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The Phoenix and The Carpet

Click above for the introductory theme (zipped mp3 - sorry poor quality)

The Phoenix and The Carpet

Click above for the end theme (zipped mp3 - sorry poor quality)

This has to be one of the all time children's classics. It should have been in the Channel Four's top one hundred children's television programs but it was completely left out. The Phoenix and the carpet by E Nesbit was televised by the BBC in 1977. It turned out to be an absolute masterpiece of children's entertainment dramatised by John Tully. This program was probably the very first children's television program that actual upset me at the end when the Phoenix reverts back to the egg and the children have to say good bye. Please note that the video quality is not very good as this material is nearly 25 years old, hence image captures are smaller than usual. The zipped mp3 recording of the haunting theme music is not particularly good but never the less you can make out the original score. Anyone having any more information or if you starred in this wonderful production then please contact me at the email address in the navigation bar.

Characters

The Phoenix
The Phoenix

The Carpet

Cyril (squirrel)

Anthea

Robert

Jane

Father

Mother

The Lamb

The Shop Keeper

The Egg

Episode List


Part One - The Magic Fire

Part Two - Queen of the Island

Part Three - Some Indian Things

Part Four - The Temple of the Phoenix

Part Five - Gifts from Persia

Part Six - What to do with a Burglar

Part Seven - The Hole in the Carpet

Part Eight - A Night at the Theatre

Our story begins at an old second hand shop (the sign on the wall reads W.J. Poolet Second Hand Furniture). A load of old junk and an old Persian carpet wrapped with string are sitting outside a shop. The shopkeeper comes out and places a price on the carpet. Soon some children and their mother are outside the shop looking at the goods. The children see the carpet and want it for their play room. Their mother states that father cannot afford a new carpet and that the children should have taken care of the previous one they had. The children persevere and are encouraged when the shop keeper appears and tries to sell the carpet since it used to belong to the King of Arabia. The children do not believe him but nevertheless they persuade mother to purchase the carpet.

The carpet is actually delivered before they get home and father has paid for it. The children take it into the bedroom and open it up. Inside the rolled up carpet they discover a large shiny egg. They show it to mother and father who have come in to the playroom. Father says that they must take it back to the shopkeeper since they did not purchase it. The two boys return to the shop but the shopkeeper is having none of it (he assumes they are wanting to return the carpet) and chases them off. Back at the house, the elder children are doing their homework whilst Bob is practising magic from a book. Whilst trying to increase the fire using magic, Bob accidentally knocks the egg into the fire. It begins to heat up and before their very eyes it begins to hatch and they see a small bird like creature in the centre slowly getting bigger. It then leaves the fire, flies around the room and perches on the mantle piece. All the children are frightened but Bob bravely steps forward to say hello to the marvellous creature. The phoenix returns the greeting and warns them not to touch him as he has not had time to cool down yet.

They learn the the bird is the Phoenix and he last appeared on earth over 2000 years ago. The Phoenix thanks Bob for placing him in the fire so that he could be reborn. He then tells them about the magic carpet and that he was last around when a Prince and Princess owned the carpet. Suddenly Father is heard and the children have to conceal the Phoenix by standing in front of him. Father soon goes away but then the gong goes for lunch and the children reluctantly have to leave the Phoenix.

Soon Father and Mother and little lamb (the recently born newest member of the family) are off to see Granny who is not very well. The children use this opportunity to test the magic carpet. They learn that all they have to do is wish and the carpet will take them anywhere. They use up a wish by asking the carpet to take them along with the Phoenix on a long voyage over sea. They fly through the air and eventually fly over land. Jane wants to land on a tower and is upset when the others disagree. She orders the carpet down to the tower (wish number two). Here they waste a third wish after Bob gets into trouble. The children soon find that the Towers is sealed on all sides and their appears to have been a door once but now it has been walled up. Bob and Cyril eventually smash a door open to escape outside. They then go off exploring outside. The girls stay behind and discover a large box. They prise it to open and find it full of gold coins. The children decide to take the box home and so load it onto the carpet. Bob then realises he has left his coat outside and so goes to find it. It is dark outside and suddenly he is confronted by several ghosts. The children instantly wish to go home but they find they are still in the same place within the tower. The Phoenix who for this part has been sitting quietly, informs them that the carpet only grants three wishes a day and that they have used them up. We then hear the sounds of ghosts getting closer, so the children huddle over each other in terror. And so part one comes to a close.

It would be a another seven days (five of which would be at school) before we would get to see the second episode.

Episode 2

Soon to come.....

Written E Nesbit
The Phoenix Richard Warner and Joe Barton
Cyril Gary Russell
Anthea Tamzin Neville
Robert Max Harris
Jane Jane Forster
The Lamb V.M. Hartman
Mother Daphne Neville
Father Edward Brooks
Shopkeeper Robert Dorning
Make up Jackie Hodgson
Costume Joyce Hawkins
Film Sound Bill Meekums
Film Cameraman John Baker, Paul Wheeler
Film Editor Bill Wright
Videotape Editor Neil Pittaway
Studio Sound Alastair Askham
Studio Lighting Barry D. Hill
Production Assistant David Crichton
Designer Miles Lang
Director Clive Doig
Producer Dorothea Brooking