Looking back at Round The Twist

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.

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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.

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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

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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.



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