Quick DVD Review – ‘The Demon Headmaster’

Hello everyone! 🙂

Welcome to ‘Bradley’s Basement’ blog and I’m Tim Bradley!

Remember the film ‘Matilda’, based on the book by Roald Dahl, where it featured our title heroine in a school run by a bullying headmistress called the Trunchbull? Well, what if there was a TV series that featured a school with an evil headmaster and a group of kids battled to thwart his pretty evil schemes?

It’d be awesome! And I suppose that’s what we got with ‘The Demon Headmaster’, a BBC children’s TV series that was shown from 1996 to 1998! I’ve finished watching the complete series of ‘The Demon Headmaster’ on DVD and thoroughly enjoyed it! I was lent the series by my best school mate Stephen.

‘The Demon Headmaster’ is a unique children’s TV series based on the books by Gillian Cross. Adapted for TV by Helen Cresswell, the series stars Terrence Hardiman as The Demon Headmaster. I was pretty engrossed into every episode of the series, finding amazing twists and turns that I didn’t expect to see.

I was expecting the complete ‘Demon Headmaster’ series to be set in a school, which seemed to be the case for the first three episodes. But then it completely changed when the series took place away from the school and more into high-tech buildings that were often used for research or scientific study.

‘The Demon Headmaster’ became more science-fiction orientated and intelligent, which is surprising for me even with a kids’ show. The kids were also smart and very well cast in terms on how they sorted out plans in defeating the Demon Headmaster who wanted to take control of the world with his mind.

The series had three seasons in total. Series 1 was six episodes and had two stories with three episodes each for them. The two stories were based on the books ‘The Demon Headmaster’ and ‘The Prime Minister’s Brain’. I enjoyed Series 1 and ‘The Prime Minister’s Brain’ has to be my favourite of the two.

Series 2 was seven episodes and was based on the book ‘The Demon Headmaster Strikes Again’. Series 3 was six episodes and was based on the book ‘The Demon Headmaster Takes Over’. Series 1 and 2 were shown in 1996 whilst Series 3 was shown in 1998. It still felt like this continuous story throughout.

Terrence Hardiman is brilliant as the Demon Headmaster, who seemed completely inhuman (and was probably was) and his true identity was never revealed in the series. He could also hypnotize people to obey his commands by telling them to ‘look into his eyes’, just like the Master did it in ‘Doctor Who’.

In fact, Terrence Hardiman would make a brilliant Master if he was cast to play that role. I’ve seen Terrence Hardiman before in the ‘Doctor Who’ episode ‘The Beast Below’ with Matt Smith and I’ve heard him in the Big Finish audio adaptation of ‘The English Way of Death’ with Tom Baker. So superb!

I wondered who the Demon Headmaster was and why he was so determined to conquer the world with new forms of technology and science whilst kids were getting in his way. We never find out who he is and he’s left a complete mystery. Even by the end of the series, I wondered who this person was.

The cast of kids in this children’s TV series are equally superb, performed by very good kid actors. Frances Amey stars as Dinah Glass (later Dinah Hunter) who becomes an antagonist for the Demon Headmaster. She’s a very smart, kind-hearted girl who tackles the Demon Headmaster in his schemes.

There’s also Gunnar Cauthery as Lloyd and Thomas Szekeres as Harvey, who become Dinah’s adoptive brothers in the series. There’s also Anthony Cumber as Ian; Kirsty Bruce as Ingrid and Rachael Goodyer as Mandy who are friends of Dinah, Lloyd and Harvey as they form the SPLAT team against the Demon Headmaster. These kids discover evil plots arranged by the Demon Headmaster and work to stop him.

Tessa Peake-Jones also stars as Mrs. Hunter, the mother of Dinah, Lloyd and Harvey in the series. I’ve seen Tessa Peake-Jones before in ‘Only Fools and Horses’ as well as recently in the ‘Grantchester’ series. Throughout the series, Mrs. Hunter is unaware of her kids tackling the evil Demon Headmaster.

There are other characters our heroes met in the series. This includes Katey Crawford Kastin as Rose Carter, who was a school prefect and bully under the Demon Headmaster’s control; James Richard as Simon James who appears in Series 2 and Jay Barrymore as Michael Dexter who appears in Series 3. 🙂

‘The Demon Headmaster’ TV series won a BAFTA Children’s Award in 1997 for Best Drama and it’s no surprise. ‘The Demon Headmaster’ is excellent as a children’s TV series. I’m glad I’ve seen it as it’s well performed by a superb cast of child actors as well as by Terrance Hardiman as the Demon Headmaster.

Apparently Series 1 of ‘The Demon Headmaster’ is currently on BBC iPlayer as the series is getting a reboot which is about to start on the 14th of October. That should be exciting! I highly recommend checking out ‘The Demon Headmaster’ TV series either on BBC iPlayer or by purchasing the series on DVD. 🙂

Thanks for reading!

Bye for now!

Tim. 🙂


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