Wizadora (CITV, 1993-1998)
Now don’t laugh but Wizadora was a show that I used to like to watch on CITV, even though it was essentially aimed at preschool viewers. Wizadora launched on CITV in January 1993 and it was one of the first shows on ITV that was produced by the new franchise Meridian. The episodes in the first series were 15 minutes long, and from the second series onwards they were 10 minutes long.
It was about a trainee wizard who was in, as the memorable theme song went, “a kitchen full of fun”, always trying to solve problems by making spells and asking us to join in to make them work. “Oh botheration” was her catchphrase. This was all fine of course but the main reason that I liked to watch Wizadora, without trying to go too far down the cliched area of “what were they thinking when they created them”, was the bizarre range of characters that accompanied her in her adventures.
First of all there were the human characters. Wizadora’s friends included Tatty Bogle, a rather dim scarecrow-type character who lived in the garden and was always talking in spoonerisms. At first he was played by the bloke off Spatz but at some point he turned into Steven Ryde, who was also the main out-of-vision CITV presenter at the time.
There was also Stan the shopkeeper (who was played by Brian “George And Mildred” Murphy) and Pippa the postwoman. But all the puppet characters in the show were really strange and I always liked the way that Wizadora casually talked to them as if someone with a coathanger for a head was perfectly normal.
The puppet characters included The Draw People, who were Top who lived in the top draw, Bottom who lived in the bottom draw, and in the middle draw there was, er, Sticky. They were very cheeky and Wizadora would always zap their draws shut and they’d always get their hats caught in them as they closed.
Then there was Phoebe, who had a telephone for a head and multicoloured buttons. She would always take it off so she could talk to people which was weird and she would also pass on the messages to Wizadora, and she also seemed to double as a fax machine and computer.
There were other characters including Filbert, no idea what he was supposed to be, Hangle, a grumpy coathanger-thing, and Very Old Fish, who was a very old fish. I think they were running out of ideas by that point. But there were even more though, with talking birds, spiders and things also turning up in some episodes.
Wizadora eventually ran for over 200 episodes on CITV and I didn’t watch it so much by the end partly because Wizadora herself regenerated into another actress. Apart from a short run on Living, Wizadora hasn’t been seen much on TV since it ended, although an episode from the final series was shown as part of the great CITV Old Skool Weekend in January 2013.
Some episodes of Wizadora were released on VHS in the 90s but there has been no DVD release. It wasn’t exactly big-budget stuff but I have enjoyed watching a few old episodes on YouTube though recently and it still a rather bizarre experience to watch. That’s why “we adore her”.