1 9 6 9 – 1 9 7 0 (UK)
26 x 30 minute episodes
In 11th Century England, deep in the heart of the countryside, an eccentric and bumbling Merlin-like alchemist and magician called Catweazle (Geoffrey Bayldon) finds himself cornered by Norman soldiers.
Relying on the unsure powers of his magic, he leaps into a lake while trying to harness the power of flight to escape his pursuers – taking with him his toad “familiar” Touchwood, his thumb-ring and his sacred knife, Adamcos.
Unfortunately, he flees further than he had hoped – travelling 900 years through time into the 1970s.
In unfamiliar surroundings, Catweazle is soon discovered by Carrot (Robin Davies), the 14-year-old son of a farmer who lives on Hexwood Farm near the magician’s water tower hiding spot, which he calls ‘Castle Saburac’.
Through him, Catweazle discovers that things have changed beyond his imagination. Being a magician, everything he experiences in the twentieth century such as motor cars, telephones (‘telling bone’), and electric light (‘electrickery’), he believes is the result of magic.
His magic incantations include “Salmay, Dalmay, Adonay” and;
S A T O R
A R E P O
T E N E T
O P E R A
R O T A S
Catweazle finally finds his way back to his own time at the end of the first series and, as the second series begins, Catweazle is imprisoned in Farthing Castle trying to conjure Gold at the behest of the great Norman lord, William de Collynforde.
Instead, his magic works for once, and he manages to fly from the castle but once again it is through time, not space.
Hurling himself, full of faith, from the battlements, Catweazle lands in the moat . . . but the castle has vanished and in its place is a large white house with a clock tower with a little turret on top, in the village of Kings Farthing (the actual house used for filming was the Brickendonbury Estate in Hertfordshire).
The second series repeated the same formula, but this time Catweazle’s young friend is Cedric (Gary Warren), the son of Lord and Lady Collingford (pictured above).
Catweazle also finds himself a new home – and a rather fetching old tricycle – in an abandoned railway station (“Duck Halt”) and sets about finding the mystic 13th (yes, thirteenth) sign of the zodiac in order to return to his own time, while Cedric hopes to restore his family fortune by finding the lost Collingford treasure.
Who can forget that immortal Catweazle zodiac-chasing song;
Twelve are they that circle round
If power you seek they must be found
look for where the thirteenth lies
mount aloft the one who flies
“Nuthing works!” was Catweazle’s favourite saying, usually muttered while blowing on his thumb-ring for luck. And he was usually right.
Catweazle was created and written by Richard Carpenter. The famous jaunty theme was actually a library piece called Busy Boy (by Ted Dicks).