Willo the Wisp was a British cartoon series originally produced in 1981. It ran for two seasons that were separated by twenty-four years. The initial 1981 season was made by Nicholas Cartoon Films whilst the second series was made by Spargo Films and Double:Take. In total fifty-two episodes were made.
Season 1 was written and directed by Nick Spargo and produced by Nicholas Cartoon Films in association with the BBC and Tellytales Enterprises. The character of Willo the Wisp originated in an educational animation created by Nick Spargo for British Gas plc in 1975 and the stories were set in Doyley Woods, a small beech wood in Oxfordshire, near the director’s home.
Each of the original 26 episodes lasted approximately 5 minutes and were broadcast at 5:35pm on BBC1, a tradition as short cartoons were always shown between the end of the main children’s BBC drama or sitcom for that afternoon, and the BBC Evening news at 5:40pm. All voices in Season 1 were provided by Kenneth Williams. The series has since been repeated numerous times.
A second series of 26 episodes (5 minutes each) was produced by Bobby Spargo in 2005, and voiced by James Dreyfus. Although it maintains the style of the original, alterations include:
- Willo no longer being a caricature of Kenneth Williams.
- Mavis being slimmer (although still too heavy to fly).
- Evil Edna being a widescreen television, with a wheeled stand instead of the original’s metal legs.