Seeing as Charlie Brooker decided to remind me of Ludwig with a spoof on last week’s How TV Ruined Your Life, let’s deal with this very strange, but well-remembered cartoon series from 1977.
The cartoon in essence was simple. Ludwig was a strange egg-shaped, metallic/stone contraption with a mind of its own who lived in the forest with a bunch of animals. The plot was then more or less the same for each of the 25, five-minute episodes in the show’s run. Something would happen to the animals and Ludwig would come to the rescue (normally having created the problem in the first place, just to see what the animals do in some kind of scary experiment). To do this, his body’s facets would open up and out would pop arms, legs, gadgets or even a helicopter rotor blade when he needed to get somewhere fast.
Neither Ludwig nor the animals talked – they squeaked. However, they were constantly watched by a human birdwatcher (voiced by Jon Glover) who had a deerstalker and large binoculars and he narrated the cartoon. Very odd. Then at the end of every episode, Ludwig played the final movement of Beethoven’s first symphony through the credits.
If this all sounds a bit weird to you, it’s because it was created by father and son team, Mirek and Peter Lang. Mirek had worked on Czech TV during the 60s and as all watchers of BBC2 during the 70s and 80s will testify, Eastern Europe was pretty much the home of mental, nihilistic, inexplicable cartoons at that time.
Ludwig is pretty much remembered for the music and scaring the crap out of children. You can watch all the episodes on YouTube to see why it did this, but here’s the first episode below.