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Looking distinctly relaxed, at home, and showered with gifts ranging from specially brewed ‘Catweazle Bitter’ to vintage wine, was the master magician himself, Geoffrey Bayldon. As if this were not enough, flanking him on either side were his ‘Brother in Magic’, Robin Davies (Carrot) and creator Richard Carpenter, together with his wife Annie (actress Annabelle Lee, to whom the novelisation of Catweazle is dedicated). Remarkably, also present were series two cast members, Moray Watson (Lord Collingford) and Elspet Gray (Lady Collingford).
Along with the distinct atmosphere of congeniality, what was also striking about the event was how the guests seemed equally as overwhelmed by the occasion. The fact that such a relatively brief moment in their extensive careers can still be remembered by so many after so long, and with such great affection, seemingly coming as somewhat of a surprise.
Admirers were treated to a questions and answers session, launched by young fan Emilia, who gave a charming rendition of the Catweazle theme ‘Busy Boy’ on her violin.
The session was hosted by Cultural Historian, Simon Wells, who received a somewhat impromptu request to do so upon arrival. It certainly didn’t show, as Simon’s knowledge of Catweazle is pretty much on tap and he did a great job. Robin Davies seized the opportunity to express his gratitude and in doing so seemed to adequately express the sentiments of all guests present.I'm a paragraph. Click once to begin entering your own content. You can change my font, size, line height, color and more by highlighting part of me and selecting the options from the toolbar.
Robin Davies: ‘I’m just amazed to think that after almost forty years that you all still remember us. I’m just very grateful to you. People keep coming up to me and saying that they’re grateful to me, but believe me, I’m far more grateful to you; to be remembered for anything is an honour.’\
The event also brought a surprise for creator Richard Carpenter. Having occasionally recounted his story of how Catweazle came to be, Richard was as elated as his audience on this occasion to be adding an unexpected twist to the tale. The story goes that in 1968, whilst a working actor, Carpenter was visiting his brother-in-law’s farm in East Sussex with wife Annie, and on their way home they decided to take a detour and became lost. They stopped opposite a gate leading to an old house in order to look at their map, and noticed that upon the gate was written the word ‘Catweasel’. Richard was initially intrigued by the word and wrote it down on a piece of paper which he put in his pocket.
Weeks passed, during which time a picture began to form in his mind based around the name, until whilst reading a book of works from the National Gallery, he came across a fifteenth-century painting by Hieronymus Bosch called ‘Christ Mocked (The Crowning with Thorns)’. In the corner of the painting was the figure of a man with a large nose and goatee beard. Carpenter immediately associated the character with the name that he had seen on the gate, and realising at that moment that this person had to be a magician, he began to draft his ideas for a script using this as the catalyst, adding the ‘z’ to its spelling, ‘to make the old man sound a little more archaic.’
Since that fateful day in 1968, the precise whereabouts of the old house named ‘Catweasel’ has remained a mystery — that is it seems, until now. Shortly after his arrival at the event, Carpenter was approached by a lady bearing him a revelation. He later relayed its significance to all present.
Richard Carpenter: ‘The really funny thing is that today — which is thirty-nine years later — I have found out where the house was. There’s a lady in the audience ... Rebecca ... who just came up and said, “I know where the house is.” Now, we hadn’t found it. Even Simon [Wells] who is the researcher par excellence, hasn’t found the house ... well Rebecca knows exactly where it is.’ Carpenter then went on to reveal the exact location of the house, (which in fairness to the occupant has been omitted for the purposes of this article).
Richard Carpenter: ‘Rebecca is going to send me the directions so that Annie and I can go back there and see the house ... it’s still called “Catweasel”. I think the owner just didn’t want hundreds of people like you tramping round her house, so she hadn’t got in touch with anybody. Maybe she doesn’t even know there was a series called Catweazle! Who knows? It might take her by surprise.’ Whilst it has to be said, that there have been various theories regarding the true location of this fabled house, it remains to be seen if the mystery has on this occasion been well and truly solved.