Magpie (TV series)

Magpie (TV series)
Magpie logo.png
The Magpie logo
Genre Children's
Created by Lewis Rudd & Sue Turner
Presented by Pete Brady
Susan Stranks
Tony Bastable
Mick Robertson
Douglas Rae
Jenny Hanley
Tommy Boyd
Theme music composer Ray Fenwick
Country of origin United Kingdom
Language(s) English
Executive producer(s) Lewis Rudd & Sue Turner
Running time 25 minutes
Original channel ITV
Picture format 4:3
Audio format Monaural sound
Original run 30 July 1968 – 6 June 1980

Magpie was a children's television programme shown on ITV from the late 1960s and throughout the 1970s. It was a magazine format show intended to compete with the BBC's Blue Peter, but attempted to be more "hip", focusing more on popular culture. The show's creators Sue Turner & Lewis Rudd named the programme Magpie as a reference to the magpie's habit of collecting small items, and because of "mag" being evocative of "magazine", and "pie" being evocative of a collection of ingredients.


Broadcast history

The programme, made by Thames Television, was first transmitted on 30 July 1968, which was Thames Television's first day of broadcasting. It was shown once a week for the first year, but from then until it ended in 1980 went out twice a week. The first presenters were the former BBC Radio 1 disc jockey Pete Brady, Susan Stranks, and Tony Bastable. Brady left the show in 1969 to be replaced by Douglas Rae, and Bastable left in 1972 when he was replaced by Mick Robertson. Jenny Hanley replaced Susan Stranks in 1974. This lineup remained until 1977, when Tommy Boyd replaced Rae.

Approximately 1000 episodes were made, each of a duration of 25 minutes.

Like Blue Peter, Magpie featured appeals for various causes and charities. Notably however, it asked for cash donations rather than stamps or secondhand goods, familiar on Blue Peter. The cash totaliser was a long strip of paper which ran out of the studio and along the adjacent corridor walls.

The show's mascot was a magpie called Murgatroyd.

Theme song

The theme tune was played by the Spencer Davis Group under the alias of The Murgatroyd Band, and written by their guitarist Ray Fenwick. The main lyric was cribbed from an old children's nursery rhyme:

One for sorrow
Two for joy
Three for a girl
Four for a boy
Five for silver
Six for gold
Seven for a story never to be told
Eight for Heaven
Nine for Hell
Ten for the Devil himself

or, alternatively,

Eight for a wish
Nine for a kiss, and
Ten for a big surprise!

The first seven lines of this song (from "One for sorrow" to "Seven for a secret never to be told") have been used in the last verse of the song Magpie, by Patrick Wolf.

The rhyme refers to an old English superstition concerning the portent of the number of magpies seen together in a flock. The TV programme version altered the final lines to:

Eight's a wish and
Nine a kiss
Ten is a bird you must not miss (a tongue-in-cheek admonition not to miss future editions of Magpie).

Steam engine

In 1973, Magpie adopted a steam engine, "Black 5" 44806 and renamed her "Magpie" (Blue Peter already had a locomotive named after their show). After an eventful history, it is still being used today on the Llangollen Railway, although now under another name.

Magpie also adopted a boat originally called "Mankadu", and renamed "Thames Magpie". Its current whereabouts are unknown.

External links

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