Round the Twist
|Round the Twist|
|Created by||Paul Jennings|
|Developed by||Australian Children's Television Foundation|
|Directed by||Esben Storm|
Round The Twist lyrics and music by Andrew Duffield|
sung by Tamsin West
Round The Twist lyrics and music by Andrew Duffield|
sung by Tamsin West
|Country of origin||Australia|
|No. of seasons||4|
|No. of episodes||52 (list of episodes)|
|Executive producer(s)||Patricia Edgar|
|Running time||25 mins|
|Production company(s)||Australian Children's Television Foundation|
Seven Network (1989)|
|Original release||April 4, 1989 – May 2, 2001|
Round the Twist is an Australian children's fantasy television program about three children and their widowed father who live in a lighthouse in the fictional coastal town of Port Niranda and become involved in many bizarre magical adventures.
Only four seasons were made despite the show having an 11-year run. The first two seasons were based on fantasy stories written by author Paul Jennings; the latter two were based on a variety of authors' work. Its first season was made in 1989. A second season, with many roles re-cast, was made in 1992. A third season, again re-cast, was made in 2000, followed by a fourth (with some roles again re-cast) in 2001.
The show's distinctive theme song, with the lyrics "Have you ever... ever felt like this?" was sung by Tamsin West, who played the lead female role of Linda Twist in the first series. It borrowed lines from popular nursery rhymes such as "There Was an Old Lady Who Swallowed a Fly", "Humpty Dumpty" and "Rain Rain Go Away".
Making a show about children which spanned more than a decade meant many changes in actors were required, as the child actors became too old for their parts. Overall, three sets of children (the Twists, the Gribbles and Fiona) were cast. Additionally, most of the major adult roles were recast at least once: overall, there were two Tonys, two Nells, three Fays, two Mr Snappers, two Harold Gribbles, and three Matron Gribbles across the series' run.
|Character||Season 1 (1989)||Season 2 (1992)||Season 3 (2000)||Season 4 (2001)|
|Tony "Dad" Twist||Richard Moir||Andrew Gilbert|
|Pete Twist||Sam Vandenberg||Ben Thomas||Rian McLean|
|Linda Twist||Tamsin West||Joelene Crnogorac||Ebonnie Masini|
|Bronson Twist||Rodney McLennan||Jeffrey Walker||Mathew Waters|
|Fay James||Robyn Gibbes||Trudy Hellier||Susanne Chapman|
|Helen "Nell" Richards||Bunney Brooke[Cast Note 1]||Marion Heathfield|
|Mr. Harold Gribble||Frankie J. Holden||Mark Mitchell|
|Matron Gribble||Judith McGrath||Jan Friedl||Christine Keogh|
|James Gribble||Lachlan Jeffrey[Cast Note 2]||Richard E. Young[Cast Note 3]||Brook Sykes[Cast Note 4]|
|Tiger Gleeson||Cameron Nugent||Nick Mitchell||Tom Budge|
|Rabbit||Stuart Atkin||Drew Campbell||Samuel Marsland|
|Fiona Richmond||Daisy Cameron||Zeta Briggs||Katie Barnes|
|Mr. Ralph Snapper||Esben Storm||Ernie Gray|
- Except Season 1 episode The Gum Leaf War, Bunney Brooke appears as character "Aunt Tuneless".
- Except Season 1 episode The Gum Leaf War, in which Lachlan Jeffrey appears only as Foxy Jr.
- Richard E. Young later appeared in the Season 4 episode, Face the Fear where he plays one of the policemen.
- Credited as Brook Rowan in Season 3.
The show revolves around the four members of the Twist family:
- Tony Twist ("Dad") — a widower with a kind heart, romantically interested in youngest son Bronson's schoolteacher, Ms. James, he is regularly a bit of a dag and embarrasses the Twist children often. He prides himself as quite the artist, and makes sculptures out of an array of bric-a-bric and other random items;
- Pete Twist — Linda's twin brother, into girls and playing guitar, he occasionally goes out with fellow school student Fiona he also enjoys ganging up on his brother with his twin sister. Somewhat of a lad, his daggy haircut and endearing belief in magic mean the viewer can enjoy his growth throughout the seasons, as he begins to emerge as a mature young man. He is often characterized by his lack of foresight, such as when he ruins a perfectly good broadcast of a singer he likes by wishing her into his lounge room in season one;
- Linda Twist — Pete's twin sister, into feminism, environmentalism and judo. She also enjoys picking on her younger brother, and the audience is exposed to the inner workings of the teenage mind as she struggles with her own individuality;
- Bronson Twist — the twins' younger brother, who is obsessed with food and odors. He often feels left out of what his older siblings are doing, so tags along despite the possibility of danger or ridicule. On a handful of occasions, he is treated as much older than his tender years, including in series one, where he is expected to take full responsibility for a green baby he located in the cabbage patch.
- Helen "Nell" Rickards — the old woman who lives in a cottage next door, whose brother, Tom, had been the former lighthouse keeper. Her father (also a lighthouse keeper), her mother and her sister all died when the ship they were on sunk, their spirits, as well as Tom's, haunted the lighthouse.
- Harold Gribble — a greedy real-estate agent and one-time senate candidate, who often tries to force the Twists to move out of the lighthouse with business schemes.
- "Matron" Cecilia Gribble — Harold's supportive wife, a nurse. Cecilia wears a lot of make-up which she tries to force on Linda in Season one, but she is revealed to the audience as equally scheming as her vile husband.
- James Gribble — Harold's no-good son, a bully at school who often antagonizes Pete.
- "Rabbit" — one of James Gribble's friends, often downtrodden or forced to undergo strain on James' behalf, such as in the spaghetti eating competition in season one, it is also apparent that he can count as high as the number four;
- "Tiger" Gleeson — the other of James Gribble's friends, often seen commentating various events, regardless of whether commentating is useful or appropriate to the context;
- Ms Faye James — Bronson's schoolteacher; Faye James is a love interest for Dad, she lives with the Twists in their lighthouse during the third and fourth seasons.
- Mr Ralph Snapper — Pete and Linda's teacher; with the children he is a harsh disciplinarian who does not respond well to insolence, but with adults he is very socially awkward.
- Fiona Richmond — Linda's friend, and Pete's sometime girlfriend.
- Hugh Townsend — Linda's love crush in the first season only.
- Anthony — in the third and fourth seasons only, a well-meaning nerd with a crush on Linda.
- Phadre, Sacha & Emily — Three girls Pete tries to win over, in the fourth season only.
Characters who appear briefly in each episode of a series:
- Ghost Matthew and Ghost Jeremiah — two ghosts whose spirits were trapped in the lighthouse during season two after they failed to guide a boat to shore one hundred years earlier.
- Ariel — a girl from the "Isle of Dreams" who comes seeking to take Pete away in the fourth season.
- Mr Nic Papadelioises - a local small deli owner that gave Bronson his first job. Played by Kosta Zorbas from the Channel 7 cooking show "Surprise Chef".
Four seasons of Round the Twist have been made, each comprising 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 each season 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)
The lighthouse 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 season 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)
The lighthouse is 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 the second season 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)
In the second episode Linda is given a book of poetry, The Viking Book of Love by a young Viking named Snorrison 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.
Season 4 (2001)
In each episode, a knight in armour enters the lighthouse through a magical door. At the beginning of the season the knight's face is hidden behind a visor, in the second half the visor is raised. In the final episode, 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 Fay's pregnancy to Tony. The baby, named Ariel, is born in the season 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 episode of the same name, is made out to be Skunkman to Gribble's gang, but in reality, it is Bronson's alter-ego.
The first two seasons were written by Paul Jennings, with heavy editing by director Esben Storm (who also played Mr. Snapper in the first three seasons). Each of these episodes, with the exception of the second season' final episode "Seeing The Light", were based on Jennings' short stories. A movie of Round the Twist was planned, but due to creative differences, it was never made. After the second season, Jennings left the show, taking the rights to his stories with him. Paul Jennings also made some cameo appearances, in particular as the ghost of Ben Byron in season one's "Without My Pants".
The third and fourth seasons were written by various writers and re-used the same characters, but did not draw from Jennings' material. The latter series did not match the popular acclaim of the originals, and because of this, the series was cancelled. Incidentally, just two years before the third season was aired, Jennings' stories were being adapted into a different show called Driven Crazy, which also failed to match the popularity of the early Round the Twist and of which only one season was produced.
Several locations were used for the filming of the series. The most notable location is the Twist family's lighthouse home, with exterior scenes shot at the Split Point Lighthouse in Aireys Inlet, Victoria. School and some town scenes were shot in Williamstown, Victoria, Point Lonsdale, Victoria and Queenscliff, Victoria.
Round the Twist is notable for having pushed the boundaries of what is acceptable for children's television, to the extent that the Australian Children's Television Foundation had difficulty finding a distributor for it: according to the ACTF's marketing Manager Jenny Buckland, "the scripts were declared 'too rude', 'not for television' and 'outrageous'".
Some episodes include references to flatulence, defecation, urination, vomiting, body odor, underwear, birth (one involving a male), death, nudity, incest, genitalia, homosexuality, bestiality, coprophagia and infantilism.  The series also engages with significant personal or social issues such as environmental conservation, or romantic relationships. Many episodes revolve around helping restless spirits of dead people or animals find peace.
In the United Kingdom, Round the Twist was aired on BBC One during the channel's CBBC programme several times in the 1990s and early 2000s, and was repeated again in 2007 on Channel 5 on Sunday mornings. It also regularly appeared on Network 2 in Ireland. The show was also popular in Germany and the Netherlands. In Canada it won the Banff Television Festival award for "Best Children's Program" in 2000, and in Australia it won the Logie Award for "Outstanding Children's Program" in 2001 (tied with Hi-5) and 2002. It was also nominated for an award at the Australian Film Institute. The show is currently seen in Australia on ABC3 and Netflix.
The series was also imported to the United States and debuted on Fox Kids in 1997.
In Australia, the series was released on DVD through Magna Pacific originally in 2000/2001 consisting of 7 volumes.
Volume 1: Season 1: Episodes 1-9 (2 Disc Set)
Volume 2: Season 1 & 2: Episodes 10-18 (2 Disc Set)
Volume 3: Season 2: Episodes 19-26 (2 Disc Set)
Volume 4: Season 3: Episodes 27-32
Volume 5: Season 3: Episodes 33-39
Volume 6: Season 4: Episodes 40-45
Volume 7: Season 4: Episodes 46-52
In 2005 these same 7 volumes were then placed in a box and given the "Box Set" name and sold as a complete series and in 2009 the series was re-packed and re-issued.
On 2 February 2010, Magna re-released the whole series in a new packaged box set as 'Completely Twisted Collection'. Series 1, Series 2, Series 3 and Series 4 were released as individual season sets on 1 July 2010 through Magna.
References and notes
- Ricketson, Matthew (18 March 1993). "Kids To Go `Round The Twist' Again On Saturday". The Age. p. 16. Retrieved 19 October 2010.
- Australian Television: Round The Twist
- Flatulence:Season 1, ep.1 Skeleton on the Dunny;
- Defecation: Season 1, ep.2 Birdsdo; season 2, ep.12 Little Black Balls; season 4, ep.3 Linda Godiva;
- Urination: Season 2, ep.3 Little Squirt; Season 3, ep. 1 The Big Burp;
- Vomiting: Season 1, ep.5 Spaghetti Pig Out; Season 3, ep. 1 The Big Burp;
- Body odor: Season 2, ep.7 Smelly Feat;
- Underwear: (actual) Season 1, ep.8 Wunderpants; (referred to) season 2, ep.5 Nails;
- Birth: Season 1, ep.4 Cabbage Patch Fib; season 3, ep.1 The Big Burp; season 4, ep.13 Isle of Dreams;
- Death: Season 2, ep.4 Pink Bowtie, and implicitly most of the ghost stories;
- Nudity: Season 2, ep.11 Quivering Heap, Series 4, ep.3 Linda Godiva;
- Incest: Season 1, ep.9 Lucky Lips; Season 2, ep.9 Ice Maiden;
- References to genitalia: Season 3, ep.3 Whirling Derfish;
- References to homosexuality: Season 2, ep.5 Nails; Season 3, ep.8 Brainless;
- References to bestiality: Season 4, ep.4 Dog By Night;
- Coprophagia: Season 2, ep.2 Copy Cat;
- Infantilism: Season 4, ep5 TV or Not TV
- Environmental: Season 2, episodes 3 Little Squirt, 6 Sloppy Jalopy, 7 Smelly Feat, 8 Grandad's Gifts, 10 Yuckles; season 3, ep.6 The Nirandathal Beast; season 4, ep.8 The Princess and the Pete
- Relationships: Season 1, episode 9 Lucky Lips; season 2, episodes 5 Nails, 9 Ice Maiden; season 3, episode 2 Viking Book of Love
- Season 1, episodes 1, 2, 3, 10, 12, 13; series 2, episodes 8, 11, 13.
- "Round the Twist". Netflix. Retrieved 28 March 2015.
- BBFC database entry
- Round the Twist website
- Writing Round the Twist (Paul Jennings)
- Learning resources for Round the Twist from the Australian Children's Television Foundation
- Round the Twist at TV.com
- Round the Twist on IMDb
- Round The Twist at ClassicKidsTV.co.uk
- The original Bronson on Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Life Matters, Friday 26 August 2016
- Round the Twist at the National Film and Sound Archive