The Box of Delights
First edition cover
|Media type||Print (hardback & paperback)|
|Preceded by||The Midnight Folk|
Kay Harker is returning from boarding school when he finds himself mixed up in a battle to possess a magical box. It allows the owner to shrink in size, to fly swiftly, to go into the past and to experience the magical wonders contained within the box.
The current owner of the box is an old Punch and Judy man called Cole Hawlings whom Kay meets at the railway station. They develop an instant rapport, which leads Cole to confide that he is being chased by a magician called Abner Brown and his gang, which includes Kay's former governess. For safety, Cole (who turns out to be the medieval philosopher and alleged magician Ramon Llull) entrusts the box to Kay. The schoolboy then goes on to have many adventures as he protects the box from those who wish to use it for bad deeds.
There have been several radio adaptations of The Box of Delights.
This six-part adaptation, with a script by Robert Holland and John Keir Cross, was produced three times by the BBC as part of its Children's Hour, in 1943, 1948 and 1955.
Saturday Night TheatreEdit
This was a one-off drama, with a script by John Keir Cross, broadcast in 1966, and repeated in 1968 and 1969. It was then remade with a new cast in 1977.
Two-part drama with a script by John Peacock.
BBC Television 1984Edit
|The Box of Delights|
|Created by||John Masefield|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of episodes||6|
|Running time||30 minutes|
|Original network||BBC One|
|Original release||November 1984|
The BBC TV adaptation of the The Box of Delights was broadcast in six parts between 21 November and 24 December in 1984. An innovative mixture of live action and animation, using Quantel Paintbox and chroma key effects, was used to portray the adventure. The music included an orchestral arrangement of "The First Nowell" from the Carol Symphony by Victor Hely-Hutchinson.
- Kay Harker: Devin Stanfield
- Abner Brown: Robert Stephens
- Cole Hawlings: Patrick Troughton
- Foxy Faced Charles: Geoffrey Larder
- Chubby Joe: Jonathan Stephens
- Sylvia Daisy Pouncer: Patricia Quinn
- Inspector: James Grout
- Bishop of Tatchester: John Horsley
- Caroline Louisa: Carol Frazer
- Jemima: Heidi Burton
- Maria: Joanna Dukes
- Susan: Flora Page
- Peter: Crispin Mair
- Herne the Hunter: Glyn Baker
- The Old Lady: Anne Dyson
- Ellen: Helen Fraser
- Chief Constable: Charles Pemberton
- Pirate Rat: Nick Berry
- The Waterfall Boy: Jason Kemp
- The Bronze Head: Nicholas Chagrin
- Arnold of Todi: Philip Locke
- Greek Soldier: Julian Sands
- Director: Renny Rye
- Producer: Paul Stone
- Adapted by: Alan Seymour
- Incidental music: Roger Limb
- Visual Effects Designer: Tony Harding
- Video Effects: Robin Lobb
Railway station scenes were filmed at Bewdley and Arley on the steam heritage Severn Valley Railway; Tewkesbury became the fictional Tatchester; the bishop's children's party was done at Kinlet Hall, Shropshire (the location of Moffats Independent School, whose pupils and staff served as extras); Hereford Cathedral and its choir took centre stage in the final episode; and the exterior shots of Abner Brown's theological college were filmed at Eastnor Castle, near Ledbury, Herefordshire.
The BBC TV production of The Box of Delights won three British Academy of Film & Television Arts awards (BAFTAs) and a Royal Television Society award: The serial was nominated for five BAFTAs - for best Children's Programme, Video Cameraman, Graphics, Video Lighting and VTR Editor; and won three - for best Children's Programme, VTR Editor and Video Lighting. The Royal Television Society award was won for Technique, for Robin Lobb and the BBC Special Effects team.
|Episode #||Title||Original airdate|
|1||"When the Wolves Were Running..."||1 November 1984|
|2||"Where Shall the 'Nighted Showman Go?"||8 November 1984|
|3||"In the Darkest Cellars Underneath"||15 November 1984|
|4||"The Spider in the Web"||22 November 1984|
|5||"Beware of Yesterday"||29 November 1984|
|6||"Leave Us Not Little... Nor Yet Dark"||6 December 1984|
During December 1986 the series was repeated on BBC1 as three 50-minute episodes:
|Episode #||Title||Original airdate|
|1||"When the Wolves Were Running"||22 December 1986|
|2||"The Spider in the Web"||23 December 1986|
|3||"Fire and Flood"||24 December 1986|
The television version was shown by PBS in the US for three years in the late 1980s.
BBC Worldwide released the serial on DVD in 2004.
- Flynn, Simon: "A Magic Curiously Suited to Radio?": The BBC and The Box of Delights. The Journal of the John Masefield Society, No. 12 (May 2003), pp. 21–35.