to the point of bordom animes, American animes that manage to miss the point even harder, and generally riskless bland nonsense.

I seem to remember there were several series of decreasing quality where they gradually got rid of all the cast members before rebooting with an entirely different characters

The entire show is on YouTube!

I only remember The Queen's Nose and whatever came directly after it.

Amongst most of the dross that passes for kids entertainment these days, there is the odd classic such as Yo Gabba Gabba. Think Teletubbies on crack. With guest musical appearances from Weezer, My Chemical Romance, Jimmy Eat World, etc...

Awesome theeeem toooon

Haha, as if I haven't already re-watched it all.

I can't even remember when this was but does anyone remember Joshies Giants? (Not sure that is the correct spelling) About a football team that played in black and white.. another great theme tune

I remember the queens nose

Yes I do

Glad to hear!

Jossie's giants, dude :)

Omg I completely forgot about that! The queens nose and the demon headmaster were my two favourite shows as I was growing up!

Any Gabba episodes with Biz's Beat of the Day segments featuring Bizmarky is a winner for me...

Coming near the end was My Parents Are Aliens. It was often hit n miss, but went through a great period of being really funny.

Oh and Maid Marion and Her Merry Men!! Classic.


There's a lot of 'Gold' channels on UK TV. Surely there's room for Classic Kids TV Gold? Nothing but class like this and the best classic cartoons from the 70s through to the early 90s? I accept there's an hour or so on Challenge, but I don't think I'd watch anything else! Would imagine the rights and tapes would be a (K)nightmare.

I live In Australia and I loved this show growing up, it is important to note i wasn't born when they filmed the first two seasons but I remember they used to play it in repeats but it was the later seasons i love the most. Such a good show!!!!! Brought back memories thank you so much for posting this.

Man, I loved that show. So, So brilliant.

Omg! No one I know has ever even herd of Round The Twist or Ghost Writer! At least not here in Canada. Those two are prominent figures of my childhood, as well as Space Cases, Animorphs, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, and of course Bill Nye and Art Attack!

The tales weren't there to spook us, but I can tell you that the scarecrow episode scared the bejesus out of me...

Yes late 80s early 90s was the real heyday of Children's BBC Broom Cupboard. Andy Crane!!, The Friday Film special was an excellent series of CFF presentations.Breakout was my fav with Blake's 7 star David Jackson a the convict Donny the bull.A feature pending methinks DoG!

I wish a new version could be made :( I miss round the twist.

Jossy's Giants, actually! ;o)

Written by the late, great Darts commentator, Sid Waddell, Jossy's Giants ran for two series transmitted on BBC1 in just inside a year from 23 April 1986 to 8 April 1987. Originally called the Glipton Grasshoppers the Oldham-based team were transformed by Newcastle Utd fan Joswell "Jossy" Blair who gave them the black and white strip. In one episode they visited St James Park and met the then Toon boss, Willie MacFall.

i loved round the twist, it's my flashbackfriday this week :) I was beginning to think I'd dreamt "The girl from tomorrow" as no one else remembered it.

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