Lost Gems: King Rollo (1980)

King Rollo

I do this Lost Gem, mainly as a favour to my wife and as an instructional video for younger people. It seems that there are “young people” (ie people in their 20s) in Britain who do not know who King Rollo is/was, which is just unacceptable.

King Rollo was a children’s character created by David McKee in 1979, starring in a series of books, animations narrated by Ray Brooks, and a comic strip in the magazine Buttons. In all, 13 episodes of the animation were produced in 1980 that were originally shown in two halves as part of the BBC’s pre-school See-Saw strand.

The central character of the stories was Rollo, a child-like King who was always in need of advice and assistance from his friends. Among these were The Magician (a father figure), Cook (the king’s cook, a mother figure, who was arguably the real ruler of the kingdom), his neighbour, Queen Gwen, King Frank, and perhaps most importantly, Rollo’s cat, Hamlet, who was generally portrayed as wiser than Rollo himself.

The animations used the same distinctive colourful cut-out paper look as McKee’s other works, such as Mr Benn (about whom much will be said at a later date), and one memorable aspect was that the characters’ legs would rotate outwards when walking until they were at right-angles at the sides of their body.

Here’s the first episode. There – now everyone knows who King Rollo is. Job done.


  • Rob Buckley

    I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.