Simon And The Witch (CBBC, 1987-1988)
This is another CBBC series from the 80s that I remember watching, along with many others I’m sure. Simon And The Witch is a comedy-drama series that was based on a book by Margaret Stuart Barry. A one-off was shown as part of a series called Up Our Street in 1985 (with different people in the main roles), and it did well enough to be given a full series with 15-minute long episodes in 1987.
The show centred around Simon (Hugh Pollard), who had befriended an old witch (Elizabeth Spriggs). The opening sequence consisted of them holding up some tatty pieces of paper with the show’s title on them. Simon’s mum doesn’t believe that he is friends with a witch, who likes to go around on her broom, and her spells often fail to work. Her cat George is rather grumpy and prefers to eat the table-legs than her food.
In the first series Simon attends school, he is in Mrs Phoeble’s class, and the headmaster Mr Bodley is rather officious. His classmates include the rather unlucky Jimmy, and Sally. Also featuring are the aristocratic Lady Fox-Custard, faithful butler Hopkins, and her nephew Cuthbert who joins Simon’s class. The Witch does eventually too, and no-one seems to think that this is rather odd.
The second series has a slightly different format, as we now see Simon and his friends spending a lot of time at the cafe run by Mr Valdini, who likes to give away ice cream for free, and really did make lotsa spaghetti. Another new character is the next-door neighbour’s daughter Angelica, and the Witch’s sister turns up too. Also making guest appearances as themselves are Newsround host John Craven and Michael Fish.
I also enjoyed the closing sequence that featured pictures of the cast with their name handwritten underneath, accompanied by the colour-changing credits. There were two series of Simon And The Witch, and they were repeated on CBBC until 1994. It was given another repeat run on the great CBBC On Choice strand in the early-2000s. It was then repeated yet again in the early days of the CBBC Channel in 2002, 15 years after it was first shown.
Recently all 25 episodes were released on DVD, but they don’t contain any extras, and it seems like a filmised look has been added. I was still pleased to be able to watch it again though, but I wonder why this CBBC show was chosen to be released, when there are so many more that deserve to be, hopefully more from this era will become available one day as it’s an area of classic TV that has barely been tapped into, I’m sure that there would be a big demand.