Castle of Death: Episode 1 Commentary

[posted 8:00 am, 30 September 2014]

Back in time to the 1970s TV version of the middle ages.

(CONTENT WARNING: This story will deal with sexual violence and mental illness. See Help Links for more information about these issues.)

KATY: Hello, I’m Katy Froade, and you all know that I play Gemma. I’m joined by,

MANDY: Amanda Cadewell, and I play Sarah.

KATY: This is the second Time Girls story, the delightfully titled Castle of Death.

MANDY: I think we’re in the middle ages now.

KATY: It does look like it.

MANDY: My son James did his PhD in medieval history, and he says it was nothing like this.

KATY: It’s always like this on telly. I think they just copy each other.

MANDY: Well, you see, they’ve already got the props and costumes in store. It’s so much cheaper.

KATY: Ooh, they’ve got us a real castle.

MANDY: Now this was in Lincoln.

KATY: That bloody hill. I was always exhausted before we even started filming.

MANDY: I’d had a bit more practice.

KATY: Of course! You’re really from Lincolnshire.

MANDY: Yes, and so when I went to Central, well, you can imagine, I had to work very hard to lose the accent.

KATY: I really can’t tell now. You’re in a very elegant dress here.

MANDY: Of course, with the full-length skirt, I didn’t have to wear my tail. Your cossie is very exotic. Are you supposed to be a warrior woman?

KATY: If I was, I’d be chopped into pieces. It wouldn’t protect me at all.

MANDY: You don’t look very comfy in it.

KATY: It was freezing. My dresser had to bring me my coat after every take. Sometimes I was so cold that I could barely say my lines.

MANDY: This is in the studio now. I think it must be in the dungeons.

KATY: Do you remember the rat handler?

MANDY: Oh yes. What a job.

KATY: And we could only afford three rats. Is there a mad old man? … Yes! There’s always a mad old man.

MANDY: Who is it?

KATY: I can’t really tell under all that hair. They’re always very hairy.

MANDY: I suppose they can’t get to the barber if they’re locked up.

KATY: It’s not John Abineri, is it?

MANDY: No, no, they’re not John’s eyes.

KATY: He was in the other thing, wasn’t he? Where the world ended.

MANDY: Do you mean Doomwatch?

KATY: No, not that one. There was a catastrophe, and only middle class people were left.

MANDY: Could he be Don Henderson?

KATY: I don’t think so.

MANDY: Here’s Aubrey Woods as the fop. He’s playing it rather well. I think he enjoyed this sort of thing.

KATY: Aubrey was brilliant at Restoration comedy. This is right up his street.

MANDY: I think the people upstairs were a bit worried about … you know. It hadn’t been legal for very long and it was still a taboo subject, especially in children’s programmes. They were different times.

KATY: They were dangerous times. Poor old Peter Wyngarde. It makes me very cross when people say that his career was ruined by his homosexuality. It wasn’t. It was other people being intolerant.

MANDY: I know. Peter was lovely and he didn’t deserve that.

KATY: I suppose it’s good to see the taboo being broken, but they wouldn’t do it like this nowadays. I hope.

MANDY: Aubrey is awfully good at gloating. And this is Sheila Dunn, who doesn’t like his gloating at all.

KATY: I don’t blame her. I think he’s got her locked up somewhere, hasn’t he?

MANDY: It’s a bit nicer than the dungeon, though. She’s got her embroidery to keep her occupied.

KATY: Posh prisoners get needlework. The plebs get mad old men and rats.

MANDY: Of course, Sheila Dunn was married to Douglas Camfield. They were a lovely couple.

KATY: I wish Dougie had directed us. He would have been so much better than some of the directors we had.

MANDY: But George did a good job with this one.

KATY: Yes, he’s given it a wonderful atmosphere. And back out in the cold.

MANDY: I remember it was quite mild for January, but I expect that wasn’t much comfort to you.

KATY: I feel cold just watching it.

MANDY: Now, who’s this mysterious hooded figure?

KATY: There’s always a mysterious hooded figure. I bet he’s up to no good. … After him!

MANDY: Oh, this is the cathedral. It’s a magnificent building.

KATY: Mary Whitehouse said it was blasphemous for me to go in there dressed like that.

MANDY: I suppose it is rather rude. People’s beliefs are important.

KATY: I don’t think she knew what blasphemy really meant. It didn’t even get to court.

MANDY: Who’s this bishop?

KATY: I can’t remember. Come on. Turn round. … Timothy Bateson!

MANDY: He was one of the great character actors. You could always see him on telly in something or other.

KATY: And he was the original Lucky in Waiting for Godot.

MANDY: I didn’t know that. He does look the part here.

KATY: Now we have to look interested while he explains the plot. …

MANDY: Aubrey still looks very cross. Poor old henchman.

KATY: There are always henchmen. This is Ron Peaklow. He was always in things like this.

MANDY: Oh yes. He didn’t often get very big parts but he always had work.

KATY: His armour looks very heavy, but of course it was really made of wool.

MANDY: It must have got very hot in the studio.

KATY: That was the only good thing about not wearing much. … Oh, there’s always a jester. It’s the stuntman again, isn’t it?

MANDY: Oh yes, I’ve remembered now. It’s Ian Slaith.

KATY: Of course. He was very good at jesting.

MANDY: Michael Staniforth was a very funny jester.

KATY: I can’t remember him.

MANDY: Well, really it was for children, you see.


MANDY: That was a bit risqué. I’m surprised it got past the people upstairs.

KATY: Who are you calling a stupid count, you stupid count?

MANDY: Stop it, Katy.

KATY: We’re still on film. Can we come inside soon?

MANDY: We’ll have to get past the guards, won’t we?

KATY: There are always guards to get past.

MANDY: I don’t think they can see us.

KATY: You must have cast a spell. We’re in!

MANDY: Is that the one we were chasing before?

KATY: Ooh, he can see us. But who is it? Or what?


KATY: Cliffhanger!

MANDY: I think that was Ted Furnage again. His make-up was rather good, wasn’t it?

KATY: Yes, he looked very ghoulish. I didn’t think this was very good to begin with, but now I’m quite gripped by it. I can’t wait to see what happens next.

MANDY: I think the next part is missing.

KATY: Awww!

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