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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Who remembers Castle Sauberac?

It is eleventh century England. Deep in the heart of the countryside, bumbling magician Catweazle finds himself cornered by Norman Soldiers. Relying on the unsure powers of his magic, he leaps into a lake to escape his pursuers. However he flees further than he had hoped travelling nine hundred years through time into the twentieth century. In unfamiliar surroundings Catweazle is soon discovered by Carrot, a young boy who lives at a local farm, and through him, Catweazle discovers that things have changed beyond his imagination.

The first episode of Catweazle was shown on 15th February 1970, more than 6 years before I was born. The series was conceived and written by Richard Carpenter, and ran for two seasons starring Geoffrey Bayldon as the irrepressible Catweazle. As a child in the 1980s I was given the books and was entranced by the story of the wizard and his antics. Recently I watched the television series on DVD and was struck by how much better childrens programmes were then than they are now.

At around 12 years old I loved the BBC childrens comedy series Maid Marian and Her Merry Men written by Tony Robinson (aka Baldrick in Blackadder). I still have a tired old video tape on which I recorded all the episodes and I still watch it now .

Robin Hood is an ineffectual wimp, whereas the formidable idealist Marian is the true leader of the resistance against the evil monarch King John. Marian terrorises the forest-dwelling peasants into following her commands as she plots to rob from the rich to feed the poor. But, courageous and capable though she is, her plans rarely turn out as she envisages, being derailed either by her naive idealism or the sheer incompetence of the mentally challenged nincompoops who comprise her Merry Men, including Rabies, Barrington (a Rastafarian) and the appropriately diminutive Little Ron.

Another brilliant kids TV series, The Ghosts of Motley Hall, also written by Richard Carpenter, was shown in 1976 (the year I was born). I have never seen the series but absolutely loved reading the book - I am going to oreder the DVD as I am sure I will love it as much as an adult as I did as a child.

Motley Hall was for sale! And, as the local residents were saying, a good thing too, for it had been looking more derelict every year as it lay empty, gathering layers of dust and ivy and cobwebs, while the owner, the last of the big Uproar family, travelled abroad on his own. Now he was dead (knelt on by an elephant, people said!), and the house would be sold. It didn't matter much, for there was no one left to care - or no one that ordinary people knew about. What they didn't know was that there was a thriving community of GHOSTS at Motley Hall, all of whom were taking a very lively interest in its fate. Motley was much more than a home to them; it was more a rather comfortable prison, because they could never leave it even if they wanted to, so it would be bad luck if it fell into the wrong sort of hands, or worse still, if the house were to be demolished. Then they wouldn't stand the ghost of a chance.
The future looked frightful, but the ghosts of Motley Hall - Bodkin the clown, Sir Francis the gambler, irascible Sir George the Victorian general, Matt the stableboy, and the mysterious White Lady - were determined to defend Motley against all comers. And what they lacked in physical force could be made up by powers of a supernatural kind.
The fantastic Harry Potter series covers the book/film genre but there is definitly a gap in the market for a good childrens TV series.....maybe one day I will get some inspiration to write one....

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Blogger CW said...

Catweazle was a true classic. An interesting piece of trivia is that Geoffrey Bayldon was approached to play the very first Dr. Who. Think how different things could have been if he'd accepted. For a start he probably would never have got to play Catweazle!

3:30 PM  
Blogger meredic said...

I remember Catweazle form reading books back in the sixties when I was a child. Wasn't it him that christened the 'telling bone'. I do hope so as this is what I call my phone to this day.

9:09 AM  

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