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Ace of Wands (ITV 1970-1972, Michael MacKenzie, Judy Loe)

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Fantasy adventure series for kids Ace of Wands had master magician Tarot along with two companions tackling a collection of fiendish villains most of whom seemed hellbent on world domination.

Tarot’s intial assistants were Lulli Palmer and Sam Maxted and Tarot was a renowned stage magician. The title of the show comes from one of the cards in the Tarot pack and the show actually had the working title of Tarot for awhile.

Although meant for kids the shows plotlines were aimed at everybody, with each story broken up into generally four episodes ala Doctor Who. Tarot was highly trendy, drove an e-type jag and lived in an apartment above a London warehouse for the first two seasons and then a houseboat for the third and final season.

Lulli, Tarot’s stage assistant shared a kind of telepathic link with him whilst Sam was Tarot’s right hand man. Two other regular characters were Mr Sebastian Sweet, a bookseller and last but not least Tarot’s owl Ozymandias.

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All of Tarot’s tricks were actually devised by proper magician Ali Bongo although the actual earning a living as a magician side of things played almost no part in the proceedings, Tarot’s magic was most useful in battling Avengers-esque villains such as Madame Midnight and Tun-Ju who also appeared to have magical powers. Like much of Trevor Preston’s work there is a disquieting air of menace that often hangs over the stories – most of which are quite disturbing.

Ace of Wands was a very effects heavy show and in fact was one of the first to use Colour Separation Overlay techniques on a regular basis.

Season three (the final season) had some changes when both of Tarot’s assistants became unavailable (Judy Loe had become tired of just being the bit of glamour on the show) bringing in two new ones in the form of journalist Mikki Diamond (who also shared a telepathic link with Tarot) and her brother Chas.

Producer Pamela Lonsdale also had nothing to do with this season having been given the job of setting up Rainbow. Mr Sweet in this season no longer had his bookshop but instead was based at a university.

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Unfortunately the first two seasons of the show are no longer in existence as Thames saw fit to wipe the masters to save on the cost of new tapes. Mr Stabs, a character who appeared in the story Seven Serpents, Sulphur And Salt would later appear in a one off episode of anthology series Dramarama, this was called Mr Stabs and was also written by Trevor Preston.

Ace Of Wands still remains as high quality television even if some of the filming techniques and special effects seem antiquated to a modern audience. The acting and devious plots allow you to lose yourself completely in the show. It also boasts one of the best theme tunes of the 1970s.

production details
UK / ITV – Thames / 46×30 minute episodes / Broadcast 29 July 1970 – 29 November 1972

Creator: Trevor Preston / Music: Andrew Brown / Magical Advisor: Ali Bongo / Producers: Pamela Lonsdale(1970-71), John Russell(1972),

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cast
Michael MacKenzie as Tarot
Tony Selby as Sam Maxstead (1970-71)
Judy Loe as Lulli Palmer (1970 – 71)
Donald Layne-Smith as Mr Sweet
Petra Markham as Mikki (1972)
Roy Holder as Chas (1972)

THE EPISODES

SEASON ONE 13 Episodes / 29 Jul – 21 Oct 1970

1. ONE AND ONE AND ONE ARE FOUR
Tarot helps a professor find a stolen device and in so doing tangles with the evil Madame Midnight.

Madame Midnight………………….. HILDEGARD NEIL
Teddy Talk………………………. MICHAEL STANDING
Prof Ekdorf………………………. FREDERICK PEISLEY
Kal………………………………… DAVE PROWSE
Six………………………………… TONY CAUNTER
Eight………………………………. CHRIS WEBB
Mr America………………………. BRUCE BOA
Ma Epps…………………………… DAPHNE HEARD

Writer: Trevor Preston A 3 Part story.
Director: John Russell

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2. THE MIND ROBBERS
A four part story. Two government ministers disappear. Tarot uncoversa plot involving the sinister Senor Zandar.

Senor Zandar………………………… VERNON DOBTCHEFF
Fat Boy……………………………….. MICHAEL WYNNE
Sir William Rowlands………………. GEOFFREY LUMSDEN
Miss Jellicoe………………………… SHEELAH WILCOCKS
Mr Hardy…………………………….. JOHN GOLIGHTLY
Castor………………………………… TERRY WALSH
Pollux…………………………………. ALAN CHUNTZ
John Copney………………………… ROGER KEMP

Writer: William Emms
Director: Michael Currer-Biggs

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3. NOW YOU SEE IT, NOW YOU DON’T
Tarot, Dam and Lulli do battle against a computer obsessed villain called Falk.

Falk……………………………………. CHRISTOPHER BENJAMIN
Macreedy…………………………….. ROY BARRON
Gaston………………………………… ALAN TUCKER
Cashier………………………………… TIM CURRY
Guard………………………………….. BILLY CORNELIUS
Bank Manager……………………….. KEVIN STONEY

Writer: Don Houghton
Director: John Russell

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4. THE SMILE
A 4 part story. Tarot crosses swords with Tun-Ju self styled ‘Emperor of the Art Thieves’ who has plans to steal the Mona Lisa.

Tun-Ju………………………………. WILLOUGHBY GODDARD
Mrs Kite…………………………….. DOROTHY REYNOLDS
Bartlett Bonnington………………. JOHN BARRON
Digger Farmer……………………… REG LYE
Japanese Bodyguard…………….. TOM GAN
Sir Patrick Landau………………… PATRICK McALINNEY
Lady Landau……………………….. DIANA KING

Writer: Trevor Preston
Director: Michael Currer-Biggs

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SEASON TWO 13 Episodes / 21 July – 13 Oct 1971

1. SEVEN SERPENTS, SULPHUR AND SALT
Evil magician Mr Stabs is determined to wrest from Tarot the secret of the seven serpents – and will stop at nothing to do so.

Mr Stabs…………………………….. RUSSELL HUNTER
Polandi………………………………. HARRIET HARPER
Luko………………………………….. IAN TRIGGER
Charlie Postle……………………… JACK WOOLGAR
Mr Christopher…………………….. LLEWELLYN REES
Mr Thwaites……………………….. JOHNATHON CECIL

Writer: Trevor Preston A 3 Part story.
Director: Pamela Lonsdale

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2. JOKER
A group of travelling entertainers led by Uncle Harry are creating havoc in the country’s schools.

Uncle Harry……………………….. DERMOT TUOHY
The Jack…………………………… ROY HOLDER
The Queen………………………… CARMEN MUNROE
The King…………………………… WALTER SPARROW
Miss Pascoe……………………… LORNA HEILBRON
Headmaster………………………. GEORGE WARING
Headmistress…………………… ..SHEILA RAYNOR

Writer: P.J. Hammond A 3 Part story.
Director: John Russell

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3. NIGHTMARE GAS
Two crooks, Thalia and her brother Dalbiac, steal a deadly new gas, H23, that can givenightmares strong enough to kill.

Thalia……………………………….. ISOBEL BLACK
Dalbiac…………………………….. JOHNATHON NEWTH
Dr Richard Winthrop……………. LAURENCE CARTER
Sergeant………………………….. LEWIS WILSON
Trooper…………………………….. ALAN CHUNTZ

Writer: Don Houghton. A 3 Part story
Director: Ronald Marriott

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4. THE EYE OF RA
The Eye of Ra is a priceless diamond that is supposedly able to turn people into chalk statues. The meglomaniac wheelchair bound Ceribraun is determined to get his hands on it.

Ceribraun………………………….. OSCAR QUITAK
Sir John Packham………………. HOWARD GOORNEY
Fredericks………………………… NICHOLAS SMITH
Mr Quince………………………… EDWARD JEWESEBUURY
Computer…………………………. CHARLES MORGAN
Sir Henry Carstairs……………….PETER WILLIAMS

Writer: Michael Winder. A 4 Part story.
Director: John Russell

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SEASON THREE 20 Episodes / 19 Jul – 29 Nov 1972

1. THE MEDDLERS
Tarot gets two new companions, Mikki and Chas, who are living in a cursed London street market.

Spoon……………………………….. MICHAEL STANDING
Mockers……………………………. BARRY LINEHAN
Mr Dove…………………………….. PAUL DAWKINS
Drum……………………………….. STEFAN KALIPHA
Madge……………………………… HONURA BURKE
Accordian Player………………… NEIL LINDEN
Chauffeuse………………………… NORMA WEST

Writer: P.J. Hammond. A 3 Part story.
Director: John Russell

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2. THE POWER OF ATEP
The trio are having strange related and shared Egyptian dreams that lead them to the Valley of the Kings where Tarot must do battle with his double Quabal.

John Pentacle…………………….. SEBASTIAN GRAHAM-JONES
High Priest………………………… MICHAEL MULCASTER
Tramp………………………………. MICHAEL ROSE
Fergus Wilson……………………. JOE DUNLOP
Arab Boy………………………….. LYNVAL MAY

Writer: Victor Pemberton.A 4 Part story.
Director: Nicholas Ferguson

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3. PEACOCK PIE
Mr Peacock can cause things to happen using the power of his mind and causes all manner of problems for Tarot and Co.

Mr Peacock……………………… BRIAN WILDE
Mrs Macfadyean………………… DOROTHY FRERE
Manageress…………………….. VALERIE OST
Young Mrs Macfadyean………. JEAN McCRACKEN

Writer: P.J. Hammond. A 3 Part story.
Director: John Russell

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4. MAMA DOC
Tarot investigates a creepy dolls hospital run by the sinister Mama Doc, who is capable of turningpeople into dolls.

Mama Doc………………………….. PAT NYE
Posy Peagram…………………….. WENDY HAMILTON
Bobby……………………………….. MICHAL MUNDELL
Prof Darian…………………………. ROBERT GRANGE
Dr MacDonald……………………… IVOR ROBERTS
Mrs Darian………………………….. ANGELA ROOKS
Lorry Driver………………………….. DAVID PARSONS

Writer: Maggie Allen A 3 Part story.
Director: Nicholas Ferguson

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5. SISTERS DEADLY
Tarot uncovers a plot by a group of ‘old ladies’ who are planning to kidnap the Commander in Chief of the British Land Forces.

Letty Edginton…………………… SYLVIA COLERIDGE
Mathilda Edginton………………. HENRIETTA RUDKIN
Postmaster……………………… BARTLETT MULLINS
The Major………………………… JAMES BREE
General…………………………… FRANK DUNCAN
Old Lady…………………………. LUCY GRIFFITHS
Old Lady…………………………..MYSIE MONTIE
General’s Driver………………….RONALD TYE

Writer: Victor Pemberton. A 3 Part story.
Director: Darrol Blake

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6. THE BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE
An alien race of beautiful people are plotting a take over bid.

Jay…………………………………….. EDWARD HAMMOND
Emm………………………………….. VIVIEN HEILBRON
Dee……………………………………. SUSAN GLANVILLE
Old Woman………………………….. KATHLEEN SAINSBURY
Old Man………………………………. HARRY HUTCHINSON
Old Lady……………………………… HILDA BARRY
Vicar………………………………….. ALEX McDONALD

Writer: P.J. Hammond. A 4 Part story.
Director: Vic Hughes

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Alastair James is the editor in chief for Memorable TV. He has been involved in media since his university days. Alastair is passionate about television, and some of his favourite shows include Line of Duty, Luther and Traitors. He is always on the lookout for hot new shows, and is always keen to share his knowledge with others.

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