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This article is written from a real world point of view and so is not considered part of The Worst Witch universe.

The Worst Witch
TheWorstWitchLogo
The Worst Witch opening title

Starring

Georgina Sherrington
Felicity Jones
Clare Coulter
Kate Duchêne
Una Stubbs

Theme Music

Onwards Ever Striving Onwards

Country

United Kingdom
Canada

Language

English

No. of Series

3

No. of episodes

40

Location

Twickenham Film Studios, London
Loseley Park, Guildford
Castell Coch, Wales
Montreal, Quebec, Canada

Runtime

30 minutes per episode

Network

ITV (within CITV)

First Aired

22 October 1998 - 26 January 2001

Witch girls

TV series Main Cast

The Worst Witch is a British ITV television series about a group of young witches at a Magic Academy and is based on The Worst Witch books by Jill Murphy. It aired for a total of 40 episodes spread over three series between 1998 and 2001, before being followed by Weirdsister College.  The series was later followed by The New Worst Witch, which ran for two series and chronicled the experiences of Mildred's younger cousin Hettie as she attended the school.

The series stars Georgina Sherrington (As Mildred Hubble), Felicity Jones (as Ethel Hallow), Clare Coulter (as Miss Cackle), Kate Duchêne (as Miss Hardbroom) and Una Stubbs (as Miss Bat). Felicity Jones was replaced by Katie Allen after the first series, it was explained away as a magical makeover (a "witch-over"). The series was broadcast from 1998 to 2001 on ITV, and later on HBO.

Overview

The Worst Witch TV series is based on Jill Murphy´s Worst Witch books. The first season dramatised The Worst Witch and The Worst Witch Strikes Again , and the second series dramatised A Bad Spell For The Worst Witch and The Worst Witch All At Sea. Both of these two series also contained original stories. The third and final series continued with purely original material. Most episodes revolved around the school, following the adventures of Mildred and her friends.

Production

The Worst Witch TV series was produced by Galafilm. The series was broadcast from 1998 to 2001 on ITV in the UK, YTV in Canada, HBO in the U.S, and the ABC in Australia. The Series also aired in Mexico, Germany, Finland, Poland, Norway, and likely in France.

While all the characters speak with a British accent in the original version, the series was dubbed into "American English" to help sell it when it was aired in the U.S. Each year the series was aired in Autumn and Winter, In Autumn 1999 the second season and in Autumn 2000 the third season was aired in UK and Canada- and later in other countries as well. Every summer, the witches would resume producing another 13 episodes of a new season.

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filming a courtyard scene for The Worst Witch

The roughly $8-million, 13-part, half-hour series was a coproduction of London, England based HTV and Global Arts and Montreal's Galafilm. It is unique in that all the lead characters are female and the cast includes 15 regular characters. Special effects were required for broom flying, disappearing, zaps and flashes, and tornado simulation, but the production devoted most of its money to the elaborate sets, the writing and the large cast.

The series was mostly filmed at Twickenham Studios in London, which was used for inside the school (Great Hall, classrooms etc.). The Exteriors of Cackle's Academy used Castle Coch, located in Great Britain near Cardiff, Wales. The courtyard was filmed at Loseley Park near Guildford, and some episodes were filmed in Montreal, Quebec,Canada.

Episodes filmed on location in Canada were: Let Them Eat Cake, The Great Outdoors, Carried Away, The Dragon's Hoard, Better Dead than Co-ed, and an An Unforgettable Experience.

Writers on the series were Martin Riley (23 episodes.), Garry Lyons (12 episodes.), Clive Endersby (2 episodes.), Graham Mitchell (2 episodes.) and David Finley (1 episode.). Dan Maddicott, Arnie Gelbart and Michael Haggiag were executive producers.

The Show Producers were Angela Beeching (30 episodes.) and Michael Haggiag (10 episodes.) and it was directed by Andrew Morgan(16 episodes.), Stefan Pleszczynski (15 episodes.), Alex Kirby (5 episodes.) and John Smith (4 episodes.). The theme music composer was Paul K. Joyce.

Although the series targeted an eight- to 10-year-old female demographic, many older viewers watched, and today the series' fans range from young girls to adult women.

On Halloween (October 2000) CITV produced a Worst Witch Magazine due to popular demand.

Jill Murphy was pleased with the series: "I was thrilled to bits to have Mildred and Co. in their own TV series. I thought it was better in the early episodes, but I do think that it was basically a good series and people still remember it very fondly."[1]

Differences from the books

The majority of the storylines in the episodes came straight from the Worst Witch books, although some brand-new episodes were made up purely for the television series. New characters were invented as well, such as Jadu and Ruby (friends of Mildred) and Merlin 'Loppylugs' Langstaff (an apprentice wizard who the girls spend some time with). Some characters, such as Drusilla (a good friend of Ethel's) were mentioned briefly in the books and developed into more major characters for the television series. The books were re-released around the time of the television series, with new covers featuring scenes from the television series.

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Filming a broomstick flight

There are some distinctive differences to the Books: Miss Bat and Miss Drill hardly appear in the books, as do Griselda and Fenella - in fact, Griselda appears once, but only as a very timid third year who is tricked into getting tied up by Mildred so she can take her place in the Halloween display (as opposite to the TV series, where Mildred ties up Drusilla) and Fenella doesn't appear at all, she is just mentioned as being the previous owner of Ebony, the cat who briefly replaces Tabby as Mildred's cat (this is Harriet Goodcharm in the TV series). Also the fourth Book, displaying Mildred´s visit to the recently freed wizard Rowan-Webb, is set not at a riverside retreat, but at the seaside and there is no dragon lord in the book.

New characters were also added, such as Frank Blossom (the school's caretaker), Miss Crotchet, the Chanting teacher in the third series who replaced Miss Bat and two students from ethnic minorities -Ruby Cherrytree and Jadu Wali. New recurring characters included Merlin, a wizard apprentice who befriended Mildred; Baz and Gaz, his two mean-spirited acquaintances; Charlie, Frank's nephew who really wanted to be a wizard; Mrs. Cosie, the nervous owner of the nearby tearoom; and Mistress Hecate Broomhead, the evil school inspector who later became a brief headmistress.

Cast

The acting in the television series is generally very good. Most of the girls playing the young witches were new to acting; this is noticeable in the first series. By the third series, however, they were all used to their characters and doing an extremely good job. The adult actors are also very good and well-suited to their characters. The actors in the television series have been made up to look almost exactly like the characters portrayed in the drawings by Jill Murphy. The costumes worn are also faithful to the book. Kate Duchene (Miss Hardbroom) even turned down a role in the Harry Potter film to remain true to her TV character.
Wwtvgroup

Emma Brown (Maud), Joanna Dyce (Ruby), Jessica Fox (Enid), Harshna Brahmbatt (Jadu), and Georgina Sherrington (Mildred)

Episodes

Season 1

  1. The Battle of the Broomsticks
  2. When We Feast at the Midnight Hour
  3. A Pig In a Poke
  4. A Mean Halloween
  5. Double, Double, Toil and Trouble
  6. Monkey Business
  7. Miss Cackle's Birthday Surprise
  8. The Great Outdoors
  9. The Heat is On
  10. Sorcery and Chips
  11. Let Them Eat Cake
  12. Sweet Talking Guys
  13. A Bolt from the Blue

Season 2

  1. Old Hats and New Brooms
  2. Alarms and Diversions
  3. Its a Frogs Life
  4. Crumpets for Tea
  5. The Inspector Calls
  6. Animal Magic
  7. Carried Away
  8. The Dragon's Hoard
  9. The Genius of the Lamp
  10. Up in the Air
  11. Fair Is Foul & Fouls Are Fair
  12. Green Fingers and Thumbs
  13. The Millennium Bug

Season 3

  1. Secret Society
  2. An Unforgettable Experience
  3. Which Witch Is Which?
  4. The Witchy Hour
  5. Learning the Hard Way
  6. The Hair Witch Project
  7. Just Like Clockwork
  8. Art Wars
  9. Power Drill
  10. Better Dead than Co-Ed
  11. The Lost Chord
  12. The Unfairground
  13. The Uninvited
  14. Cinderella in Boots (Christmas Special)

Cinderella in Boots was a Christmas Special, and is not in the normal numbering of episodes. it is variously listed as 3-14, 3-7a, or just 3-8, with Art Wars as 3-9 and so on.

Awards and nominations

In 1999, the series was nominated by the Royal Television Society for Best Children's Drama.

In 2000, Georgina Sherrington won the Young Artist Award for Best Performance in a TV Comedy Series - Leading Young Actress.

The Worst Witch has been sold to more than 60 countries and have scooped several international prizes, as well as Bafta, Prix Jeunesse and Royal Television Society award nominations.[2]

VHS and DVD releases

In the United Kingdom season 1 was released on VHS on six video sets in 2000. "The Best of" was released on DVD in 2002 and included the episodes: "Battle of the Broomsticks", "A Pig in a Poke", "Old Hats and New Brooms", "It's a Frog's Life", "The Witchy Hour", "Unfairground", and "The Uninvited".

In the United States seasons 1 and 2 were released on DVD in 2004.

In Australia series 1-3 of The Worst Witch were released onto DVD as was Weirdsister College, and both seasons of The New Worst Witch were released in 2007. Seasons one and two of The Worst Witch were released onto one boxset, containing four discs which play on most DVD players (including the United Kingdom), and Season three and Weirdsister College (listed as series four) on another boxset. These were later released in the UK.

Trivia

  • Enid Nightshade is added to the show's opening in episode 7, Miss Cackle's Birthday Surprise, her first regular appearance after her introduction in the previous episode. She does not appear in the opening in the first six episodes. The first episode has a different opening altogether, without Mildred and her friends.
  • Although the series sees Mildred and her friends go through three years at Cackle's Academy, the show's opening shows them with purple sashes (year 1) for all three seasons.
  • The school song, 'Onward Ever Striving Onward' is sung on multiple occasions by the characters (and actresses) themselves, though the version done for the credits was performed by the choir of the Wispers School for Girls.[3]
  • Only Kate Duchene's voice as Miss Hardbroom is the same in both the American dubbed version and the original non-dubbed version broadcast in the UK, Canada & Australia/NZ. Clare Coulter (Miss Cackle) does the voice for both versions, but she uses an American accent for the American dubbed version. (Or probably just her own Canadian accent being as she's lived in Canada most of her life. She was born in England but came to Canada at age 9). All the other voices in the American version are dubbed by Americans.
  • The Worst Witch has been dubbed into a number of languages, including French , Spanish, Italian, German, Dutch and Czech. The series is known in France as 'Amandine Malabul', which is Mildred Hubble's name in French. The German version is known as 'Eine lausige Hexe' (The Lousy Witch), the Dutch Version is called 'De Hopeloze Heks' (The Hopeless Witch), the Italian title is 'Scuola di streghe' (School of Witches), and in Czech the series is called 'Čarodějnice školou povinné' (The witch school child).

Notes and references

External links

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