Catweazle is a British television series, created and written by Richard Carpenter which was produced and directed by Quentin Lawrence for London Weekend Television under the LWI (London Weekend International) banner, and screened in the UK on ITV in 1970. A second series in 1971 was directed by David Reid and David Lane. Both series had thirteen episodes, with Geoffrey Bayldon playing the leading role.
The series was broadcast in Ireland, Britain, Gibraltar, New Zealand, The Netherlands, Germany, Australia, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Czechoslovakia, Nicaragua and Quebec (Canada).
The series featured Geoffrey Bayldon as the title character, an eccentric 11th century wizard who accidentally (by total immersion in water) travels through time to the year 1969 and befriends a young red-headed boy, Edward Bennett, nicknamed 'Carrot' (Robin Davies), who spends most of the rest of the series attempting to hide Catweazle from his father (played by Charles 'Bud' Tingwell) and farmhand Sam (played by Neil McCarthy). Meanwhile, Catweazle searches for a way to return to his own time whilst hiding out in 'Castle Saburac', a disused water tower, with his familiar, a toad called Touchwood.
The second series featured a 12-part riddle which Catweazle, once more transported to 1970s England, attempts to solve one clue per episode, with the solution (as he thinks) being revealed in the 13th. A third series was in the works and was to be set again on the Bennet's farm, but was never put past draft stage.
Catweazle mistakes all modern technology for powerful magic, (an example of Clarke's third law), particularly 'elec-trickery' (electricity) and the 'telling bone' (telephone).
The entire series was shot on 16mm film. The first series was mostly shot on location at Home Farm, East Clandon, near Guildford in Surrey, England in 1969; the second, around the Bayford/Brickendon area in Hertfordshire in 1970.
Although Bayldon thought that the series had run its course after two series, he still praised the second, noting that two episodes were, in his view, below standard, but not written by Carpenter: There are two episodes I felt that with; the rest I think are lovely. I thought they were dreadful, but they were not written by Richard. They were written when we were behind. All the episodes are credited as being written by Richard Carpenter, so it is not known to which episodes Bayldon is referring.
The series won the Writers' Guild of Great Britain award for Best Children's TV Drama Script in 1971. It also inspired the Boo Radleys song, Catweazle.
The first series was released on Region 2 DVD in the UK by Network Distributing on 23 May 2005, with a short reunion documentary "Brothers in Magic" and audio commentaries on selected episodes by Carpenter, Bayldon, Davies and Executive Producer Joy Whitby. The second series was released on 29 August 2005. Both series had originally been released on VHS by Network in 1998.
In Australia, Catweazle: The Complete Series was released on Friday, 18 May 2007 and distributed through Shock. On Wednesday, 1 June 2011, Catweazle: Season One and Catweazle: Season Two were released in Region 4 and were also distributed through Shock.
On 29 March 2010, the series was re-released by Network Distributing in the UK to commemorate its 40th anniversary. Amongst several other additional features included was a ‘Westbourne Museum’ image gallery (named after a small local museum in the episode ‘The Curse of Rapkyn’ starring Peter Sallis) featuring the most comprehensive collection of original Catweazle memorabilia and promotional ephemera ever assembled, sourced from The Paul Pert Screen Collection. The release of the ‘40th Anniversary Special Edition' DVD set was also accompanied by a commemorative publication called 'The Magic Book' by authors Simon Wells and Paul Pert. Actor Robin Davies (Carrot) died just prior to its release on 22 February 2010 at the age of 56. Notably, the publication includes an article by Pert about the longevity of the Catweazle phenomenon, entitled ‘A Magical Spell in the Countryside’ which contains Robin Davies' last recorded comments about the series that made him a star and about his special friendship with Catweazle co-star Bayldon. The DVD image gallery also recorded the occasion of their last meeting at an annual commemorative event held at the farm in East Clandon, Surrey, where the first series was filmed in the summer of 1969.
Also featured in the article was an interview with creator Richard 'Kip' Carpenter in which he gave a frank account of his thoughts on modern television and expressed his desire to bring his writing career full-circle with a Catweazle movie for the 21st century. He also confirmed that he had drafted a new script. Negotiations for a movie had reached pre-production stages when on 26 February 2012 Carpenter died whilst out walking his dog in the countryside at the age of 82.
The first episode is available to view in full at the BFI Screenonline site.
There are two novelisations by Carpenter, one for each series: Catweazle and Catweazle and the Magic Zodiac. Both books were illustrated by George Adamson. A 20-page picture book, Catweazle in Marrow Escape was also produced, written by Alan Fennell. A comic strip version featured in the TV comic Look-in, written by Angus P. Allan, and three annuals were also released by World, from 1970 to 1972.
Originally shown in the UK between Sunday, 15 February 1970 and Sunday, 10 May 1970 at 17.30–18.00 (in virtually all regions).Catweazle: Geoffrey Bayldon
Edward Bennet ('Carrot'): Robin Davies
Mr. Bennet: Charles 'Bud' Tingwell
Sam Woodyard: Neil McCarthy
- The Sun in a Bottle (15 February 1970)
- Castle Saburac (22 February 1970)
- The Curse of Rapkyn (1 March 1970)
- The Witching Hour (8 March 1970)
- The Eye of Time (15 March 1970)
- The Magic Face (22 March 1970)
- The Telling Bone (29 March 1970)
- The Power of Adamcos (5 April 1970)
- The Demi Devil (12 April 1970)
- The House of the Sorcerer (19 April 1970)
- The Flying Broomsticks (26 April 1970)
- The Wisdom of Solomon (3 May 1970)
- The Trickery Lantern (10 May 1970)
Originally shown between Sunday 10 January 1971 and Sunday 4 April 1971 at 17.35–18.05 (all ITV regions except the Midlands).Catweazle: Geoffrey Bayldon
Cedric Collingford (A.K.A. Owlface): Gary Warren
Lord Collingford: Moray Watson
Lady Collingford: Elspet Gray
Groome: Peter Butterworth
Mrs Gowdie: Gwen Nelson
Boris: Roger Hammond
David Reid (7 episodes) David Lane (6 episodes)
- The Magic Riddle (10 January 1971)
- Duck Halt (17 January 1971)
- The Heavenly Twins (24 January 1971)
- The Sign of the Crab (31 January 1971)
- The Black Wheels (7 February 1971)
- The Wogle Stone (14 February 1971)
- The Enchanted King (21 February 1971)
- The Familiar Spirit (28 February 1971)
- The Ghost Hunters (7 March 1971)
- The Walking Trees (14 March 1971)
- The Battle of the Giants (21 March 1971)
- The Magic Circle (28 March 1971)
- The Thirteenth Sign (4 April 1971)