Ask anyone of a certain age what their favourite kids show of all time is and you can bet a fair percentage of them will say Catweazle, it’s certainly in our top ten of any genre – kids or adults.
The series was created and written by the legendary Richard Carpenter – Catweazle was his first success as a writer, he was a former actor and he would go on to be one of the mainstays behind The Adventures of Black Beauty and creator of such shows as The Ghosts of Motley Hall and Robin of Sherwood.
The series begins with Catweazle (superbly played by Geoffrey Bayldon) being chased in the 11th Century by a pair of Norman Knights, using his magic skills he is able to whisk himself away through time, he ends up in the present day (1969 as then was), unable to get back he is completely bewildered by the modern world around him (he thinks a light bulb is the sun in a bottle – “shine tiny sun”) and is convinced everything around him is magic.
Young Carrott, son of farmer Mr Bennett (played by our own Charles ‘Bud’ Tingwell), takes him under his wing and throughout much of the first season tries to keep Catweazle out of trouble and mischief. At the end of the first season Catweazle manages to get himself back to his own time.
Season two is slightly different in that Catweazle once again lands up in the 20th century, this time helped out by Cedric (12 year old son of Lord and Lady Collingwood), Catweazle embarks on a quest for the hitherto unknown 13th sign of the zodiac that will enable him to once again return to his own time.
Eventually it turned out that rather than a “flying spell”, the rhyme was actually a treasure “clue”. This referred to the 12 hours of the high clock on the tower of a mansion house where the roman numerals showed “XIII” in the twelve o’clock position instead of “XII”. The treasure was found in the loft area behind the clock.
Shot on film and with a wonderfully glossy feel Catweazle is superbly entertaining, a real gem from the golden age of TV; Geoffrey Bayldon really is brilliant as the rag wearing, goatee beard sporting magician out of his time.
UK / ITV – London Weekend Television / 26×30 minute episode / Broadcast 1970 – 1971
Writer: Richard Carpenter / Executive Producer: Joy Whitby / Producers: Quentin Lawrence, Carl Mannin
GEOFFREY BAYLDON as Catweazle
ROBIN DAVIES as Carrott Bennett(Season 1)
CHARLES TINGWELL as Mr Bennett(season 1)
NEIL McCALLUM as Sam(season 1)
GARY WARREN as Cedric Collingford (season 2)
MORAY WATSON as Lord Collingford (season 2)
ELSPET GRAY as Lady Collingford (season 2)
PETER BUTTERWORTH as Groome (season 2)