Shoebox Zoo

Shoebox Zoo

Infobox Television
show_name = Shoebox Zoo

caption = Shoebox Zoo Logo
format = Fantasy
runtime = 25 mins
starring = Vivien Endicott-Douglas
Jason Connery
Peter Mullan
Alan Cumming
Simon Callow
Siobhan Redmond
Rik Mayall
David McKay
country = Scotland
network = BBC One
first_aired = September 1, 2004
last_aired = December 4, 2005
num_series = 2
num_episodes = 26
website =
imdb_id = 0406468
tv_com_id = 28807

"Shoebox Zoo" is a children's fantasy TV series made in a collaboration between BBC Scotland and various Canadian television companies. It is mostly live-action, but with CGI used for the animal figurines. It was first broadcast in 2004 by CBBC. The Showtime network owns the U.S. syndication rights and is currently broadcasting the series in the United States.


In the series Marnie McBride, an 11-year-old American girl who has moved to Edinburgh with her Scottish father Ross after her mother's death, receives a present from the legendary wizard Michael Scot (who in the series is still alive). The present is the "Shoebox Zoo" of the title, a box containing four animal figures which unexpectedly come to life. She then finds herself undertaking (not entirely willingly) a quest to find his "Book of Forbidden Knowledge".

It is revealed that the animals were Scot's students, who stole the book and were punished by being transformed, but without the book Scot cannot change them back. Also after the book is the evil wizard Juan Roberto Montoya de Toledo, who is later revealed to be a creation of Scot's (presumably during his time in that city). It is also revealed that Scot thought Marnie's mother might be the Chosen One, but she was unable to awaken the Zoo.

Marnie locates the book in the local library, but a mind-controlled Edwin opens the book and releases the dark magic within. Toledo and his Los Contrarios invade Marnie's home and while Edwin (now free), Ailsa and Bruno fight their dark twins, Wolfgang is held hostage by Toledo in return for the Book. Marnie almost gives it over, but instead threatens to throw it into the fire unless Toledo lets Wolfgang go. Toledo seems to give up, but on seeing that the rest of the Zoo have defeated their counterparts, throws Wolfgang into the fire and vanishes. Wolfgang apologises to Marnie for his betrayal, and his real face appears as he dies.

In the series finale, the Book is found to be a fake. The real book is, apparently, in America, presumably taken there by Marnie's mother.

In Season 2, Marnie travels with the Shoebox Zoo to America to stay with her Grandma and Gramps. Marnie is having new dreams of a man that resembles her father find the Book of Forbidden Knowledge and giving it to a Native American. Michael Scot and McTaggart have also travelled to America, and discover that Toledo is a spirit and requires a body to be reborn. Marnie's grandma reveals to Marnie that when Marnie's mother had the Zoo, she became 'obsessed' with it and her parents made the decision to take the animals back to the junk shop they came from.

A second prophecy is revealed that if Marnie doesn't find the book by her 12th birthday, then the world will be destroyed by evil. A seer, Aurora Dexter is a phoney medium who in Episode 15, seems to be contacted by Wolfgang who is trapped in the spiritual realm. A mysterious Native American named Nathaniel and a wooden horse named Hunter have some kind of history with the book, and Nathaniel is the grandfather of Kyle, who is Marnie's best friend. Toledo has recently gained his former power back and killed Michael Scot, turned McTaggart into a weasel, and took over Aurora's body, turning her into Taurora.

The evil magic in the generator in Gramps' woodshed is infecting Marnie and when she hurts Becky (Aurora's daughter), Bruno loses it and she imprisons him in a rock. Gramps fixes Edwin's broken wing, and the eagle learns to fly. He finds the ancient lost Arrow of Truth, and gives it to Kyle, who has the Horse Medicine in his blood, which gives him his powers that Nathaniel also has. Kyle makes a deal with Marnie, that he will give her the arrow, if she releases Bruno. When Marnie goes to free Bruno, she finds him missing. Marnie steals the Bow of Wisdom and frames Kyle. Edwin and Ailsa free McTaggart, but he is killed by Taurora.

Soon, Marnie discovers the Book of Forbidden Knowledge in her grandpa's woodshed where an evil generator is that is turning Marnie evil. But Aurora snatches it first and becomes the Dawn Queen and she resurrects Toledo as her servant. Meanwhile, Marnie is visited by the late Michael Scot and tells her she must reunite the Shoebox Zoo, but Wolfgang is dead. Marnie frees Bruno from his rocky prison and then with help from the Shoebox Zoo, Kyle and Nathaniel, she resurrects Wolfgang who seems rather surprised to be alive. Marnie, Kyle and the Shoebox Zoo go to the studio where the Dawn Queen's new show is to be aired.

Marnie announces the only way she can destroy Toledo and the Dawn Queen is to destroy the book, and Ailsa immediately protests. Hunter manages to convince the scholars to sacrifice their life goal in order to help Marnie. Marnie teleports herself to the Falls of Faith and fires the Arrow of Truth. It strikes the Book of Forbidden Knowledge and it explodes, destroying Toledo in the process. The Dawn Queen dies, leaving Aurora behind.

On Marnie's 12th birthday, she goes back to the shop where her mother got the Shoebox Zoo from, telling them that there are other people out there that need their help and with that she leaves them on the counter (because when she asks if anyone is there, no one replies). She waves goodbye to them and leaves in tears. Then a shadow approaches the box and opens the lid; it is unknown who this person is, but it is rumoured to be Nathaniel. The last word of the series is the Edwin the Eagle saying "What shall we do, master?". This could rule out any women or girls being the Shoebox Zoo's new owners, but bearing in mind that Marnie originally woke the Shoebox Zoo by saying "Awake, awake, for I am your master", there is still uncertainty in that respect.

It has been confirmed that there is not going to be a third series. Fact|date=March 2008

The person who lifts the lid might possibly be the storyteller, as he says he has been waiting for the Shoebox Zoo a long time.


; Marnie McBride (Vivien Endicott-Douglas): An American 11-year old from Denver, Colorado. Her mother died when she was only 10 and her father (Jason Connery) whisks her away from her home to Edinburgh, Scotland. On her 11th birthday, Marnie meets the Shoebox Zoo, a quartet of humans imprisoned in the form of animal toys. Marnie spends the first series searching for the Book of Forbidden Knowledge, but the one she finds turns out to be a fake; the original hidden somewhere in America. Marnie eventually finds the book, but has to destroy when Toledo and the Dawn Queen get it. She leaves the Shoebox Zoo in the shop her mother first found them in.

; Ross McBride (Jason Connery): Marnie's Scottish father. He takes her to Edinburgh a month after her mother dies of cancer. Ross has no idea his daughter is the Chosen One and believes the Shoebox Zoo to be nothing more than toys. He works in the university library, where the copy of Book was hidden.

; Michael Scot (Peter Mullan): The great wizard who created the Book of Forbidden Knowledge and Toledo. After Wolfgang and the others stole the book, he transformed them into animals and put them to sleep as punishment. McTaggart than took the book so it would not corrupt his master and cast it into the sea. Michael had him tortured for eleven years and made him immortal until the Book was uncovered. Michael sadly witnessed the death of his son, but helped Marnie defeat Toledo. Scot lived for 1100 years, but died (in the second series) after being drained of magic by a reborn Toledo.

; McTaggart (David McKay): Michael's loyal servant. He took the book to prevent his master from turning evil. Michael had him tortured in his dungeon for 11 years and then immortalised until the book was found. Despite this curse, McTaggart remained loyal to Michael Scot throughout the 1100 years of immortality and was at his side when he died. McTaggart was transformed into a weasel and placed in a cage by Toledo, until freed by Edwin and Ailsa. McTaggart died triumphantly in battle against the Dawn Queen and fell to his demise, disappearing into a river - despite the face he was immortal. His death was mourned by his friends, and also even by Toledo (in the form of Aurora Dexter).

; Juan Roberto Montoya de Toledo (Tony Donaldson): An evil shapeshifter created by Michael eleven months after the Book was created. He wanted the book and hired Wolfgang to help him. Using his shapeshifting powers, Toledo secretly spied on Marni by posing as John Roberts, a boy at her school. Wolfgang betrayed him and Toledo tossed him into a fire where he died. Toledo was destroyed by the fake Book of Forbidden Knowledge. He returns in series two, stronger and darker than ever. He kills Michael and inhabits the body of gypsy woman Aurora Dexter to become the Dawn Queen, achieving this by using the alias of American television producer Robert John (a variation on the name of his schoolboy guise in series one). Upon gaining the book, Aurora gives Toledo his body back but decides to take his place as the new ruler of the world. Toledo betrays her, but when the Arrow of Truth strikes the book, it is destroyed, taking Toledo with it.

; Aurora Dexter/The Dawn Queen (Natascha Girgis): A gypsy woman from Nebraska. She hosts the séance television show, Above and Beyond. Of course, Aurora is a phoney. She has a stroppy daughter named Becky, who is Marnie's rival. Toledo transformed Aurora into Taurora. They find the Book and Aurora becomes the evil Dawn Queen, who wants to rule the world in Toledo's place.

; Kyle Stone (Yudii Mercredi): Marnie's best friend. He meets the Shoebox Zoo after they spring to life before his eyes, and he faints in shock. Kyle's grandfather is Nathaniel. Kyle is gifted with the Horse Blood, that gives him the powers of the Medicine Man, including bringing Hunter to life.

; Bobby Campbell (Gramps) (Paul Coeur): Marnie's cheerful granddad from America. He enjoys camping and spending time with his wife and grandchild. He is a little clumsy and dislikes being scolded by his wife.

; Dorothy Campbell (Grandma) (Valerie Ann Pearson): Marnie's protective and sometimes over-worrying grandmother. Grandma took the Shoebox Zoo back to the junk shop where Marnie's mother found them, after she became obsessed with them, and she worries Marnie will do the same.

; Nathaniel (Gordon Tootoosis): The Medicine Man, Kyle's grandfather and councillor with the spirits. Nathaniel spends most of his time by his spiritual campfire, listening and watching the spirits. He can teleport to different places.

The "Shoebox Zoo" itself

The animals the students became are the ones which stereotype their personalities. They are:; Edwin (voiced by Rik Mayall): Edwin de Wynter is an arrogant and pompus metal eagle who sees himself as the leader of the Shoebox Zoo. He gives himself a title self-styled "Spokesperson of the Shoebox Zoo". He and his friends stole the Book of Forbidden Knowledge and he was transformed into his present form by Michael Scot. Marnie was given a necklace (previously owned by her mother) which had one of Edwin's tail feathers as an amulet. Edwin has one false wing, a detachable helmet and he is afraid of flying. Edwin gradually becomes more confident in the quest and himself. In Season 2, Edwin is even more determined to find the book and become human once again. In order to retrieve the important Arrow of Truth from an eagle's nest, Kyle teaches Edwin to fly by giving the noble eagle a feather to keep him in balance in the air. Edwin loses the feather, but learns to fly on his own. He defends the hidden arrow when a dark Marnie confronts him. Edwin seems to be most affected when Marnie says goodbye to the Shoebox Zoo.

; Ailsa (voiced by Siobhan Redmond): A cynical adder. Ailsa is the oldest of the Shoebox Zoo and the wisest. She has glowing green eyes, a long golden snake body and a history of not trusting anyone. Ailsa then tossed aside her present personality and began to trust Marnie. Ailsa is clever and funny at the same time and enjoys sleeping. Ailsa is more trustful in others during her time in Denver and somewhat gains a crush on Hunter. Her rune was the first to be found. She is represented by an old snake rattle.

; Bruno (voiced by Alan Cumming): A simple-minded and friendly stone bear. He is the youngest member of the Shoebox Zoo and also a little dumb. He has had to act aggressively at times and has bitten Toledo to save Marnie. Bruno easily got used to Marnie, while it took the others more time and is very loyal to his mistress. Bruno has a pure heart and tries to help his friends as best as he can. Bruno was imprisoned by Marnie in a rock when she was evil after he criticized her actions. He was rescued from drowning by Nathaniel and was released from his prison by Marnie. Bruno's rune is the second to be found. He is represented by an old parfleche bag. ; Wolfgang (voiced by Simon Callow): A wooden blue wolf, Wolfgang is at first portrayed as fierce, deceptive and generally mysterious. He has a fear of fire, believes everything tastes of sawdust due to be being made of wood and has a liking for butter. He is very sly and distrusting towards Marnie during early experiences together, go as far as joining forces with Toledo to spite her. But he eventually reveals he is the son of Michael Scot, stealing the Book out of jealously and anger. Marnie takes Wolfgang to Michael where father and son repair their relationship. However, during the battle at Marnie's house for the Book, Wolfgang is seized by Toledo and tossed into a fireplace where he disintegrates. Wolfgang lived on as a spirit, trapped in flames, and visited Marnie in her dreams, warning her not to go into her grandfather's evil woodshed. A corrupted Marnie summons Wolfgang and forces him to take her to the Book's location. After returning to the good side, Marnie decides to resurrect Wolfgang to help her destroy the Book. Wolfgang is shown as being rather shocked to be alive and hits himself on the head just to make sure. He is represented by an old warrior's necklace.

; Los Contrarios (voiced by the same actors as the originals): Toledo's clones of the original four members of the Shoebox Zoo. Dark, sightless identical twins, Los Contrarios ("The Opposites") were hidden inside a trunk owned by Toledo until dark energies were released from the Book, completing their births. Toledo took Los Contrarios with him to Marnie's house to obtain the Book, sending his "deities" to kill the Shoebox Zoo. Edwin, Ailsa and Bruno fled onto the roof where their clones followed but they were all destroyed - Dark Edwin falls down a chimney, Dark Ailsa is struck by lightning, and Dark Bruno is thrown off the roof. Dark Wolfgang remains with Toledo until Wolfgang is killed, bursting into flames.

; Hunter (voiced by Simon Callow): A wooden wild horse that is used as a Native American dancing stick. First seen in Season 2, he is brought to life by the power of Nathaniel the Medicine Man. Hunter is capable to transform into a real horse, as he is a spirit. Hunter is a bit clumsy, as seen in his debute when he spills a glass of red wine on a table in Michael Scot's chamber. Hunter is the Spirit of the Horse Dance, as he describes in his opening line, along with many other things. He says his opening whenever he meets someone new, his most famous quote being "And the guy that just... (eg. spilt red wine all over your table!)". In the end, Hunter gives up on his opening lines when he first meets Wolfgang and bands the Shoebox Zoo together to help destroy the book, even though they realise they'll be imprisoned in their present forms for good. He is last seen watching Marnie celebrating her 12th birthday before galloping back to Nathaniel. Voiced by Simon Callow.


The programme was first broadcast on 21 September 2004 on BBC One, and the last episode was shown on 27 November 2005.

Series 1:
* 1. 'The Magic is Awakened' (21 September 2004)
* 2. 'Friend or Foe?' (28 September 2004)
* 3. 'Echoes of the Past' (5 October 2004)
* 4. 'A Guide for the Perplexed' (12 October 2004)
* 5. 'The Inner Sanctum' (19 October 2004)
* 6. 'A Strange Birthday Party' (26 October 2004)
* 7. 'A Little Knowledge' (2 November 2004)
* 8. 'Mother's Footsteps' (9 November 2004)
* 9. 'Where the River Flows' (16 November 2004)
* 10. 'The Sign of the Unicorn' (23 November 2004)
* 11. 'Where Four Elevens Meet' (30 November 2004)
* 12. 'Los Contrarios' (7 December 2004)
* 13. 'The Day of Reckoning' (14 December 2004)

Series 2:
* 1. 'Across the Great Ocean' (16 October 2005)
* 2. 'The Balance of Power' (23 October 2005)
* 3. 'Snakes Alive' (23 October 2005)
* 4. 'The Pow Wow' (30 October 2005)
* 5. 'Hunter to the Rescue' (30 October 2005)
* 6. 'Coming of Age' (6 November 2005)
* 7. 'Wild Horses' (6 November 2005)
* 8. 'Bumps in the Night' (13 November 2005)
* 9. 'The Eagle Has Landed' (13 November 2005)
* 10. 'The Arrow of Truth' (20 November 2005)
* 11. 'The Cry of the Wolf' (20 November 2005)
* 12. 'The Falls of Faith' (27 November 2005)
* 13. 'Beyond the Beyond' (27 November 2005)


The series makes good use of its Lothian setting, with significant locations including the University of Edinburgh library, Tantallon Castle (Scot's home), Boroughmuir High School and St Giles Cathedral, while Toledo makes his base in the clock tower of the Balmoral Hotel.

External links

*|id=cbbc/shoeboxzoo|title="Showbox Zoo"/cbbc
*imdb title|id=0406468|title=Shoebox Zoo

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