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Brian is an amiable, easy-going snail. He and his friends, Zebedee (a jack-in-the-box), Dougal (a dog), Ermintrude (a cow), Dylan (a rabbit), and Florence (a girl), live near and hang out together in the vicinity of a merry-go-round (the Magic Roundabout) run by Mr. Rusty.
Created by Serge Danot, The Magic Roundabout is a children's stop-motion animation television series that ran from 1964 to 1971. The BBC bought it from France's national televison and radio production agency Office de Radiodiffusion-Télévision Française (ORTF), but the contract did not include scripts, and rather than pay for those and translate them, the BBC hired Eric Thompson (Emma Thompson's father) to write new scripts based purely on the episodes' visuals, without knowing what the original dialogue or storylines were, instead figuring out a narrative using just the visuals. Eric Thompson also narrated the English versions.
In the original French version, Brian was called Ambroise. When the Magic Roundabout was turned into a CGI movie in 2005, actor Jim Broadbent provided Brian's voice. The film was renamed Doogal for US release and re-dubbed, with the voice of Brian provided by William H. Macy.
The Magic Roundabout and its characters made the transition to comics in 1966 when Hamlyn began publishing annuals based on the series. The annuals were released each year throughout the 1970s, and then intermittently in the 1980s and 1990s. Overlapping the annuals, the Magic Roundabout also began appearing in Playhour during the 1970s.