Friday, December 21, 2012


The first of our Christmas-themed entries in this last theme for the 2012 "ASOTV" showcase.....


'The Box Of Delights'

John Masefield

Patrick Troughton
(The Second Doctor)

Earth Prime-Time

From Wikipedia:
"The Box of Delights" is a children's fantasy novel by John Masefield. It is a sequel to "The Midnight Folk", and was first published in 1935.

The central character is Kay Harker who, on returning from boarding school, finds himself mixed up in a battle to possess a magical box, which allows the owner to go small (shrink) and go swift (fly), experience magical wonders contained within the box and go into the past.

The owner of the box is an old Punch and Judy man called Cole Hawlings, whom Kay meets at a railway station. They develop an instant rapport, and this leads Cole to confide that he is being chased by a man called Abner Brown and his gang. For safety, Cole entrusts the box to Kay, who then goes on to have many adventures.

"The Box of Delights" was adapted for television by the BBC in 1984, featuring Patrick Troughton and Robert Stephens. It was broadcast November–December, in six parts, with the last episode transmitted on Christmas Eve. Starring Devin Stanfield as Kay and directed by Renny Rye, it used an innovative mixture of live action and animation, with Quantel Paintbox and chroma key effects to bring the adventure alive. Noted for its yuletide atmosphere (it is set during Christmas), the series has become something of a nostalgic treat for followers of cult TV.

The seasonal theme music is Victor Hely-Hutchinson's orchestral arrangement of "The First Nowell" from his "Carol Symphony".

The novel contains more magical adventures or events than appeared in the BBC version. This was presumably because of budgeting and special effect constraints; however, the BBC did not otherwise alter the plot significantly. The novel describes Kay as using the box on more occasions than those depicted in the television adaptation. The following incidents occur only in the novel:
  • After the Punch and Judy show the children are shown various magic tricks that include a miniature army of soldiers that walk out of the wainscot and drill.
  • Kay Harker and the Jones children take refuge from Abner's men in a tree by a river bank. They are also shown around the tree and the various animal and insect dwellings within it. There is also a scene where the children dance with fairies.
  • Kay is taken to witness a medieval jousting match.
  • More detail is provided as to how the Box of Delights found its way into the possession of Cole Hawlings. The novel states that the Box came to England as an antiquity and found its way into the hands of a Countess. Cole Hawlings then discovered the hiding place of the Box. Abner Brown also discovered the Box's location but only after Cole had taken it. The BBC adaptation suggests that Cole was given the box by its creator Arnold of Todi.
  • Arnold of Todi is convinced to come back out of the past. However, he has no interest in re-claiming the box. He attends the Midnight Service towards the end of the book.

Troughton looks so much like Robin Williams in that first picture that I think Williams would be a good choice to play the British actor if ever the need arose.....


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