Wizbit (CBBC, 1986-1988)
This is a CBBC show from the mid-80s that I only vaguely remember from the time, but it is worth featuring here. When putting these pieces together, I do try and avoid the cliches like “wasn’t that a weird show, what were they thinking of?”, but it can’t be denied that a lot of people must’ve had those thoughts while watching this one.
Paul Daniels was someone who was known to viewers around this time for his magic shows, along with also hosting game shows including Every Second Counts. It seems that this was an attempt at making a show for children’s TV. Wizbit was presumably designed to get younger viewers more interested in both how to do magic and puzzle solving, but this was presented in such an unusual way, it was probably more likely to have put them off such a thing for life.
Episodes would begin with Paul himself doing a trick in the theatre, usually assisted by his wife Debbie McGee, and then introducing the story. Wizbit (also voiced by Paul) was a yellow cone alien thing who had travelled from the planet Wow to visit the town of Puzzleopolis. His friend was Wooly the rabbit, and other characters included Squidgy the swamp monster, and Professor Doom who always liked to think of a nasty plan.
There were a few other residents who seemed to be based on what you would find in a starter magician’s kit, including wands, playing cards, balls, dice, and so on, plus additional clowns and puppets. Wizbit would have to solve the puzzles (and the viewers were encouraged to look out for the clues themselves), and also learned tricks himself, which were usually accompanied by some eye-straining visual effects. Paul would also reappear at the end of the story to reflect on the excitement.
There were 27 episodes of Wizbit, and all of them were guaranteed to contain unusual moments, I haven’t even got around to talking about the theme music and opening sequence which were just as odd as anything else in the show. Paul’s vision of what a children’s show should be was a strange one it has to be said. The show was also often repeated, and was shown on CBBC until 1991.
It seems that a few episodes were released on VHS, and these were rated U, although some of what I’ve seen of the show was unintentionally creepier than the average content of a 15-rated film. You don’t forget it in a hurry. There were also some books, and about a decade ago Paul announced some plans for a new series and stage show, but I don’t think that ever happened.