I have few memories of being a young child (seeing as it was over 35 years ago, and, well, I was very young). What remains are fleeting, mere snatches. I can still recall a Silver tanker going along a road on a sunny day while I am in a pushchair. I also remember looking in a pantry in a house I lived in until I was 2 years old and seeing a tin of HP Baked Beans. Another memory I have is of seeing my Dad and Uncle playing with the family dog in the back garden of that first house.
All of them, as precious as those memories are, pale into comparison when I recall the terror of Paulus The Little Woodgnome, and even more terribly, his nemesis, Eucalypta The Witch. A morning of serene play & TV watching would be destroyed as the deceptively cheery theme tune struck up, “SHE’S GOING TO GET YOU, SHE’S GOING TO GET YOU, SHE’S GOING TO GET YOU BEWARE!!”. This would elicit one response from me. My basic instincts kicked in, and I didnt choose fight – I flighted. I also cried and generally wanted the programme off the TV immediately. This may also explain another memory that has resurfaced as I write this – that of me, on my trike, crashing into the Television in the living room, and it toppling over, followed by a dull WHUMP as the thing quietly blew up. Maybe I was trying to destroy Eucalypta?
The fear the show instilled in me lay dormant for many years, but I began to recall the memories of it in my twenties, but no-one ever really knew what I was talking about (except my mum). However, as with so many things, the internet provided me with some clues. The estimable TV Cream website had a small entry about it;
PAULUS THE WOOD GNOME (1970s)
MITTEL-EUROPEAN GNOMIC adventures of Paulus, who lived in a tree trunk, resembled Popeye in red dungarees, and was menaced by Eucalypta the witch. The theme’s lyrics are the easiest part: “Let’s take a holiday, there’s a little wood where we can stay/Paulus, the little wood gnome welcomes you to his home/There’s ?? and ??, Koo-Roo and the bears/Snap, Gristle and Gregory too/They’re waiting all for you/Something’s brewing, that’s quite plain/The witches cauldron’s boiling again/Paulus, you’d better take care/She’s out to get you/She’s up to get you/She’s out to get you, beware!”
but there was a lack of any photos, and certainly no footage. Then a couple of years back I stumbled upon a site (really only a page) where one mans quest to find out the truth had brought him onto the internet, lookikng for answers – and he had a photo of the TV show that had Eucalypta in it! He writes;
For many years I have been trying to convince people that a long time ago there was a children’s TV series about a little gnome with a fluffy white beard, who lived in a tree.
On suggesting such things I have been met with weird looks and comments that can only suggest that these people must have been on a different planet to me during the late 60s / early 70s.
I have known all my adult life that I was not going mad and that this little Woodgnome did indeed exist on British TV screens 35+ years ago. Even though the evidence of this wonderful tv series is very thin on the ground, I am now able to offer a small piece of proof that I certainly did sit down in front of the telly as a little boy and watched in wonderment as the program title sequence slowly focused in on Paulus standing at his front door, in his tree, in the middle of the wood.
The whole ‘kids programme from the 70’s called something like Paulus that may have been on ITV*’ thing starts to get a bit of a ‘survivors’ vibe the more you searched for it on the internet. Was it real or was it a mass hallucination by under 5’s in the early Seventies??? People posting on the ‘mctowers’ site (and other forums) all said the same sort of stuff, ie ‘I remember it, I thought it was only me, everyone thinks I’m mad, I shit myself every time it came on….’ etc etc. All we needed was some proof, some footage, but there was no english version out there (the original Netherlands programmes (they were dubbed by Arthur Lowe for the UK) have been available on DVD in the recent past).
That has now all changed. Casually browsing youtube, I decided to have another look for Paulus, and bugger me, it is there. Not just a clip, but a whole episode! Going back to the mctower site dedicated to Paulus, the person who has put the episode on youtube explains;
“About 20 years ago I bought a English Language episode of Paulus the Woodgnome on 16mm – Not the most brilliant of quality, but I digitised it at DV quality and cleaned up the poor quality sound….I loved it (Paulus) as a kid too, and yes it is weird. I hope this will bring back some fond memories for all who loved it.”.
Well, I don’t know about fond memories….
Here it is, the episode entitled ‘Jackie The Unicorn’ in full! Try not to scream the first time that you see Eucalypta. She is horrible.
* It was on ITV.