Meet Dorothée: The French Olivia Newton-John look-a-like who sang about Ewoks and Dungeons & Dragons

Dorothée is the stage name of Frédérique Hoschedé, the TV host whose hit children’s show Club Dorothée ran in France for ten years. With an insane daily schedule which included a before-school show, an after-school show, and all day long broadcasts on holidays… thousands of kids spent nearly 20 hours a week watching Dorothée on their television sets. Despite the show’s extreme popularity with children, Club Dorothée‘s tight shooting schedule made it nearly impossible for the writers and producers to turnaround any sort of quality, and many teachers, parents, and intellectuals attacked Club Dorothée for being violent, lazy, and even racist programming.

Dorothée received her first break in 1973 when she was asked to host a short children’s program called Dorothée and Blablatus. Blablatus was a skinny, pink, Charles Dickens looking muppet who wore polka dot bow tie and a top hat. Program manager Eliane Victor declared that Dorothée was incompetent for the hosting job and fired her, she then spent the next several years working as a secretary in a plumbing fixture factory, as a waitress, and as a sandwich maker in a supermarket. In 1977 at the age of 24, Dorothée got a second chance at fame when she was hired to host the program Dorothée and her Friends. The show was co-presented by famous French cartoonist Cabu (who sadly became a victim of the January 2015 shootings at the Charlie Hebdo newspaper offices).
In March 1980, Dorothée released her first album Dorothée in the Land of Songs which sold 70,000 copies. She then proceeded to record one album a year from 1982 to 1997. Among her many hits were “Les Schtroumpfs” (a theme for The Smurfs), “Les petits Ewoks,” written for the Star Wars made-for-TV film movie Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure, and “Donjons et dragons” (for the animated television series Dungeons & Dragons based on the role-playing game). “Allo allo monsieur l’ordinateur” (“Hello Hello Mister Computer”) was a tongue in cheek song about asking love advice from a machine and in “La valise” she sang about the items she put in her luggage, and released a new version of the song on every album. For her live concert performances, Dorothée would be joined on stage by actors wearing Ewok costumes.

In 1987, Dorothée and her producers were contacted by rival channel TF1 who offer her a higher budget, attractive salary, and a bigger studio. Club Dorothée immediately became an institution with its wild cartoons, sketches, and games. Children who were members of the studio audience could win a variety of prizes: everything from expensive gifts to series pins and subscriptions to Dorothée magazine. Dorothée presented several music episodes where she sang along with guest stars like Chuck Berry, Percy Sledge, Cliff Richard, and Ray Charles. “I have very good memories, it was non-stop craziness,” she said in an August 2012 interview. 
Adults were highly critical of Club Dorothée, they thought games and the sketches were ridiculous, stupid, and noneducational. Channel TF1 purchased a high volume of Japanese cartoons to help fill out the length of each program. These cartoons were poorly dubbed and broadcast without first being reviewed. Many parents found them to be too violent for children, and many complaints were filed to the CSA (the french equivalent of the FCC) after one particular cartoon featured a character wearing a Nazi-like symbol. Viewers also complained about the blatant lack of diversity in the show, pointing out that the only black people ever to have appeared on Club Dorothée were represented by the most archaically outdated stereotypes imaginable, such as a “comedic” dance sequence for a song called “Banania.”

In addition, the actors often complained about the bad sketches and dialogue that were presented to them on a daily basis. “We do not talk like that, the endless sentences that don’t mean anything, the tirades that have nothing to do with anything… we have been legally bound to go along with these scripts that don’t make any sense” said actor Philippe Vasseur. Terrible rumors about Dorothée began spreading in the early days of the internet: that she hated children, had previously acted in pornographic films, and was only interested in making money. As audience viewership and album sales declined, Club Dorothée was finally canceled in August 1997 after a ten-year run. When the show ended, Dorothée disappeared from the spotlight and immediately fell into the “Where are they now?” file. 




Posted by Doug Jones
12:23 pm
Jeremy Irons, children’s TV presenter?
09:41 am

Jeremy Irons is one of the great screen actors. A multi-award winning star of Brideshead Revisited, The Mission, Cronenberg’s Dead Ringers (above), Die Hard 2 and of course more recently a scheming Pope in The Borgias.

But once upon a time, long, long before this all happened, Mr. Irons was a very popular presenter on a BBC children’s series called Play Away.

Play Away was the sister show to another daytime kids series called Play School. Play Away was the weekend edition—a kind of Saturday supplement. Both shows were aimed at pre-school and junior school kids with the noble intention of encouraging interest in reading, writing and role playing. It was like Sesame Street without the Muppets or The New Zoo Revue starring just Doug and Emmy Jo.

The format centered on three presenters (usually led by the likeable Brian Cant) who sang songs, told stories and played the same kind of games kids did in the yard. Irons was one of the regular co-hosts. He appeared on the same roster as a number of other young actors and actresses. Most notably Tony Robinson—better known to millions as Baldrick in Blackadder; and Julie Covington—the original Janet Weiss in The Rocky Horror Show stage play, star of TV series Rock Follies and hit singer of “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina.”

With no multi-channels or 24-hour scheduling, kids TV in 1970’s UK was kept within strict time zones—early morning and then late afternoon. The dearth of suitable entertainment meant shows like Play Away attracted kids of all ages and quite a few hungover university students too. I know because I was one of the older school kids who tuned in.

Play Away was a refreshing twenty-five minutes oasis in the grey Saturday schedule of sports and war movies. I do recall Mr. Irons. He seemed very earnest, like an older brother trying to impress the grownups at a party. But still, he was fun. And proof—if ever it was needed—of the truth in the words of Dorothy Fields’ showstopper: “It’s not where you start, it’s where you finish. It’s not how you go, it’s how you land…”
See Jeremy Irons on ‘Play Away’ after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher
09:41 am
The Swedes have an unusual way of teaching kids about sex, don’t they?

Meet Snoppen and Snippan, they’re Internet sensations.

It’s easy to see why this charming little children’s animation from Sweden has become such a massive hit there. It’s obviously the bright colors, the rather catchy tune that will have you singing along in a minute or two…and the…er…jolly bouncy characters who look, very happy with each other. It’s all very Swedish.

Apparently, this is one way that Swedes teach their children all about the facts of life—through the animated characters “Willie” (Snoppen) and his very close friend Snippan—which are apparently slang words for something or another. This gloriously surreal cartoon comes from the hit children’s TV show Bacillakuten, and that earworm of a song tells how Willie is “full of pace” and Snippan is “really cool, you better believe it, even on an old lady. It just sits there so elegantly.” Okay, the scansion may be a bit off, but I think we all get the idea.

YouTube originally made this an “adult only” video before reversing themselves on that. Still, if they tried something like this on Sesame Street, the responsible party would probably be imprisoned. Gotta love those free lovin’ Swedes!

Via Nyheter24.

Posted by Paul Gallagher
09:20 am