Eric Thompson

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Eric Thompson
Eric Norman Thompson

(1929-11-09)9 November 1929
Died30 November 1982(1982-11-30) (aged 53)
(m. 1957)

Eric Norman Thompson (9 November 1929 – 30 November 1982) was an English actor, scriptwriter and stage director. He is best remembered for creating and performing the English narration for The Magic Roundabout,[1] which he adapted from the original French Le Manège enchanté.

Early life[edit]

Eric Norman Thompson was born on 9 November 1929 in Sleaford, Lincolnshire, England, the son of Annie (née Jackson) and George Henry Thompson, a hotel waiter,[2] and grew up in Rudgwick, Sussex, attending Collyer's School, Horsham. He trained to be an actor at the Old Vic acting school in London and joined the Old Vic theatre company in 1952.[1]


Thompson worked regularly for the BBC, and was a presenter of the children's television programme Play School from 1964 to 1967. He was best known as the narrator of The Magic Roundabout, for which he also wrote the English language scripts, using the visuals from the original French Le Manège enchanté. These were transmitted from October 1965 to January 1977. Thompson rarely worked in television after his voice became well-known, but occasionally appeared in programmes including Doctor Finlay's Casebook (episode: "Beware of the Dog"), Doctor Who in the serial The Massacre of St Bartholomew's Eve in 1966, and in two episodes of Coronation Street, in 1964 and 1969 (playing two different characters).

Personal life[edit]

Thompson married Scottish actress Phyllida Law,[3] whom he met while at the Old Vic in 1957. Their daughters Emma and Sophie Thompson followed into acting.

In 1967, he had a heart attack, attributed to overwork and heavy smoking, and he therefore changed his focus to directing.[4] He directed Kenneth Williams in My Fat Friend in 1972 and the conflicts between the two are extensively discussed in Williams' diaries.

On 30 November 1982, Thompson died of a heart attack in London.[4]


Year Title Role Notes
1951 Pool of London Garage Pump Attendant Uncredited
1957 Lucky Jim Student Uncredited
1962 Private Potter Capt. John Knowles
1963 The Barber of Stamford Hill 1st Customer
1967 The Jokers
1970 One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich Tsetzar
1970 Dougal and The Blue Cat (Pollux et Le Chat Bleu) Narrator / Dougal / Florence / Brian / Zebedee / Dylan / Mr Rusty / Mr Machenry / Ermintrude / The Train Voice


  1. ^ a b Stevens, Christopher (2010). Born Brilliant: The Life of Kenneth Williams. John Murray. p. 401. ISBN 978-1-84854-195-5.
  2. ^ "Eric Thompson". The Scotsman. 31 March 2006. Retrieved 4 October 2014.
  3. ^ Bristol, University of. "2003: Wedding photo | News and features | University of Bristol". Retrieved 14 January 2024.
  4. ^ a b Eric Thompson article, The Scotsman, Friday 31 March 2006

External links[edit]