Don’t ask me why, but recently I’ve been thinking about Glen Michael’s Cartoon Cavalcade. For anybody who doesn’t know, Glen Michael’s Cartoon Cavalcade was a popular television programme shown on Sunday afternoons on STV. Many generations will have memories of the programme — it lasted from 1966 until 1992.
Those who are aware of my age (20) might be surprised that I can remember Glen Michael’s Cartoon Cavalcade. Having found out that it finished in 1992, so am I! But not only that, I also have memories of a time when it was still called ‘Glen Michael’s Cartoon Cavalcade’.
I have a distinct memory of my auntie grumbling about the amount of cartoons on the programme: “They should call it just ‘Glen Michael’s Cavalcade’.” Later on it was re-named Glen Michael’s Cavalcade. This must mean that I can remember at least two series of it. Or maybe my memory is just playing tricks.
On Sundays my brother and I were always used to be carted around Glenrothes to visit relatives. I think Glen Michael’s Cartoon Cavalcade was just about the only thing that made these visits bearable, which is why I have such memories of it when none of my peers do. I’ve asked my brother if he remembers it. I’ve asked friends who are the same age as me if they remember it. Nobody does, apart from people who are much older than me.
Having said that, my memories of it are vague at best. The only cartoon I can ever remember from it featured a very short-sighted man. As I recall, the cartoon was a bit of a one-note joke. As far as I can remember, the man basically spent his whole time wandering around narrowing his eyes and bumping into things. I’ve never seen a frame of it since Cartoon Cavalcade ended.
But Glen Michael’s (Cartoon) Cavalcade was famously short on actual cartoons. Much of the programme was spent watching Glen Michael fooling around. I quite strongly remember him playing a Scotland Today newsreader where everything in the bulletin went disastrously wrong.
Glen Michael was also joined by some creepy characters that were not so much puppets as inanimate objects. One of them was an oil lamp called Paladin who didn’t move a muscle, but did light up and speak. Scary stuff.
The only thing I remember about Paladin is actually quite a strong memory of him / her / it being confused about anti-litter week. Paladin thought it was about somebody called Auntie Litter coming to visit. Paladin had to be reminded several times in between cartoons that there was no such thing as Auntie Litter. I bet you if I get Alzheimer’s disease, this will be the early memory that I always go back to.
Clearly, Glen Michael’s Cartoon Cavalcade was an intensely local thing. If you ask anybody in the central belt who was born before the mid-1980s, probably everybody would know Glen Michael. But ask anybody south of Penicuik and you’ll probably get a blank look.
Even on the internet, information about Glen Michael’s Cartoon Cavalcade seems pretty thin on the ground (anything that doesn’t have a video on YouTube is obviously neglected). What is there is conflicting. For instance, the entry on Answers.com says that the programme lasted from 1975–1985, although this is clearly not true as there is no chance I would be able to remember a programme that ended before I was born.
Wikipedia actually has a reasonably in-depth article which seems to be more reliable. It says Cartoon Cavalcade lasted for 26 years from 1966, which seems about right.
There are also a few blog posts out there — including this from those Consolevania chappies — by people from central Scotland reminiscing about the programme and collecting their threadbare memories. Best of all is this fine MetaFilter thread. If this programme was networked it would undoubtedly be hailed as a cult classic, the sort of programme that would be featured in an I ♥ the 1970s programme.
But there even seems to be confusion as to whether or not the programme even went out on Grampian. If it didn’t go out on Grampian, that would make Glen Michael’s Cartoon Cavalcade central Scotland’s best-kept secret. Although maybe it was just the rest of the country being a whole lot wiser than us.
Even more amazingly, I discovered that Glen Michael is actually still alive! It’s difficult to imagine how such a legendary figure can disappear off the face of the planet without actually dying. It pleases me greatly to learn that, unbeknownst to the rest of us, he is still broadcasting to senior citizens via a regular slot that is as much as a secret to under-90s as Cartoon Cavalcade was to anybody outside the central belt. The programme is on Saga FM in Glasgow, a station which I didn’t even know existed. Despite being 80, Glen Michael looks a bit like a sober Terry Wogan in that photograph.
And not only is he still alive, but he is also still touring Glen Michael’s Cavalcade around primary schools! What a legend.