Eric Thompson

Eric Norman Thompson (9 November 1929 – 30 November 1982) was an English actor, television presenter and producer. 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.

Eric Thompson
Eric Norman Thompson

(1929-11-09)9 November 1929
Died30 November 1982(1982-11-30) (aged 53)
Camden, London, England
Phyllida Law (m. 1957)
ChildrenEmma Thompson
Sophie Thompson

Early life

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][3] 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. His daughter Emma Thompson has noted his influence on her career, saying "his humour and his rigour, a self-taught man, who loved words and loved the use of words and how they worked. Everything about that was hugely influential. Thompson rarely worked on television after his voice became well-known, but occasionally appeared in programmes such as Doctor Who in the serial The Massacre of St Bartholomew's Eve in 1966.

Personal life

Thompson married Scottish actress Phyllida Law,[4] whom he met while at the Old Vic in 1957. Their daughters Emma and Sophie Thompson also followed into acting.

In 1967, he had a heart attack which resulted from overwork and heavy smoking.[5] He made a career change to focus on directing.[5]


On 30 November 1982, Thompson died of a heart attack in London.[5]


  1. Stevens, Christopher (2010). Born Brilliant: The Life of Kenneth Williams. John Murray. p. 401. ISBN 1-84854-195-3.
  2. "Eric Thompson Biography (1929-1982)". 2014. Retrieved 4 October 2014.
  3. "Eric Thompson". The Scotsman. 31 March 2006. Retrieved 4 October 2014.
  4. "Phyllida Law Biography (1932-)". 2014. Retrieved 4 October 2014.
  5. Eric Thompson article, The Scotsman, Friday 31 March 2006
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