Catweazle is a magician from the time of the Normans who is cast into the future by magic. With the help of two boys he uses magic in an attempt to return to his own time.Written by
Steve Roberts <firstname.lastname@example.org>
When I think of the TV shows I loved as a kid that seem to have disappeared into the ether of television limbo such as many episodes of Patrick Troughton's Dr Who, series one and two of "Ace Of Wands" and the whole of "The Flaxton Boys", it seems almost like magic that from around the same time, the two series, each comprising thirteen episodes of Richard Carpenter's creation of Catweazle can be tracked down and watched. I can well remember watching it on Sundays at teatime and have just finished watching the last episode of Series One. I'm happy to say it holds up really well today, a testament to Carpenter's skilful writing and Geoffrey Bayldon's enchanting performance in the title role. Catweazle of course was the Anglo Saxon wizard who to escape pursuing Norman soldiers cast a spell on himself which threw him 900 years into the future. There he meets and forms a dependant, if sometimes prickly friendship with a teenage boy, nicknamed "Carrot" whose father's farmhouse now stands on the spot of his old dwelling.
Just about the only spell of Catweazle to work in the modern day is that of hypnosis which he casts on young Carrot to never reveal his identity to others and to occasionally make himself invisible to certain people, such as big-lunk farmhand George, who's regularly around. Catweazle's only aim is to get himself back to his own time but until he finds the right spell to do this there's plenty of time for he and Carrot to have many misadventures out in the countryside where the boy and his recently widowed dad live.
Clad only in a raggedy old gown and sporting tousled long hair and grizzled beard, Catweazle was a terrific creation, brought to life wonderfully by Bayldon who, with a mischievous twinkle in his eye, immerses himself totally in the part to create one of British children's TV's most original and lovable characters. Much of the fun comes from old Cat becoming acquainted with modern inventions such as the motor car, camera, telephone (or telling-bone as he amusingly terms it) and even the simple light bulb a.k.a. the sun in a bottle to his disbelieving eyes. There's a nice chemistry between the old magician and his schoolboy chum, winningly played by young Robin Davies and the rest of the adult cast put in performances notably lacking condescension. Guest stars throughout this run included well-known British actors like Hattie Jacques, Peter Sallis, John Junkin and Patricia Hayes but it's fair to say none of them got the better of the displaced old boy.
Topped off with a bright and breezy theme tune, it's a really lovely series the likes of which they certainly don't make anymore and I'm now looking forward to moving onto series two.
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