1 9 9 4 – 1 9 9 8 (UK)
12 x 90 minute episodes
Adapted from, or based on, the novels by Ellis Peters (pseudonym of the late Edith Pargeter), Cadfael featured Brother Cadfael, a Benedictine monk living in Shrewsbury’s St Peter and St Paul Abbey during the reign of King Stephen.
His first television outing came in an adaptation of Ms Peters’ second novel, One Corpse Too Many, and was set during a siege on the Shropshire market town in the year 1138.
The fiftysomething Cadfael (Derek Jacobi) had turned to the cloisters late in life, having been a crusader and even fathered a son. However, his inquiring mind would not confine itself to reflections on the Good Book or tending the monastery herb gardens, and the merest sniff of intrigue set the self-effacing sleuth’s investigative juices flowing.
The predictability of Cadfael was doubtless a major factor in its success, and the plot of each episode usually involved a murder that had an obvious (though innocent) suspect. A lynch mob pursued the suspect, whereupon he/she sought sanctuary in Shrewsbury Abbey.
Cadfael was then given two days to find out the truth before the scapegoat was handed over to the authorities, and he always triumphed using an investigative method that involved herbal remedies, knowledge of botany, and the assistance of the Sheriff Beringar.
This triumph was usually in spite of Prior Robert (Michael Culver) and Brother Jerome (Julian Firth) who resented Cadfael’s worldly ways. His success rate was phenomenal.
To ensure the correct setting and atmosphere, the producers took filming over to the Fot studios, near Budapest, where they reconstructed medieval Shrewsbury, complete with a mini River Severn. Experts were employed as consultants on historical, religious and musical matters.
Each of the 12 episodes ran to 90 minutes, and guest stars included soap actors Roy Barraclough, Anna Friel and Peter Baldwin.
Sean Pertwee (1)
Eoin McCarthy (2)
Anthony Green (3)