Before you take a trip down Memory Lane, why not see how much you remember?
One of the most enchanting and captivating children’s television programmes from the 1970s, “Catweazle” remains a fondly remembered classic. Created by Richard Carpenter for London Weekend Television, the series combined elements of fantasy, humour, and history, offering young viewers an imaginative and entertaining escape into a magical world. With two seasons produced in 1969 and 1970, the show starred the talented Geoffrey Bayldon in the eponymous role of Catweazle, a bumbling medieval wizard who unwittingly finds himself transported to the modern age.
In Catweazle, the titular character is a mischievous, eccentric sorcerer from the 11th century of Normandy who accidentally travelled through time to the 20th century in the 1960s due to a failed spell. The plot centres on Catweazle’s comical attempts to adapt to present-day life while constantly seeking a way to return to his own time. Throughout the series, Catweazle encounters various characters, most notably the young boy named Carrot and his farmer father, who try to lend a helping hand as they become embroiled in his extraordinary adventures. As the episodes progress, Catweazle’s endearing naïveté about modern conveniences leads to amusing situations, providing not only a source of endless entertainment but also an insightful commentary on the rapid technological advancements of the period.
In the first episode, an 11th-century wizard named Catweazle is being chased by soldiers. He jumps into a pond after casting a spell, and he believes he has made the soldiers and the wood disappear. However, in reality, he has travelled 900 years into the future with his familiar, a toad named Touchwood, and lands on a farm in rural England in 1969. Here he befriends a ginger-haired teenager named Edward Bennet, nicknamed Carrot, who hides him from his father and farmhand and helps him set up camp in a disused water tower he christens Castle Saburac. Whenever he is spotted, he uses his magic amulet to hypnotize people into forgetting that they saw him – an early form of neuralyzer carried by Men in Black.
Upon arriving in the 20th century, Catweazel immediately struggles to understand this strange new world. Despite his magical abilities, he often finds himself in humorous situations due to the differences between medieval and modern times. Fortunately, he befriends a young boy named Carrot, who helps him adapt to his new surroundings while protecting his secret from others.
The show follows the adventures of Catweazel and Carrot as they navigate various challenges together, often dealing with the consequences of Catweazel’s antics and misunderstandings of modern technology. This allows for both comedic and heartwarming moments. For example, Catweazel often mistakes commonplace items as magical artefacts, a lowly tractor as the feared ‘Iron Horse’, and electrical switches as spiritual talismans.
- Catweazle: played by Geoffrey Bayldon. The eccentric 11th Century Wizard. Classic phrases include “elec-trickery” from electricity and “telling bone” for a telephone.
- Edward Bennet (Carrot): played by Robin Davies. Catweazle’s teenage friend and Mr Bennet’s son.
- Mr Bennet: played by Charles “Bud” Tingwell. The farmer and Carrot’s father.
- Sam Woodyard: played Neil McCarthy. The farmhand.
In The Eye of Time, Catweazle discovers the concept of timekeeping through watches and clocks. The wizard becomes obsessed with the idea of controlling time, believing it would grant him great magical powers. This episode showcases Catweazle’s curiosity and naivety while providing a humorous exploration of the differences between the medieval and modern worlds.
Another standout episode, The Flying Broomsticks, centres around Catweazle’s attempt to recreate the magic of flight after discovering a pair of brooms in a modern house. The episode demonstrates Catweazle’s creative and innovative spirit as he tries to adapt to his new surroundings, despite not fully understanding them.
In The Wisdom of Solomon, Catweazle becomes fascinated by the modern world’s wealth of knowledge contained within books. He encounters a book about King Solomon and believes the legendary king’s wisdom can help him return to his own time. This episode reflects the series’ overall theme of the collision between the past and the present while highlighting Catweazle’s determination to find a solution to his predicament.