The Magnficent Six And 1/2 (1967-1969, 1972) was a British film series of shorts that were inspired by the Our Gang comedies. The series followed the adventures of seven children (one of whom, the "1/2" of the group, was much younger than the others), who had their own clubhouse in an old junkyard. The series led to a television off-shoot, Here Come The Double Deckers!, which essentially had the same premise.
In 1967, Century Films producers Harry Booth and Roy Simpson were asked to create a new serial for the British cinema's Children's Film Foundation. Writer/actor Glyn Jones suggested creating a modern version of Hal Roach's Our Gang comedies. Jones recalled, "I said, 'Why not do a modern version of Our Gang?' This suggestion was greeted by silence and blank stare until Harry said, 'What's Our Gang?'...So I told Roy and Harry all about the gang right down to the dog with the black eye, and said we didn't have to copy them, we could do our own version and The Magnificent Six and 1/2 was born."
The series made its debut in 1967, with a first season of six twenty minute shorts. The series proved popular enough to launch a second season in 1969. Eventually, Booth and Simpson decided to bring their idea to television, and created an updated version of "Six and 1/2" called Here Come The Double Deckers!. "The Double Deckers" was cancelled after only one season.
Following the cancellation of "The Double Deckers", Peter Graham Scott gained permission to create a third season of "Six and 1/2" shorts for cinema with his company, Lion Pacesetter. This was the final season, with an entirely different cast.
Cast and Characters
- Steve - Len Jones (1967-1968), Robin Davies (1969). The demanding leader of the gang. Steve was the only character to be played by two different actors. Len Jones was unavailable to play the role for the second season, and was therefore replaced by Davies.
- Dumbo - Ian Ellis (1967-1969). A large, but not too bright boy.
- Toby - Brinsley Forde (1967-1969). The only black member of the original group. A practical joker. Forde would later play a similar character in Here Come The Double Deckers!.
- Liz - Suzanne Togni (1967-1969). The tomboy of the gang.
- Stodger - Lionel Hawkes (1967-1969). A small boy that always eats.
- Peewee - Kim Tallmadge (1967-1969). The '1/2' of the gang. A tag-along that tries to be bigger.
- Whizz - Michael Audreson (1967-1969). Peewee's older brother, and the gang's resident genius. Audreson later played a similar character in Here Come The Double Deckers!.
- Andy - Paul Griffiths (1972). Replaced Steve as the leader of the gang.
- Genie - Jody Lynn Schaller (1972). Replaced Whizz as the genius of the group.
- Podge - Kay Skinner (1972). Replaced Dumbo as the large kid.
- Scruff - Steven Wallen (1972). Replaced Peewee as the "1/2" of the gang.
- Larry - James C. Baxter (1972). Another member of the gang.
- Sam - Robert Richardson (1972). Another member of the gang.
- Liz - Jane Coster (1972). Another member of the gang.
Season 1 (1967-1968)
- Ghosts and Ghoulies - The gang initiate new members Whizz and Peewee by having him spend the night in a haunted house. A clip from this film later appeared in the documentary The Our Gang Story.
- When Knights Were Bold - The kids find a suit of armor, which Dumbo tries on, and quickly gets stuck in.
- Billy the Kid - The gang are involved with a mischievous goat which turns out to be a missing regimental mascot.
- Kontiki Kids - The gang build a raft to ferry them across a canal, with just one problem: actually getting the raft to the canal
- Bob-a-Job - The gang help in the collections for a youth club.
- Peewee's Pianola The kids find a pianola, and try to bring it to junkyard owner Old Tom. But when it runs away, with Peewee trapped inside of it, nothing but chaos ensues.
Season 2 (1969)
- Peewee Had A Little Ape - Toby tries on a dummy ape skin and is mistaken for a real ape which has escaped from a circus.
- A Good Deed In Time - The gang try to be helpful, but practically every deed they partake in involves borrowing a ladder from a decorator, who attempts to climb out of the window, not realizing that his ladder has gone!
- The Magician - At Peewee's birthday party Marvo the Magician loses Stodger in his special cabinet and then disappears himself. But Stodger materializes wherever there is any food.
- A Lad In The Lamp - An unscrupulous ice cream vendor steals an old lamp from the gang, but Whizz has fixed a walkie-talkie inside the lamp and the vendor gets more than he bargained for.
- It's Not Cricket - The gang's cricket ball is confiscated by an angry man who throws it on to a passing lorry. The kids try to retrieve the ball at a local construction site, causing their usual share of havoc along the way.
- The Astronoughts - Whizz converts an old boiler into a spaceship. However a scrap metal dealer has already bought it and hauls it away by crane with the Gang inside. Naturally enough, they believe they are in outer space.
Season 3 (1972)
- That's All We Need - The kids decide to erect an old hut as headquarters for an "Adventure Playground" on some local wasteland, not realizing that a demolition gang is moving in to clear the derelict houses surrounding it. The children inadvertently help themselves to the demolition gang's tools, sections of prefabricated huts and various useful materials. Adventure and chaos follow and ends with Andy and the gang the happy possessors of a shining new hut.
- Up The Creek - The gang are given a not-so-seaworthy boat which they convert into a super-fast craft. The unscrupulous boatyard owner who gave it to them bullies them into exchanging it, but chaos results and the joke is on him.
- Up For The Cup - The gang, as supporters of their local football team, are upset when they are denied entrance to the championship game because the tickets are sold out. Observing the game from a tree situated over a private garden inadvertently sets off a chain of rather frantic and, ultimately, disastrous results.
- The Ski Wheelers - When old Mr Brown gives the gang some skis, they resolve the problem of the lack of snow by fixing the skis to roller skates. Havoc results, but it's the two nasty louts who steal the skis who are arrested by the police.
- Time Flies - The gang goes on a map reading exercise. Lost near a tower haunted by the ghost of a drowned seafarer, the compass direction that the ghost gives them leads them through havoc-full lanes, restaurants, and a deep freeze plant.)
- Five Survive - The gang genuinely believe they have helped a farmer -even though he has been bad-tempered with them and does not deserve help- by rounding up what they suppose to be his stray cows.
- The working title for this series was Market Lane Mob.