Cult TV

Cult TV Essentials: Round The Twist

Round The Twist was a surreal Australian children’s adventure show that ran for 52 episodes between 4th April 1989 and 2nd May 2001. Only four series were made despite the show having an 11-year run.

The first two series were based on fantasy stories written by author Paul Jennings; the latter two were based on a variety of authors’ work.

The theme tune was sung by Tamsin West who played Linda Twist is Season 1. Although she left after that season, the theme tune remained unchanged.

Its first series was made in 1989. A second series, with many roles re-cast, was made in 1992. A third series, again re-cast, was made in 2000, followed by a fourth (with some roles again re-cast) in 2001, each series comprised of thirteen episodes. Although each episode has a self-contained plot each series has a recurring theme, usually an object or character which appears briefly in every episode. This gradually develops the theme until the final episode of the series in which it is explained and resolved.

The Twist family also have frequent conflicts with a ruthless local businessman, Harold Gribble, and his family. Typically, Gribble seeks to remove the Twists from the lighthouse in order to more profitably use it as a tourist attraction for Port Niranda. This is a continuous feature of the first series, and a recurring feature of the third and fourth series.

Season 1(1989) sees The Twist family moving into the light house only to find it is haunted by eerie music coming from upstairs. In the final episode, Lighthouse Blues, the music is revealed to be played by the ghosts of Nell’s deceased family. The ghosts help the Twists to stop one of Mr. Gribble’s business associates from destroying the lighthouse. In a subplot, Tony falls in love with Fay, and spends the series developing a relationship with her, culminating in a marriage proposal at the finale. The answer to the proposal is left open-ended.

Season 2 (1992) saw the lighthouse once again haunted, this time by ghosts visible to the viewers, but not to the characters until the final episode. The two ghosts are Matthew and Jeremiah, who fade into view once in each episode. They are being punished because as lighthouse keepers 100 years previously they failed to stop a ship bearing Matthew’s love, Jane, from being wrecked on the rocks. In the final episode, “Seeing the Light”, the ghost ship comes again, and this time, all of the characters from the show help to turn on the lighthouse light and save the family who were lost at sea, redeeming the ghosts. Another recurring theme in Series Two is Bronson’s foul-smelling feet. In episode 7, Smelly Feat, he reveals that he has been ‘saving the stink’ to stop the Gribbles from killing an endangered turtle. In the end, he helps save the turtle. Tony and Fay become officially engaged, but Fay becomes increasingly concerned that Bronson does not want her to marry Tony, eventually leading to the engagement being broken off. They are re-engaged at the end of the series.

For the only time in the show’s run, Mr Gribble’s primary concern is not with removing the Twists from the lighthouse. Rather, he spends the series campaigning for a senate seat with the fictional Progressive Conservative Party. Disagreeing with his policies, Nell runs against him in a party similar to the Australian Greens, and ultimately wins in a landslide.

Season 3 (2000) sees Linda Twist being given a book of poetry, The Viking Book of Love by a young Viking who finds the lighthouse. In most of the episodes, a character falls in love with someone who reads poetry from the book to them; each love spell lasts up until the next one is cast. In the final episode, the Big Rock, the Vikings return and the book’s effects are reversed, with terrible consequences.

There was also a loose story arc about the Gribbles marriage being on the rocks, in The Viking Book of Love The Matron seemed more than happy to leave Harold, in IMU UMI Matron then believed Harold didn’t love her anymore, but blamed it on a mid-life crisis, in between the events of The Truth Hits Everybody and The Nirandathal Beast she read the Viking book of love to Harold though it was broken in Mail Boo and finally in The Big Rock she is one of the many characters making a break for the Viking Book of Love.

In Season 4 (2001) a knight in armour enters the lighthouse through a magical door in every episode. At the beginning of the series the knight’s face is hidden behind a visor, in the second half of the series the visor is raised. In the final episode, The Isle of Dreams, the stranger is revealed to be a girl, Ariel, who has come to offer the children a perfect life on the Isle of Dreams, if Pete will become her husband. In the end, they decline, and Ariel disappears forever, along with the enchanted isle. A subplot in this series is Faye’s pregnancy to Tony. The baby, named Ariel, is born in the series finale.

Another subplot is Bronson collecting various smells throughout the series with his Smellsucker, a vacuum cleaner with a nose built into it for storing the smells. This leads Bronson to becoming a superhero of sorts called Skunkman. He appears randomly throughout the series, but his true identity is not revealed. His friend Lois, appearing only in the Skunkman episode, is made out to be Skunkman to Gribble’s gang.

Tamsin West re-emerged in 2004 to perform the theme song once more:

 

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