Capricorn Game

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started5th May 1981
ended30th Jun 1981
last rpt5th Jul 1984
4 school years
duration15 mins
age rangeAge 7-9 & Age 9-11
languageenIn English

Capricorn Game is a BBC schools TV series from the 1980s, covering special educational needs for primary school pupils.

A pioneering series designed to support children with learning disabilities and special educational needs, promoting thinking skills such as decision making, sequencing and telling the difference between things. They draw pupils' attention with tunes, rhymes and an intriguing story, delivered in a completely straight-forward, and straight-faced, way.

The first six programmes do this through a drama serial, showing an animated magician called Mr Capricorn influencing some real people on a quest to mend an umbrella. The final two programmes present games and songs based on simple maths, presented in the studio but linked to the serial by the appearance of Mr Capricorn, this time as a life-sized puppet.

The series was supported by a radio series intended for teachers which also included follow-up material for use with children. This was called Capricorn Club, and the idea that pupils following the programmes were part of a club and joining in with the characters, presenters and children seen on screen was promoted throughout, but in the Maths Games programmes in particular.

The Story

Mr Capricorn meets the umbrella
Umbrella label

In the drama serial, written by future Doctor Who writers Pip & Jane Baker, kindly but rather scatter-brained and untidy magician Mr Capricorn comes across a discarded umbrella, with a goat's head carved into its handle, which has ripped and needs a new cover. To help mend the umbrella he draws it to the attention of a pair of school workers, Linda and Fred, attaching a label with inviting them, the number to ring if you find me, is 1 1 2 2 1 2 3.

He then leads Linda and Fred on a trail around towns, motorway service stations and garages in their school minibus, using public telephone boxes to set tasks and games, and promising a prize if they deliver the umbrella. He calls this hunt the Capricorn game.

There are various setbacks to overcome as the umbrella is thrown away, a map is lost, the minibus breaks down, and the umbrella repair shop that Mr Capricorn was sending them too turns out to have closed down.

Fred and Linda arguing as they drive around

Along the way Mr Capricorn plays various games with the umbrella and sets challenges for Linda and Fred, involving finding the odd one out or identifying sequences. And he frequently sings a ditty about himself


I'm Mr Capricorn. I am a clever fella!
I wear a coat that's torn and I found a magic umbrella.

Capricorn Game magician signpost.jpg

Maths Games

The final two episodes of the series present a series of games and songs based on mathematics. The magician Mr Capricorn, now appearing as a large puppet, appears to "invent" the games and hand them over to presenters Carole Harrison and David Parfitt in a TV studio.

In the first programme, children in the studio play a card game called clue pelmanism, a memory game in which they have to match pictures of a sum with the mathematical symbols for that sum. The presenters also play a game of musical hats, count live chickens, sing a song about pairs, and build two towers to demonstrate that one is bigger than the other.

In the second programme the games and songs are about place value.

Episode List

# Title Broadcast
Capricorn Game drama serial
1. Part 1 #1981-05-05-00-00-005 May 1981
2. Part 2 #1981-05-12-00-00-0012 May 1981
3. Part 3 #1981-05-19-00-00-0019 May 1981
4. Part 4 #1981-06-02-00-00-002 Jun 1981
5. Part 5 #1981-06-09-00-00-009 Jun 1981
6. Part 6 #1981-06-16-00-00-0016 Jun 1981
Maths Games
7. Maths Games 1 #1981-06-23-00-00-0023 Jun 1981
8. Maths Games 2 #1981-06-30-00-00-0030 Jun 1981


Year Term Day Time Channel Dates Details
1980-81 Summer 1981 Tue 09:58 BBC1 5 May to 30 Jun
Fri 10:15 BBC1 8 May to 3 Jul Repeat
1981-82 Summer 1982 Tue 09:53 BBC1 27 Apr to 22 Jun
Fri 11:22 BBC1 30 Apr to 25 Jun Repeat

1982-83 Summer 1983 Tue 09:53 BBC1 26 Apr to 21 Jun
Fri 11:00 BBC1 29 Apr to 24 Jun Repeat

1983-84 Summer 1984 Mon 11:23 BBC2 14 May to 2 Jul
Thu 09:52 BBC2 17 May to 5 Jul Repeat


Starring Maurice Denham as Mr Capricorn

Primula Cotton as Linda
Donald Gee as Fred
Stephen Tate as Umbrella

With Pat Gorman as the umbrella owner (episode 1)

Blue Brattle as the cleaner (episode 2)
Pat Fincham as the customer (episode 3)
Phil Green as the policeman (episode 4)
Margaret Braden (episode 5)
Ken Sedd (episode 6)

Maths Games Presented by Carole Harrison

David Parfitt

Assistant floor manager Michael Darbon
Production assistant Vivienne Steele
Sound recordist Arthur Chesterman
Film cameraman Brian Hall
Music Roger Limb

Douglas Coombes

Model maker Alan Platt
Photography Bill Gregory

Mike Cullen
Peter Noble

Drawings Corinna Poore
Animation Leo Beltoft
Film editor Neil Thomson
Drama serial written by Pip & Jane Baker
Drama serial directed by Vivienne Cozens
Executive producer Claire Chovil
Maths Games Producer Rosanna Hibbert


Teacher's Notes

A combined book of notes for Capricorn Game and Capricorn Club combined, including worksheets for pupils, sequencing games to cut out, and a pull-out board game devised by Pip and Jane Baker.

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