by Harry on March 9, 2006

I caught (the excellent) Stuart Maconie talking about Catweazle on the Freak Zone last weekend (about 40 minutes in, and easy to lose during the discussions of H R Pufnstuff: I wasn’t listening carefully but it sounded as if they hadn’t yet heard of Jack Wild’s demise!. They also discuss the Bugaloos which must have been created on some sort of drug, even if HR Pufnstuff wasn’t). I waited a long time to watch Catweazle, which was semi-forbidden when I was a kid (we were allowed to watch the commerical channel, but only if we were willing to put up with the merciless ridicule to which my mother would subject us). When we recently lived in Oxford the public library had a single video cassette with 3 episodes from series 1, and my daughter, then 5, was captivated. I mentioned this to a couple of her friends’ mothers, both of whom sighed and said “that must be lovely to watch”. After numerous delays it finally came out on DVD last year sometime. And series 1 really is lovely; Geoffrey Bayldon is quite believable as a 900 year old magician who is completely nuts, and the gags, although predictable, work every time. The light is just slightly dim, suggesting something sinister which never actually happens; and there’s wonderful chemistry between Bayldon and the young Robin Davies. Series 2 is fine; if you watch 1 you’ll want to watch 2. Before the DVD arrived I asked my daughter if she remembered it; her response was a withering ‘Dad, it doesn’t matter how long it is, you don’t forget TV that’s that good’. Which is about right.



Laura 03.09.06 at 5:23 pm

Was Catweazle supposed to be 900 years old, though? or brought forward from 900 years ago? I remember him seeming incredibly aged & decrepit but clicking through to Amazon the actor now looks jarringly youthful.


harry b 03.09.06 at 5:56 pm

He’s 900 years old in the sense that he was born 900 years ago (well 935 now). But he accidentally fell through those 900 ish years when trying to escape from some Normans, so he hasn’t aged all those years (though I will say that Geoffrey Bayldon hardly looks so young now!).

However, the fact that he looks much younger than we remember is because our perspective has changed, rather depressingly, in the intervening 35 years….


One of Geoffrey Bayldon's Biggest Fans 03.09.06 at 6:01 pm

Brought forward from the 11th century, so not exactly “900 years old” – depending on what theory of time travel and its effects you go for.
The two novels that Richard Carpenter adapted from his scripts for the series are worth hunting out too (they were published by Puffin Books many years ago). They add a lot to the story while keeping most of the gags.


Barry Freed 03.09.06 at 6:10 pm

must have been created on some sort of drug, even if HR Pufnstuff wasnÂ’t

The HR stands for “Hand-Rolled”


rilkefan 03.09.06 at 7:48 pm

“1, and my daughter, then 5, was captivated.”

No snark intended, but what about the subject/verb argreement above? I began a poem the other day “Zexmenia, and its grape jelly smell,/Call to the Tourette’s in every poet” – and I wasn’t sure whether I wanted “call” or “calls”. My wife, a former editor, insisted on “call” – I meant to express “A (and for that matter B too) is X”.


cdm 03.09.06 at 8:17 pm

[rilkefan] You are kidding, right? If not, you might want to try reading the whole sentence.


Ronan 03.09.06 at 9:21 pm

[rilkefan] “1 really is lovely” probably merits a grammatical investigation too – I really is serious…!


Backword Dave 03.10.06 at 4:40 am

Good lord, I can still remember his catchphrase, “Nothing works.”

Perhaps I’m reading too much into this, but when I was a kid, we had books and TV like Catweazle (ordinary boy and crazy old homeless person), Stig of the Dump (ordinary boy and crazy young homeless person), and so on. What do kids get now? Posh magical kids at boarding school! Hmph, I say.


rilkefan 03.10.06 at 12:46 pm

Time for new glasses.

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