John Masefield wrote the children's fantasy novel "The Box of Delights" in 1935. It was the sequel to his novel "The Midnight Folk". The story revolves around the adventures of Kay Harker, a schoolboy returning from boarding school to his home at Seekings. He meets an old Punch and Judy man at the train station who entrusts him with the safety of his magic box of delights. But a sinister gang of 'wolves' also wants the box, led by the evil Abner Brown...

Monday, 9 March 2009

Episode One - When the wolves were running

Schoolboy Kay Harker is on his way home for Christmas. The train journey to his home at Seekings is uneventful until he is joined in the carriage by two 'clergymen' who con him out of some money with a trick. As the train heads into a tunnel Kay sees that the clergymen have the heads of wolves, but he believes he imagined it as the train emerges from the tunnel and they appear to be clergymen again.

Caroline Louisa is waiting at the station to greet him, but as he walks through the station he chances upon an old Punch and Judy man who warns him that "the wolves are running". The man, Cole Hawlings, entrusts Kay with a small green box called the 'Box of Delights'.

Little does Kay know that this is the start of a magical adventure filled with danger. The first adventure occurs when Kay delivers Cole's message of "the wolves are running" to King Arthur's camp....

Episode Two - Where shall the 'nighted Showman go?

Kay and his friend Peter head out early into the snow to meet Cole Hawlings, but they see him being abducted by the two clergymen from the train. They try to tell the local police Inspector but, to their frustration, he refuses to believe them. Kay discovers that the men work for an evil man named Abner Brown who is determined to get his hands on the box of delights. But why..?

Kay meets Herne the Hunter in a magic forest while experimenting with the magic powers of the box, and realises the potential of being able to 'go small' and 'go fast'.

Episode Three - In Darkest Cellars Underneath

We are introduced to Abner's partner in crime, Sylvia Daisy Pouncer. But is she as dedicated to Abner as she first appears?

Meanwhile Miss Maria is 'scrobbled' and is nowhere to be found. Have Abner's men taken her?

While out in the woods Kay, Peter and the others hear the familiar sound of the car that becomes a plane, the vehicle used by Abner's men. They use the boxes magic powers to 'go small' and board a child's sailing boat in the river, little realising that the river heads into fast flowing rapids. Will they escape....?

Episode Four - The Spider in the Web

'Seekings' is burgled and Kay believes it is the work of Abner's evil associates.

Miss Maria returns and tells Kay, Peter and the others about the details of her abduction. She claims to have been taken to Chester's College. Kay and Peter then decide to go to Chester's to check out her story.

Meanwhile it is discovered that Caroline Louisa is missing. But where can she be?

At Chester's Chubby Faced Joe is becoming disillusioned with Abner's plans, until Abner shows him a picture of Ramon Lully in a book. The picture is hundred's of years old, but Joe suddenly realises that Cole Hawlings and Ramon Lully are one and the same person. But how can that be......?

Episode Five - Beware of Yesterday

Abner is becoming more and more determined to secure the box and its power of eternal life, so Kay calls upon his trusted ally Herne the Hunter. Kay's plan is to go back in time and find Arnold of Todi, the creator of the box. Herne warns him of the danger of getting stuck in the past, but agrees to help Kay when he realises how determined he is.

Kay finds Arnold of Todi in the past after a run in with some Roman soldiers, but he is reluctant to help. Kay becomes frustrated with him which only causes Arnold to become enraged.

Meanwhile Foxy Faced Charles is planning a double cross...

Episode Six - Leave us not little, not yet Dark

Kay witnesses Abner interact with evil helpers in the dungeons below Chester's, strange creatures that he calls upon to carry out his terrible deeds. Abner then tries to strike a deal with Cole Hawlings for the Box of Delights.

Meanwhile Foxy Faced Charles and Sylvia Pouncer escape with Abner's fortune, and the Bishop and his choir are released.

It is now a race against time to get back to Tatchester Cathedral...

John Masefield

John Edward Masefield, 1 June 1878 to 12 May 1967, was an English poet and writer and was Poet Laureate from 1930 until his death in 1967.

As well as "The Box of Delights" Masefield wrote 20 other novels, including a prequel, "The Midnight Folk".

Masefield was born in Ledbury in Herefordshire to George Masefield, a solicitor and Caroline. His mother died giving birth to his sister when Masefield was only 6 and he went to live with his aunt. His father died shortly after.

During his life Masefield was given several honorary degrees and doctorates from Yale and Harvard in the USA, and several universities in the UK.

He died from gangrene in 1967, and his ashes were placed in Poet's Corner in Westminster Abbey.

Devin Stansfield

Devin Stansfield, 20th February 1971- was born in Eastbourne. He played Kay Harker in "The Box of Delights". He also starred in the children's TV show "Chocky's Challenge".

Devin went on to do behind the scenes work in the theatre.

Patrick Troughton

Patrick Troughton, 25th March 1920 to 28th March 1987, was most widely known for his role as the second Doctor Who. He played the role from 1966 to 1969.

Patrick served in the Royal Navy during the Second World War, achieving the rank of Commander.

His film roles included Klove in "Scars of Dracula" (1970) and Father Brennan in "The Omen" (1976). Television roles included appearances in "The Persuaders", "Jason King", "The Sweeney" and "Inspector Morse".

He portrayed Cole Hawlings in "The Box of Delights" (1984).

He died of a heart attack in 1987.

Robert Stephens

Sir Robert Stephens (knighted in 1995), 14th July 1931 to 12th November 1995, was widely regarded as the heir of Laurence Olivier in the 1960's. Sadly his marriage to Maggie Smith ended, and he left Britain's National Theater in the 1970's, before becoming a heavy drinker.

Robert's career was boosted in the 1980's when he appeared in The Box of Delights, and then in the 1990's when he was invited to play first Falstaff in "Henry IV" and then Lear in "King Lear" by the Royal Shakespeare Company.

He appeared in The Box of Delights as Abner Brown alongside his future wife Patricia Quinn (famous from the Rocky Horror Show). The two married in 1995, shortly before his death.

The Cast

Devin Stansfield - Kay Harker (6 episodes, 1984)
Robert Stephens - Abner Brown (6 episodes, 1984)
Geoffrey Larder - Foxy Faced Charles (6 episodes, 1984)
Jonathan Stephens - Chubby Joe (6 episodes, 1984)
Joanna Dukes – Maria (6 episodes, 1984)
Heidi Burton – Jemima (6 episodes, 1984)
Flora Page – Susan (6 episodes, 1984)
Carol Fraser – Caroline Louisa (5 episodes, 1984)
Crispin Mair – Peter (5 episodes, 1984)
Glyn Baker – Herne the Hunter (5 episodes, 1984)
James Grout – Inspector (5 episodes, 1984)
John Horsley – Bishop of Tatchester (4 episodes, 1984)
Patricia Quinn – Sylvia Daisy Pouncer (4 episodes, 1984)
Helen Fraser – Ellen (4 episodes, 1984)
Patrick Troughton – Cole Hawlings (3 episodes, 1984)
Anne Dyson – The Old Lady (3 episodes, 1984)
Stewart Harwood – Pirate Rat (3 episodes, 1984)
Nick Berry - Pirate Rat (3 episodes, 1984)

The Crew

Paul Stone - Producer
Wrote several episodes of "Jackanory" in 1971. Paul went on to produce many children's favourites including "Jossy's Giants", "Moondial", "Tom's Midnight Garden", "Prince Caspian" (1989) and "The Silver Chair" (1990).
Renny Rye - Director
Worked closely with Dennis Potter, directing his final works Cold Lazarus and Karaoke. Renny recently worked on "Sunburn", directed episodes of "Midsummer Murders", "Kavanagh QC", "Casualty" and "Poirot".
Roger Limb - The haunting incidental music
Roger also worked extensively on Doctor Who during this period.
Alan Seymour - Writer/Dramatiser
Born in Australia in 1927. Alan wrote several radio scripts and plays in the 1960's, and went on to dramatise several TV programmes including "The House of Elliot".

Episode Guide

Episode One: "When the Wolves Were Running" (1st Nov 1984)
Episode Two: "Where Shall the 'Nighted Showman Go?" (8th Nov 1984)
Episode Three: "In the Darkest Cellars Underneath" (15th Nov 1984)
Episode Four: "The Spider in the Web" (22nd Nov 1984)
Episode Five: "Beware of Yesterday" (29th Nov 1984)
Episode Six: "Leave Us Not Little, Nor Yet Dark" (6th Dec 1984)


The outdoor snow scenes were filmed near Aberdeen, Scotland in January 1984.
The scene with Kay inside Arthur's Camp fighting the wolves was filmed in June 1984, near Reading, Berkshire. There was pressure on the production to get all the shots finished because they were filming on one of the shortest nights of the year.
The scenes representing the children's party at the house of the Bishop were filmed at Kinlet Hall in Shropshire.
The scenes showing the external appearance of Abner Brown's theological college are Eastnor Castle, Herefordshire.
The railway station scene was filmed at Arley railway station on the Severn Valley Railway in north Worcestershire
The Cathedral scenes were filmed in Hereford Cathedral and used Hereford Cathedral Choir.