Animal Magic, 1962

As the news announced today, 15th February 2022, that Bristol Zoo is to close I immediately remembered Animal Magic.

I’ve always felt they should bring this back with Paul O Grady hosting.  Animal Magic had to be one of the most imaginative children’s television programs ever.  It combined education and a sense of fun in a way that gripped the viewer’s imagination.  A wonderful way to teach children about animals.

Set in Bristol Zoo and a BBC TV studio.  The show’s main presenter was Johnny Morris, who over the years was joined by a number of co-presenters, each with their own area of expertise.  These included Terry Nutkins who joined in the early eighties, he would talk about water based animals such as otters and sea lions.  Other famous co-presenters included: Gerald Durrell, Tony Soper, Keith Shackleton, Sheila Young and David Taylor.

The show first went out in 1962, every fortnight.  It was an instant hit with children and adults alike and by 1964 the show was broadcast weekly.  In 1967 Animal Magic reached it’s 100th edition.

By 1983 the way the show gave animals human characterisations (i.e. the voices used) fell out of favour and the show was subsequently dropped.

Surprisingly in the early 1990’s the BBC deemed the show to be of no further use and subsequently junked many editions.  However in 2017 the idea was resurrected for a new BBC TV show “The Zoo”


The show combined basic educational features in a studio with Johnny Morris with scenes from Bristol Zoo.

Here Johnny Morris the Zoo Keeper is seen interacting with the animals at Bristol Zoo.   Here he would apply  jovial voice overs to the various animals.

In the early 1980’s technology had moved on and the show was updated using new video effects technology.  This allowed them to do such things as “shrink” the presenters to allow them to see life from an ant’s viewpoint, or to swim in a riverbed for example.












Johnny Morris
With Co-Presenters
Gerald Durrell
Tony Soper
Keith Shackleton
Sheila Young
David Taylor
Terry Nutkins


Channel: BBC1
Original Transmission Dates: 13th April 1962 – 8th March 1983



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