A number of news outlets are reporting that character actor Geoffrey Bayldon has died aged 93. For a generation, Bayldon will be etched in their minds as the hapless time-displaced Saxon wizard Catweazle, bringing a little “electrickery” into our lives. For others he will always be the Crow Man who breathed life into Jon Pertwee’s Worzel Gummidge and Una Stubbs Aunt Sally. Yet another generation will know Bayldon as the Keeper of Fort Boyard.
Bayldon is said to have turned down the role of Doctor Who twice. He did appear in the show eventually in The Creature From The Pit. He also played an alternate version of the first Doctor in the Big Finish Doctor Who Unbound audio series.
He was also Q to David Niven’s James Bond in Casino Royale and appeared in the Hammer Dracula and Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed. Other credits include Steptoe and Son, Rumpole of the Bailey, Chronicles of Narnia, Newton’s Revolution, Z-Cars, The Avengers, Space:1999, The Tomorrow People, Tales of the Unexpected, Blott on the Landscape, Heartbeat, New Tricks and My Family.
I’m part of the Catweazle generation. It was one of those shows that could be funny and sad and delighted in heaping misery upon misery on the lead character. Bayldon played a Saxon magician, fearful of invading Normans, who somehow comes through to the 20th Century to be confounded by aircraft, horseless carriages and the aforementioned “elec-trickery”.
Catweazle had power, but it was fickle. If it worked at all it would be in an unexpected fashion or delayed to the point when the original objective was lost. Still it brightened up our weekends.
Geoffrey Bayldon died on May 10.