Once Upon a Time... Man

Once Upon a Time... Man (French: Il était une fois... l'homme) is a French animated TV series from 1978 directed by Albert Barillé. It is the first in the Once Upon a Time... franchise. The series explains world history in a format designed for children. The action focuses around one group. The same familiar characters appear in all episodes as they deal with the problems of their time.

Once Upon a Time... Man
Once Upon a Time... Man.jpg
Created byAlbert Barillé
Voices ofRoger Carel
Annie Balestra
Patrick Préjean
Claude Bertrand
Yves Barsacq
Vincent Ropion
Narrated byRoger Carel
ComposerYasuo Sugiyama
Country of originFrance
No. of episodes26
Running time26 minutes
Production companyProcidis
Tatsunoko Productions
Original networkFR3 (France)
Radio-Canada (French Canada)
RAI (Italy)
+SSR (Switzerland)
RTBF (French Belgium)
BRT (Flemish Belgium)
KRO (Netherlands)
NRK (Norway)
SR (Sweden)
RTVE (Spain)
Access (English Canada)
Picture formatSECAM (576i)
Original releaseSeptember 30, 1978 (1978-09-30) –
April 14, 1979 (1979-04-14)
Followed byOnce Upon a Time... Space (1982)

Once Upon a Time... Man was purchased by most public broadcasting channels in Europe (and in many other countries) and is well-known by a significant percentage of the population. The program is known for explaining events to children from different viewpoints as the main characters come from many civilizations.

The series' opening and ending title sequences famously used Johann Sebastian Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D minor as the main title theme music. Shortening the piece to only 2 minutes in length, the introduction uses the very beginning, which jumps into the start of the middle section and finally the dramatic ending to coincide with the destruction of Earth at the end of the intro.

The show aired in the United States on the History Channel starting in January 1996.[1]

Regional releasesEdit

A DVD boxed set of all the episodes of the series was produced by the French production company Procidis, and distributed locally by various distributors. The DVD series was produced in French, English (not sold in the UK or US), Finnish, German, Dutch, Hebrew, Norwegian, Spanish, Swedish and Polish. In 2011, an English-language, Region 1 DVD box set was made available in Canada and the United States. The set was produced and distributed by Imavision.


The episodes of Once Upon a Time… Man typically would follow one family, which most typically used the same set of archetypes that would be reused for the scenario. These same characters would later be used in the later additions to the Once Upon a Time... series, with some changes.

  • Maestro (Roger Carel) – The wise old man. He usually serves as the head of the tribe, as a religious priest, as an advisor to the king, or as an inventor. Maestro's hair is white and so long that it completely covers his body, and only his facial features, arms, and feet are ever visible; he is also distinguished by two hairs on the top of his head that look like antennae. Maestro often keeps objects in his beard and is sometimes seen fiddling around in it to find the one he wishes to present. He also serves as a mentor to the children of the series.
  • Peter / Pierre Carel (Roger Carel) – Another protagonist of the series, with brown hair, presented as an ordinary but likeable man. He is always married to Pierrette and is good friends with Jumbo. He is sometimes referred to as Pierrot. In some of the episodes set in the medieval era, Peter has blonde hair and is named Bert, but his personality and relationships are the same.
  • Jumbo / Le Gros (Yves Barsacq) – The strong young man with red curly hair, Jumbo is tall, somewhat clumsy, and very muscular. He prefers to solve problems with his fists, and his best friend Peter often needs to indicate for him not to attack.
  • Pierrette (Annie Balestra) – A kind blonde woman, typically married to Peter.
  • The Pest / Le Teigneux (Claude Bertrand) – A strong bully and one of two common recurring villains in the series (the other being the Dwarf). He is the major rival opposing Peter and Jumbo, and is either working against them or arguing with them.
  • The Dwarf / Le Nabot (Patrick Préjean) – The mastermind behind the Pest, the Dwarf is short and has red hair with three spikes pointing upward. He is often the only one who supports the Pest in his actions, and is often shown as a swindler.
  • The Clock – A rectangular box with eyes and hands, typically coloured red, the Clock most commonly simply shows the year that the events on-screen are occurring. Occasionally, the Clock does intervene in the series in a minor role, typically to either have some emotional response like surprise or sadness to an event on-screen, or else to correct Maestro in-series when he has ideas too advanced for his historical time period.

Although historical figures would typically appear as themselves, occasionally one of the archetypes would be used, like Maestro as Leonardo da Vinci.


No.TitleOriginal air date
1"And Earth was created…"
"(Et La Terre Fut...)"
30 September 1978 (1978-09-30)
On the evolution of life before Man to the Stone Age.
2"Neanderthal Man"
"(L'Homme Du Neanderthal)"
7 October 1978 (1978-10-07)
On the time of Paleolithic culture to the Ice age.
3"Cro-Magnon Man"
"(Le Cro-Magnon)"
14 October 1978 (1978-10-14)
On the history of Cro-Magnon culture.
4"The Fertile Valleys"
"(Les vallées fertiles)"
21 October 1978 (1978-10-21)

On the rise of agriculture, as well as ancient Mesopotamia, Egypt, Babylon and Israel.

Historical Figures: Cleopatra, David, Delilah, Goliath, Joshua, Moses, Ramses II, Samson
5"The First Empires"
"(Les Premiers Empires)"
28 October 1978 (1978-10-28)

On the empires of Babylon, Assyria, Persia and others from about BC 2000 to BC 323.

Historical Figures: Alexander the Great, Cyrus the Great, Solomon
6"The Age of Pericles"
"(Le siècle de Périclès)"
4 November 1978 (1978-11-04)

On Ancient Greece.

Historical Figures: Pericles, Socrates
7"The Pax Romana"
"(Pax Romana)"
11 November 1978 (1978-11-11)

Actually on the time of Julius Caesar, before the Pax Romana commenced. In the last part of this episode, the birth and life of Jesus Christ are told.

Historical Figures: Julius Caesar, Jesus
8"The Conquest of Islam"
"(Les conquêtes de l'Islam)"
18 November 1978 (1978-11-18)

On the Byzantine Empire, the reign of Justinian I (reigned 527–565), and the spread of Islam between the 7th and 8th centuries.

Historical Figures: Heraclius, Justinian I, Muhammad
25 November 1978 (1978-11-25)

On the Carolingian Empire.

Historical Figures: Charlemagne
10"The Age of Vikings"
"(L'âge des Vikings)"
2 December 1978 (1978-12-02)

On the Vikings.

Historical Figures: Leif Erikson
11"The Cathedral Builders"
"(Les bâtisseurs de cathédrales)"
9 December 1978 (1978-12-09)

On the Middle Ages in the time of the Crusades.

Historical Figures: Richard the Lionheart
12"The Travels of Marco Polo"
"(Les Voyages De Marco Polo)"
16 December 1978 (1978-12-16)

On the history of Marco Polo.

Historical Figures: Genghis Khan, Marco Polo
13"The Hundred Years' War"23 December 1978 (1978-12-23)
On the end of the Hundred Years' War.
14"The Quattrocento"
"(Le Quattrocentro)"
30 December 1978 (1978-12-30)

On the time of Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo.

Historical Figures: Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo
15"The Golden Age of Spain"
"(Le siècle d'or espagnol)"
6 January 1979 (1979-01-06)

On the history of the Spanish Golden Age. Censored in Spain.

Historical Figures: Christopher Columbus
16"Elizabethan England"
"(L'Angleterre d'Élizabeth)"
13 January 1979 (1979-01-13)

Mostly on the voyages of Sir Francis Drake.

Historical Figures: Francis Drake
17"The Golden Age of the Low Countries"20 January 1979 (1979-01-20)

On the history of the Dutch Golden Age.

Historical Figures: Peter the Great
18"The Great Reign of Louis XIV"27 January 1979 (1979-01-27)

On the history of Louis XIV.

Historical Figures: Louis XIV
19"Peter the Great and his Times"
"(Pierre le Grand et son époque)"
3 February 1979 (1979-02-03)

On the history of Peter the Great.

Historical Figures: Frederick the Great, Peter the Great, Frederick William I
20"The Age of Reason"3 March 1979 (1979-03-03)
On the history of the Age of Enlightenment.
10 March 1979 (1979-03-10)
On the New World between 1492 and the American Civil War.
22"The French Revolution"17 March 1979 (1979-03-17)

On the history of the French Revolution.

Historical Figures: Georges Danton, Louis XVI, Jean-Paul Marat, Mirabeau, Maximilien Robespierre
23"The Awakening of the People"24 March 1979 (1979-03-24)
On the mid-nineteenth century and the development of railroad.
24"The Belle Époque"31 March 1979 (1979-03-31)

On the later decade of the nineteenth century, the development of automobiles and the twentieth century up to World War One.

Historical Figures: Vladimir Lenin
25"The Crazy Years"7 April 1979 (1979-04-07)
On the development of aviation, Roaring Twenties, Great Depression and World War Two.
26"Once Upon a Time… the Earth (and tomorrow?)"
"(Il était une fois... la terre (Et demain?)"
14 April 1979 (1979-04-14)
On the post-war world up to the series' production in 1978, with speculation on the future to 2150.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Erickson, Hal (2005). Television Cartoon Shows: An Illustrated Encyclopedia, 1949 Through 2003 (2nd ed.). McFarland & Co. p. 596. ISBN 978-1476665993.

External linksEdit