· It seemed to run for about 629 episodes.
· It had an excellent theme tune.
· There was two boys and a girl who were trying to locate the Mysterious Cities of Gold – they were joined by a Han Solo-eqsue pirate, who was friendly enough but wanted to find the Cities of Gold for his own purposes.
· There was a massive flying machine that looked like a Golden Eagle. Although it was in the opening sequence every week, it didn’t actually appear in the cartoon until about episode 483.
· One of the boys had some sort of special amulet or medallion that could help locate the Cites of Gold.
For me, The Mysterious Cities of Gold, along with The MuskerHounds and Willy Fog, makes up the Holy Trinity of cartoon shows from my youth. It’s interesting to note that all three had long, ambitious story lines told over many episodes, and all had a kicking theme tune. If I close my eyes I can just make out a broom cupboard bound-Philip Schofield’s (pre-This Morning) face (and white George Clooney hair), encouraging viewers to write in to get a printed copy of the theme song lyrics. Or was it Andy Crane? Ed the Duck was definitely there. I have a clear memory of watching every week and wondering ‘But when are they going to find that massive Golden Eagle flying machine?!?’ And feeling very relieved when they did.
OK now let’s see what the internet says.
The BBC started showing The Mysterious Cities of Gold – a joint French-Japanese production – on September 1, 1986. Set in 1532, the hero, Esteban, begins a journey to find his father which ultimately leads to the titular cities. The cool pirate was Mendoza, and Esteban’s pals were Inca girl Zia and Tao, The last living descendant of the sunken empire of Mu. They pursued by baddies Gomez and Gaspard, who are also in search of the Cities of Gold.
It was indeed an epic adventure, showing for nine continuous months – unheard of in children’s TV, unless you’re Blue Peter.
This was the opening narration:
It is the 16th century. From all over Europe, great ships sail west to conquer the New World, the Americas. The men eager to seek their fortune, to find new adventures in new lands. They long to cross uncharted seas and discover unknown countries, to find secret gold on a mountain trail high in the Andes. They dream of following the path of the setting sun that leads to El Dorado and the Mysterious Cities of Gold.
Doesn’t sound like your typical kids cartoon does it? These days it would be set on a race track in California, be six episodes long, and Esteban would have a massive eye-patch wearing parrot that sat on his shoulder constantly squawking his catchphrase “Totes Amaze!”.
Actually that sounds like quite a good show.
The wikipedia page on Cities of Gold where I stole all the above information from also claims there is a live action feature film in development.
I will give everyone reading this £20 if that ever happens.
By Luke Chilton