Alphabet Zoo

Small Voice Calling > The Voice > Alphabet Zoo

“Holly the Hedgehog, Holly the Hedgehog, nobody wants to sleep with her.”


In 1982, Ralph McTell was approached by Granada TV to write and perform songs on a children’s TV programme. ‘Alphabet Zoo’ had a simple but effective format – Nerys Hughes told a story about an animal, and Ralph sang a complementary song.

Ralph explained his brief “…wasn’t just to entertain children, it was to entertain unemployed Dad at home and alleviate Mum’s boredom, so the songs may have had other meanings. Like ‘Holly the Hedgehog’, where no-one wants to sleep with her because of her prickles… The kids hear it one way, and maybe Mum got a little smile out of it another way.” (Hockenhull, Chris. ‘Streets of London’, p. 107.) But when Ward Lock published ‘Ralph McTell’s Alphabet Zoo Songbook’ in 1984, they replaced ‘sleep’ with ‘dance’.

The show ran for two series, requiring Ralph to write two songs for each letter of the alphabet. Three albums of songs from the series were released, the most comprehensive set being ‘The Complete Alphabet Zoo’ with 27 tracks. ‘Volume 2’ of this title has yet to materialize.

Songs A to Z

Titles in Italics have not yet been released on an album.

First series
(broadcast January to July 1983)  
Second series
(September 1983 to May 1984
Adelaide the Alligator 
Albert Ross  the Albatross
Betty the Badger
Boris the Bat
Camilla the Camel
Curly the Cat
Duster the Dog
Daphne the Dolphin
Edna the Elephant
Edna the Elephant
Fergus the Frog
Ferdy the Fox
Gordon the Goat
Garibaldi the Gorilla
Holly the Hedgehog
Harvey the Hippo
Iggy the Iguana
Ian the Impala / Impala Song
Jake the Jackdaw
Jasper the Jay
Kenny the Kangaroo
Katie the Koala (Up a Gum Tree)
Lorna the Ladybird
Laurence the Lion
Martin the Monkey
Maurice the Mole
Nellie the Newt
Nigel the Nightingale
Ollie the Otter
Oscar the Ostrich
Peter the Parrot
Percy the Penguin
Quentin the Quail
Queenie the Quail
Ruskin the Rabbit
Robert the Reindeer
Sally the Seal
Stanley the Stoat
Tammy the Tortoise
Terry the Turtle
Unwin the Unicorn
Umbrella Bird
Victor the Vulture
Vernon the Vulture  (Just a Little One)
Wagstaff the Woodpecker
Wally the Walrus
X-ray Fish
X-ray Fish
Yuri the Yak
Yip the Yellowhammer (Learning Left from Right)
Zoe the Zebra
Sunshine Makes Shadows [Zebra #2]

Other songs

Digger the Dog
– Not broadcast
Not Long Now
– Broadcast December 1983
Zoo Zoo Zoo
– 2nd series theme song

Recordings and Issues

7″ EP ‘Songs from Alphabet Zoo’ – Released 1982 – Mays ING3.
LP ‘Songs from Alphabet Zoo’ – Released 1983 – Mays TG007.
LP ‘Best of Alphabet Zoo’ – Released 1983 – Mays AZ123.
7″ single ‘Kenny the Kangaroo’ – Released 1983 – Mays ING4 [Note1].
LP ‘Best of Alphabet Zoo’ – Released 1984 – Music for Pleasure MFP4156741.
7″ single ‘Kenny the Kangaroo’ – Released 1990 – Funny STACK1 [Note 2] [Note 3].
CD ‘The Complete Alphabet Zoo’ – Released 1993 – Road Goes on Forever RGFCD016.
CD ‘Alphabet Zoo’ – Released 2001 – Leola TPGCD20 [Note 4].
Track ‘Kenny the Kangaroo’ on ‘The Journey’ box set CD3 – Released 2006 [Note 5].
Track ‘Edna the Elephant’ on ‘Tickle on the Tum’ Series 1 DVD – Released 2010 [Note 6].
CD ‘Alphabet Zoo’ – Released 2013 – Leola TPGCD20 [Note 4].
Track ‘Kenny the Kangaroo’ on ‘Songs for Six Strings 6th – E’ CD – Released 2016 [Note 2] [Note 7].


1. Re-recorded ‘Australian mix’ version, b/w ‘The Parrot Song’.
2. Live recording.
3. The other side of this single features Noel Murphy’s ‘Murphy and the Bricks’.
4. Repackaged reissue of ‘The Complete Alphabet Zoo’.
5. Original 1982 recording.
6. Broadcast in 1984.
7. ‘Hidden’ track, taken from the 1990 7″ single.